On a brief visit to Albania, I stopped in the port town of Durres. Given it’s strategic location as a port city hinged between Italy’s Eastern coast and the Balkan coast, I expect a great number of people take a similar “pit stop” in Durres. I hadn’t known what to expect during my visit, but I’m glad I stayed – it makes an excellent stop off before exploring more of Albania, or indeed travelling further along the coast towards Montenegro and Croatia.
I travelled here from Bari in Italy on the ferry, if you too are taking this route, then check out my article on boarding the ferry as a foot passenger.
Quick Tips for visiting Durres
- There are lots of stray dogs in Durres. I love dogs, so this excites me. But top tip – watch your step. Stray dogs means, stray poop!
- LEK is the official currency of Albania, but most places accept Euros and also Visa Card. But check first.
- Italian and English are pretty widely spoken in Durres as it’s a tourist town.
- It’s an unpretentious town with some good bars and restaurants – the beach is fun during the day, but there are some great bars and cafes in town away from the coast.
- These are some particularly good spaces (bars and cafes) for Nomads in town as they tend to have WiFi, are open all day and you can chill out for as long as you want. Try Oborri Cafe.
Culture: Best things to do in Durres
With an afternoon in Durres, you can take in the main cultural sites. The best ones are:
- The Roman Ampitheatre – when I visited they were setting up for a live performance, so look out for those!
- The Great Mosque of Durres – this stands tall just off one of the main squares, near to the town hall. You can hear the call to prayer throughout the day.
- Venetian Tower – dating back to the 5th century, this is part of the original wall of Durres. There’s an icecream place nestled into the wall where you can sit and enjoy the history!
Beach: Best things to do in Durres
Where are the best Durres beaches?
If you’re only here for a short time, then don’t waste it by walking all the way to the “Durres Beach” which is to the East of the port. It’s quite far out of town. Personally, I’d opt to head here to Currilave beach just to the West of town.
There are loungers to hire, but you can just park a towel down too. The water is calm and clear and there are plenty of snack bars and a supermarket nearby (Spar). The beach is private near the Durazzo restaurant, but the space before this is public. Lazing on the beach and enjoying the delightful water is one of the best things to do in Durres.
Where are the best restaurants in Durres?
The food here is eclectic. There’s definitely an Italian influence and pasta, pizza and gelato can be found everywhere. Eating a gelato, just about anywhere in Durres is one of the best things to do in Durres.
Being a port town, the seafood here is freshly caught and delicious. Head to the promenade for literally dozens of seafood restaurants on your visit to Durres.
There’s also more traditional Albanian food and some restaurants that specialise in meat. I went for one of these, Portiku wine bar and bistro. 9 Euros later, I’d enjoyed a delightful glass of local red wine and a duck breast and truffle cream risotto. Visiting Durres is quite a culinary treat! Enjoying some wonderful food is one of the best things to do in Durres.
As in Italy, I also noticed a quiet vending machine takeover happening in Albania too. It’s a machine revolution!
Best hostels in Durres
I was on a budget during my visit to Durres, so I chose the Hostel Durres. If you’re travelling solo, I’d really recommend it. The social spaces are excellent and there’s plenty of room to work and chat to other travellers if you wish to.
Dorms are 10 Euros and private rooms 20 Euros including breakfast. It’s also about 10 minutes walk from the Port and the bus terminal (leading to Tirana or Budva), so if you too are swinging through Durres, then Durres Hostel could suit you well. Just note it’s next to a bar so don’t expect much sleep!
Another super option is Top View Hostel. This place is really popular with solo travellers and it’s only 200m from the beach.
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