Albania is known for its beautiful and magical nature, and the Blue Eye, (known by the locals as “Syri I Kalter”) a unique natural phenomenon located about 30-minutes away from the tourist city of Saranda by car, is something that everyone visiting Albania should witness.
So, here are some tips to help you make the best of your visit to this remarkably interesting spot in Albania.
What is the Blue Eye in Albania?
The Blue Eye in Albania is an endlessly deep, freshwater spring that looks just like an incredible glowing human eye.
In other words, the Blue Eye is the initial water source of the 25 km long Bistricë River and the three facts that make the Blue Eye so fascinating and curious are its colours, its depth, and its water pressure.
The photo here above can already give you a clear idea about its colour. There are no words to explain its tone. The crystal-clear water is so pure and magical. As regards its depth, it seems that it remains a mystery how deep the Blue Eye is. Many divers have attempted to descend into its waters to calculate its depth without succeeding due to the high-water pressure.To date the deepest point the divers have reached is 50 m (164 ft).
The water bubbles up from deep within Syri I Kalter with incredible force, at a rate of 18,400 litres per second, then it runs a length of about 25 km to flow finally to the Ionian Sea near the city of Saranda.
Know that there is a viewing plateau above the Blue Eye so that you can look into it from high enough to have a complete idea of what it is.
Why is it called Blue Eye?
To tell the truth, the Blue Eye has a link to a word “eye” not only because of its incredible glowing human eye aspect. It is also due to an old legend.
According to this legend, a sudden burst of wind once hit the coast of Saranda, and a giant snake came out of the sea.
This snake started slithering towards the Delvina area of Albania, where he ate a group of women and children. Then, the snake slithered to Sopoti Mountain where he ate entire herds of sheep and goats along with two shepherds.
A brave man came up with a plan to load a donkey with sacks of straw and took it to the cave where the snake had found shelter. Once there, while the snake was starting to eat the donkey, he set fire to the sacks of straw.
The snake swallowed the burning donkey, and this caused it pain.
The snake started to rush around the mountains. During this moment, its eye fell down the mountain and reached the place where there the Blue Eye is today. According to this legend, the snake’s eye is still crying today, and this can be seen in the Blue Eye.
Other versions of this story replace the snake with a dragon, or a hybrid of the two. Symbols of dragons and snakes play a large part in the country’s mythology and they are visible around southern Albania.
How to get to the Blue Eye in Albania
There are four ways to get to the Blue Eye in Albania.
Obviously, the best way to reach the Blue Eye is by car. If you have a rented car in Albania then you can follow the directions and reach the Blue eye easily. If you don’t have a car, then you can also try to do what we did. We were staying in Ksamil and since we had planned to have a beach holiday this time, we didn’t rent a car. We only had a scooter for our transportation if needed. Some German guys we met in Seranda offered this trip to us. So, we went to the Blue Eye by car and we just split the expenses. I mean, since they handled the ride, we paid for their lunch.
It was a good day trip. We had some good time together.
To get from Ksamil to the Blue Eye by car, you need to drive 20 minutes from Ksamil to Saranda. From Saranda you have to get on the road SH99, which goes to Gjirokastra, and drive for another 30 minutes to reach the Blue Eye. It is of course doable by scooter too, but it would have been a long journey.
The second best way to get to the Blue Eye is with a taxi. Prepare yourself because they will tell you absurd prices. Try to negotiate. From Seranda to Blue Eye and back should not cost more than € 40.00 for tourists. In this case, once at the destination, the driver will wait for you about 1 hour. This means that you have to calculate the time for doing everything. If you run over your allotted time, you also have to expect that the driver will ask you for more money than what you had previously negotiated.
If you are in Seranda, there is a third option to get to the Blue Eye spring. You can take a bus from the bus station in the centre of Saranda which will only drop you off at the exit of the main road, from where you’d have to walk for about 2 kilometres to reach the Blue Eye spring. Click HERE to see where the bus drops you and how to walk from there.
However, know that a new road was constructed from Seranda to Gjirokaster via Kardhiq. Since this route is faster than the previous ones, most buses now take the new road via Kardhiq and don’t pass by the Blue Eye anymore, so you need to make sure you take a bus that is going through the mountain pass (SH99). You can buy the tickets on the bus. Tell the driver you are going to Syri I Kalter, this is a popular stop and they will know what you mean. The trip will cost 300Lek (about €2) for a one-way journey.
The fourth option to get to the Blue Eye Spring is by organized tours. If you are in the tourist towns, you will see many boards around. Seranda and Ksamil are full of these travel agencies. This excursion could cost around € 35.00. If you prefer you can even check and reserve this trip on “Get Your Guide Website”.
How long to spend at the Blue Eye
I saw that many who visit the Blue Eye Spring in Albania, once at the starting point do only the path that leads until the source. Once here they return. If you have this plan then two hours is enough time to spend at the Blue Eye to appreciate its unusual, natural beauty.
In our case, once we entered we walked all around the source and came out from a different place which was anyways close to the parking area. I would suggest that you do that because it is truly worth it. In this case you will end up with spending a good three hours.
To this we can also add that if you’re brave enough, you can even try to swim in the river that leads away from the Blue Eye spring, even if it would be a bit chilly. The water of the Blue Eye is about ten degrees Celsius all year round.
By the way, know that jumping into the Blue Eye is not permitted. Even if there are signs everywhere that says it is not allowed some people still do so. I think it is unfair because the Blue Eye is something unique that deserves to be respected and protected.
How much is the admission cost to the Blue Eye in Albania
The entrance ticket to the Blue Eye in Albania is ridiculously cheap. It cost only 50 LEC per person which is about € 0.40. That does not include the parking.
If you are arriving to the Blue Eye by your own car, then you are also asked to pay 200 LEC at the parking place. For scooters and motor bikes you have to pay 100 LEC.
10 things to know about the Blue Eye in Albania.
- The spot where the initial water source is, is full of tourists. Obviously everyone is trying to get at least one good photo of them in front of it (which is not easy). This means that you have to queue sometime before your turn arrives to reach the right observation point of the viewing plateau. If you visit the Blue Eye during the high season, this wait might be very long. We went there in early September when the day wasn’t that busy, so I could stay as long as it was needed but I’m sure it can get very busy in July or August.
- Once you are at the parking area, know that you have to walk about 1.5 km to reach the Blue Eye (approx. 30 min walk.). The road to walk to the Blue Eye is newly paved.
- There are also electric scooters that you can rent at the parking spot.
- There is a hiking trail that surrounds this area. With a lot of it being up and downhill it takes approximately 2 hours. It is worth it taking this walk because you will be able to see all shades of colours gradually diluting in the flowing water. If you do not have any special physical conditions, I suggest you try it.
- During the summer season the temperatures can reach up to 40°C so don’t forget to bring a hat, sunblock, and some water.
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- If you are departing from a bus station in Seranda then the bus which is going to take you to the Blue Eye probably has its last stop in Gjirokastra. It means that you can combine both of these destinations into this day trip even if you don’t have your own vehicle.
- Precisely because the area around the spring can get very busy in the summer, I recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid any crowds and queeues.
- Even if swimming in the Blue Eye would be a bit chilly, many try it in the quieter areas where the water is calmer. If you are brave enough you should also try it. In this case bring your swim suit.
- During the communist regime in Albania, only the communist elite and Enver Hoxha (dictator of Albania from 1944 until his death in 1985) were allowed to visit the Blue Eye.
- Note that there are two Blue Eyes in Albania. The other one is close to Theth, a charming village in the Albanian Alps, in the North of the country. Syri I Kalter, however is said to be the better one.
Is the Blue Eye in Albania worth visiting?
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The Blue Eye spring in Albania is worth visiting. It is unique not only for its colours, depth, and pressure but for the emotion that it gives you when you are in front of it. It is actually one of the most incredible places on earth, you know?! This water source comes out from nothing with certain overbearing criteria.
If you’re planning to visit Albania, you must know that Syri I Kalter is a unique place that you should add to your Albania itinerary. Although it’s true that this place is on the more touristy side, it is worth visiting because it holds a mystical charm.
After all, today, not for nothing, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Albania.