On the road from Gjirokastra to Saranda we stopped off to visit Blue Eye Springs: listed in our Bradt guide to Albania as a must do. It is an underwater spring where the water bubbles up through a deep pool, circular in shape: deep blue at the centre and electric blue at the edges, like the pupil and iris of an eye, hence the name. The rocks from which the spring rises, are over 45m below the surface and have never been fully explored. In the old days, the site was reserved for the elite to hunt in the surrounding woodland.
Having driven down the 2km unpaved road and paid 100 Lek/75p for the car, we arrived at the car park. Despite it being only 9.30am, and in the off season, my heart sank when I saw the huge number of large buses. This turned out to be the most over-crowded site in all our 4 weeks in Albania. The reason is that Albania is a popular day trip by ferry from neighbouring Corfu where Blue Eye and Butrint are on the itinerary.
It was a short march to the site of the Blue Eye which could be viewed from a rather small and rickety viewing platform the size of a double bed. There was a lot of jostling to basically see a blue pool of water. Near a shallow area, a few people were taking off socks and shoes for a paddle, but bathing is prohibited as the water is so cold. A walk led us back a slightly different route, past several restaurants and souvenir shops, although maybe because of the time of year or day, were closed.
I’d sum it up as ‘far too touristy and not particularly spectacular’. If it was high season, I wouldn’t visit, even if I was passing. I’m just glad I didn’t come all the way from Corfu.