Ali Pasha’s Castle is beautifully located at the mouth of the Vivari Channel in the Butrint National Park, but is often overlooked by tourists. It is located not far before the entrance of the Butrint archaeological site, but it can only be reached by boat which makes it a great hidden gem.
The castle was built in the 15th or 16th century by the Venetians who bought the area including Corfu in 1386. It needed to provide a stronghold to protect the area around Butrint so it could be exploited for fishing and farming. Varying conflicts have caused the area including the castle to change hands many times and it was finally destroyed by the French before falling into Ottoman hands in 1804. The Ottoman ruler Ali Pasha of Tepelenë started rebuilding and making improvements to the castle, which functioned as one of his residences until 1820. Ali Pasha was eventually declared a rebel and killed in 1822, but as of today the castle is still carrying his name and legacy.
How To Get To Ali Pasha’s Castle
Since Ali Pasha’s Castle is on an island, the only way to actually get there is by boat. However, you can see the castle (at a distance) from a viewing deck. From the direction of Saranda you just follow the SH81 towards Butrint and take the exist to the carpark on the right about 1 minute before Butrint. If you don’t have your own transport you can take the bus from Saranda to Butrint and ask the driver to let you off at the carpark at Kelaja e Ali Pashës (Ali Pasha’s Castle). The bus costs 100 lek and departs hourly from the ferry terminal in Saranda, passing by several stops in town. Alternatively you can rent a car to discover more of the beautiful surroundings of the Albanian Riviera.
The viewing deck has a great view over the Vivari Channel and you can see the castle at a distance. You can get closer by if you just follow the small road down for about 2 kilometers. Technically you can drive a car all the way down to the shore, but expect an unpaved, small and challenging road. You might just want to leave your car and take a walk.
Boat Trips To Ali Pasha’s Castle
To visit the island, you can go to car park at the entrance of the Butrint archaeological site, where you’ll find some boats that will take you to the castle and back. Expect to pay around 2500 lekë for for a boat trip that will include some time to visit the castle and bring you back after your visit. There is no entrance fee for visiting the castle itself.
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