Durrës: The Complete Guide

Adriatic Sea From Durrës
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Gertjan R.

Durrës is the Republic of Albania’s second most populous city and was once briefly its capital. This ancient and historic city is now almost an extension of Tirana, being only an hour away by car.

Located on the Adriatic Sea, it has the biggest and most popular stretch of beach in Albania. In the summer the beaches become almost too popular and very crowded.

In Roman times Durrës was known as Dyrrachium and remnants of this can be seen in its amphitheater, Byzantine forum and the artifacts in the archaeological museum. The Rock of Kavajë is about 8 km away from Durrës, and this is where, in 48 BC, during Caesar’s Civil War, Caesar fought against Pompey.

King Zog I built a palace here in 1937 and is well worth a visit.

History of Durrës

The headland at the north of the Bay of Durrës forms a natural harbor, which ships have anchored at since the 7th century BC. The city was first found by ancient Greek colonists from Corinth and Corcyra (modern-day Corfu) in 627 BC. It was then known as Epidamnos and was in the ancient region of Illyria. The original settlers may have been attracted by the silver mines inland. The colony prospered until Corinth and Corcyra, fell out and fought a war with each other.

The Illyrian kings Glaukias and Monum in round 4th century BC ruled over the growing city and monted their own coins, some of which can be found in the Durrës Archaeological Museum.

It later became known as Dyrrachium, and with a population of 40,000 became a significant part of the Roman Empire and its successor the Byzantine Empire. The Via Appia connected Rome to Brindisi, in southeast Italy. Across the Adriatic the road changes it name but continues as the Via Egnatia, which starts in Durrës and Apollonia and travels across the interior of the Balkan Peninsula to Constantinople or Byzantium in the east. In the 4th century CE it became capital of the Roman province of Epirus Nova. The Romans built the large amphitheater here in the early 2nd century.

In the Middle Ages, the city and its surroundings were fought over by the Bulgarian, Venetian and Ottoman dominions.

After the Albanian Declaration of Independence, the city served as the capital of the Principality of Albania for a short period of time. During the second world war, the city was under the control of Italy and Nazi Germany. The city expanded greatly during the years of Communism in Albania.

Visiting Durrës for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Durrës on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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13 Best places to See in Durrës

This complete guide to Durrës not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Durrës and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Mausoleum of Martyrs, Durrës

Mosaic At Durrës War Memorial
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Besara1
The mausoleum is  dedicated to the patriots who fell during fighting in World War II and in the Nazi concentration camps. Designed by Albanian architect Kristo Sotiri (1870-1953) and the work for its construction started in 1947. It consists of three parts: the mausoleum itself which is in the shape of a semicircle, the stairs, […]
Location: Muzeu i Deshmoreve dhe Salla e Relikeve te Luftes, Rruga Aleksander Goga Durrës Albania | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Mausoleum of Martyrs, Durrës

Explore Durrës yourself with our self-guided walking tour!

Well of Tophane, Durrës

Well Tophanes Durres
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Ardit Ajdini
The name tophane indicates the initial function of the area, as a workshop which produced gunpowder. The well was built in the 16th century to give access to water to the inhabitants of the Varosh neighborhood (area outside the castle. It was built on a foundation stone with a quadrangle shape, surrounded by four granite […]
Visiting Well of Tophane, Durrës

Click here to read our blog about Best places to visit in Albania

Durrës Byzantine Forum

Byzantine Market Square In Durres
CC BY-SA 4.0 / GentiBehramaj
The Byzantine Forum is located in the centre of Durrës, as it would have in the ancient city of Dyrrhachium or Dyrrah. It would have occupied a central position in relation to the other large public and religious constructions of the Byzantine period. They were built at the end of the 6th century during the reign of the Roman Emperor Anastasios […]
Location: Rruga Aleksander Goga, Durrës, Albania | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Durrës Byzantine Forum

Durrës Great Mosque

Mosque In Durrës
CC BY-SA 4.0 / GentiBehramaj
The Great Mosque or New Mosque was commissioned by King Zog I in 1931 and was built on the site of an older Ottoman building. When it opened it  was the largest mosque in Albania. During Enver Hoxha’s regime the mosque was destroyed in 1967 and its minaret was torn down. Most other Ottoman-era historic […]
Location: Rruga Aleksander Goga Durrës Albania | Distance: 0.60km
Visiting Durrës Great Mosque

Durrës Amphitheatre

Amphitheatre Of Durres Albania
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Jed Horne
The Durrës Amphitheater is an amphitheater, located in Durrës, Albania. It was built after the 2nd century B.C., and is one of the region’s largest Roman buildings. It was built by the Roman Emperor Trajan. who is considered the second of the Five Great Emperors. During his 19 year rule Rome flourished (98-117 A.D.). It […]
Location: Rr e Kalasë | Hours: 9am-7pm Apr–mid-Oct, to 6pm mid-Oct–Mar | Price: 200 lekë | Distance: 0.70km
Visiting Durrës Amphitheatre

Aleksandër Moisiu’s House-Museum

Ethnographic Museum Of Durrës
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Andis Rado
This museum was opened in 1982, in an traditional Ottoman House, near the Durrës Amphitheater. The road leading to it is runs along the inside of the old byzantine walls of the historic city. The structure is made of made of stone and wood in a typical Albanian style of the last century. The building […]
Location: Rruga Kolonel Tomson Durrës Albania | Distance: 0.80km
Visiting Aleksandër Moisiu’s House-Museum

Durrës Castle

Durres Castle Ventian Tower Albania
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Musli Berisha
Castle Durrës is an ancient fortress town in Durrës, Albania.The castle dates back to the 400s, during the rule of Anastasius I, the Byzantine Emperor who was raised in this region. he made Durrës one of the most fortified cities in the Adriatic. In a 1273 earthquake damaged the ancient walls and they had to be extensively repaired. At this time the Venetian […]
Visiting Durrës Castle

Durrës Archaeological Museum

Durres Archaeological Museum
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Fingalo
The Durrës Archaeological Museum is the country’s largest archaeological museum in Durrës, Albania.  The museum is a modern, well-lit building, is located near the beach and was founded in 1951. The majority of the museum collections consist of objects discovered in the Roman site of Dyrrhachium (present day Durrës ) these includes a large selection […]
Location: Rr Taulantia 32, Durrës, | Hours: 9am-7pm | Price: 300 lekë | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting Durrës Archaeological Museum

Golen Beach

Golem Beach Albania
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Kj1595
This is an extension of Durrës Beach and it has similar soft sand, sandy seabed and an shallow shelving coast. The luxurious hotels and holiday resorts, which have recently been built here have led to e better infrastructure along the beach and has made it popular with many locals and visitors alike. The beaches proximity […]
Visiting Golen Beach

Via Egnatia

Kamare Bridge Elbasan 2
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Liridon
The Via Egnatia is an ancient Roman trade route that links East and West. It begins in Durres or Dyrrachium and the old stone road runs east via Elbasan to Lake Ohrid, through Bitola in northern Macedonia, to Thessaloniki in Greece and eventually to Istanbul, Turkey. So if you’re up for a historically inspired stroll […]
Location: Bulevardi i Palmave Golem Albania | Website | Distance: 10.50km
Visiting Via Egnatia

Generals Beach

Generals Beach Albania
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Kukushiedi
This beach is 400 m long and 50 m wide. It is the most beautiful in the whole riviera of Kryevidhi in Kavaja. Gjeneralit is not very easy to reach, because the road there is not one of the best in Albania, but this also means that is not very crowded like other neighboring beaches. […]
Visiting Generals Beach

St. Peter's Bay

GJIRI I LALZIT Beach
CC BY-SA 3.0 / landi61
Lalëzi Bay which is named after the nearby village of Lalëz near the northeast coast of the bay. It is also known as Plazhi San Pietro or St. Peter’s Bay. It lies between  Cape Rodon  in the north and Rruga Shen Pali in the South and is one of the last very long beaches in […]
Visiting St. Peter's Bay

Spille Beach

Spille Beach Durrës
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Arianit
Spille Beach is a six-kilometer long sandy beach south of Durrës on the Adriatic Coast. It has a stunning promenade, a forest of pine trees, palms, and restaurants where outstanding fresh fish can be found. Spille is one of Albania’s main beaches, and is favoured by families with young kids due to its its relatively […]
Visiting Spille Beach

Best Time to Visit Durrës

The best time to visit Durrës, Albania, largely depends on your preferences for weather, activities, and crowd levels. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons:

  1. Spring (March to May): Spring is a delightful time to visit Durrës, with mild temperatures and blooming flowers. The weather is comfortably warm, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as exploring the city’s historic sites, strolling along the beach, and enjoying picnics by the sea. Additionally, spring sees fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months, allowing for a more relaxed and authentic experience.
  2. Summer (June to August): Summer is the peak tourist season in Durrës, with hot temperatures and plenty of sunshine. This is the best time to visit if you enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and water sports on the beautiful beaches along the Adriatic coast. Durrës is known for its lively atmosphere during the summer months, with beachfront cafes, restaurants, and bars bustling with activity. However, be prepared for higher temperatures and larger crowds, especially in popular tourist areas.
  3. Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another great time to visit Durrës, with mild temperatures and fewer tourists compared to the summer months. The weather remains pleasant, allowing you to continue enjoying outdoor activities such as sightseeing, exploring the city’s ancient ruins, and sampling local cuisine at seaside restaurants. Additionally, autumn offers opportunities to experience cultural events and festivals celebrating Albanian traditions and harvest season.
  4. Winter (December to February): Winter is the quietest time to visit Durrës, with cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall. While the weather may not be suitable for swimming or sunbathing, it’s an excellent time to explore indoor attractions such as museums, art galleries, and historic sites. Additionally, winter offers a unique opportunity to experience the city’s local culture and cuisine away from the tourist crowds.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Durrës depends on your preferences and what you hope to experience during your trip. Whether you prefer the bustling atmosphere of summer, the mild temperatures of spring and autumn, or the peaceful ambiance of winter, Durrës offers something for every traveler throughout the year.

Average Temperatures in Durrës

  • January 13°C 16
  • February 15°C 14
  • March 17°C 14
  • April 22°C 11
  • May 25°C 10
  • June 31°C 6
  • July 34°C 3
  • August 33°C 3
  • September 31°C 11
  • October 25°C 15
  • November 19°C 19
  • December 15°C 16