Laurel and I took a trip to Saranda, and on our way we stopped by the ancient Roman ruins of Butrint! We had the park all to ourselves, and we took our time exploring the archaeological sites before heading back to the beach for sea food!
Friday, November 24, 2017, 9:54pm
We woke up bright and early and left from Gjirokaster around 8:00am. When we got to Saranda, I still felt completely exhausted. So many days of traveling without a break have really worn me down. I’m still happy to be on the road, but I know I’m going to be extra ready for a long break when I get back.
When we walked into the bright, sunny apartment with ocean views, my jaw almost dropped.
When we arrived in Saranda, we found our Airbnb apartment in minutes. The owner’s brother greeted us at the door, and when we walked into the bright, sunny apartment with ocean views, my jaw almost dropped. It was so beautiful and modern, and I’ve missed this aesthetic in interior design.
We wasted no time. Within fifteen minutes, we’d changed our clothes and headed out the door for Butrint. Luckily we found the bus easily, and we made it to the park around 11:00am. The ticket seller let us both in for 600 leke (whereas non-PCVs normally pay 700 leke per ticket), and we had almost the entire park to ourselves.
Butrint is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has inhabited since prehistoric times. Throughout its 2,500-year history, Butrint has been a Greek colony, a Roman city and a bishopric.1
Today, Butrint is a 29-sq-km national park 18 km south of Saranda, and the preserved ruins are famous for their size, beauty and tranquility.2 One of my friends in the Peace Corps described Butrint as, “Rome, but without all the tourists.”
The park was so lovely and peaceful, and with the added layer of the historical ruins, I found it endlessly fascinating as well.
We wandered around the park in a purposeful but also aimless sort of way. We mostly stuck to the pathway, and we deviated from the road every once in a while for a good photo op.
The sun was shining, and the air tasted just slightly of sea salt.
I really enjoyed the peace and quiet, the stateliness of the well-preserved Roman architecture, and the informational signs that were packed with good information.
We made a large circle around the island, exploring the ancient ruins at our own pace. The sun was shining, the sheep grazed off in the distance, and the air tasted just slightly of sea salt. It was beautiful.
- The museum (the statues were gorgeous)
- The amphitheater
- The lake views
The one disappointment was that we weren’t able to see the mosaics uncovered at the baptism area. Better luck next time.
We wrapped up our walk around 1:10pm, and made it back into the city for lunch around 2:30pm. We had a meal by the sea, and I savored every bite of my delicious seafood pasta. Yum.
After our lunch, we walked along the pedonale admiring the setting sun along the coast. It was gorgeous, but it was strange to see Saranda so empty of tourists. The city didn’t quite feel alive.
We walked along the pedonale admiring the setting sun along the coast.
After awhile, we headed back to our lovely apartment to enjoy the sunset from our balcony. I relaxed while Laurel called home, then around 6:00pm, we went back outside to explore. This time the boardwalk was entirely dark, but the city lights were very pretty against the dark waves of the sea.
We had a lot of trouble finding a restaurant to eat at because so many places were closed, but we eventually sat down for coffee then went back to the same restaurant for a pizza.
GETTING TO BUTRINT FROM SARANDA
Buses from Saranda cost 100 leke and run hourly from 5:30am to 9:30pm and leave from Ekualipsi, Sos Bar, Hotel Butrinti, Hotal Oasi, Supermarket Planet, and Kanal I Cukes. The line travels through Ksamil and ends at Butrint, returning from Butrint hourly on the hour.
If you’re traveling during the tourist season (summer), plan on visiting Butrint as early in the day as possible. It’s a well-established spot for tour buses, and the park gets crowded during normal business hours.
Read about my entire November trip below!
- Day Trip to Lake Ohrid
- Cathedrals and Icons in Korca
- Autumn Beach Vibes in Permet
- Castles and Apple Pie in Gjirokaster
- Bunkers and Cable Cars in Tirana
- Museums and Skanderbeg Souvenirs in Kruje
- Sunset Panoramas in Shkoder
BONUS: Check out the rest of my pictures from the trip!