Have you heard of the Albanian Riviera? This Balkan gem is still largely unknown, though it's becoming more and more popular. If you're looking for fun in the sun, Sarande is a great destination. Beautiful white sand beaches and warm, turquoise water have helped put Sarande on the map. Once a quiet fishing village, today it is growing in popularity.
Start your trip to Sarande by exploring some of Albania's best beaches. Ksamil Beach is probably the most popular in the area, with plenty of sun loungers, bars and restaurants. Although it can get crowded in the height of summer, it's still worth visiting. You can swim out to some of the tiny off-shore islands, which helps turn a day at the beach into a true adventure! If you prefer something a little quieter, try Mirror Beach, which is ideal for snorkelling. Young Albanians flock to Dhermi Beach, as the surrounding village is known for its nightlife. Finally, you can choose Borsh Beach, the longest beach on the entire Ionian coast. It's so big that even on the busiest days, you'll always find enough space to spread out on the sand.
While you might come to Sarande for the beach, you'll also find other things to do around town. The town has a long, fascinating history, with plenty of monuments to admire. Start with the Synagogue Complex, with some buildings dating back to the fifth century. It features a remarkable mosaic floor featuring some of the most iconic Jewish symbols, like a menorah and a ram's horn. You can also visit the sixth-century Forty Saints Monastery. It's largely ruined now, but the site offers beautiful views across the bay. The spooky crypt is open to visitors, but you'll need to get permission from the town hall first.
Car hire in Sarande lets you enjoy the most iconic drive in Albania, the Llogara Pass. In the heart of the Llogara National Park, this road follows the route taken by Julius Caesar in 48 BC. Not only does it have historical interest, but it's also stunningly beautiful, with amazing views across the Albanian Riviera.
With car or van hire in Sarande, you can visit another national park, Butrint. This has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich collection of ruins, including the ancient city of Butrint. There are many different examples of ruins here, reflecting the various civilisations that have held this part of Albania over the centuries. It's also a great place for wildlife lovers: with luck, you might spot tortoises and wolves, and dolphins are commonly seen just offshore.