Saranda, with a population of 17,000, is the capital of the municipality of the same name (20,000 inhabitants) and belongs to the prefecture of Vlora. The city is located 17 km north of the archaeological site of Butrint, 19 nautical miles (35 km) northeast of the main port on the island of Corfu (Greece), a small port town that has become a popular seaside resort for Albanians. We might as well say it right away, we don't like Saranda too much, but we love her surroundings. The bay is beautiful, but it has been completely concreted since the fall of the communist regime. Nevertheless, it is a practical stop on the way to the Unesco sites of Corfu, Butrint and Gjirokastra. Economic, administrative and cultural centre of the region, Saranda is also the most touristic city of the country. While foreign visitors are quite rare in Albania, this city welcomes every summer many British and Scandinavians who love low cost sunshine and polluted sea water (everything here is discharged into the bay for lack of mains drainage). Founded by the Chaonians, the city was until the beginning of the 20th century called Agii Saranda (Άγιοι Σαράντα), that is, the "Saints Forty", in reference to the Byzantine monastery of the same name founded in the 16th century on the heights (3 km east of the Hotel Demi) and today in ruins. It is a tribute to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, a group of Christian legionaries who were tortured on a frozen lake in present-day Turkey in 320.

Let's go. Minibuses from Vlora serve the villages on the coast to Himara. From Saranda, a bus leaves very early in the morning taking the coastal road to Vlora before heading to Tirana.

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