How to spend two days in the albanian riviera

After exploring Tirana, Albania for two days, my wife, six-year-old daughter and I drove our rental car south to Bote Farms, a working farm with six rental villas.

Finding a rental car online was easy. We booked with Avis at the Tirana Airport. Before long, we were driving along a smooth highway south for 3.5 hours. (With fewer people in Albania, the highway was easy to navigate.)

After 3.5 hours, we stopped for lunch at S&P Restaurant, a tiny Albanian restaurant run by a kind elderly couple, in Gjirokaster, one of Albania’s best examples of a preserved Ottoman town. It’s in the mountains so we spent an hour wandering its cobblestone streets for the views.

Afterwards, we drove to just under an hour to Bote Farms. Hidden by the roving hills, a couple from Los Angeles- Shawn and Kyle- left the film industry to create a “vacation from vacation.” They built six small villas each with their own theme. (We stayed in the “Austin Powers”-themed villa, which was classier than it sounds.)

A working farm, Shawn bakes muffins every morning using seasonal ingredients from the farm. Delivered warm to each villa around 8:30 a.m. with cream for coffee, butter, and jam, it was the perfect start to our day. The mountain view from the villa was icing on the cake.

With an eco-pool, farm animals, and a long community table on a hill where Shawn serves guests a three-course meal (again using fresh ingredients from the farm), we spent more time at Bote Farms than intended.

However, we did go out to Ksamil, a small beach town along the water. Parking took over an hour, but soon enough we were walking along the beaches enjoying the crystal blue water. It was our six-year-old’s dream and our hell.

Not being beach people, Ksamil was overcrowded, chaotic, and hot. It turns out you have to rent the sunbeds a day before so we were left homeless on the beach. We ended up retreating to Ciao Bar Restaurant. One Google Maps reviewer said that “Ksamil’s chaos and misery outweighs its beauty.” We agree.

The next day, we dropped off our rental car at Avis inside Port of Saranda and took a 30-minute ferry to Corfu.

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