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Are you looking for a unique and affordable beach destination that offers white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and plenty of activities? Look no further than Ksamil, Albania.
Whether you’re staying there for a couple of days or for one week, you’ll find all of the best things to do in Ksamil in this guide, along with our top picks for hotels, restaurants, and how to get there.
Ksamil is a fairly recent discovery among tourists around the world and has quickly become one of the best beach destinations in Europe. Most of the hotels around town are newer developments, and there is still a lot of building going on.
You’ll find no shortage of activities nearby, from visiting an ancient UNESCO city to taking a day trip to the nearby island of Corfu, Greece, you can easily spend a few days here with plenty to do.
We stayed in Ksamil for one week discovering all of the natural beauty and activities in the area. Our overall take? It’s a great beach destination if you’re looking to hang out at the beach, spend time in beautiful water, and to take it easy.
In this article, we’re sharing our tips to help you have the best time in Ksamil, including the best time of year to visit (to avoid the crowds), and our personal favorite things to do in Ksamil.
Where is Ksamil?
Ksamil is located in southern Albania, on the Ionian coast. It is about 10km south of the city of Sarande and 45 km from the Greek border. The closest international airport is the Corfu International Airport (CFU), which is just a 30-minute ferry ride away from Albania.
The next closest airport is the Tirana International Airport (TIA), which is about a 4-hour drive from Ksamil.
Map of Ksamil, Albania
We created a map of all of the best things to do in Ksamil to help you easily navigate your way around. You can download this to Google Maps on your phone, or you can click the arrow on the upper lefthand corner to see a list of all of the places.
Best Things to Do in Ksamil, Albania
1. Visit the Beaches
Tucked away in coves with white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, the beaches in Ksamil are a European paradise. We visited a lot of beaches during our week in Ksamil, and we’re sharing our top 5 favorite beaches that you must visit.
If you’re looking for more beaches in the area, make sure to check out our post on the 13 best Ksamil beaches.
This is one of the most popular beaches in Ksamil, Albania and for good reason! Ksamil Beach is centrally located and has stunning turquoise waters. The bay is calm and there is plenty of room to swim, go kayaking, or to rent a paddleboat.
Sunbeds are available to rent on the beach and cost around 1,000-1,500 lek ($10-$15) for two sunbeds and an umbrella. During high season, the cost may go up a bit.
Just behind the beach are plenty of restaurants to eat lunch or to grab a drink.
Lori Beach is one of the most amazing beaches in Ksamil! The sand is soft and white and the water is calm and shallow. The beach is tucked away in a little cove, so you feel like you are on a tropical island.
This is a private beach, so you have to pay to rent a sunbed in order to stay at the beach. The prices for two sunbeds is around 1,500 lek ($15) for the day during the summer months.
There is a cafe behind the beach that serves drinks and snacks.
Tip: If you stay at Delight Hotel behind the beach, you get free access to the beach.
One of the most secluded beaches in Ksamil is Augusto Beach. Located about a 25-minute walk from the crowds at Ksamil Beach, Augusto Beach is a quiet escape from the busyness of the city.
The sand may not be as white or as soft here, but the water is equally as beautiful as any of the other beaches in Ksamil. It’s also lesser-known, which means you’ll have more space to enjoy.
There is a small bar located on the beach where you can grab some drinks, otherwise, you may want to bring your own lunch and snacks. This is a fantastic spot for snorkeling and swimming and for simply enjoying the beauty of the Albanian Riviera.
Ksamil Beach 7
Ksamil Beach 7 is pure paradise. This white sandy beach is located right next to the Ksamil islands and offers unobstructed views of Corfu, Greece and the beautiful Ionian Sea.
The beach is larger than most in Ksamil, which means you may have more luck snagging a beach chair without having to arrive too early in the day. You can rent kayaks and paddleboats from here to explore around the islands.
The restaurant behind the beach is okay for food. We suggest going to Guvat Restaurant or Abiori Restaurant nearby instead for a nice lunch.
Relinda Beach is one of the most stunning Ksamil beaches. It’s located near the Ksamil islands and next to some of the best restaurants in town.
The beach is small, which means you may need to arrive early in the summer to get a sunbed. You can also rent a beach net that hovers over the water for the day – the cost is around 7,000+ lek ($70+) for the entire day.
2. Go to Butrint National Park
Butrint National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 8th century B.C. Just a 10-minute drive south of Ksamil, you’ll find yourself in the midst of a beautiful wetland area featuring an ancient city.
Spend a couple of hours walking around this fascinating site and learn about the historical significance it played during the Roman and Ottoman times. Augustus Caesar even helped to fund the building of the city.
You’ll be given a map at the entrance booth, follow along the path, as you make your way around this incredible site. You’ll visit an ancient Roman Theater from the 3rd century, a baptistery from the 6th century, and a well-preserved basilica also from the 6th century.
Butrint National Park is truly a unique experience and is one of the top things to do in Ksamil, Albania
Opening hours & Fees
The park is open from 9 AM – 7 PM daily. The tickets for Butrint National Park cost 1,000 lek ($10) per person that must be paid in cash. There is a free parking lot just outside of the entrance.
How to Get to Butrint
By car: Head south along the SH81 and you’ll arrive at Butrint National Park. It takes about 10 minutes to get there from the center of Ksamil.
By bus: You can catch a bus heading to Butrint from one of the many bus stops in town. They usually run every 30 – 60 minutes and it takes around 15 minutes to get there from Ksamil.
By taxi: You can get a taxi in town from Ksamil to Butrint. Make sure to agree on the price beforehand.
3. Take a day trip to the Blue Eye
The Blue Eye (Syri i kaltër) is one of the most famous and unique natural wonders in Albania. Located just a 45-minute drive from Ksamil, this is a must-see during your time in the area.
This natural spring bubbles up from an underground cave and creates a stunning, vibrant blue pool surrounded by lush greenery. The spring is at least 50-meters deep, but possibly could be even deeper.
You used to be able to swim at the Blue Eye; however, Albania has made a recent push for preserving its natural wonders, and you can no longer swim here.
To get here, it’s best to drive on your own if you have a car. The parking lot costs 200 lek and is a 20-minute walk from the actual Blue Eye.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a car, you can book a guided Blue Eye tour on a day trip from Sarande, Albania.
The entrance cost for the Blue Eye is 50 lek ($.50) per person.
This truly is one of the most stunning sights in the country, and is not to be missed!
4. Visit Saint George’s Monastery
Saint George’s Monastery is a beautiful 14th century monastery just north of Ksamil. The monastery is located atop Dema hill, just above Monastery Beach. We originally planned to go to the beach; however, due to construction, the beach is currently closed as of summer of 2023.
Next to the parking for Monastery Beach is a small dirt path that leads up the hill. Follow upp the path for a few minutes and you’ll reach the monastery.
When we arrived, there was an older man talking to a shepherd with his sheep at the entrance to the monastery. We weren’t sure if it was open, but the man showed us his keys and let us into the monastery.
We followed him around the property as he pointed out significant sites in his broken English and finally led us into a small church. The inside of the church had stunning frescoes painted on the walls and ceiling. We bought a couple of candles from him to pay our respects and walked around for a bit more.
As we left the monastery, we paid him a bit extra as a thank you for our tour and headed back down the hill.
I’m not sure if he is the gatekeeper of this monastery, nor am I sure what hours he is there. If you have a chance, it’s definitely worth the short hike up the hill to at least enjoy the stunning views of Corfu and the Ionian Sea.
5. Walk to the Forgotten House
On the way to Butrint National Park, there is a parking lot where you can stop for a nice viewpoint. Next to the parking lot, there is a trail that leads you down to the water to the Forgotten House, an abandoned stone house.
The house is okay, but the walk itself is absolutely lovely. We ran into a herd of sheep that followed us the entire way down, and the spring wildflowers were a site to behold.
The walk to the house is about 15 to 20 minutes from the parking lot. Once you make it down, you’ll get to enjoy one of the best views of Ali Pasha’s early 19th century castle across the canal. In our opinion, this is the best view you’ll get of the sunken castle unless you opt to take a boat tour from Butrint.
Overall, this is a great activity if you’re for a nice and short nature walk.
6. Visit Corfu, Greece
Corfu is a beautiful, mountainous Greek island located just off the coast of Albania. It’s the seventh-largest of the Greek islands and is known for its Venetian influence and fancy resorts.
There is no direct ferry from Ksamil to Corfu; however, you can catch it from Sarande, which is just 20-minutes north of Ksamil. The ferry from Sarande, Albania to Corfu only takes 30-minutes, so it makes for a perfect day trip or overnight stay from Ksamil, Albania. We spent two nights in Corfu, and it was just the right amount of time to experience some of the highlights on the island and get a feel for the way of life there.
We stayed in Corfu Town for both nights, and we spent the first day exploring all of the sights around the city. The second day we rented a car and drove around the northern half of the island to visit some well-known beaches.
If you take a day trip to Corfu, then you will only have time to see the sights in Corfu Town, a lovely Venetian-influenced city with lively cafes and charming streets.
Make sure to stop for lunch at Taverna Ninos, a local favorite serving traditional food and dishes. For dessert, try some delicious custard (comes in both vanilla and chocolate) from Periklis – Alexis.
Here are a few of the can’t-miss sights in Corfu Town:
- Wander around Old Town
- Visit the Old Venetian Fortress
- Climb to the top of the New Venetian Fortress for great views of Corfu Town
- Take a peek inside of the Church of St Spyridon
- Admire the Boschetto Garden
- Take a break in Spianada Park
- Visit the The Palace of St Michael and St George – a beautiful building that is home to the Museum of Asian Art.
If you have more time in Corfu, which we highly recommend, rent a car for the day and visit some of the iconic beaches up north, such as:
- Porto Timoni
- Cape Drastis
- Canal d’Amour
Tours in Corfu:
We get that renting a car isn’t always the best or easiest option for everyone. If you prefer, there are plenty of day tours from Corfu Town that take you to some of the famous beach spots or to nearby islands. Here are a couple that we recommend:
- Full-Day Boat Tour of Paxos, Antipaxos, and the Blue Caves from Corfu – Spend the day island hopping from Corfu and visiting some of the most secluded beaches and stunning waters in the Ionian Sea.
- Private Tour of Corfu Beaches Paleokastritsa and Glyfada – Go beach hopping for the day to the most beautiful beaches in northern Corfu.
How to Get to Corfu from Ksamil, Albania
The ferry to Corfu leaves from Sarande a few times per day. To get to Sarande from Ksamil, you can either take a taxi, which will cost you $20 per car. Or you can take the local bus from Ksamil to the port in Sarande, which will cost you around 250 lek ($2.50) per person.
You can purchase your ferry tickets from either Finikas Lines or Ionian Seaways. We booked with Ionian Seaways, and the cost was around €40 round-trip. Pricing depends on season. It’s easiest to purchase your tickets online ahead of time and to download an e-ticket for boarding.
Make sure to arrive to the port an hour before departure, as the customs lines can get long and busy. Don’t forget your passport! You’re crossing a border, so you’ll have to get your passport checked/stamped.
Once you arrive in Corfu, there are local buses that take you into town or taxis that cost €10 to drop you off in the old town. Otherwise, it’s a 20-25 minute walk into town from the port.
7. Spend an afternoon in Sarande
If you’re looking for a great place to spend an afternoon while in Ksamil, look no further than Sarande, Albania. Located just 10km away from Ksamil, this seaside town is the perfect destination for a quick visit.
Start your visit off by checking out the 16th century Lekuresi Castle overlooking the city. To get here, you can either drive if you have a car, or you can hike up to it from the city center. The hike takes around 45-minutes each way.
Afterwards, instead of heading directly back to the city center, you can walk to the Monastery of 40 Saints. This is a 6th century monastery that has some of the best views of the city and the beautiful coastline.
Make your way back to the city center and wander along the Saranda Embankment, or stop by a cafe for a nice rest.
To get to Sarande from Ksamil, you can either rent a taxi for 2,000 lek ($20), or you can take the local bus for 250 lek ($2.50).
8. Visit the Ksamil Islands
The Ksamil islands consist of three uninhabited islands located just off the coast of Albania. Two of which are less than 100 meters from some of the beaches in Ksamil, like Ksamil Beach 7!
You can swim to the two islands and explore them on your own by foot. They are quite small, so it shouldn’t take you long to walk around them.
If you’re looking for a complete escape from the crowds of Ksamil, then rent a kayak or a paddleboat and make your way to the third and furthest island. The cost to rent a kayak per hour is around 500 lek ($5). A paddleboat costs 1,000 lek ($10) per hour.
This island feels like a slice of secluded paradise that features a rocky shoreline and a stunning narrow beach, called Isole Gemelle di Ksamil, connecting two larger pieces of land.
With its gorgeous turquoise waters and fantastic views of Corfu in the near distance, this is a great spot to settle in for the day and enjoy a bit of heaven. This beach fills up quickly during the high season (June to August), so make sure to arrive earlier in the morning to secure a spot.
9. Take a day trip to Gjirokaster
Gjirokaster, located just one hour from Ksamil, is a small UNESCO World Heritage city with centuries of history and culture. It makes for the perfect day trip from Ksamil, Albania
The city is known for its unique buildings and architecture from Ottoman times. One of our favorite things to do in Gjirokaster is to explore the house museums featuring unique Ottoman-style interiors.
The Skenduli House is the most popular house to visit and was by far our favorite. Make sure to have someone show you the ceremony room on the top floor – it is incredible! The cost to visit is 300 lek ($3) per person.
Afterwards, you can check out Ismail Kadare’s house, a famous Albanian writer. The cost is 500 lek ($5) per person.
If you only have time to visit two houses, then we suggest visiting the Zakate house instead of Ismail Kadare’s house. The ceremony room on the top floor is one of the most elaborate, Ottoman-style rooms we’ve ever seen. It’s definitely worth a quick visit, even just to see this room.
No visit to Gjirokaster is complete without a wander through the bazaar located in the center of the city. You’ll see a lot of local crafts and goods, such as rugs, slippers, and clothing.
Make sure to ask the shop if they have any hand-made goods available, as most of the rugs hanging outside are machine-made with cotton.
Gjirokaster Castle sits atop the hill overlooking the city and is from before the 12th century. It has a unique history and actually used to be one of the most notorious communist-era prisons. Now, the castle features a couple of museums and great views of the city.
Best Tour from Sarande to Gjirokaster
If you don’t have a car, then we highly recommend this tour from Sarande to Gjirokaster. It’s reasonably priced and is a great way to visit the area without a car.
- Gjirokaster and Blue Eye Tour from Sarande – This full-day tour from Sarande features stops in both Gjirokaster and the Blue Eye and is a great way to see both iconic sites in one day.
10. Take a day trip up north
Take a day trip to some of the quaint villages and charming towns up along the northern Albanian Riviera. You’ll need a car to do this yourself, unless you book this riviera tour from Ksamil, Albania
Here are a few must-see towns:
- Borsh – This town features the longest beach in Southern Albania (Borsh Beach) and has a beautiful castle (Borsh Castle) that is well worth the walk up to the top.
- Himare – A small, yet modern, town with a gorgeous sandy beach. You can also hike to Gjiri I Akuariumit beach, which is possibly the most beautiful beach in the Albanian Riviera. Make sure to stop by Porto Palermo on your drive from Borsh to Himare.
- Dhermi – If you still have time in your day, then it’s worth stopping by the old town of Dhermi. This is one of the most charming towns on the Albanian Riviera. Make sure to visit the Monastery Of Saint Mary at the top of the hill – the frescoes inside are some of the best in the area.
For lunch, we highly recommend eating at Eléa Restaurant just outside of Himare. This family-run restaurant cooks some of the best Mediterranean cuisine in the area and is well-worth a visit.
The drive from Ksamil to Dhermi is almost 2 hours, so you may have to pick and choose which towns and beaches you visit. If you plan to see it all, then we suggest starting in Dhermi and making your way back to Ksamil.
11. Watch the sunset at the best viewpoint
One of the best things to do in Ksamil is to enjoy the sunset from this viewpoint. You can either walk there from town (takes about 30 minutes) or take your car.
From the viewpoint, you can see Corfu Island in the distance, the town of Ksamil, and endless views of the Ionian Sea. You can bring a picnic to spend a quiet hour taking in the beauty, or just stop by for a quick minute to take some photos.
How to Get to Ksamil?
Ksamil is easily accessible by bus, taxi, or rental car. If you are arriving from Corfu, then you will need to take the local bus or grab a taxi near the port to reach Ksamil. The cost is 250 lek ($2.50) for the bus and 2,000 lek ($20) for a taxi.
Bus to Ksamil
There are several buses that leave from the Tirana bus station to Sarande per day. They depart between 6:15 am to 10:00 pm. Unfortunately, there are no direct routes from Tirana to Ksamil. Instead, you will have to take the bus to Sarande and then take the local bus (or taxi) from Saranda to Ksamil.
The bus takes between 5-6 hours from Tirana. You can check the bus timetable here. The cost for a one-way bus ticket is €15, which must be paid in cash to the bus driver.
Driving to Ksamil
The quickest and best way to get to Ksamil is by car. Renting a car gives you the most flexibility to see the entire region, and we highly recommend doing so if you can.
We rented our car from Discover Cars, our go-to car rental site, at the Tirana airport. Right after picking up the car, we made the 4-hour drive down south to the Albanian Riviera.
The roads are all well-paved and completely safe to drive on. There are also plenty of gas stations along the way.
Private Transfer to Ksamil
If you don’t plan to rent a car and don’t want to take a bus, then you can book a private transfer directly to Ksamil from Tirana. The cost is expensive, but if you are traveling with multiple people, it makes it much more affordable.
Getting around Ksamil
Ksamil is a small city, therefore, you can easily walk to most spots within 15 minutes.
If you have a car, you can easily drive and park around the city.
During the high-season, some parking lots near the popular beaches will charge a fee for parking. If you can, try to walk everywhere. This way you can avoid the hassle of trying to find a parking spot and having to pay for it as well.
Best time to visit Ksamil
The best time to visit Ksamil, Albania is during the shoulder season: May, early June, and September. It’s usually warm enough to enjoy the beaches during these months and the crowds have yet to settle in.
We visited Ksamil in the middle of May, and unfortunately, we had rain almost the entire time. Visiting in September may be a safer bet, as it’s usually less unpredictable than springtime.
It’s important to note that if you visit during the shoulder season a lot of restaurants will be closed. We ran into this issue while we were in Ksamil in May, so it’s something to be aware of.
How much time to spend in Ksamil?
Plan to spend at least three days in Ksamil to get a feel for the area, visit a few beaches, and see the sights around town.
If you plan to do a lot of day trips, including to Gjirokaster and Corfu, then you’ll need a week to see it all if you want to take it slower.
Best hotels in Ksamil
There are a plethora of hotels in Ksamil. From beachside properties, to apartments, and budget-friendly spots, you’ll have more than enough options to choose from.
The shoulder season will bring cheaper prices for accommodation. Once you get into high season, however, the prices are quite inflated due to the influx of travelers. Make sake sure to book your hotel well in advance if you are visiting during the summer months.
Here are a few of our top hotel picks:
- Hotel Ajden by Mira Mare – A nice hotel located just a few hundred meters from Lori Beach, one of the best beaches in Ksamil.
- Blue Water Hotel – A gorgeous hotel, just 500 meters from Ksamil beach 9, with an outdoor pool.
- Duka’s Hotel – Located near Ksamil Beach 9, with a pool and large rooms with balconies.
- Hotel Onix – A 4-star hotel just 100 meters from the beach featuring nice rooms a balcony.
- Delight Hotel – Located near Lori Beach, this hotel features beautiful rooms with a sea view.
- Blue Eye Hotel – Located near Ksamil Beach, this hotel features a private pool and rooms with a balcony.
- Zace Studios – Affordable studio apartments located near the main Ksamil beaches.
- Hotel Sunway – Located just a few minute walk from Ksamil Beach and near many restaurants.
- Vila EN AD – A charming hotel with a private pool located within walking distance to Ksamil Beach.
Where to eat in Ksamil
Based on our experience, Ksamil isn’t necessarily where you go to eat traditional Albanian food. It’s a resort town with a lot of beach-side bars and restaurants, some pizza shops, and a few fast-food options.
With that being said, there are some fantastic seafood spots and great places for quick, cheap bites. Here are a few of our top Ksamil restaurant recommendations:
Restaurants in Ksamil:
- Guvat Restaurant & Bar – Amazing views overlooking the sea and delicious seafood and pasta options.
- Abiori Beach Bar Restaurant Pizzeria – Fantastic views of the sea with good seafood options.
- Bar Restorant Korali Ksamil – Another good option for seafood.
- Ohana Beach Bar Ksamil – Good food and drinks with seafood and snack options.
- Pizza Rei & Rai – Good option for pizza in Ksamil.
- Mussel House – Located just outside town, this is the place to go if you’re wanting to eat fresh mussels.
Cheap Eats in Ksamil:
- Beshiku – Delicious and quick gyros just a quick walk from the beach.
- Memaj Bakery & Pastry – One of the few cafes in town serving pies, breads, desserts, and coffee.
Cost to Visit Ksamil
The cost to visit Ksamil, Albania depends largely on the time of year you are visiting. Here’s a breakdown to help you plan the costs for your trip based on our experience.
- Accommodation: $50-$100 per night, depending on where you stay.
- Transportation: $25-$40 per day for a rental car, depending on the season. Local buses are about $2.50 per ride.
- Food: A meal costs anywhere between $5-$10 per person on average. The more expensive beach restaurants can cost upwards of $15-$20 per meal.
Tips for Visiting Ksamil
- Ksamil is kind of a party town. You’ll find loud music playing at most of the beaches and a lot of young people visiting on holiday. If you’re looking for a calmer beach experience, then we suggest heading up north to Himare or Dhermi.
- Bring cash. You have to pay in cash for sunbeds at most of the Ksamil beaches and at many restaurants. There are several ATMs throughout the city, so you can conveniently take out money when you’re in Ksamil.
- Pack water shoes. Some of the beaches are a bit rocky, so it’s nice to have water shoes or strap-on sandals to help protect your feet in these areas.
- Bring sunscreen. There isn’t much shade at the beaches, other than the beach umbrellas, so make sure to pack enough sunscreen for your trip to stay protected.
Ksamil, Albania Frequently Asked Questions
Is Ksamil, Albania worth visiting?
Ksamil, Albania is one of the best affordable beach destinations in Europe and is definitely worth visiting. The beaches are made of white sand and the water is crystal-clear. Many people call Ksamil the Maldives of Europe, and we couldn’t agree more.
Is Ksamil safe?
Yes, Ksamil is a safe and touristy town. People at all of the restaurants, markets, and shops were friendly and helpful. We always felt like we could ask for help and someone would willingly guide us in the right direction, even if they didn’t speak great English.
What is the hottest month in Ksamil?
August is the hottest month in Ksamil with temperatures in the high-80’s (Fahrenheit). The sea water is also the warmest during this time of the year.
Is Ksamil overcrowded?
Ksamil is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to find some of the beaches packed with visitors during peak season.
To avoid overcrowding at the beaches and enjoy your stay in peace, it’s best to visit Ksamil outside of peak season. Peak season is between June and August.
- Best Beaches in Ksamil
- Best Things to do in Himare
- Best Beaches in Himare
- How to get from Corfu to Ksamil
Albania Travel Planning Guide
Albania Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for Albania? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out Travel Insurance Master to find the best plan for you.
Albania Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in Albania? Yes! We rented a car in Albania for one month and it is the best way to see the country. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.
Albania Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Albania, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to Albania, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. We even had to rely on it for data to get some work done, and it worked great!
Albania Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for Albania? We booked all of our hotels through Booking. All of the hotels were responsive through the messaging tool, and there are endless options to choose from. Note – some hotels in Albania require you to pay in cash. Make sure to message the hotel in advance to be prepared with the correct form of payment.
Drinking Water in Albania – Wondering if you can drink the tap water in Albania? We were advised to not drink the water by our hotels, so we ended up buying bottled water instead.