A beach holiday in Ksamil, Albania
Our beach holiday in Ksamil was one of the highlights of our 10 day itinerary for Albania. In fact, if you’re visiting Albania with kids, the chances are you are going to end up on one of the beaches on the Albanian riviera. The town of Ksamil is a super easy one to base yourself in to explore the surrounding area. It’s extremely beautiful and it’s white sandy beaches, warm blue water and cute little beach huts has even led to it being dubbed “the Maldives of Albania”.
Ksamil is a five-hour drive from Tirana, but don’t forget to familiarise yourself with driving in Albania before making the journey. You can also break up the journey, like we did, by spending 24 hours in Berat.
Although a busy seaside town, Ksamil has a nice, laidback feel. There’s plenty of accommodation options, from high-end hotels to self-catering Airbnbs. The food options are plentiful and cheap, especially the fresh seafood on offer. Everyone we met was really kind and helpful and it was definitely the most relaxing part of our holiday in Albania.
Is Ksamil worth visiting?
Ksamil is definitely worth visiting, especially if you’re travelling in Albania with kids. It’s small enough to get around easily and is very family friendly. There’s a good selection of clean, easy-to-access beaches and the sea is warm and calm, which is great for swimming. There are also a number of beautiful islands to visit and plenty of water-based activities if you’re looking for something more active.
The only warning I would give is, be prepared for a proper touristy seaside town. As Albania still isn’t a hugely popular destination for UK travellers, we visited expecting to find a quiet, sleepy beach village and it definitely isn’t like that anymore! We were a bit surprised to find the beaches packed with sunbeds and even a daytime foam party in a nearby bar.
Ksamil is a popular tourist destination for domestic travel and other Europeans have cottoned on to the fact too. Despite this, it kind of feels like the expected tourist boom has not quite happened yet. New buildings are popping up all over the place and there was non-stop building of holiday apartments and restaurants when we were there. However, many hadn’t actually opened yet and it was always easy to get a sunbed on the beach and a table in a restaurant.
Every single person we met was also so kind and helpful, from the guys who rented the sunbeds, to the waiting staff in restaurants. They also always made an extra special effort with our little adventurers, which was much appreciated.
And don’t forget, visiting Butrint from Ksamil is also a must during your stay here.
How do you get to Ksamil Beach?
Ksamil Beach is about five hours from Tirana. You can hire a rental car and do the drive yourself, like we did. This is a good option if you’re planning to stop off at other places en-route such as Berat and Gjirokastra. Alternatively, you can take a taxi, which is a more pricey option or the bus, which is cheaper, but a bit more complicated. This is because the direct bus only goes as far as Sarande and then you need to either get another bus or a taxi for the remaining 10 minute journey.
If you’d rather leave all of the logistics to the experts, it may be worth booking a tour where all of the transport will be organised for you. Some options for this are below:
How do you get to the Ksamil islands?
One of the main attractions of Ksamil is the four uninhabited islands just off the mainland. These tree-covered islets are very easy to get to and are definitely worth a visit during a beach holiday in Ksamil. The closest two are actually near enough to swim to or you can hire a pedalo or kayak to explore them all. If you’re travelling to Ksamil with kids, the easiest option may be to organise a boat tour. This can be done very easily through one of the agents in the town.
Like the mainland beaches, the bigger of the islands is filled with sunbeds and can get busy during the day. So my advice would be to get there early. We went over on a boat tour at 10am and were some of the first to arrive. That meant we got to explore by ourselves before other visitors turned up. Our little adventurers absolutely loved clambering around in the rock pools. Plus, the sea is nice and calm for swimming.
To get back to the mainland you can either arrange a time beforehand with your boat or call someone to pick you up. I would say this system is a bit hit and miss, as our boat didn’t turn up until about half an hour after we’d agreed. But there are always boats coming and going so you’ll never be left stranded.
When is the best time to visit Ksamil, Albania?
The best time to visit Ksamil, Albania, is probably in the shoulder months of the season, in June and September. These months guarantee good weather, that’s not too hot, usually in the high 20Cs. There are also fewer crowds at this time of year. Summer in Ksamil gets very hot, in the 30Cs. We visited at the very end of June and found we had to take our little adventurers indoors during the hottest parts on the day. If you prefer a cooler temperature, you could consider visiting Ksamil in spring or autumn, when the temperatures are in the mid 20Cs.
Top tips for travelling in Ksamil, Albania with kids
- Take a high factor suncream and sun protection suits if possible, as it does get very hot on the beaches and the sun reflects off the water.
- Keep a close eye on your little ones near the sea, as there are no lifeguards on the beaches.
- High chairs were available in some of the restaurants we visited, but were often limited. We travel with the Tommee Tippee Portable Travel Chair Harness which can be slipped into our changing bag and makes it easy to strap your little one onto a normal chair.
- If you’re planning to travel by taxi, take your own car seats. Although it’s the law to wear seatbelts in Albania, we saw many taxis without them.
- There is a good choice of food in restaurants, including more basic kids meals. It you’re planning to do self-catering in Ksamil, there are a couple of small supermarkets in the town to stock up on supplies. There’s also some nice bakeries where you can pick up pastries for breakfasts and local speciality pies for lunch on the beach.
Is it better to stay in Ksamil or Sarande?
If you’re trying to decide whether to stay in Ksamil or Sarande it’s worth thinking about what you’re looking for from a beach holiday. Sarande is the more popular resort and therefore has more attractions and facilities. But it is also much busier and more built-up. Personally, we found that Ksamil had more than enough to keep us entertained during the five days we were there. We also liked that it was quieter in the mornings and evenings, before the crowds arrived and when day-trippers had left. If you’re travelling in Albania with kids, Ksamil might be the better option. But if you’re looking for a place to party, you may prefer Sarande.
I hope this post helps you plan your beach holiday in Ksamil, Albania. As always, if you have any specific questions please do let me know!
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