What to visit in Durrës?
Updated: May 9
Albania is a beautiful Balkan country that offers breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, and great food. However, it is still undiscovered by many tourists. The lack of fame such as Italy, Greece, or Croatia causes Albania to be still a cheap destination in Europe. But don’t postpone your travel there because it’s getting more and more popular vacation spot for a reason. Durrës is the oldest and the second largest city in Albania and has the most important port and resort in the whole country. Located by the Adriatic coast attracts many travelers. Not only beaches but also historic monuments and a lively atmosphere are the reasons why Durrës is such a popular tourist destination. Read our article to learn useful tips about visiting Durrës.
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What not to miss?
Most of the tourists come to Durrës for the beaches. They are sandy and wide with clear water. In the city you can find a 10 km long beach so surely you will find your spot. Nearby there are also a lot of bars, coffee shops, and restaurants so you can fully enjoy them without any worries. You can book a sunbed and umbrella or find a free spot where you just put your towel and relax. The entrance to the sea is shallow and there are no big waves so it’s perfect for swimming. In the city of Durrës, you can easily find beaches but if one day you want to explore more wild ones you can still do it easily - just go outside the city.
The wide and long path stretches along the beach. Surrounded by many restaurants, coffee shops, and tourist attractions. It’s perfect for a walk in the morning and after a whole day spent on the beach or after a great dinner in a local restaurant. We also suggest walking on the promenade during sunset time when the colors are the most beautiful.
The most important historic monument of the city. The evidence of the rich and turbulent history of Durrës. The city was founded by the Greeks in VII B. C. E. and over the centuries was under the rule of Romans and later Venetians. During the Roman years at the beginning of the II century, the Amphitheater was built by order of Emperor Traianus. Nowadays we can visit well-preserved stands, an arena, and underground, but also frescoes and mosaics because the amphitheater in the IV century was built Christian church. The entrance ticket costs around 300 LEK.
Perfect place for the ones interested in history and local archeology. The museum presents the history of Durrës from the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine times and it’s one of the best museums in Albania. The collection of exhibits numbers 2 thousand prehistoric finds in chronological order. If you want to learn more about the city the Archeological museum is the place to go!
Before the earthquake in 1273 in Durrës there was a Byzantine castle but today we can only see its architectural fragments and ruins. In the 15th century at the place of the Byzantine tower Venetians who were rulers of the city built on the remains of the previous building their round-shaped Venetian tower which we can visit nowadays. This piece of history represents the rich past of the city. The Byzantine Empire made Durrës the most fortified city in the Adriatic sea and later was an important region of the Venetian Republic. Now at the top of the tower, we can not only learn about the history but also drink a coffee and relax because there is located a lovely coffee shop with a great view of the sea.
Residence of King Zog I
The House of Zogu also known as the Royal Villa of Durrës was built in 1937 on the highest hill of the city and was used as a summer house for Royal Family. The architectural style that it represents is neoclassicism and the project was made by the Albanian architect Kristo Sotiri. The Royal Palace is a piece of history and also a very interesting building which is worth visiting. On the front facade, we can see the low relief of the president of Albania - Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu. From the residence, you can admire the view of the city and the sea.
The Fatih Mosque
The mosque was built in 1502 and comes from the times of the rule of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. It’s the oldest Albanian Islamic temple and a very important cultural monument - in 1973 was added to the official list of Albanian culture’s important monuments. It was closed due to the communist dictatorship and its minaret was torn down. Later it was rebuilt in a way simpler way when the communist authorities left the city. It’s located close to the Durrës promenade so it’s very easy to locate and visit.
What else to visit?
If you are looking for wide and sandy beaches Golem is a place to go. It’s a small and calm town in the south of Durrës. There is located Plazhi i Gjeneralit - a very lovely beach. You find there a lot of paid sunbeds with umbrellas but also the spacious free zone where you can just lay down on the sand. The sand there is soft and the water crystal clear. It’s the perfect spot for those who need a full day of relaxation.
Cape of Rodon
Located around 50 km from Durrës, the Cape of Rodon is definitely a place to visit. Beautiful wild nature will leave you speechless. But this little, hilly peninsula that extends deeper into the Adriatic Sea is not only about the landscape but also a few important historical and cultural monuments of Albania. The cape is known for the location of the Skanderbeg Castle which was built around the year 1450. Its important function was to allow a quick exit to the Adriatic Sea in the event of an Ottoman invasion. The castle was already destroyed in 1467 by Turks but in 1500 was reconstructed by Venetians who already had the region under their rule. Near the cape, you can also find the St. Anthony Church which was built at the same time as the castle. This Romanesque-gothic sanctuary hides beautiful frescoes inside and other precious pieces. Thanks to its location the panorama surrounding the church is really breathtaking.
How to travel there?
To get to Durrës the easiest way is to take a plane to the capital city of Tirana which is located only around 35 km from the destination. Most airlines are operating flights there and you can easily find cheap ones. Once you get to the airport you can take a taxi or bus (5 €) that will take you in 30-40 minutes to Durrës.
Also one of the best options is to come by car. As Albania has a land connection it is a great idea to make Durrës one of the Balkan road trip points. With a car, you can easily reach every important place in Albania and also explore the coast and its less known beaches.
It is also possible to come to Durrës by bus but definitely more complicated - depending on where is your starting point. If you want to travel by bus you should prepare yourself for a lot of changes which may be fun if you stay and visit other cities that offer you a connection.
Another great option to discover Albania in a very adventurous but convenient way is to book a trip with Good Albania. They offer different kinds of tours that let you explore this country in the best way possible. You should check them out because their service is very professional with great local knowledge!
When to travel there?
As Durrës is a summer resort that offers great beaches the best time is to go there during the hot months - starting in June and finishing in mid of September. At that time you can be sure it’s going to be sunny and you will have the best out of your vacation there.
The Albanian currency is LEK but EURO is also widely accepted. However, you should know that cash is a way more popular method of payment than a card. Albania is still one of the cheapest countries in Europe but as Durrës is a summer resort the prices are higher than in other cities. Anyway, it is still considered a “cheap travel destination”. For a night in a hotel, you will pay 50-150 € for two persons depending on the standard but 50€ is already a very good one. In a restaurant, you will pay for a great seafood meal around 10€, and for pasta or risotto around 5-10€. Good pizza you can get for less than 5€. For a glass of local wine, you will pay 3€ and the popular street food like byrek you can buy only for 0,50€. Although you should also remember that in Albania it is very common to leave a tip - also even when you are buying just one espresso.
What to eat?
In Durrës, you should try their fresh seafood. You can find a lot of great pasta or risotto with various seafood that is not worse than in Italy! Also very popular is to eat fried calamari, shrimps, octopus, etc. They are always fresh and delicious. Don’t miss it when visiting the Albanian coast.
The Balkan street food classic that you can also easily find in Durrës. Philo cake stuffed with spinach, meat, or vegetables is a must-try. It is also a great snack to take with you on the beach. It’s small but filling and most important - super tasty!
Minced meat and rice rolled in wine leaf. Small but amazing pieces are cooked for a long time. You can find them easily in restaurants when you will be searching for good local food.
A mix of grilled vegetables like bell pepper, eggplant, and zucchini. Finley grilled, poured with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Very light and simply tasty - perfect for summer dinner’s appetizer.
This is the end of the article about the city of Durres. We hope to encourage you to travel to beautiful Albania! Explore more with our other articles - Paphos guide, Budva guide, Lanzarote guide. Do not forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be always updated on the new releases!