Durres, located on the Adriatic coast, is the most popular beach destination in Albania. The 10-kilometer-long stretch of beach combined with affordable prices attract holidaymakers to the city’s waterfront from early spring to late August.
Durres is not only about worshipping the sun, as its rich history dates back to 627 BC., to an era it when belonged to ancient Illyria. The Roman amphitheater in the city center still reminds of the cultural heritage.
The influence of the communist era still lingers in Durres, as there are old soviet style block houses standing around the city. However, the architecture of the city center is different; It’s a reflection of the rising economy with trendy Italian style cafés & restaurants.
Where to stay in Durres
The city is divided roughly into two parts:
- The city center
- The 10-kilometer-long stretch of beach continuing southwards from the port.
There are no attractions between these two areas, so it's better to choose one of the two. The nicest restaurants, historical sites and the shopping possibilities are in the city center, whereas the stretch of beach is packed with hotels and basic restaurants.
Things to do in Durres
Historical walk in the centre
The center of Durres is small but very attractive from the historical point of view.
One of the most interesting attractions is the biggest ancient Amphitheatre of the Balkans, built during the Roman Empire in the 2nd century AD. The amphitheater has been on the UNESCO’s tentative list for years, possibly on its way to the World Heritage list. If you don’t want to pay for admission, you can get a good view of the interior also from outside of the amphitheater.
Continue just another 500 meters up north to the main square, and you’ll see the great mosque on the left. On the other side of the square, just behind the Alexander Moissiu theater, you’ll find the remains of old Roman baths and Byzantine forum from 395 AD. The entrance to the remains is free of charge.
The museum exhibits a vast collection of artifacts from Dyrrhachium, the ancient name of Durres. These artifacts are from Greek, Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Website: Archaelogical Museum
Shopping - Durres
There is a basic selection of clothing shops in the center of Durres. In March 2018, Adidas & Intersport were the only internationally renowned brands with their own stores present. However, some other international brands are available in small shops.
While the local clothing brands are very affordable, the pricing of international brands is similar compared to elsewhere in Europe.
Beaches in Durres
The main stretch of beach unfolds south of the port. The sandy shoreline reaches over 10 kilometers in length, and it constitutes the most popular beach in whole Albania. The sea bottom is shallow by the beach, which makes it ideal for families with small children.
Close to the city center, west of the port, there is another beach called Kallm Beach or ”West End Beach”. The beach is narrower and much shorter than the main beach, therefore getting crowded more easily.
Prices in Durres
Albania is one the most economical travel destinations in Europe, which is why an increasing number of holidaymakers end up traveling there. Prices in Durres are just astonishing for the most of us. The travel essentials, such as lodging, food and drinks will suit even the lowest of budgets.
Below, there are some examples of restaurant and hotel prices in Durres. Costs of hotel rooms are median prices at Booking.com, checked 6 months prior to the travel date.
From the airport to Durres
The nearest airport to Durres is Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza. The airport is located some 32 kilometers away from Durres.
Taxi: Travel time by taxi is 30 minutes without traffic. The average cost by taxi is 30-40 euros. You can check approximate quotes from: merrtaxi.com. Even though the taxis run by meter, agree the fare with the driver in advance to avoid big surprises.
Bus: There are 3-4 daily bus connections straight to Durres from Tirana Airport, costing 4 euros one way. The travel time is approx. 40 minutes. The bus drops you off at the central bus station at Rruga Adria. You can check the schedules from Getbybus. The company providing the transfer is called ADIS Travel.
Bus: Several minibuses go to Durres every day from the roundabout Rrehtrrotullimi Doganës. It's located about 2,3 kilometers from the central bus station of Tirana. In the middle of roundabout, you see a big statue of a double headed eagle, also found in the Albanian flag. You can hop onto any bus with a sign “Durres” on the windshield. You pay directly to the driver. The cost is approx. 2-3 euros. The journey time is 30 minutes. The bus will leave you at the central bus station at Rruga Adria.
Taxi: Travel time by taxi is 35 minutes without traffic. The average cost by taxi is 30-40 euros. Even though the taxis run by meter, agree the fare with the driver in advance to avoid big surprises.
Weather in Durres
Winter: From December to February, it's cloudy and rainy. The daily high temperatures vary between 5-15°C. At night, the temperatures can drop below zero frequently.
Spring: From March to May, the rains are reduced, and the sun is out. The daily high temperature in March climbs up to 10-15°C, but in May it's already at 20°C.
Summer: From June to August, the sunshine is pretty much guaranteed. The temperature climbs constantly up to 30°C and above.
Autumn: September is still a warm month, and the temperature stays clearly above 20 °C. In mid-October, the weather cools down to 20°C, and it starts to rain more often. In November, the temperature is already at around 15°C.
Text: Ville Ryynänen
Photos: Ville Ryynänen & Adobe Stock