With the Ionian sea at its western extreme and the Greek border to the south, Butrint National Park is a remarkable area in southwestern Albania. Not only does it contain a unique wetland ecosystem and a wealth of diverse habitats, but also the ruins of the ancient city of Buthrotum.
Within the park’s boundaries, the ancient city and part of the surrounding area of lakes, including the southern part of Lake Butrint, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while the surrounding wetlands are protected under the Ramsar Convention.
The landscape is outstanding and very varied. The woods consist mainly of Oak, elm, ash, white poplar and laurel, and on the Ksamili Peninsula and islands, there are areas of typical Mediterranean maquis. Of the 90 plant species recorded here, 32 are listed in the Albanian Red Data Book. The wetlands, however, are the dominant feature, with brackish lagoons, salt and fresh water marshes, reed beds, rivers, channels and a rocky shoreline.
These unspoilt habitats support a large number of birds, some of which are threatened, and 105 species of fish for which the lagoons are an important spawning ground, nursery and migration route to the sea. Butrint is particularly known for its reptiles and amphibians, including the Epirote frog and the Balkan sand lizard, and holds the highest number of species recorded on any Albanian site.
The main human activities here are fishing and mussel farming as well as some agriculture. At present, most of the tourism is concerned with the main archaeological site, which has been occupied since the 8th century BC and is eloquently situated by the placid, blue waters of the Vivari Channel and Lake Butrint. However, plains are afoot to develop the eco-tourism potential of the wetlands as well as to encourage wintertime twitchers.
How to reach:
- Bus departs from Saranda to Butrint frequently.
- It takes about 40 – 50 minutes.
- The bus route is the cheapest way to get there as it costs just 160 Albanian Lek (€1.25) for a one-way ticket.
While leaving the port turn left and walk for about 200m until you see a rotary ( a traffic roundabout) with a massive tree in the centre and lots of cars moving in every direction.
Essentials to Pack for a Day Trip
- Cash for the bus and entry ticket
- Downloaded GPS or maps
- Phone and power bank
- A picnic if you plan to stay longer
- Hiking boots or shoes for exploring
- Sunglasses and sunscreen, also a hat if you are travelling in the summer months
- Snacks for the bus
- Book/audiobook for the bus
- Water bottle
- Insect repellent