The whole region is characterized by high mountains falling steeply
to meet a crystal clear sea. There are long white sandy beaches and the
few hills close to the sea are generally terraced and planted with
olive, orange and citrus trees. The Himarë region as a whole is quite
small, about 50 km (31 miles) long by 10 km (6 miles) wide.
The ancient ruins of Butrint are located about 11 miles south of Saranda and are of special interest if you are into interesting insights into ancient world ruins. Virgil claimed that the Trojans settled Butrint, but no evidence of this has yet been found, and the site has been pored over by archaeologists trying to prove it. Treasure hunters from Italy lifted many of the antiquities before the war, but most have since been returned and are on display at the National Museum of History in Tirana. Greeks settled Butrint during the 6th century BC, although the area had been settled long before by the Illyrians.
Near Saranda stood the ancient Illyrian city of Onchesmos, mentioned as a port in the 1st century B.C. In the 4th century A.d. the town was fortified with walls. Inside the walls have been excavated the remains of dwellings, water cisterns and an early Christian Basilica of the 5th and 6th century, containing a beautiful multicolored floor mosaic. Other mosaics are to be found in the district museum. The ruins are also preserved of an early Christian Monastery, of the Forty Saints, from which the modern name of the town - Saranda is derived. The amphitheater, dating from the 3rd century B.C., bears witness to the cultural riches of the city.