Know Before You Go Sarandë

The southern mountainside seafront city of Sarandë, Albania, is a typical seafront European city with beach bars, hotels, and a Lungomare along the coast. It’s a very busy tourist city currently under major construction. I’m writing this in 2024 to let you know what to expect. The current situation in Sarandë is based on a couple traveling with dogs on a mid-range stay.

There are a few sections of Sarandë because this is a city, an actual city. Streets are tight with small, narrow sidewalks. Since this is a mountainside city, streets go up higher and higher. From the beach, it’s a steep walk up to the main street, and then the next streets are steep walks up. Like Amalfi of Italy, the coastal southern towns south of Vlorë are embedded into the side of mountains with hotels lining the coasts, center main streets, and then up and up many organized stairs or steep streets.

The port is to the north of the center, where there is nowhere to swim, and it’s not a nice area.

The middle of the city is a busy two-lane road with sidewalks on either side, but the trees in the middle of the sidewalk force pedestrians to turn sideways to avoid front-tree collisions. Then, in the center, there is a Lungomare pedestrian area along the coast. It’s not good for swimming; it’s just good for walking. A couple of beaches are along the walkway, but they are packed with people. There are tons of fabulous restaurants and some clubs along the way to the small old town, where some shopping and exploring can be found. The old town is very small. I didn’t find any artisan shops, but maybe they are tucked away higher up. The center streets are all under construction so improvements may come with some shops later.

Toward the south of the city are stone-covered coves that form beaches along the seaside for the resorts and hotels above them. Large hotels take over the coast. Beach bars and restaurants lure guests who just want to lay around the sea resorts. If staying at a hotel with a beach, there is access; if not, you will likely need to hang around the beach bars.

There aren’t many dog-friendly hotels. We stayed in the south of town near the beaches, but we also saw construction projects all over the city on our walks during our stay. We walked to the center twice and took some bar stops along the way. The sidewalks are very narrow, often covered by parked cars and trees far too large to be between the sidewalks. Groups of pedestrians walking in lines make the narrow sidewalks quite tight for walking.

Imposing resorts and hotels take over most of the coastline. There are public beaches and lots of beach bars. A choice must be made when making sleeping arrangements where to stay in Sarandë. In the town center where the action is, or along the seaside. If the center is the choice, there are only a couple of public beaches, and they are small. Walking to the larger beach areas is about thirty to forty minutes of walking or a five-ten-minute taxi ride. If you plan to drive, make sure your hotel has parking because the city has little to no parking.

The city is covered in construction—it’s everywhere and all the time. We got in on a Sunday, and the noises persisted until around seven in the evening. First thing in the morning, the construction started again.

There will be major condos and hotels added to the so many already here. I feel Serandë reminds me of Cancun. Beaches belong to hotels, and the few public beaches are packed with visitors. It’s a tourist town filled with resort-going tourist clubs and bars. I, not a resort-going tourist, didn’t find Serandë to my liking. I would recommend one of the smaller towns to the north, but they lack the luxury hotel experiences, so it’s a trade-off; figure out what’s most important to you.

We drove by Borsh and have already started planning a stay there. It has super long beaches, beautiful mountain views, and wetlands, which might mean mosquitos. I’ll let you know how it is when we stay. Lukova is really beautiful and seems serene.

Beaches in and around Sarandë TripAdvisor has a comprehensive list of reviews. We saw a few in May, but even in May, they were very full. Sarandë would be a great time when you are young and in the party mood. It’s not quiet.

Where to Eat

Haxhi is phenomenal! Cash only, so make sure to bring some. The food is exceptional!

You should have a car; most of the cool places are out of town. Explore the Albanian Rivera with a vehicle. There is a cool castle with a restaurant to see too. We didn’t eat at the castle because of their poor Google reviews.

The roads are packed in the summer, so it’s best to come earlier or later, May 15- September 30. Otherwise, everything is closed. The sea is nice for swimming, but it’s nicer in Ksamil. Overall, there is enough to see in Sarandë for a two-night stay. It’s really busy, so if that’s not your scene, maybe it’s not the best option. That said, there are a lot of amazing restaurants and tons of bars and clubs, so it’s fun if you don’t mind the crowds. Popular spot. Subscribe for more travel blogs. Have a lovely day.