Have you heard of Ksamil, or Albanian coastline, as a summer vacation destination? I personally haven’t heard much about this part of Europe, or particularly the Balkans, at least prior to my travels here.
And I wonder why… with picturesque nature views, secluded locations, affordable pricing, no crowds whatsoever. And it is near Greece! What could be better than off-season vacation like this?
It is definitely not a very developed resort area by European/Mediterranean standards (think Italy, Spain, France, Croatia, Greece and Turkey!), as tourism started developing here quite recently. I was even told by some locals that there was nothing here, besides olive trees and fruit harvesting over a decade ago, and most of the houses, homestays, rentals, shops, cafes, restaurants, even a couple minimarkets (!) and infrastructure were built just in the last few years. Plus, according to some local signs and reading that I’ve done about the area, it was a closed-off location to the public, because of it’s close proximity to Greece, and, of course, personal liberties and democracy ideas, so most of these islands were isolated in the 90s.
Apparently, in those days they didn’t care that much about tourism, although, realistically, how much money can you make from olives?
Nowadays, it is hard to imagine that this area was off limits to travelers, especially if you visit Ksamil in peak summer vacation season. It is quite popular even among Western travelers, besides, obviously, Eastern Europeans…
venturing far beyond popular European tourist sites and most-known summer vacation destinations. And tourism became the main source of income for many locals of the area
You can hear many different languages in this part of the world, although towards the end of the season, in October, there are fewer and fewer travelers every day, and it almost felt as a “deserted area” at some point
On the plus side, it might take awhile to get here… and what is more private lounging than this?
Many travelers usually travel to Ksamil only for a day in off-season, either as a day stopover from a cruise ship in a near-by Sarande
or on their way to visit Butrint National Archaeological Park, just a few minutes away by a car or a local bus
Plus, the weather is nice, at least it is sunny for the most part
and I had to remind myself that October means something else, just a few hours away from here
Besides, picturesque nature views usually speak for themselves
When you travel in this part of the world, sometimes it is easy to forget how much history there is, since many places look like new or have been built quite recently
Butrint National Archaeological Park was among the first places I visited in Albania, and it is a remarkable site of the Mediterranean world history with unique heritage of many civilizations, with occupation dating from 50 000 bc, or the earliest evidence
The story goes that it was even founded by the exiles of Troy, but who knows for sure anyways? Nowadays, besides an archaeological site, this is the most visited cultural traveler destination in the country (although it doesn’t feel like it, which is definitely a plus, if traveling off-season!), UNESCO World heritage site and National Park, all in one, so it might be worth a visit
It is amazing to walk in the place with so much history… At one point, it was even a healing place, not really sure how exactly and how actually healing it was. Nevertheless, not every archaeological site has temples dedicated to Asclepius, or the god of medicine. Have you heard of any?
Temples are still here, but amphitheater is just for photo-opts nowadays. It was quite funny seeing adults take pictures and leave, while kids pretended they were stars and ran around singing, putting on a show for their parents
Is it Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, or Venetian civilization? There can be a lot of guessing around here… thankfully, there are plenty of signs and descriptions along the way, even in English, to make roaming around easier, and they even give out a flier at the entrance with Butrint site map and a brief history of the whole area
And for those who are super into history and culture, there is even a museum to brush up on all the facts and dates. Can you guess what civilization this is?
Even if you are not that much into history and culture, or figuring out complicated archaeological terms, or playing the “guessing games” )
Why it was a sanctuary, why there were defense gates and fortresses… And, most importantly, why they couldn’t just get along?
You can go for a walk among the temples, roam around and enjoy these nature views
Butrint is a national park also, with quite diverse flora and fauna, there are even endangered, rare and protected species here!, which makes it a rather unique place in the world
Have you heard about off-season vacation in Ksamil?
Enjoy your travels,
All opinions and experiences are, as always, my own.
For traveler related information and planning visit official Butrint National Archaeological Park site
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