Saranda has rapidly grown as a popular beach resort town, so you can expect it to be at its busiest during the summer holiday peak. The busy seasons are slowly getting longer, but it’s still nowhere near as long as in the more developed tourist destinations around the Mediterranean. The spring and autumn are pleasantly quiet, but what about the winter? Should you visit Saranda at all during the winter? We think you should so we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the winter season in Saranda.
The Winter Weather In Saranda
Winters are usually mild and wet, with the coldest and wettest months between November and February. But between some showers, there is oftentimes a lot of sunshine as well and Saranda even has over 300 sunny days a year. During winter, Saranda is the warmest city in Albania, with average high temperatures in January still over 10°C, and at night it rarely gets below 0°C.
The Seasonality Of Saranda
Saranda has long been a small and sleepy port and fishing town, but tourism has literally exploded in recent years. Due to the seasonal inflow of tourists, many hotels and restaurants are only open during the summer months and close as soon as soon as the season reaches its end around September and October. Many seasonal workers come from elsewhere and return to their hometowns or cities like Tirana to find other jobs during the winter. Saranda really turns into a sleepy town during the winter, so it’s literally a night and day difference from the busy summers.
This doesn’t mean that the town is completely dead and there is nothing to do. Saranda is still the largest town on the Albanian Riviera and its heart keeps beating, especially in the center of town. Almost all hotels and restaurants along the coastal road (Rruga Butrinti), and along the beaches in Kodrra close down, but this is not the case in the center. Supermarkets and other shops and gyms stay open every winter, and the number of bars and restaurants that continue throughout the off-season is growing every year.
A Lively And Growing Expat Community
Every year more people decide to stay or come to Saranda during the winter and the expat community is growing rapidly, so you’ll always have opportunities to meet other people. We definitely recommend checking out the expat bars The Tunnel Bar and The Dick & Devil’s Pub in the center and the expat-run art and craft shop Vënçe in Kodrra, which also doubles as a cafe. These venues regularly organize events and other meetups so keep an eye on the events calendar on our website to see what’s coming up and join the Visit Saranda Facebook Group to connect with the community.
Things To Do In The Winter
While most tourists are gone you’re going to see the real Albania: a rich culture with a lot of heritage and stunningly beautiful nature. The beaches might be empty, but they are equally beautiful and you’ll have them mostly all by yourself. If you’re into hiking, the winter is much better than the hot summer, and if you want to explore some of the historical heritage, like Butrint, you finally get to take some beautiful pictures without hordes of tourists in front of you. Other ideas are to take a ferry to visit Corfu Town or rent a car and drive along the incredible coastal road along the riviera or make a day trip to Gjirokastra. For more ideas check out the Things To See section on our website or find a guided tour in the Activities section.
Winter Prices Are A Steal
Almost everything is cheaper during the winter months. With hundreds of apartments staying empty, it’s easy to find good accommodation and negotiate a cheap price. Depending on the length of stay you can expect to find apartments from as little as 200 euros a month for a small studio and up to 400 euros for a large 2-bedroom apartment with a sea view. Make sure to check out the Apartments For Rent on our website to find available apartments and to contact the owners directly. Another idea for a long stay is to make an online booking for a few days first to get an idea of the different areas and then look for a longterm rental by chatting around with people. Renting a car is also a lot cheaper in the off-season, with prices as low as 15 euros per day, or even lower when renting for a week or more. Some restaurants and bars even lower their prices in the winter, but don’t expect everything on the menu to always be available.
So all-in-all, Saranda is a great place to stay during the winter if you want to escape from colder regions, avoid the crowds, and get some peace of mind with beautiful nature and incredible views all around. Whether you are a traveler, a digital nomad who wants to get work done, or you’re simply looking for a place to hang out for a while or even retire, Saranda’s got a lot to offer, even in the winter. Join the official Visit Saranda Facebook Group to connect with fellow travelers, expats and locals.