Durrës

Founded over 2,700 years ago, Durres has been shaped by Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman influences. Explore ancient amphitheaters and medieval towers before relaxing at a beachside cafe. The seafood is fresh, the people friendly, and the sunsets spectacular.

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Why Visit

Durres transcends time with over 2,700 years of continuous inhabitation. Greek colonists established the city in 627 BCE and named it Epidamnos.

Its strategic location on the Adriatic brought Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman conquerors, each leaving their unique stamp.

Walk in the footsteps of history at sites like the Roman Amphitheater. Built in the 2nd century CE, it could hold 15,000 spectators for gladiator battles and performances. Though partly ruined by an earthquake, its towering walls still impose.

Durrës Amphitheater
Durrës Amphitheater

Beyond its ancient attractions, Durres nurtures creativity. Albania’s most significant 20th-century poets, writers, and artists flocked here for inspiration. Galleries now fill the streets, along with live music venues.

Durres honors its past while embracing the future. Ancient sites intermix with modern cafes and markets, coexisting seamlessly. The past nourishes the present.

Durres Beach, Adriatic Sea
Golden sands, azure waters, and Adriatic views make Durres beach in Albania a scenic seaside escape for sun, sand, and sea.

Things to See & Do

Durrës offers diverse attractions to explore, from archaeological treasures to sandy beaches. Discover the city’s rich history, art, natural beauty, and culinary delights.

Thinking about my childhood summers in Durrës brings back happy memories of building sandcastles, swimming in the sea, and enjoying late-night dances in the main square.

Though many years have passed, revisiting Durres’ attractions brings these memories rushing back.

Venetian Tower Durres Albania
Venetian Tower Durres, Albania

Local Attractions

Enter the Durres Amphitheatre, an ancient marvel built in 100AD under Hadrian, and envision yourself among 20,000 cheering spectators.

Amphi Theatre in Albania
The Ancient Durrës Amphitheatre

Admire the chapel’s saint mosaics, illustrating the Roman transition to Christianity. Just steps away lies Durres Castle, also called the Venetian Tower, dating to the 400s during Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I’s reign.

Over centuries, the castle has stood witness to historic events while being reinforced and expanded.

When you’ve had your fill of history, relax on Durres Beach. This lively 10km waterfront comes alive in summer with activities and snacks from vendors.

Golem Durres Albania
Sandy beach in the summer season in Golem, Durres, Albania

Looking out over the sand, you can see the 1937 Royal Villa of Durres in the distance. Now derelict, it was built for King Zog I and hosted famous guests like Nikita Khrushchev as a monument to Albania’s 1928-1939 monarchy.

Explore Albania’s largest archaeological museum for more artifacts spanning Ancient Illyrians to the Ottoman Empire.

Durres
Durres City, Albania

As you wander the modest 600-800s Byzantine Forum colonnades, imagine the everyday life of past inhabitants who once shopped and socialized here—Discover Durres’ Muslim heritage through the Great Mosque and the 1503 Fatih Mosque.

Great Mosque Durres Albania
Great Mosque (or Grand Mosque of Durrës, Fatih Mosque) in Durrës

When you need a peaceful day by the sea, escape south to tranquil Spille Beach. Or join a historical and cultural tour for insights from knowledgeable local guides.

Kayaking and boat tours offer new vantage points to appreciate Durres from the water.

The Ethnographic Museum, Venetian Tower, and Fatih Mosque provide deep dives into the city’s past. At Roman sites like the Amphitheatre, Royal Villa, Forum, and Baths, glimpses of ancient life come alive.

From ancient architecture to waterfront relaxation, Durres offers varied attractions spanning history, culture, and natural beauty for visitors of all interests. The past is interwoven into the present in this coastal gem.

Durres, Albania
City center (old town) and the harbour of Durres, Albania.

Local Experiences

Beyond sightseeing, experience Durres as a local. Shop in the city’s lively markets and sample fresh seafood along the boardwalk. Attend cultural festivals showcasing music, dance, and art.

Try your hand at Albanian cooking during an immersive cooking class. Learn traditional recipes and savor the tastes of qofte, byrek, and stuffed peppers.

Byrek with meat - national dish, popular in the Balkans
Byrek with meat – national dish, popular in the Balkans

Local Cuisine

Durres’ location on the sea shapes its culinary scene. Savor freshly caught seafood like grilled octopus, fried sardines, and mussels cooked in herbs and white wine.

Sample qofte at a local tavern or try byrek, savory phyllo pies with cheese, spinach, or ground meat. Local markets overflow with sun-ripened fruits and vegetables.

Getting There & Away

Reach Durres easily by air, land, or sea. Tirana International Airport sits 37km away and offers regular shuttle services. Albania’s main highway connects Durres to Tirana and other cities.

Ferries cross from Durres’ busy port to Italy, Montenegro, and Croatia. Buses and furgons (minibuses) offer public transport around town and neighboring villages.

Port Durres

Accommodation

Durres offers diverse lodging, from hotels to rental apartments. Upscale options like the Royal Park Boutique Hotel provide scenic sea views, while budget hotels like the Kristal Hotel offer clean, affordable rooms.

Smaller guesthouses and vacation rentals provide a homier stay. Campgrounds and hostels cater to backpackers and road-trippers.

Travel Information

Spring and autumn provide ideal weather, with fewer crowds and costs. The Albanian Lek is the official currency, though euros are widely accepted. English is spoken at most hotels and businesses.

Pack sun protection, walking shoes, and clothing you can layer for changing coastal weather. Obtain proper travel insurance and vaccinations before visiting.

Planning Your Visit

Allow 2-3 days to explore Durres’ top sites and soak up local culture. Nearby day trips expand your experience. Visit ancient Apollonia or Berat, known as the ‘city of a thousand windows’ for its Ottoman architecture.

Budget about $50-100 per day, excluding airfare. Do your research online, then consult local guides to maximize your time.

Your Turn to Visit

Step off the beaten path in Durres, where seaside tranquility meets ancient grandeur. Lose yourself in its winding lanes, savor fresh seafood, and watch the sunset over the Adriatic. Create your journey through this coastal treasure at the crossroads of antiquity and modern life.

Although I was born in Albania, I've spent my adult life traveling there as a tourist. Being a native who visits frequently, I can give you an insider's view of Europe's best-kept secret.
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