Ksamil – Albania’s ‘off the radar’ beachside town

Ksamil Albania Sarande beach drone

When planning our trip over the last few years, we didn’t think we would end up in Albania. Not because Albania isn’t beautiful, but it’s just not on the radar as a destination for Australians (and many other countries). However, as we started to research more, and realized we need to escape the Schengen zone, it jumped into our thoughts. Researching Albania we decided the Riviera was a great location to visit, and Ksamil was recommended as a ‘crown jewel’ along the coast. However, comparatively to other destinations, we had minimal expectations and didn’t know what would greet us when we arrived.

We arrived in Ksamil after a massive travel day departing Santorini at 5am to a 7.40am flight to Corfu, before our 1pm ferry from Corfu to Sarande (which was delayed an hour and left at 2). After our supposed 1 hour ferry took 1 hour and 44 minutes (don’t get the Joylines Ferry!), we jumped into a taxi and ended up at Ksamil around 4pm.

Ksamil was different than we expected. We best describe it as a mix between the Croatian Riviera, Amalfi coast, Mexican beach town, and Bali in Indonesia. Why this mix? Ksamil is a series of little beaches that sit in adjacent bays around the town. These beaches boast azure waters well matched to those we both enjoyed along the Mexican or Croatian coast. All of the beaches are covered with beach chairs and umbrellas similar to beaches along the Amalfi Coast or Monterosso Al Mare in Cinque Terre, which you can rent from the locals. Many of the beaches have beach clubs perched on the edge of the little bays or the cliffs above. The atmosphere had a relaxed ‘holiday vibe’ similar to an island feel you get in places like Bali. However, the town has some aspects of Mexico or Bali that weren’t positive, primarily the stray dogs and rubbish that can litter the streets (don’t worry, the beaches are wonderfully rubbish free).

The best bits of Ksamil for us included the budget friendly nature, the holiday vibes of the town, the friendly locals, and great beach options (including a great hidden beach – see below!). Ksamil, and Albania is very cheap in general compared to the rest of Europe. The town also has a great holiday atmosphere, with families around, music playing at beach clubs, and everyone generally in a good mood. We found the locals in Albania very happy to help us out with queries and were some of the most friendly from our travels in Europe.

Our favourite beach in Ksamil wasn’t one of the main beaches, it was in fact a ‘hidden beach’. This hidden beach is not for those that want to sit on the deck chairs in the beach clubs. It was a tiny little strip of sand without any other people present and wonderfully clear water. To get there, head towards the Manta Hotel and the beachside bar using the path down the right hand side. Along the path towards the bar you will see a staircase leading towards the water. Follow this down and you will be treated to a small little beach on the right hand side.

If this isn’t your ideal setting, our preferred options for the beach clubs was either 1. Near Manta Resort: enter the driveway top Manta Resort and turn directly right before the hotel and descend down a set of blue stairs. 2. The beach near Horizont. 3. Plazhi Cubana beach down the far left of Ksamil’s coast.

How to get to Ksamil

Getting to the Albanian Riviera isn’t as simple as you might think due to the lack of airports or trainlines in the region. However, the best way is to fly into Corfu Airport in Greece, then catch a ferry to Sarande. Sarande is the key ferry port town in the region. There are multiple ferry options and companies. Having had a bad experience with Joylines, we recommend the other companies. If you can afford the 30minute express ferry, take it! Like most of the transport in Europe, be prepared for delays and a little chaos. The alternative option to get to the coast is flying into Tirana, Abania’s capital in the north. The driving or transport options often take over 5 hours to get down, thus we recommend the first option.

Getting to Ksamil from Sarande is simple and you can either drive (if you hired a car), catch the bus (cheapest option) or a taxi. The bus can be caught from out the from of the Enterprise Car Hire near the roundabout and it comes every hour. Tickets are a budget friendly 150 Lek (~2 AUD or 1.5 EURO). A taxi should cost 15-20 euros, but taxi drivers will often try to scam you up to 30-40 euros. We took the taxi down (as buses can get pretty busy later in the day), and a bus back to Sarande during our visit.

Where to eat and drink in Ksamil

Restaurants to try in ksamil:
  • Castle Bar Restaurant: Situated on the waterfront, this restaurant offered great views, and equally good food. We ate here a few times and enjoyed the seafood at a reasonable price! Our particular favourite was the octopus salad. Additionally, head here for a great Ksamil sunset view.
  • Other options: we haven’t included many recommendations here as most of the other places offered similar cuisine, but weren’t particularly impressive. We didn’t check out any of the more expensive restaurants at the end of the of the main street near the popular Ksamil beach 7. Some online reviews recommended Bar Restorant Korali Ksamil but don’t necessarily take our word for it and do your own research before you go.
Good Coffee in Ksamil:
  • Coffee at Sweet Corner (located at Furre Buke Bakery): situated just off the main street and near the beach, this little coffee shop is popular with the locals. Sit outside and grab a coffee in-between swims. If it’s hot, try the Cappuccino Freddo.
  • Coffee at Hello Creperie: Located at the end of the main street, this little cafe delivers a good coffee. It is in an excellent location for a coffee before jumping on the bus back to Sarande, just 2minutes walk from the bus stop.
Bars to check out in Ksamil:
  • Horizont Bar: This beachside bar is simple, but offers amazing views of the water. Grab a coffee, cocktail or drink here and enjoy the view.
  • Castle Bar Restaurant: As mentioned above, this boasts a flawless sunset view.
  • The beach clubs! If you’re looking to grab a drink by the beach you won’t have to walk far. Every beach as a beach club adjacent. However, be prepared to pay a little extra for a drink, but don’t worry, it’s still cheap (around 1.5-3 euros for a beer).

So should you visit Ksamil?

If you’re looking for a budget friendly beachside destination that has lots of beach bars and a general holiday vibe, then Ksamil might be for you! We stayed in a little guesthouse with the most friendly and delightful older Albanian couple (however they didn’t speak a word of English)! You can check out our accommodation here, which was extremely budget friendly (not a luxury hotel), had lots of space, and was close to the beaches. If you are looking to head to Ksamil, take a look at some accommodation below:


Want to see more of Albania? Take a look at our memories and travels in Albania!

Visiting the nearby Greece? Check out some of our thoughts on the Greek Islands we visited:

Check out further highlights from our time in the Europe! Take a look!

Please note: this post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase or book anything using these links, we get a small percentage of the sale, at not extra expense to you. This helps us to run the site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *