12 Facts About Saranda You Probably Didn’t Know Yet

Saranda has become one of the most popular holiday destinations in Albania and is mostly known for its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and vibrant nightlife. But what else do you know about this coastal city? Here are 12 interesting facts you probably didn’t know yet about Saranda.

1. Saranda Has Over 300 Sunny Days

Being a beach destination, Saranda is most popular in summer and of course you can expect amazing hot and sunny weather. But did you know that in Saranda, it’s actually during most days of the year? Although weather is seasonal and it does rain from time to time, the sun keeps breaking through on a regular basis all year. Winters are also pretty mild with lots of sunny days. In this article you can read more about visiting Saranda in the off-season.

2. Saranda’s History Goes Back To The Antiquity

Saranda was already inhabited during ancient times and back then it was called Onhezmus. The town was largely destroyed and got abandoned during the early Middle Ages and large parts of the ancient ruins are now located underneath modern buildings of the city. There are however some historic ruins that remain preserved, which include a synagogue (which was later turned into a basilica), a mosaic floor inside the Museum of Archaeology, part of the entrance gate on the public beach, and another part of the fortification wall on the ground floor of Republika Hotel.

The Museum of Archaeology was built to protect an ancient mosaic floor that was discovered
The Museum of Archaeology was built to protect an ancient mosaic floor after it was discovered.

3. Saranda’s Name Was Derived From The Monastery Of 40 Saints

While the settlement was abandoned a monastery was built in the 6th century, which was named after the 40 martyrs of Sebaste and called Monastery of 40 Saints. In Greek, 40 Saints is called Agioi Saranta, or Agi Saranda. When a new settlement developed around the port, it started to be referred to after the name of the nearby monastery, but ‘Agi’ was dropped and the town got the name Saranda.

4. During World War II Saranda Was Called Porto Eda

During World War II Albania was occupied by the Italian forces under the leadership of Benito Mussolini, who changed Saranda’s name to Porto Eda, in honor of his daughter. The name Saranda was restored directly after the war.

5. Saranda’s Population Multiplies Several Times Every Summer

The Municipality of Saranda counts over 55,000 inhabitants, which includes the city of Saranda, the town of Ksamil, and the villages of Çukë, Metoq, Gjashtë, and Shelegar. Due to the growth of tourism and the increasing popularity among expats and retiries, this number has been growing over the past years, but the real exponential growth happens during the yearly summer season. Every spring Saranda turns from a sleepy town into a vibrant city when the tourists and seasonal workers start arriving in the city. During the summer months the population is estimated to multiply at least 3 to 4 times. People sometimes joke about the fact that 3 out of 4 apartments stay empty during the off-season, while it’s hard to find any available accommodation during the peak of the summer.

6. Saranda Is Only Half An Hour Away From Corfu

The popular Greek island Corfu is partly located in front of the Albanian coast. In fact, the straits of Corfu between the island and the mainland of Albania is less than 2 kilometers wide at its narrowest point near Ksamil. Daily ferries connect the Port of Saranda with Corfu Port in Corfu Town in about 35 minutes.

Corfu can be seen from almost anywhere in Saranda.

7. Most Tourists Visit Saranda Via Corfu Airport

There’s no airport in the south of Albania and with Tirana Airport being 3.5 hours away, many visitors to Saranda choose to fly to Corfu instead. Corfu Airport has many cheap connections with other European airports, and the direct ferries make it easy to reach Saranda from there.

8. Saranda’s Highest Point Is At 388 Meters

Saranda is built on the slopes of the surrounding hills and the highest peak within the perimeters of the Municipality of Saranda lies to the north of the city at an altitude of 388 meters above sea level. This is not the highest point of the mountain range, as this is located further north near Kakome Beach at an altitude of 601 meters, but that part is located within the Municipality of Himara.

9. There Are No International Fast-Food Restaurants In Saranda

One of the things that make Albania an amazing country for travelers is that it still has its own charm without the screaming billboards and neon signs of big international brands. Albania has long been able to keep it that way and although KFC and Domino’s have recently opened up their first restaurants in the capital Tirana, you won’t find any McDonald’s in Albania and non of the international fast food chains have made an appearance in Saranda yet. If you’re desperate for fast food, you should try one of the qebap places or order a pizza. You can always search in our restaurant directory for nearby food options.

10. The Ionian Sea Is As Clear As Glass

One of the reasons that the Albanian Riviera and its beaches are so beautiful is because the water is so clear and looks perfectly turqoise. The water visibility is usually around 15 meters and under good conditions even reaches up to 30 meters. This is why Saranda is also a great place for boat trips, snorkling, and scuba diving and there are several ship wrecks and plenty of beautiful sealife species to be found.

Boat at Krorëza Beach

11. Saranda Is Called The Unofficial Capital Of The Albanian Riviera

The southern Ionian coastline of Albania is often referred to as the Albanian Riviera due to its beautiful and unspoiled character. There are several towns along this coast, but Saranda is by far the largest city with many hotels, restaurants, and bars for a bustling nightlife. Many people choose Saranda as their hub to discover the riviera and therefore Saranda is unofficially called the “Capital of the Albanian Riviera”.

12. Saranda’s New Tourism Slogan Is “Theater Of The Sun”

A new initiative to promote tourism in Saranda and the surrounding region has come up with the slogan “Theater of the Sun”. Saranda itself is built on the slopes of the hills around the bay of Saranda, which makes the city look like a theater under the sun. The slogan is however also a reference to the nearby ancient theaters of Butrint and Phoenice.

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