…I do it in Dhermi and Saranda. The reason? Well, let’s start with beautiful beaches backed by some incredible mountains, affordable accommodations and dining, no crowds to wade through, and the usual friendly Albanians. And getting there isn’t all that difficult either.
Most people, coming from outside Albania, would fly into Tirana and then bus or taxi their way to either Saranda or Dhermi. But we’re coming from the interior of Albania, Berat to be precise (see Carrie’s last post ), so we once again
opted for the taxi to bus to taxi method. And the process could not have been easier, albeit not inexpensive, at a total cost of around $53US. Total time of just under 5 hours: taxi from hotel to bus station in Berat @15 minutes – minibus from Berat to Vlore @3 hours – taxi from Vlore to Dhermi @ 1.5 hours. A long day, but the drive from Vlore to Dhermi is spectacular and we were able to make multiple stops for photo ops, since we were in a hired car. Another advantage to using this method of travel. We also chose the hired car for the trip from Dhermi to Saranda, another beautiful drive of about 1.5 hours at a cost of about $42 US.
But what if you don’t have time to go to two beach towns or would just prefer to settle into one place? The similarities and differences between the two towns are as follows:
- Dhermi is a very small village with a nice smattering of cozy beach side restaurants, but with only one ATM machine that looked like it was on its last legs (make sure you bring cash).
- Saranda is a good sized town with a large variety of restaurants, clubs, banks, etc… A cruise ship even stops here.
- Both have excellent beaches and lodging, however if you’re looking for large full service hotels, then look to Saranda.
- Saranda has ancient Roman archaeological sites nearby.
- The beaches at both places were nearly deserted. Now keep in mind that we were there the first week of June, very early in the vacation season. I’ll bet it ramps up as the season wears on.
So it really depends on what you are looking for. We loved both places equally. If you’re looking for
total relaxation in a magnificent setting choose Dhermi. If you’re looking for a bit more sizzle with some city life, then choose Saranda.
Our hotel in Dhermi, the Augustus, managed by Nelson and his sister, is in a great location just up the hill from the beach. We would relax on our patio in the early afternoons while enjoying a view of the beach and a cold beer. Our mornings were spent in search of coffee, then slow walks along the beach. We would usually put a picnic
together and have lunch on the beach. Late afternoons were spent in much the same fashion. And yes, we ate seafood nearly everyday. Easy and relaxing is how to describe our time in Dhermi and it was just what the doctor ordered.
Our 5th floor flat at the Chill Out Apartment in Saranda was equally wonderful. The only knock was that the elevator was inoperative, so the hike up the 5 floors was bit of a chore. Located about a 20 minute walk from the center of town provided a bit of peace and quiet with a wonderful view of the city and the
harbor. We had a cool food truck near by for some local street food tasting as well as a small market for snacks and booze. There was also a very nice restaurant on the ground floor of our building that specialized in very tasty seafood.
But Saranda has a hidden gem and that gem is the ancient Greek and later Roman city of Butrint. Just
14km from Saranda, a local bus which runs hourly, will have you there in about 30 minutes. The site is expansive and impressive, although parts were poorly maintained, so it took us the better part of a day to do it justice. Details can be found at Butrint.
We were also treated to an abundance of wild and domestic wildlife; pigs roaming freely, turtles, frogs, lizard, and snakes.
I just never tire of visiting these ancient sites. My imagination takes over, in an attempt to piece together what life must have been like for the common person. Chores being performed, business dealings sealed, family dinners, school, the making of wine: How different it must have been, yet how similar to everyday life today. One final tip: get there at opening time, 8am, and you’ll be rewarded by being nearly the only ones in the park. We strolled around for nearly 2 hours before another small group caught up to us. By mid-afternoon it was packed with bus load after bus load of tour groups.
Also take a picnic lunch with a bottle of wine. There are multiple places to sit, relax, and enjoy people watching.
Sadly, this is our final post from Albania as our next destination is Athens, Greece. I had absolutely no idea of what to expect from Albania, but after 5 weeks here the only thing I can say is that I want more. The mountains, the food, the coffee culture, the seaside towns, and its people, especially Albania’s incredible people, all make you want to stay and see more. Forget whatever you see or read from the media about safety, it’s bullshit, and add Albania to your vacation destination bucket list. Albania is the safest country that we’ve ever visited and one of the most beautiful. Albania, I miss you already – even though you prefer coffee to wine.
Hike Drink Live Laugh (Apero Time) More photos below.
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5 thoughts on “Dhermi – Saranda, Albania: I Don’t Beach Often, But When I Do…”
Those are some amazing photos Pat ! I already can’t wait to see the architectural ruins
in Athens, Greece. As always , have safe travels .
Well thank you, Ron! Athens was pretty amazing and I think we have some interesting photos. We should have that post up very soon.
We’re thinking about a year away in Europe including Albania for maybe 3 months. Still early in the planning stages. Sounds like a great country to visit, after we spend a couple months in Portugal. Thanks for your insights.
WOW! Sounds exciting. I think that you’ll love Albania. I know that we did. Theth is a don’t miss. Carrie has all but completed her how and why to travel book. Lots of great info on extended travel planning. It should be out as an eBook soon. Look for it on Amazon, titled: GlobeWandering.
Entertaining and informative. Keep us posted as your plans develop.
Thanks Pat. We’ll look for the e-book.