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Is Durres (Albania) worth visiting?

Find out what we experienced on our trip...
 

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Durrës may not be somewhere you’ve heard of, never mind thought about visiting before. It’s the closest beach to Albania’s capital, Tirana, and the second biggest city in the country! However, it doesn’t quite compare in size and “wow” factor to some other “second biggest” cities like Barcelona or Milan. This doesn’t mean that we don’t think Durrës is worth visiting - we absolutely do. To us, it felt like a relaxing holiday resort, with plenty of bars, restaurants and places to stay, but at a fraction of the price of visiting a resort in somewhere like Spain.


Durres, Alabnia
The view from our balcony in Durres!

As a tourist destination, Albania is extremely affordable compared to countries such as the UK. Durrës is a coastal spot, which often means you pay more for your accommodation and meals out, but in our experience this wasn’t the case at all. As we took a family trip, we stayed in this amazing apartment with two balconies (one with a sea view), right in the centre, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and we paid less than £85 per night (in total)!


The bars and restaurants are also really affordable and of a great standard. From the design to the actual food and drink itself - I don’t think we had one disappointing experience.


A frappe with whipped cream on a white table in front of a sea view in Durres, Albania
A mocha frappe by the sea at Bar Sunset



One of our favourite spots was Bar Sunset, which is right on the sea and perfect any time of day, despite what the name suggests! They have a huge menu with lots and lots of drink options, including beers, cocktails, mocktails, smoothies, frappes, coffees - whatever you fancy! We genuinely couldn’t recommend this place more. It is one of the pricier places in Durrës, but you’re paying for the view, which you don’t get in every bar. 





We also loved a bar called Posh Lounge, which is found on the pier on the boardwalk. It’s incredibly modern inside. Head there for a coffee and a brioche in the morning with a sea view. Speaking of the pier, it's a great spot to catch the sunset on an evening. Look at the amazing view we had!


The sunset view from the pier in Durres!
The sunset from the pier in Durres!

In terms of attractions, to be honest, Durrës doesn’t have that many. If you’re looking for an action packed trip with loads of sightseeing, this city might not be the spot for you. The main attraction of this city for tourists is the beach, but there are other things to do if it isn’t sunbathing weather. There’s a beautiful mosque, a small castle, and the amphitheatre, which is worth visiting but doesn’t have the best surroundings. The amphitheatre really is quite well preserved, and interesting to see, but the sports bar and huge bins right next to it do spoil the atmosphere a little bit. 


The tower of Durres Castle
The tower of Durres Castle

We were quite happy to spend our days wandering along the boardwalk by the sea, stopping for food and drink and having short walks around the town area where you’ll find shops and a couple of churches and museums. 


If you’re wanting to explore more, you can find a lot of guided day trips from Durrës to Berat or other nearby towns, food tours or visits to the nearest vineyard. 


Alternatively, visit the capital city Tirana, either as a day trip or extend your visit and stay a couple of nights! You can read our post about Tirana here to see if you fancy visiting. You can get a taxi from Durrës to Tirana for €20-25, and it takes less than an hour. 


3 plates of dessert in a restaurant called Mema House in Durres, Albania
Dessert at Mema House - Ekmek, Chocolate cake and Baklava


You won’t be disappointed by the food in Durrës. Head to Mema house for some traditional food, and don’t be tempted to skip dessert! It was our favourite part of the meal (but when is it not, let’s be honest). 



Also, don’t forget that Italian food in Albania is generally amazing, they know how to make gorgeous pizzas, pastas and Caesar salads. Durrës was no exception! We found that all of the food we tried was really fresh, unprocessed and tasty. It was really nice to have a break from a lot of the over-processed foods you receive in many tourist destinations, and all across the UK. 




To sum up - our answer is YES, Durres, Albania is absolutely worth visiting, as long as you know what to expect. Albania is still a developing country compared to a lot of places in Western Europe, and you’ll still find a few derelict buildings pretty close to the main tourist areas and stray dogs wandering around (but they don’t approach you, so nothing to worry about).


There was some building work being done when we visited, around the boardwalk area, but it’s not disruptive, and we find it so exciting to think that the city could look completely different in just a few years' time as tourism continues to increase and Albania’s economy grows. 


If you’re looking for a city where you’ll be able to create a week-long itinerary packed full of sightseeing, Durrës isn’t the one. But if you’re looking for an affordable, coastal holiday destination with great food, and close to lots of other places to explore, maybe Durrës is your next spot! Plus, especially out of peak season, Durrës isn’t a hugely well-known tourist spot internationally, so you feel like you have the place to yourself!!


Additional information:

How to get to Durres?

Durrës is easy to access by air, as it is only a 40 minute drive from Tirana airport, making it an affordable taxi or bus if you're not hiring a car. There are regular flights from several cities in the UK, and they’re generally pretty affordable too. Trains in Albania are very limited: there is only 1 train per day between Durrës and Elbasan on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, there are options to drive to Durrës or travel by bus from cities in Albania.


Do I need a visa when visiting Durres (Albania)?

Citizens of most countries do not need a visa to visit Albania for a stay of up to 90 days. If you don't live in the UK or Schengen Area, check your local government's travel advice before you travel to ensure you have the correct documents.


What is the currency in Durrës (Albania)?

The currency of Albania is Albanian Lek. The conversion rate is around 100 Lek = 1 Euro. You can't buy Albanian Lek in the UK, or most other countries outside of Albania. You will need cash for taxis and some shops / bars / restaurants, so your best option is to change some money when you get there or withdraw from an ATM. Just be careful of high conversion fees from your bank or the ATM!


What language is spoken in Durrës (Albania)?

The official language of Albania is Albanian, but English is widely spoken across the country, especially in tourist hotspots such as Tirana and Durrës.


What is the time zone in Durrës (Albania)?

Albania is in the Central European Time Zone, usually an hour ahead of the UK.


Where should I stay in Durrës?

We stayed in this (sea view) apartment which was brilliant! But you can look for other places to stay in Durrës on websites like booking.com or Expedia. Around the boardwalk / promenade area is a great location.


What else can I do in Durrës?

There's plenty to do in this city, have a look on GetYourGuide to see what activities and excursions you can book! But don't panic, there's always sunbathing, wandering, eating and drinking to do if you aren't fancying any of these tours or excursions.



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