Ksamil is one of the most surprising places I have visited in the Balkans. This village is home to delicious seafood, a colourful sea and beautiful islands located a stone’s throw away from the village. I have visited Ksamil on two occasions now and recommend it to anyone travelling to Albania.
In this destination guide, I would like to share my experiences in Ksamil and provide you with the best things to do for your visit. Before I do so, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Yuliia Berkuta (known as @juli_berk on Instagram) and I’m a Ukranian travel and landscape photographer, blogger and artist. I was born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Ever since I was young, I have had a desire to travel and explore the world. I had the opportunity to travel with my family and then later with my friends and husband. In 2018, I moved out from the city in hope of escaping the hustle and bustle to increase my quality of life by being closer to nature.
Right after this decision, I felt this creative energy come back into my life. The forests and fields, mountains and seas, pink sunrises and golden sunsets, flowers and fresh air, crazy adventures and new places – these things inspired me so much! Being in nature helps me express my feelings in all the creative ways I can whether it be photography, writing or painting.
Today, I have visited 44 countries and have gone back to some of them more than once! This feeling of happiness drives me to continue exploring the world and sharing my experiences on social media and my website.
Two Awesome Trips to Albania
I was interested in the Balkans because I hadn’t heard many stories about people travelling to those countries. The Balkans were unknown to me. So I decided to check them out. It was such a wonderful adventure full of inspiration and new experiences. The second time I came was in 2020 with my husband because I wanted to show him the places I saw before.
Both of my trips to Albania were part of these Balkan road trips. On my first visit to Albania, I came for a few days to discover two beautiful spots – Ksamil and Dhermi – and relax a bit along the way. On the second visit, I had more time with five days in Ksamil and three days in Dhermi. Both of these trips were just fantastic and I can’t recommend Ksamil enough!
Ksamil – The Maldives of Albania
My first impression of Ksamil was just – wow! I remember ordering a salad at a restaurant and thinking how amazing and cheap it was. The fact that Albania is cheaper than most European countries can make your experience that much better. This is true even in the resort areas of Ksamil.
Another highlight was visiting for the first time in September, 2018 and having no crowds. It was the end of summer and you could easily find a place to stay, eat, relax on the beach and park your car. The best impression was how clear and colourful the water was – the Maldives of Albania!
Hands down, the best aspect about Ksamil is the waters of the Ionian Sea. I spent my days swimming and relaxing everyday on a new beach. Ksamil consists of many beaches with different conditions: rocky, sandy, pebbly, etc. My favourite ones were: Stela Beach, Bora Bora Beach and Lori Beach.
9 Best Things To Do in Ksamil
1. Visit the Beautiful Beaches of Ksamil
Ksamil is quite a small village and the main attraction is the sea. So the first thing you can do is visit the many beaches on offer. As mentioned before my favourite beaches were Stela Beach, Bora Bora Beach and Lori Beach but you can also hire a car and discover more beaches nearby like Pulebardha Beach, Plazhi i Krorezes and Shpella e Pellumbave.
2. Watch the Sunset from St. George’s Monastery
This monastery is an ancient Orthodox monastery located halfway between Ksamil and Saranda. If you hire a car you can drive to the monastery and take in a majestic sunset. Usually the monastery is closed – so visitors won’t be disturbing anyone by visiting. Just make sure you respect this place.
3. Visit the Salt Lagoon of Lake Butrint
Located on the other side of Ksamil is Lake Butrint – a beautiful salt lagoon surrounded by dense forested hills, a rocky coast and full of saltwater and freshwater marshlands. I recommend visiting to try the mussels at The Mussel House Restaurant on the lake. They were the best mussels ever!
4. Discover the History of Butrint National Park
Butrint National Park is a must-see if you have time and are interested in nature and history. This park is 9,400 hectares in size and is home to freshwater lakes, hilly landscapes and many other natural treasures.
There are endless species of plants and animals to discover in the national park, as well as the islands of Ksamil and other historically important archeological sites that date back centuries. These include ancient Roman ruins, some of which have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
5. Explore the Fascinating Cave of Kreshmoi
The drive from Ksamil to the Cave of Kreshmoi takes less than an hour and is worth it especially for those who love archeology. It’s one of the oldest inhabited caves in Europe that archeologists believe is 20,000 years old.
6. Spend a Day or Two in the Nearby Saranda
Saranda is a nearby town to Ksamil where you can relax on the beaches, watch the sunset from Lekursi Castle, visit the Monastery of 40 Saints, and enjoy the local food and drink at the many fantastic cafes and restaurants.
7. Marvel at the Waters of “The Blue Eye”
The Blue Eye is a natural spring located near the village of Muzine. You can easily drive here from Ksamil. This spring is famous for its clear blue waters that give the name “The Blue Eye”. The depth of the spring is believed to be more than 50 metres as divers have descended that far. A fascinating place to visit for the afternoon on your travels around Southern Albania.
8. Day Trip to the UNESCO City of Gjirokaster
Gjirokaser is a UNESCO city located an hour and a half away from Ksamil. The Old Town is known for its stone houses and architecture. This destination is also home to one of the most incredible castles in Albania, which you could spend hours exploring and learning about the history.
9. Take a Short Boat Ride to Corfu in Greece
From Saranda it’s possible to take a short boat ride to the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu. You can easily add this island to your Albania itinerary and then move onto exploring more of the Greek Islands in the Ionian Sea.
Tips for your Visit to Ksamil
- Ksamil consists of many small beaches with umbrellas. They are paid umbrellas normally starting from 4 Euro. Just remember to find the ones which are comfortable and are in the best position for you.
- The village of Ksamil is a cheap place to relax but prices in restaurants are higher the closer you get to the sea. The restaurants are cheaper the further away you go from the sea – some are even half the price!
- Many places in Ksamil don’t accept cards, so it’s best to visit with cash.
- Unfortunately, there is a bit of rubbish on the streets of Ksamil. But don’t worry, the sea is very clean. Make sure you don’t litter on your visit.
Thanks for reading everyone and enjoy your trip to Ksamil in Albania!