Albania is a large and diverse country it is bordered by several countries including Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro. Its coast line meets both the Adriatic and the Ionian seas and at its southernmost tip where it meets the Ionian Sea it sits directly opposite Corfu Island, where there is a little over a mile between the coastlines at certain points along the Straits of Corfu. The Albanian mountains rise abruptly from the coastal lowlands to elevations of more than 2,400 m. This stretch of coast line is beautiful, majestic and stunning.
18,000 years ago sea levels were lower and Corfu was joined to this stretch of coast, it wasn’t until around 9,000 years ago that sea level rose significantly to separate and distinguish Corfu as an Island. Archaeological finds of stone tools and settlements demonstrate the area has been occupied since prehistoric times. Due to the abundance of archaeological finds, the diverse habitats and rich biodiversity, the area around Butrint was named a world heritage site in 1992 and in 2000 it was established as a National Park affording Butrint full protection within Albanian Law. The original 26 square km of the park boundaries were expanded in 2005 to 86 square km.
The main town along this section of coast line is Saranda and can be seen from along the North East coast of Corfu. With the collapse of communism in 1992 Albania has seen a rise in development and an influx of tourists, which has had a vast impact on Saranda due to its position along this beautiful coastline. Hotels, villas, apartments, restaurants and shops have been developed in and around the town.
Around Saranda there are many historical sites and monuments, including Lekursi castle, set on the hillside above the town, the Synagogue complex in the heart of town, 40 saints monastery and St Nicholas monastery to name a few.
In order to visit Butrint from Corfu you must take the hydro foil from Corfu port which will take you to Saranda and trips can be organised and purchased on board the hydro foil, although in the height of summer it is worth booking in advance.