Port of Sarandë (Albania):
The former resort of Saranda at the Ionian Sea has become a popular meeting place, primarily for visitors from Greece.
For the more adventurous who wish to enjoy a different experience the following one day cruise to the fascinating country of Albania is on offer. After our departure from the port of Corfu we travel along the Albanian shores and we will approach the port of Saranda city. Once our passports are checked the local tourist guide will introduce you to the ancient city of Saranda. An additional guided tour is available for those who wish to enjoy a 20km tour by coach of the south coast with its virgin shores and scattered islands. Moving on from the mainland we pass small picturesque villages, endless fertile plains leading to a great lake.
The highlight of your day will be the excursion to Butrint - designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1997. Over the centuries, the ancient town had disappeared under layers of silt and vegetation - but archaeologists have uncovered one of the best remains of a working town in the Mediterranean. At the edge of the lake where the ancient city of Vouthrota is situated, with its well maintained archaeological monuments and ancient theatre, the visitor is taken 2500 years back in time to the 3rd century A.D. The ancient gymnasium, the Roman ablutions, the ancient temple with the priceless mosaic floor and the enormous stone walls will take you back to a time not known to man. Upon reaching the top of the hill lies the castle of Ali Passa, an oddment of the Ottoman Empire, from this position we have a panoramic view of the Ancient City, the lake and the vast plains, a breathtaking sight. Upon our return to the city of Saranda lunch is served. The afternoon allows for a tour of the town, until our departure from the land caught up in time.
Port of Durres:
The city of Durres is one of Albania’s oldest cities and has been continuously inhabited for 27 centuries. Served by the nearby port of Tirana, Durres is rich in history and is a popular destination for beachgoers-- over 600,000 tourists visit annually. The Durres Archaeological Museum, amphitheater, philharmonic orchestra and historic library also make this a spot worth visiting.
Discover ancient Durres with its modern new resort coastline. Visit the Archaeological Museum on the waterfront for an impressive historical overview. Then explore the remains of the public baths, the aqueduct and the largest Roman amphitheater in the Balkans dating back to the 7th Century. Ahmet Zogu’s Villa, perched atop the Durres hill, offers splendid views of the Adriatic. Stroll along the waterfront and enjoy a snack of fresh figs and olives, or a coffee at one of the seaside cafés. Browse the palm tree lined shopping district for handcrafted wooden boxes, fanciful woolen socks and the fine local Skenderbeu Brandy in this emerging Albanian port.
Port of Vlora:
Vlore is the next largest port city after Durres, founded by the ancient Greeks on a hilly peninsula at the southern end of the region called Illyria, just 120km from Corfu and 70km across the Mediterranean from Italy, and it became an important hub with a strategic location on major trading routes across the region. Even nowadays you can still see the remains of several fortresses that were built – some by the Ancient Greeks and some in the Middle Ages – to defend the town and its port from invaders keen to expropriate this prosperous city and its resources. Home to several national heroes over the centuries, Vlore was the capital of Albania for a short period after the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1912 when many Balkan countries were able to throw off the yoke of the Ottoman Empire.
A huge bronze monument to celebrate independence was erected in Flag Square, the largest plaza in the city, and you can also visit the Museum of National Independence to learn more about the country’s struggle for freedom. Archaeological relics from all over the region can be found in the History Museum, whilst in the Ethnographic Museum are displays of all sorts of traditional handicrafts, from weaving to woodcarving. Any visit to Vlore should include the Mosque of Murade – a legacy of the Ottomans dating from 1542, the mosque was designed by the same architect responsible for the renowned Blue Mosque in Istanbul. It is nowadays the city’s museum of architecture. For panoramic views go up to the terrace at Kuzum Baba, the highest point in the city, from where you have a wonderful panorama of the city and the Albanian Riviera.
If you prefer a shorter day trip in Vlore then head north a few miles to Narta Lagoon and the villages of Narta, famous for its wine, and Zvernec with its 13th century Monastery of St Mary on Zvernec Island.