Visiting Corfu, there is no way you can ignore the Albania call. Almost all the agencies have the Albania trip from Corfu island, so take a look at what you can expect. You can find in this article everything you need to know about this trips. Plus documents, cigarettes, alcohol and other tips as I did this tour more than once. Don’t ask me why!
Going in the Albania day trip, you can spend all the time exploring Sarandë independent. Or you can take the optional tour to Butrint + Blue eye or Butrint + Lekures castle. Either way, you will have some free time to explore Sarandë.
If you prefer the independent exploring, you have to be aware of the departure time and the time difference between Albania and Greece. Yes, Albania it is so close but with an hour earlier so you don’t want to loose the boat.
See at the bottom of the article all tips, tricks and practical issues regarding the Albania trip from Corfu island.
Albania Trip From Corfu Island: Sarandë, Butrint, Blue Eye, Lekures Castle
Usually, Albania trip from Corfu island includes the pick up and drop-off. Depending on how far away your hotel is from Corfu town, you will spend between 10 minutes to 2 hours in the couch. Each way. The roads in Corfu are narrow and 30 kilometres in here, especially in the high season, can last anywhere between 30 minutes to hours.
Anyway, you will board at 9 am in Corfu Town from the Corfu town port. After you pass the passport control.
Fly dolphin or a boat?
You can choose a trip with the flying dolphins (hydrofoils, his speed boats) or a boat. The difference is that with the speed boats you arrive in Sarandë in 25 minutes and with a boat in one hour and half.
Nevertheless, you see more of Corfu coast with the boat, it is an actual cruise and you can enjoy the sun on the deck, it is a beautiful journey. Yet you will spend less time in Albania.
Arriving in Sarandë: coach boarding
When you arrive in Sarandë, you will board one coach, if you took one optional trip. First you will enjoy a panoramic tour of the city, with the first stop for a coffee. The terrace is beautiful and you can admire the harbour and enjoy the high speed WiFi!
Do try: cappuccino, frappe, kataif, fresh squeezed orange juice.
Sarandë is a clean and sunny city, with 300 days of sunshine /year!
The city’s name comes from the 40 martyrs of Sebaste. It is Agii Sarande in Greek, Santi Quaranda in Italian language. During the Turkish occupation, the city was named Aya Sarandi. It was also called Porto Edda, named by Mussolini’s eldest daughter. Nowadays, Sarandë is Albania’s summer capital and developed quickly.
I hope to spend some time in this city: the water is clean and the beach is very large (gravel beach). There are many shops, a beautiful promenade and the food is delicious. Simple, but very natural. As the beer, you gotta try the local Kaon!
The most beautiful hotel is Santa Quaranta, five stars. It is new and with modern facilities, including a private beach.
Sarandë to Butrint
After 30 minutes in the beautiful terrace with Ionian sea view, you board the couch again. The coach will be the same throughout the trip so you can leave the things you don’t need inside.
Next stop: Butrint UNESCO site. But first…
As the road follows the Albanian coast, you will have the chance to see many beautiful sights. Also to find out a lot of things about Albania: history, fauna, economy etc. You will see the houses that were built without permission being demolished.
Be ready to be amazed by some incredible beaches with bright white snd and turquoise waters. And the Butrint lake, with the oysters farms. The lake has both salty and fresh waters!
A glimpse of Ksamil
Afterwards, you reach the town of Ksamil, one of Albania’s most renowned holiday resorts. The Ksamil Islands are so beautiful and the water cooler is insane.
During the communist era, Albanians needed a special permit to visit their relatives in this city. Ksamil means six miles, this being the distance that separates the Albanian coast from the island of Corfu.
In the past, many fled the country by swimming all the way to Corfu island.
In Albania there are also lots of olive trees, almonds, lemons and many blue agaves, the tequila plant.
Last but not least: Vivari channel and the Ali Pasha from Ioannina Castle
The nicest think in taking the optional trip is that you will find out a lot of things about each attractions. Some times, even some lovely stories.
Visit Butrint’s ancient UNESCO site
The ancient site of Butrint, a UNESCO heritage site, was originally an Hellenic ancient Greek settlement. Then, followed the Romans, Byzantines and the Ottomans, the last occupant being Ali Pasha.
The site is beautiful and you walk in a forest of eucalypts and laurels, discovering the remains of the past civilisations.
There is a Roman Forum, the Roman Baths, an Amphitheater, Acropolis, the Greek walls, the Roman walls. You will learn to make the difference between the Roman and the original Hellenic walls!
You will also see the ruins of a Byzantine church and a huge baptistery and beautiful mosaics, which are only discovered once every four years, while others are covered with gravel.
At the same time you can visit the site’s museum, free of charge.
Don’t forget: bring water, hat and apply a sunscreen generously as you will spend some time in the sun and you cannot purchase water on the spot!
Lunch in Sarandë
After visiting Butrint, you will get back to Sarandë for lunch, at the same terrace as in the morning. Lunch is included, not the beverages, but there are so cheap!
I recommend the local beer, is natural, wine is also delicious and so the brandy. The buffet menu is simple, very simple yet equally delicious as the food is mostly natural. Salads of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, cheese, tzatziki sauce, steak, grilled vegetables, baked potatoes, lamb, apples and bread. There is plenty and they do make refills. Spent here an hour.
The Blue eye, Bistrice river spring
After lunch, the couch drives on the bank of Bistrice river Bristrice for about 25 kilometers to its spring. Along the way, admire Albania’s relief and the two hydro-power plants on the Bistrice river.
The Blue Eye is a natural wonder, a place where 14 springs come to the surface in the same place and it’s magnificent. It is a fairytale place and very rich vegetation, with blue dragonflies and the largest burdock leaves I’ve ever seen.
The Turkish coffee is amazing at the bar you will find in here! The ice-creams are also delicious, so the other coffee. yet, the Turkish coffee is my favourite in here.
And do drink the spring water, it is so tasty and pure, you will find the spring close to the bar!
Lekures, Suleyman’s Magnificent Castle in Sarandë
In the full summer season, the optional trip sometimes does’t include the Blue Eye, because the road is extremely crowded. Instead, you will visit the Lekoures Castle in Sarandë. The castle was built by Suleyman Sultan, when he wanted to conquer Corfu island. The view is amazing and you can take a coffee. Here is a restaurant too and many events in the summer time.
Back in the old town of Sarandë, you will have some shopping time. Everybody goes to the Conad store (pay in euros). The most wanted items are: the Skandenberg brandy, the mint liqueur, the olive oil, honey, fig sweets.
You can also take a dip in the sea, or go to Limani bar, right on the seafront. Surprisingly, I have noticed that the difference in price for beer, for example, between the small markets and the bars is almost non-existent.
Do take: ice cream, cakes and especially trilecce, a traditional Albanian dessert. The frozen yogurt is also very good. All the desserts are very very sweet!
Back to Corfu
Arriving in Corfu port, you will have to pass again through the Custom. Sometimes this takes longer, sometimes is very fast. Arriving time: 18:00 in the harbour then, depending the Custom, you will go to the coaches that will make the transfer back to your hotel.
Documents for the Corfu – Albania trip
You have to book the trip with at least one day in advance as your passport or ID details have to be sent to the custom officers. So, you cannot just pop up in the morning in there.
Documents: it is not required for the majority of the EU citizens to bring the passport for the daily trip to Albania. You can travel with the national ID. Just check with the agency you book from if your travel documents qualifies or not. For non EU residents, the passport may be a must, but then, also to visit Europe so check the visa status.
If you travel with a minor you have to bring the procure with you, if applies.
And most important: do not forget your passport/ID in the hotel!
Alcool, Cigarettes and the restrictions
If you want to purchase anything from the duty-free in the Greek custom, you must do it in the morning as in the afternoon, when you return, the store will be closed.
So upon return, you can bring: legal is 10 packages of cigarettes (240 cigarettes) with you. Not cigars, but normal cigarettes. Sometime they say only 2 packages (40 cigarettes). Is better to put them in different places, two packages in the bag, two in other part etc. Your guide can advice you on this.
Alcohol: well, in Albania you will find the Skandenberg Brandy, that is high quality and extremely cheap: 5 euro/750 bottle. Unfortunately, you can only bring 1 later. Some tourist risk and take more. Some times they get along some times they have some things confiscated. You can also get creative and pass some things to other travellers. It is up to you.
Diary: you cannot bring diary from Albania in Corfu island. All will get confiscated. Other things are ok to bring, as far as I know, yet you may ask your guide.
Money: euros are perfectly fine in Albania for this one day trip, as you will arrive in places they except euro (including the Conad supermarket).