Albania’s beautiful riviera coastline is just a quick 30-minute ferry ride across the Ionian sea from Corfu. While this incredible country deserves more than just a day’s visit, it is possible to do a Corfu to Albania day trip.
In this post, we are sharing three different itineraries to help you plan the perfect day trip to Albania from Corfu.
From visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Butrint National park, to exploring the magnificent Blue Eye, or the town of Gjirkoster, you’re sure to have an amazing day in Albania.
We suggest only doing a day trip during the high season, from June to September, as the ferries run early in the morning and late at night during this time of year. A day trip to Albania from Corfu is not possible during the low season (winter months) because the ferries only run once per day.
You’ll also find a detailed guide on taking the ferry from Corfu to Albania, including the best ferry times and information on how to get around Albania.
At the end of the post, we’ve shared a map for you to easily follow as you plan your day trip. If you prefer to travel with a group, you’ll also find a list of the best tours from Corfu to Albania.
Let’s get started.
How to get from Corfu to Albania
Both companies run different schedules, so make sure to check either schedule to see which one works best for you.
Catch the ferry from the port in Corfu Town, Greece. You should arrive 1 hour prior to departure, as you need enough time to go through border control. During the summer months, it can get exceptionally busy and the lines are long.
There is both a fast ferry and a slow ferry. The fast ferry from Corfu to Albania takes 30 minutes and the slow ferry takes around 65 minutes.
For your day trip, we HIGHLY recommend taking the 30-minute ferry to maximize your time.
The ferry from Greece arrives in Saranda, Albania – located between Himare in the north and Ksamil in the south.
Once you arrive, you will have to go through border control. We visited in early May and the line to get through customs went pretty quickly. Again, the summer season brings more tourists and the wait can be around 30-45 minutes to get through the border.
A little tip – if you sit near the exit door on the ferry, you’ll be one of the first ones off the boat, which will save you a lot of time in the end.
Just outside of the ferry, you can catch a bus or a taxi to continue on with your day trip. We’ve included more info on this further down the post.
Important! Visiting Corfu and Albania during the summer can be incredibly busy. Make sure to book your ferry tickets a few weeks in advance in order to secure your tickets.
You will be crossing country lines, so you will need your passport to get into Albania and back into Greece. Albania is not part of the European Union, so make sure to have all of your documents lined up beforehand.
3 Corfu to Albania day trip itineraries
With so many places to see near Saranda, Albania, we’ve put together three itineraries for you to choose from. All of these will offer a bit of Albanian history, along with stunning natural beauty.
Option #1: Butrint National Park & Ksamil
This Corfu to Albania day trip itinerary is the easiest and most relaxed option of the three itineraries. You’ll visit the ancient city of Butrint National Park and will also have time to explore the beaches in Ksamil.
Early morning: Arrive in Albania & head to Butrint
Catch the earliest ferry, which is usually at 8:00am or 8:45am, and arrive in Saranda in the morning. After you make your way through border control, you’ll need to get out some Albanian Lek for your day trip, as most things are paid for in cash.
As you exit, there are a couple of ATMs to the right of the ferry terminal.
After taking out some cash, you have 1 of 2 options. You can either take a taxi from the port of Saranda to Butrint National Park or you can take the bus.
A taxi will cost you around 2,000-3,000 Lek ($20-$30) each way. The bus costs 250 Lek ($2.50) each way. Here’s the catch though – the bus only leaves once every hour starting at 6:30am.
For your day trip, we recommend taking a taxi. If you want to save some money, you can see if there are any other travelers who are also going to Butrint National Park and split the cost of the taxi with them (up to 4 passengers total).
We did this and it saved us $5 per person. The taxi ride takes 30 minutes from Saranda to Butrint.
Butrint National Park
Butrint National Park is an ancient town that was founded by the Romans and Ottomons in 8th century BC. Wander around this UNESCO World heritage and discover ancient ruins from the past.
We spent 2 hours wandering around Butrint and it completely exceeded our expectations. It’s easily one of the highlights of the Albanian riviera and is well-worth the visit.
The cost to visit Butrint is 1,000 Lek ($10) per person and must be paid in cash.
Afternoon: Lunch & beach in Ksamil
After Butrint national park, grab a taxi back to Ksamil (or the bus if you time it right) and head to lunch.
We suggest going to lunch at a seaside restaurant in Ksamil, such as Abiori Restaurant Pizzeria or Poda Restaurant Ksamil. Both in fantastic locations and and serve pasta, fresh fish, and some Albanian specialties.
You won’t find a lot of authentic Albanian cuisine in Ksamil, so don’t plan on it. The food leans heavily towards Greek and Mediterranean food in this region.
After lunch, you can either relax at one of the beaches in Ksamil, or you can head to down to Ksamil Beach 7 and rent a kayak to explore the Ksamil islands.
If you have the time, we highly suggest renting a kayak. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the beautiful water and explore around the islands.
Kayak rentals are 1,000 Lek $10 per hour. It takes about 15 minutes to kayak to the furthest island, which has a narrow beach. You can relax here for a bit or choose to continue kayaking around the islands.
Important! Albania is a bit different than Greece. You have to pay to rent a sun bed at almost all of the beaches here. The cost is between 1,500 Lek – 2,500 Lek ($15-$20) for the day depending on the beach. Keep this in mind if you plan to spend the afternoon at a beach club.
Evening: Saranda & Ferry back to Corfu
After an afternoon in Ksamil, catch a taxi from the main street in Ksamil and take the 20-minute ride back to Saranda. You can have the taxi drop you off at the port, or if you still have time to spare, you can take a walk along the beachfront promenade.
Again, make sure to arrive at the port 1 hour before your departure, just in case there is a long line through customs.
Option #2: Butrint & The Blue Eye
This Corfu to Albania day trip itinerary is best done in the summer when you can take the ferry early in the morning and depart Albania later at 8:00pm. This itinerary takes you to the magnificent natural wonder, The Blue Eye, as well as a stop at Butrint National Park.
You will need to hire a taxi for the full-day for this option.
Early morning: Arrive in Albania & head to the Blue Eye
Catch the earliest ferry to Albania, which is either at 8:00am or 8:45am during the high season. Once you make it through customs, turn right and head towards Rruga Jonianet. Grab some cash at one of the ATMs along the way to cover your costs for the day.
Again, almost everything must be paid in cash in Albania, so do not rely on your credit card.
You will find many taxis outside of the ferry terminal and on Rruga Jonianet. Pick a driver that you feel comfortable with and agree on a price for the day.
For this itinerary, you will need to hire a taxi driver for the entire day. It should cost around $180 (1800-1900 Lek) total.
Make your journey to the Blue Eye, a stunning natural spring located in the mountains. It’s only a 35-minute drive from Saranda.
The taxi will drop you off at the ticket stand where you will need to pay the entrance fee of 50 Lek (50 cents). From here, it’s a 15-minute walk to get to the Blue Eye.
Important! Due to recent restrictions, you can no longer swim in the Blue Eye. However, you can still hike around it, which is absolutely stunning and well worth it.
Afternoon: Lunch and Butrint National Park
After your visit to the Blue Eye, make your way back towards the coast to Butrint National Park. If you’re hungry at this time, you can either pick up lunch in Saranda or Ksamil. In Ksamil, we recommend Abiori Beach Bar Restaurant Pizzeria, or Bar Restorant Korali Ksamil for seaside views.
If you want some fresh mussels, we highly recommend stopping by the Mussel House for lunch. They grow their mussels right outside the restaurant.
If you’re going for something quick and cheap, there is a place that serves decent gyros called Grill House Gyros on the main road in Ksamil.
The drive from the Blue Eye to Butrint takes about 1 hour. Plan to spend at least 2 hours exploring Butrint National Park. The cost is 1,000 Lek ($10) per person and you have to pay in cash.
Evening: Ferry back to Corfu
After Butrint National Park, you might have some time to wander around Ksamil or Saranda for a bit. Otherwise, head back to the ferry terminal at least 1 hour before departure.
Option #3: Gjirokaster
This Corfu to Albania day trip itinerary takes you to the incredible historic city of Gjirokaster. For this option, you will need to hire a taxi for the full day and plan on taking an early ferry and arriving back in Greece on the last available ferry, preferably after 6pm to give you enough time.
Early morning: Arrive in Albania & head to Gjirokaster
Catch the earliest ferry from Corfu to Albania. Upon arrival, take out some cash at an ATM along the road leading to Rruga Jonianet and find a taxi to take you to Gjirokaster and back for the day.
You will need to hire the taxi for the full day and the cost should be around $180 (1,800 Lek). Make sure to negotiate and agree on a price before getting into the taxi.
The drive from Saranda to Gjirokaster takes 1 hour. You can easily spend your entire day here wandering the streets and exploring one of Albania’s most beautiful cities.
Gjirokaster’s roots stretch back to the 12th century, but it really flourished under Ottoman rule from the 15th to 19th centuries. This period endowed the city with a unique architectural style, characterized by stone-roofed houses and cobbled streets, earning it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Start off your morning at Gjirokaster Castle, one of the largest fortresses in the Balkans, offering breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding valley. Inside the castle, you’ll find a military museum showcasing weaponry from different eras.
The cost to visit is 200 Lek per person ($2), and you have to pay extra to visit the museum.
Afternoon: Explore Gjirokaster
After a visit to the castle, make your way down to the old town for a traditional Albanian lunch.
We suggest eating at Vojsava Restaurant, one of our favorites in town that serves local specialties like qofte, tave kosi, and qifqi. You really can’t go wrong with anything on their menu.
The restaurant is located along the old bazaar, so after your lunch, you can wander around the bazaar and do some shopping. Vendors sell local goods like rugs, slippers, lace tablecloths, and more.
If you’re looking for an authentic rug, make sure to ask if they have handmade wool rugs. Most of the ones hanging on the shops are imported cotton rugs.
From here, you should visit either one or both the Skenduli House and the Zekate House. If you have the time, we highly suggest visiting both. They cost between 200-300 Lek each and offer absolutely stunning interiors.
Evening: Ferry back to Corfu
Head back to Saranda and give yourself enough time to arrive at the port at least 1 hour before departure. You should have plenty of time to see most of the main sights in Gjirokaster within a day.
Map for your Corfu to Albania day trip
Use this map to help guide you on your day trip in Albania. We included restaurants, top sights, and even some important landmarks like bus stops.
To save the map to Google Maps on your phone or computer, click on the star next to the title. You’ll be able to find the map in your “saved maps” list on your phone. To see a list of all the items on the map, click the box with arrow on the left. To enlarge the map, click the box on the right.
Tours from Corfu to Albania
Prefer to take a guided tour instead of planning your own day trip from Corfu to Albania? Here are two tours that you should look into.
Tips for visiting Albania from Corfu
- Take an early ferry to Albania from Corfu – During the summer (from July), you can get a ferry as early 8:00am from Corfu to Albania. We suggest taking the earliest ferry to make the most of your day.
- Get to the port an hour before your departure time – You will have to go through customs at the port in both Greece and Albania, so make sure to arrive early in order to make your ferry in time.
- Pick up cash at an ATM in Saranda – Almost everything in Albania is paid in cash. There are a couple of ATMs near the ferry terminal in Saranda; otherwise, you’ll find several ATMs in the city center.
- Book ferry tickets in advance – During the summer months, the ferries can get extremely busy. We suggest booking a couple of weeks in advance because of this.
- Get an eSIM for the day or download offline maps in advance – The phone coverage in Albania is different than the coverage in Greece. If you want to have phone service during the day, then you’ll want to download an eSIM before going to Albania. We always use Airalo to get eSIMs. You can also download offline maps instead of purchasing service.
- Bring your swimsuit if you plan to visit the Ksamil beaches – Pack a swimsuit if you’re wanting to go swimming in the Albanian Riviera during your day trip from Corfu to Albania!
- Wear comfortable shoes – You’ll be walking a decent amount in these itineraries, so we recommend wearing shoes that you can walk around in all day.
Corfu to Albania Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a passport from Corfu to Albania?
Yes, Albania is not located in the EU and Greece is part of it; therefore, you need a passport to get into Albania from Greece. Make sure to do your research ahead of time to ensure you have all of the proper documents, visas, and other important information prepared.
How long is the ferry from Albania to Corfu?
There are two ferries from Albania to Corfu: the 30-minute Flying Dolphine is the high-sepeed ferry and the 65 minute ferry. We suggest taking the 30-minute ferry.
What is the closest Albanian city from Corfu?
Saranda is the closest Albanian city from Corfu. It’s a large city with fantastic restaurants, a port, and a food market.