Ancient Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has visible remains spanning over two millennia. 

Overgrown and forgotten for centuries, Albania’s most famous archaeological site was uncovered by Luigi Maria Ugolini in 1928.

As a consequence of World War II, Butrint was abandoned and forgotten until 1956, when excavations began there by the Albanian Centre for Archaeology. 

The site has been the subject of archaeological research ever since.

In 2002, the town was designated a national park to preserve its historical architecture.

Today, Butrint is a popular tourism destination due to its well-preserved ruins, beautiful scenery, and friendly locals.

Several companies offer one-day tours from Corfu to Albania. 

Typically, these include a tour of Butrint, lunch at a restaurant, and some free time in Saranda.

Where is Butrint?

Located in southern Albania, Butrint is rich in history and culture. 

The National Park has an area of about 36.37 square miles and comprises Mediterranean forests, beautiful beaches, rocky shorelines, lagoons, coastal waters, and numerous historical attractions. 

Why Visit Butrint?

Butrint is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history or archaeology.

It offers visitors a chance to step back and see what life was like in a centuries-old city.

It is known for its well-preserved ruins from the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, and the Venetian era.

The site was first settled by the Greeks in the 7th century BC and later occupied by the Romans, Venetians, and Ottomans. 

As a result, the ruins at Butrint reflect several different architectural styles.

In addition to its historical significance, Butrint is also known for its beautiful setting. 

The city is surrounded by olive groves, vineyards, and Cypress trees, making it the perfect place to relax and take in the Mediterranean atmosphere.

What to See and Do

Butrint National Park boasts numerous historical attractions that are a must-see. 

The following are some of the local attractions you need to visit.

The Ruins of the Acropolis
The Acropolis at Butrint was once a fortified hilltop settlement that served as a defensive position against invaders. 

Today, visitors can explore the remains of streets, houses, temples, and public baths while imagining what life would have been like centuries ago.

The Baptistery
The Butrint Baptistery is a well-preserved early Byzantine monument known for its elaborate and late antique structure. 

It was constructed in the 6th century AD and was excavated in May 1928. 

This 4th-century structure is one of the best-preserved examples of early Christian architecture in the Balkans.

It features two granite columns repurposed from an earlier temple on the site.

The Roman Theater
Butrint’s theater was initially able to seat 2,000 people and dates back to the 2nd century BC.

Music concerts and plays are still held here today.

The Roman Forum 
A forum was constructed when Julius Caesar designated Butrint as a Roman colony. 

The sanctuary also includes a Greek-style theatre that priests and worshippers used. 

You’ll find three shrines north of the forum with the dedication of the chamber to Minerva and Augustus.

Make sure to visit the townhouses and the villas, especially Triconch Palace, constructed around 400 AD. 

Sanctuary of Asclepius
Founded in the 4th century, this sanctuary was dedicated to the god of medicine, Asclepius. 

The earliest sanctuary had a temple, a treasury to hold offerings, and a covered walkway. 

Worshippers and some visitors usually come to the sanctuary to be healed. 

The Lion Gate
The Lion Gate is an impressive entryway built in homage to Apollo Delphinios, the patron god of Butrints early Greek colonists.

The gate features two large lion sculptures that date back to the 3rd century BC. 

The Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum at the Venetian Castle is a great place to learn more about Butrint’s rich history. 

Butrint’s entire history is displayed chronologically. The archaeological objects, such as mosaics and sculptures, are also worth seeing. 

Lake Butrint
It’s hard to miss this beautiful lake around Butrint National Park.

You must try mussels at the restaurants near the lake if you love seafood. 

When is the Best Time to Visit?

June through August is the best time to visit Butrint.

This time of year is ideal for exploring the town and its surroundings due to the warm, sunny weather.

Alternatively, September through May is a great time to avoid crowds. 

Getting There

Butrint is located in southern Albania near the town of Saranda.

The easiest way to get there is by ferry from Corfu, Greece, but you can also get there from Albania’s capital city Tirana.

The closest airport to Butrint is Corfu Airport (CFU), from where you can take a 20-minute ferry to Saranda, then hire a taxi for the 40-minute drive to Butrint.

If you fly into Tirana International Airport (TIA), you can take a bus or taxi to Butrint, which takes anywhere from 4-6 hours. 

You may want to consider this option if you are planning on visiting other parts of the Albanian Riviera, such as Dhermi, Himare, Jale Beach, Saranda, and Ksamil.

From Saranda, Butrint is about half an hour’s drive, 24 km on an asphalted road that runs alongside Lake Butrint and passes through Ksamili village.

For cyclists, the back road along the eastern shore of the Butrint Lagoon is much less busy and allows access to the site via cable ferry.

Getting Around Butrint

Butrint is a small town and is easily explored on foot. If you want to venture outside of the town, several tour operators offer day trips to nearby beaches and villages. 

Where to stay in Butrint? 

There are several accommodation options available in and around Butrint, depending on your budget and preferences.

You can choose from hotels, hostels, guesthouses, or apartments. Hostels in nearby Saranda are an excellent option for budget travelers. 

There are several hotels located near Bufi Lake that can provide you with a more comfortable stay. 

Final Thoughts

As a tourist destination, Albania has been slowly gaining popularity in the Balkans.

Consider Albania if you want to explore a new and exciting place off the beaten path.

If you’re planning a trip to Albania, include Butrint on your itinerary.

This ancient city will leave you with unforgettable memories.