One of my favourite places near Saranda is Ali Pasha castle near the main site of UNESCO Butrint. The reason I love this place is that it is so unique, like no other castle in Albania. The castle sits surrounded by water and can only be accessed by boat from a local fisherman. Ali pashas castle is regularly missed by tourists who all pile to visit the nearby site of UNESCO Butrint. If you don’t look for it, it’s easily missed!
I highly recommend visiting early in the morning when it’s just you and the local fisherman. At this time, it feels like the most peaceful place in the world. It’s only you and nature, you will be at utter peace.
History of Ali Pasha’s castle
The castle dates to the 17th century and belonged to Ali Pasha. There is virtually no information on this site other than the odd archaeological document of findings. The castle is in pretty good condition for being built so long ago. The structure is preserved so you can see how the castle worked. Ali Pasha also has other castles and fortifications around Albania like Porto Palermo Castle and of course the main sites of Butrint too.
How to get there
About 1 minute before Butrint on the same road there is a turnoff with a carpark and a viewing deck. From the viewing deck, you can see the castle, but I recommend taking the road down to see it from close by!
The road is not in the best condition and is only made for 1 car at a time so if you’re not a confident driver then you can park at the carpark and walk down. It’s only an easy 2km walk from the carpark.
The castle is surrounded by water in the most beautiful setting. To get to the castle you will have to ask a local fisherman to take you over there by boat. You could alternatively swim there but I guess that’s not for everyone and especially if you aren’t visiting in summer it may be a little chilly!
I would recommend taking a little picnic with you and admiring the view and the serenity by the castle. It really is a beautiful little spot near Saranda. There’s also an abandoned house nearby, a couple of bunkers and usually a cute stray dog wanting belly rubs.
Nearby points of interest
Obviously, you have to visit the main site of UNESCO Butrint which is not far from this castle at all. I recommend you spend a few hours uncovering the history there. If you want a little break from all the facts and history, then travel to one of the nearby beaches. Ksamil is beautiful but very busy in the summertime. There is also Mirror Beach and Monastery beach which are equally beautiful. You can read my big list of things to do in Saranda here if you want some more ideas!
I recommend staying in either Ksamil or Saranda which are nearby. Accommodation is incredibly affordable for tourists coming to Albania. Click here to find the latest availability and prices in the local areas!
I hope I have inspired you to visit Ali Pasha’s castle in Butrint. It’s very unique and like I said often missed by tourists, but it deserves so much more attention!
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