Ksamil is a small town located about 15km (9 miles) south of Saranda and is known for having some of the only sandy beaches in the area and small islands within swimming distance intertwined with a breath-taking scenery and the abundance of fresh seafood at very cheap prices makes it one of the best places to visit whilst you’re in Saranda.
Ksamil was built in 1966 and is part of Butrint National Park. In the summer this is the main beach for tourists and locals alike. Beach area is limited, especially on the sandy parts, so expect to pay around 500 leke for two beach chairs for the day.
Ksamil, a little gem on the south coast
Paddle boats, jet skies and other water activities are also available. In addition, there are numerous hotels and guesthouses in Ksamil Village if you decide to stay overnight and not take the bus back to Saranda. During the off-season however, expect to have the beaches to yourself and less selection in restaurants and hotels, as many close around the end of September.
Ksamil Beach is slightly more expensive than other places in Albania; that said, it is still quite a bargain compared to other countries. For an average hotel room, expect to pay around $20-30 per night. A villa fitting about 4 people will cost more like $80 per night.
Food in Ksamil is also relatively cheap. Pasta will cost you between $3-5, whereas a seafood plate will cost you around $5-10 depending on what you get. There are also various “fast food” options like gyros which will cost you much less. Alcohol in Ksamil is also quite cheap, costing around $1-2 per beverage, and even less if you’re brave enough to try rakia – the Albanian national spirit consisting of distilled grapes.
Ksamil is composed of a handful of islands and a few beaches on the mainland. The beaches connected to the mainland can be quite crowded during the peak summer season. If you’d prefer a more secluded beach, you can either take a boat to one of the smaller islands or, if you’re a strong swimmer, it is possible to swim over. There isn’t much to do in Ksamil except swim and sunbathe. However, there are tons of day trips you can take easily and cheaply, such as visiting the Blue Eye (Syri I Kalter), the UNESCO World Heritage of Butrint, and the ancient “stone city” of Gjirokastra if you want to go a little further afield.
Transportation via bus is frequent between Ksamil and Saranda, making it the perfect destination for a day outing. Hitchhiking is also an option, which is easy in small groups and safe for female travelers.
Some tips and info on Ksamil
- You can see the Greek island of Corfu from anywhere in Ksamil.
- The waters in Ksamil are crystal clear and full of sea-life which can make for excellent snorkeling.
- There is wi-fi on the beach.
- In the peak season you can expect to pay 500 Lek for two sun beds and umbrella but this is well worth it if you’re planning on staying for most of the day. If you’re going at the height of the season you’ll want to make sure to get to Ksamil early or after 3:30pm if you want a seat else they will be taken.
- You can walk from Ksamil to Butrint in around an hour. You’ll walk through many olive groves and pass secluded beaches; few people do this which makes it even better.
- There are 4 small islands in Ksamil. Two of them are within swimming distance and are very close. The other two “twin-islands” are a little further out and normally require a jet ski, paddle boat or normal taxi-boat to be reached. The benefit of going to the further away islands is that you’ll likely have them to yourselves and avoid the crowds. There are a number of small cafés and restaurants on the Twin Islands too which offer good food, drinks and service.
- You’ll look to pay around €1 for a beer and €4-7 for a main dish.
- Locals in the area speak good English, Greek and Italian