Ksamil, Albania Travel Guide: 13 Fantastic Things to Do in Ksamil

Steve Cummings

Ksamil, Albania

Are you looking to go away somewhere nice this summer? You may be planning a getaway and looking for a frugal beach destination that feels like one of the more expensive locations, like the Maldives or the Bahamas. Still, you want to go somewhere different than the sea of people at those resorts and locations. It would help to consider visiting the famous and intriguing Ksamil in Albania. A town that sits on the Albanian Riviera, which is a suitable alternative to the French Riviera, Ksamil is steeped in history. It has some pristine sandy beaches that hug its extraordinary coastline.

You may be thinking Ksamil is very small and seemingly insignificant. However, just as Albania has so much to offer the adventurous traveler that would make you feel you were visiting a more popular destination, Ksamil is full of things to do. 

Despite its size, there are still plenty of great things to do around Ksamil. There are so many that you need help deciding what you should do with your time in the city. We have compiled this guide to help you get the most out of your trip to this beautiful Albanian city.

1. Butrint National Park

Butrint National Park
Credit: Depositphotos

Located 15 minutes south of Ksamil, within a beautiful forest, is a spectacular 29 square kilometers of park space that is a national park and a crucial archeological site. While visiting Albania, you should take a day to see this living portal into the past, showcasing several eras with its ruins.

Walking around Butrint National Park, you will see ruins of the Ottoman, Roman, and Greek empires. The park is distinguished as a RAMSAR-Weland site of International Importance and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Although every inch of this park is unique, the central part is one section you will not want to miss. Here, you'll find the ancient city of Butrint, one of the top things to do in Ksamil. You will see everything from ancient fountains and castles to theaters and walls. All are preserved well and maintained.

2. The Blue Eye

The Blue Eye
Credit: Depositphotos

Another of the best things to do in Ksamil that involves exploring the natural delights this part of Albania has to offer is a trip to what is known as The Blue Eye. It takes about half an hour to get there by car and is more than worth it because The Blue Eye is a tranquil and sparkling clear green-hued pool filled with a beautiful natural spring. This is in a protected National Park and is remarkable to see in person.

It gets its name because the shape of the spring is oval with a deep blue color at its center, like an eye.

3. Visit One or More of the Many Beaches

Ksamil beaches
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Whether you are looking for something to do within the city or things to do near Ksamil, If you are a sun worshipper or love all things aquatic, you should check out some of the great beaches there. Thanks to its astonishing coastline, beaches, and crystal-clear blue water, Ksamil can feel like the Maldives or somewhere further afield.

Ksamil has it all regarding beaches, whether you are looking for a quiet and serene pebbled peach or a stretch of the most pristine and soft sand. While the main beach in front of the center of town is the busiest, it is also the best.

4. Take a Trip to the Neighboring Islands

While visiting Butrint National Park, another of the best things to do near Ksamil is to visit the four little islands within the park's boundaries. The beauty of these small islands is they are uninhabited by locals and are quiet getaways where you can enjoy the weather, the waters, and their beaches away from the crowds.

5. St George's Monastery

This is a stunning 14th-century religious site based on Dema Hill. There are many significant points of historical interest in the monastery and a little church. You will see impressive frescoes on the ceiling and all the walls on the church's interior.

From the exterior of this old building, you are treated to some breathtaking vistas of the Ionian Sea and Corfu.

6. Corfu, Greece

Sticking with Corfu, if you are looking for things to do near Ksamil, a trip to the neighboring Greek island is a must. Corfu is a pretty mountainous island on the Albanian coast and is famous for its fancy beach resorts and Venetian influence.

If you want to get the best from your trip to the island, spend a couple of days there as there are a lot of sights across Corfu. Corfu Town is a must. Around the city, you can explore the Church of St Spyridon, climb the New Venetian Fortress for amazing views, visit the old fortress, and see the gorgeous Palace of St Michael and St George, which is also the home of the country's Museum of Asian Art.

7. Gjirokaster

Okay, so it's another entry in our list outside Ksamil, but trust us, the hour's journey to Gjirokaster is more than worth it. Despite its size, it is a vital place with centuries of culture and history and a protected UNESCO World Heritage site.

One of this nearby city's most famous and intriguing aspects is its renowned architecture and buildings dating back to the Ottoman Empire. There are also many house museums, so this is one of the best things to do with Kings in Ksamil. With these buildings, the interior continues the theme of taking influence from the Ottoman Empire.

There are many other notable towns and cities near Ksamil to visit, but Gjirokaster stands out among them as one of the best, with the most to see and do.

8. Gjirokaster Marketplace

Sticking with Gjirokaster for our next suggestion of one of the best things to do near Ksamil – some shopping in the busy bazaar at the center of town. This is a fantastic place for local goods and crafts, including clothing, slippers, and rugs. However, you must be careful to ask if the shop or stall you are interested in buying something from stocks home-made items because most shops hang rugs made by machine and not by hand outside to draw customers in.

You should also get ready to barter at the bazaar as you would at many of the markets throughout this part of Europe.

9. Gjirokaster Castle

Gjirokaster Castle
Credit: Depositphotos

While in Gjirokaster, if you are interested in all things to do with kings in Ksamil and around the area, the castle is a must-visit point of interest. On top of a hill, Gjirokaster Castle was first constructed before the 12th century and is steeped in history. During the communist era in Albania, the castle was used as a prison.

Nowadays, the castle is home to a couple of fascinating museums and offers some camera-worthy views of Gjirokaster.

You will notice Ksamil has a lot of castles like Gjirokaster.

10. Visit Towns to the North of Ksamil

If you are looking for some exciting family things to do in Ksamil, you can take a day trip up to the north of the city to visit the little towns and villages that are part of the Albanian Riviera. Himare is a modern and small town with a beautiful beach; Borsh has the longest stretch of beach in Southern Albania and a stunning castle, known as Borsh Castle, which is perfect for walking. Dhermi is very charming and includes the Monastery of Saint Mary, which sits on top of the hill and features impressive frescoes on the interior.

You can cover all these towns in one little day trip, but if you want to experience them better, you must spend a few nights in the area.

11. Visit Sarande

credit: depositphotos

Another of the best things to do near Ksamil is to take a trip to Sarande, a neighboring town that hugs the coastline and is 10km away. While there, stop at Lekuresi Castle, which overlooks Sarande. Make sure you pack enough water and are dressed appropriately, as the hike to the castle from the town center takes around 45 minutes both ways.

Once you've visited the castle, you could head back to the center of town and visit the intriguing Monastery of Forty Saints. Built during the 6th century, it offers spectacular views of Sarande and the coastline.

Some beaches in the town worth visiting include Neasden Lane Beach, Lori Beach, Santa Quaranta Beach, Mirror Beach, Pasqyra Beach, and Pulebardha Beach. Along with these more public spaces, there is Mango Beach, a private beach, and a charming stretch of sandy beach just 3km from Sarande's town center.

12. Hike to the Forgotten House

While en route to or from Butrint National Park, you will spot a parking lot where you can take a break and drink in the lovely views. Also, at this parking lot is a small trail that leads you down by the water to a place known locally as the Forgotten House. The Forgotten House is an uninhabited stone house that has been standing there for centuries as a relic of Albania's past.

While a visit to the house is enjoyable, the walk to the house is charming, as you have clear views of the water and can take in the sights and scents of the wildflowers growing along the path and beside the water. This is one of the best things to do in Ksamil that isn't often spoken about.

The walk takes between 15 and 20 minutes. From the Forgotten House, you also benefit from some astonishing views of the tourist-favorite Ali Pasha's sunken 19th-century castle across the canal. The only better view of this relic is on a boat tour that starts from Butrint.

13. Eat At Some of the Best Restaurants in Ksamil

While in the city, you should try some of the local cuisine in the best restaurants in Ksamil. Seafood and meat dishes are trendy, but most menus have vegetarian options. Whether you opt for pretty little beach tavernas that receive help from gorgeous views of the crystal-clear sea or the more romantic and quaint restaurants around town, there is no shortage of great places to eat. Try Kristal Seafood Restaurant, Guvat & Restaurant, and Ohana Beach Bar Ksamil for local cuisine. All the restaurants on the beach have shaded areas and parasols to eat under, and they can be found close to places where you can rent sunbeds and other beach furniture. There are also different cuisines on offer, including Italian at Pizzeria Afrimi.

For something special to drink, if you spend the evening in Sarande while visiting Ksamil, you should also try the town's first cocktail bar, Jericho Cocktail Bar. It has a fun and energetic atmosphere, an excellent selection of drinks, and friendly staff.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, whatever type of vacation you are looking for, there are many great things to do in Ksamil. 

Not only does the town put you in a more affordable position to explore a true highlight of Europe in Corfu, but there are many museums, old castles, and sublime beaches to keep away the hot and sunny days here. The people are friendly, and the food is a mixture of Albanian, which consists mainly of seafood and meat dishes, and other Mediterranean influences and those from further afield. Whether you are looking for many activities or a sleepy part of the world to forget your troubles and unwind, the Albanian coast and Ksamil offer this and much more.

We have tried to include all the best things to do in Ksamil. If you think there is a forgotten place we didn't know about at the time of publishing or that we still need to include it, please let us know in the comments section below. We are always looking to improve our guides to ensure travelers get the best possible experience when on vacation.

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