KSAMIL DIY – Vacation in Albania
Ksamil is a small and still not so touristy town in the south of Albania, which offers beautiful beaches. The closeness to Greece makes the sun here extremely strong, the water is crystal clear and the sea has an intense turquoise color. This is the perfect place for a DIY holiday in Albania. Ksamil is also located close to all the nearby attractions. So if you are looking for peace, beautiful views and blue water combined with the wildness of Albania here and there, a stay in Ksamil should meet your expectations. Unless of course you go there out of season, because despite the poorly developed infrastructure in the summer months, the small and narrow beaches can be very crowded
WHEN – HOLIDAY IN ALBANIA?
In the low season, Ksamil gives the impression of an ordinary and very quiet seaside town. When I visited Ksamil at the beginning of May, there were just few people on the beaches and in the restaurants. A lot of places were just beginning to prepare for the new season. However, most of the places were already open, if not in full, at least in a part. However, it may happen that in some restaurants not all dishes will be available. Because in the city a lot of local people live all year round, the shops, bakeries and other places visited by Albanians are normally open.
The town itself looks very average, a bit like a neglected housing estate. There is no beautiful seaside promenade, wide beaches or souvenir shops on every corner. However, you can find collapsing ruins, construction works or overturned litter bins. Only the area directly by the sea looks more well-kept. Unfortunately, you have to be aware that at the beginning of May the empty beaches are a result of the low water and air temperatures. The water in the sea, which attracts with its color and transparency, is still very cold in May, and temperatures fluctuate around 20 degrees.
In high season, mainly in the summer months, the weather is very hot. It is also the period when Ksamil is besieged by tourists. Small beaches can be filled to the brim with deckchairs and towels. Apparently, the entrance to most of them is paid in high season. Of course, you can find calmer places outside of the city, but you will have to take a longer walk or even ride with a car. Therefore, it seems that the fame of the beautiful beaches has surpassed the touristic infrastructure and in the season it is a place full of people, but for now it can’t be called a beautiful resort.
It turns out that it is too cold to bath in May but and there are too many people during the high season. Therefore, from my perspective, the perfect month to visit Ksamil and spend holiday in Albania is September. There are no more holiday crowds then, but the water and air are still warmed by the July and August sun.
HOW TO GET TO KSAMIL?
By car: There is a road from the north to the south that leads to Ksamil. It is very winding due to the mountainous nature of Albania. However, thanks to this, it also impresses with amazing views. The route along the coast is interesting because you can also stop on the way in several smaller towns. For example for a dinner in Jala or Himare (you can combine this with visiting the Himara Castle viewpoint) or to visit the fortress in Porto Palermo. When coming from the north of Albania, you will go to Ksamil via a larger and better known seaside town, called Saranda.
By bus: from Saranda, a city bus goes every hour directly to Kamil.
WHAT TO DO AT KSAMIL?
Beaches: Ksamil is famous for its beautiful beaches and a landscape consisting of small islands scattered around the coast. Amazing views and the blue water make Ksamil the perfect place to spend a holiday in Albania. The beaches are not marked on Google Maps, but they stretch practically along the coast of the entire town. If you want to locate them you can look for bar and restaurant names with the word “beach”. The beaches are not sandy, they consist mainly of small, bright pebbles. Therefore, it is good to bring water shoes with you, because walking barefoot on them is not pleasant. Most of the beaches are filled with deckchairs and umbrellas during the high season. Due to the quite mountainous shape of the shore, some beaches are so small that the restaurants next to them built wooden platforms to increase the amount of space for deckchairs. The beaches can be reached from the street by passing through the restaurant area or by going along the coast. The latter option, however, is more demanding and involves climbing, a few jumps and walking on rocks.
Islets: a few dozen meters from the shore there are the first islets. They can be seen from the beach. You can reach them by taking a small boat or renting a pedalo. At first glance the islets are heavily overgrown with plants, but Albanians managed to adapt some part for tourists and they offer small beaches. In the high season there are even deckchairs, e.g. the area of Isole Gemelle di Ksamil and Ishujt E Ksamilit.
Other beaches: Going north, towards Saranda, you’ll also find beautiful beaches and certainly less touristy. Some examples are:
- Mirrors ’Beach – a great beach to which you have to drive down a steep gravel road (a normal car should be able to do it). On the beach there is a restaurant with a bar, a toilet and a parking.
Others I didn’t visit:
- Pulëbardha Beach – Google Maps shows that the beach should be accessible by car and that it has some infrastructure (restaurant, bar, deckchairs, etc.).
- Shpella e Pëllumbave – on Google Maps you can’t see the road but it can be reached on foot. Most probably it is smaller than the other two (it also looks less touristic – less reviews on Google). In the high season however, it also has a restaurant or bar as well as deckchairs and umbrellas.
Neighborhood: Ksamil is only 20 minutes away from Butrint – quite well preserved ruins of a settlement, which for years was inhabited by various people, including Greeks, Romans and Venetians. Moving north, you can visit Saranda, which is better known among tourists, and take a walk along the seaside promenade, eat a good dinner in one of the restaurants or taverns, or go to the castle on the hill with a beautiful view, which is currently a restaurant. From Ksamil or Saranda, you can also go on a longer (whole or half-day) trip to Gjirokaster and The Blue Eye.
Corfu: From Ksamil you can see the island of Corfu on the horizon. To get there you can take a ferry. It can be either an additional attraction during your stay in Albania or you can combine these two places in one trip and spend some time on Corfu and some in Albania.
WHERE TO EAT AT KSAMIL?
On the way to the beaches along the coast, you will find a lot of really nice restaurants. Many of them offer sea-view terraces. I can definitely recommend Guvat Bar Restorant. The restaurant offers local food, fish, seafood, delicious desserts and much more. For vegetarians they have the traditional Albanian dishes, namely grilled vegetables and oven-baked cheese. As a group of 8 people we tried each of the above options and we had no complaints. The owner of this place made also our stay more pleasant with his friendly attitude. In the evening, you can also go to the Bianco Lounge Bar for a drink or during the day for a coffee. Its elegance and modernity definitely stands out in this area. Additionally on the roof of the building there is a terrace available for guests. From there you can admire the small green islands surrounded by blue water during the day or the sun sinking in orange-pink water in the evening.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN KSAMIL?
Due to its touristy nature, Ksamil has many guesthouses and apartments to offer. More adventurous travellers there will also find campsites and car parks for campers. A camping that I can highly recommend is Gaci’s Camping. They have space for tents in the garden, a parking for campers and they also offer rooms for rent directly at their home. It’s a very pleasant place with a family-like atmosphere. You can find more information about this place and traveling around Albania with a tent here.