I was sceptical reading other reviews but honestly they were looking for reasons to whine. You are travelling to another country (and a recently post communist recovering economy)....passport control is what it is. We went through quick and yes the boat ride is longer than the hovercraft....because that’s how science works enjoy the sail. It’s lovely.
I would recommend the trip they offer to the ruins and castle with lunch - worth the extra money. The guides are VERY knowledgeable about the ruins and the country of Albania. If you don’t take the trip have a leisurely meal and some drinks on the promenade - one street up is a supermarket if you want to pay slightly less for local goods to take back. And you can use the beaches. There is not a huge amount to do there but it’s still lovely. Reminded us of the French Riviera.
Discovered when I got to Sidari that I could have booked this slightly cheaper and gone by hydrofoil in half the time.
The boat I was on wasn't great but to be fair, I saw my first, in the wild, dolphins. That was amazing.
if you go you should probably pay the extra and go on archaeological trip. in fact it should just be built in as a given. I didn't go on the trip and had to spend 6 hours in a small seaside town that really had little to offer.
Positives were the aforementioned dolphins and I can tick the box for another country.
negatives. nothing to do for 6 hours, poor boat and guide and being made to stand in the sun for an hour at passport control on return leg.
This was a last minute booking as the forecast wasn't good for the day. We were collected from our hotel front and the bus was slightly early but happy to wait. He transferred us to the port where someone was waiting to advise us all where to queue for passport control. There's a duty free shop after that, prior to boarding the boat. We were on the boat for about an hour and there you had to pay €10 port tax as you got on. There were toilets and a bar on board. On the other side you disembark and go to the bus that has tour guides in your language (English and German on one bus, French and Russian the other). The bus drives everyone the short distance to a local cafe where those who plan to do the day trip can have a toilet break and drink before driving on for about 30 mins to Butrint. The guides provide regular commentary and walk you round the ruins at Butrint explaining the history. After about 90 mins you head back to the same cafe for a lunch. Drinks are not included but are v cheap circa €1@.
After lunch the bus drives up a nearby hill where there are good views across to Corfu and a castle ruin. Short stop there then a return to town for about 90 mins free time before catching the bus back to the port for the return crossing and transfer back to your hotel.
Corfu to Albania Day Drip by Ferry with trips to Blue eye spring and Butrint
, 5 2019
Basic tour was well organised although had to follow up to confirm time of pick up. But Pick up was on time albeit it was some time before we got to the ferry as there were many pick ups. Ferry ride was around 70/80 minutes which was longer than i thought but very comfortable. On the ferry you selected the optional tour which was an additional 46 euros for 2 of us.
Tour very well organised with several coaches providing different language guides. We were on English coach and guide was informative on history of area and Albania generally while we drove to beautiful Blue eye spring. Fabulous views and we had around 30 minutes there before returning to Sarande for an enjoyable lunch in a clean restaurant with lovely views over the bay. Drinks were not included but were very cheap.
After lunch coach continued onto Butrint and tour guide was knowledgeable about buildings and history. Fascinating afternoon and wonderful to see Roman ruins with Venetian Buildings as well. we spent around 90 minutes here and then returned to Sarande and had just over an hour to walk around the town centre. It didn't take that long and gave us opportunity to sit at the harbour and enjoy some drinks and the view.
It was a lovely day out and the tour was well worth it in my opinion. But it was a reasonably cool day so not sure i would feel the same in the height of summer as very little shade in either location.
once in Albania
- Picked up from hotel on a Ionian cruise bus at around 8.30am (hotel near Corfu Town) which was the last stop for the coach - it was 10 minutes later than the time I was given but thankfully arrived
- Check in and immigration at Corfu port was very quick, quickly boarded the boat where you had to pay the €10 fee, and an extra €33 if you want to do the Butrint tour, which isn't included on this even though the entry fee to Butrint was
- I decided against the tour as I wanted to visit the site myself and in my own time
- Arrived in Saranada just after 9.30am local time, told boat departs at 4.30pm, no immigration procedures, I just walked out
- For anyone interested in exploring Butrint on their own - it's really easy and I've put together instructions from my experience as I found it quite difficult to piece all the relevant information together. - I explored Sarande when I arrived and boarded the 1030 bus, which got me to Butrint at around 11am, stayed until 12.30 then headed to Kasmil. Stayed in Kasmil for lunch and for a quick beach trip, then started heading back to Saranda at around 3pm, and walked the coast of Saranda (the beaches in Saranda are very pebblelly so Kasmil is better)
- Drop off - coach dropped me off around 5 minutes away from hotel which was annoying
Visiting Butrint solo
The local bus stop is situated is situated right opposite the "Ruins of the 5th Century Synagogue", there are no signs and no bus times, but when I boarded the bus, there was a list of times
From Saranda 0630, 0700, 0800, 0830, 0930, 1030, 1130, 1230, 1330, 1430, 1530, 1630,1730, 1830
From Butrinti 0700, 0730, 0830, 0930, 1030, 1130, 1230, 1330, 1430, 1530, 1630, 1730, 1830, 1930
You should get to the bus stop around 10 minutes before scheduled departure though as you are at the hands of the local albanian drivers. The bus goes from Sarande to Ksamil to Butrint, so it's also great if you want to visit the beautiful Kasamil beaches.
It costs 100 LEK each way (euros not accepted, plenty of ATMs everywhere - no ATM fees) - you don't pay the driver on the way in, so just get in through any of the doors. There is a man who will walk around the bus around a few stops and passengers can pay him - he gives change so no need to have small change.
It took around 30 minutes to get to Butrint (last stop so you won't miss it) - where you get off the bus is also where the bus leaves, so make a note of the spot as there are no bus stop signs.
Entry to Butrini is 700 LE
Iloved this excursion to Albania & Butrint. Butrint is a UNESCO site of great historical archialogical importance. Greco/Roman, Byzantine influences. The tour also includes a buffet lunch. I would very much recommend this tour.
I was travelling with parents and by this time, we had already done fair bit of touristing and walking in Greece, so we opted out of the Butrint trip. I was worried how we would kill time - as it happened, there was enough to do.
The trip itself is nice - a nice boat ride from Corfu to Albania. Once we reached Albania, we spoke to a few tour operators - a short walk from the port and rented a cab to visit - Blue Eyes and a local Fort and a drop in the touristy part of Sarande 50E, which was walking distance from the port.
Visit to Blue Eyes is strongly recommended - I was not too keen but thanks to push from the folks, we ended up going. Blue Eyes is spot where a stream originates and appears to strangely / inexplicably originate at the point of origin. Have some cash as the place has a couple of stores operated by local folks who sell local brandy and honey. The honey - is excellent and the brandy - makes for a good display!
Lëkurësi Castle, which is en route offers excellent views of Sarande and seemed to have a decent cafe. Due to a tour bus, we were forced to leave - our order cancelled, after just a round of beers. So be prepared for that!
Take the tour only if you interested in something unprogrammed and random and be pleasantly surprised as I was.
The Albania day trip combined a round trip ferry rife from Corfu, a visit to a mountain spring, exploration of a classical site, and visit to a modern city. For the most part the trip was highly informative and introduced Albania.