Two Capitals: Modern Tirana and Ancient Kruja
- Tirana: A drive through town reveals Skanderbeg Square, the Palace of Culture, National Theater, Et'hem Bey Mosque, and the Clock Tower, followed by refreshments and a walking tour of the old quarter that allows a closer look.
- Chart your own course: With an hour or so of free time, you might visit the National Historical Museum or Art Gallery, or check out Blloku ("The Block"), the now-trending neighborhood that was off limits in Communist times.
- Lunch: Visit Kruja's aptly named Panorama Hotel for stunning town and mountain views and a hearty Albanian lunch of cheese and chard burek (pie), meats, salad, dessert, and beer or soft drink.
- Kruja walking tour: Stroll winding lanes with sweeping Adriatic vistas on the way to the a historic hilltop castle and Skanderbeg Museum, where you'll learn the story of Albania's larger-than-life 15th-century hero.
- Old Bazaar: Enjoy more free time on Kruja's famous market street, where tile-roofed shops and artisan studios offer antiques, filigreed jewelry, woven rugs, olivewood baskets, carved boxes, and traditional white felt hats known as qeleshes.
About this Durres Tour
Just over 25 miles apart in distance, Albania's old and new capital cities are worlds apart in time and texture.
In the year 1190, the rustic mountain stronghold of Kruja became capital city of the first autonomous Albanian state. And during the 1400s, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg became the country's enduring warrior hero by stubbornly fending off invading Ottomans despite three lockdown sieges of Kruja Fortress, and commanding a modest army that defeated a much larger Turkish force 24 different times.
Meanwhile, Tirana didn't officially exist yet. Founded by a feudal lord around 1614, it remained an overgrown village until the 20th century dawned and its central concourse of parks and civic buildings was laid out. Two World Wars and a long, bleak Soviet era later, Tirana was a repressed, isolated capital city no one could love. Even the townhomes of Communist bigwigs living in Blloku – off limits to the proletariat – were drab and unexciting.
But all that changed dramatically when freedom arrived in the 1990s, and modern Tirana began to catch up for lost decades. Today the city celebrates its buoyant prospects with rainbow-painted apartment block buildings, a blossoming arts and culture movement, and a vibrant club, cafe, and boutique scene in the very district where the despotic dictator, Enver Hoxha, and his Communist cronies used to live.
On this comprehensive tour you'll see the highlights and visit some of the landmarks that define each of these two contrasting cities. In the process, you'll discover the welcoming warmth and never-say-die spirit that kept Albanians going through the dark times, no matter what history threw at them.
Your expert guide can help with ideas when you set out on your own in each town. In Tirana, it may be those excellent museums and galleries that command your attention. In Kruja, astounding city and fortress views from the lunch venue set the stage for a walking tour through a hero's history, along with historic bargain opportunities at the famous Old Bazaar.
It's your call, your free time. See as much as you can, or sit and sip Albanian wine. That feeling of freedom is what modern Albania is all about.
From 1945 to 1985, Albania was ruled by Communist dictator Enver Hoxha, a certifiable paranoiac whose death squads were the country's most securely employed workforce. Hoxha's architect daughter designed two of the buildings on this tour: One is the handsome, medieval-style Skanderbeg Museum. The other is the infamous eyesore known as "the Pyramid" – once a museum dedicated to her late father, now a crumbling, white-tiled graffiti magnet. But when your dad made Stalin look like a wallflower, one out of two ain't bad.
Please make your way to the Durres Bus Terminal at Rruga Hafiz Podgorica to meet your guide.
In need of retail therapy after your tour? Shopping is available 7 days a week, although early closing at 3:00pm on Sundays is generally observed. Look for traditional Albanian souvenirs - embroidery, woolen items and Raki Skrapari, the local liquor.
Plan to walk a total of 1 mile with up to 90 steps over varying surfaces including old slippery cobblestones, even surfaces and inclines.
Scenic, Walking Tour, Cultural
Vehicle sizes vary, depending on the size of the group.
English, German, Spanish, Italian, French
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages. Travelers must be 18 years of age or older to participate in the cognac and wine tasting portion of the tour so bring photo ID for proof of age.
Special Medical Restriction
Travelers must be in good health, disclose their physical fitness and advise any conditions that might impact their participation in the tour.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
100 countries, 915 cities… limitless possibilities
All our tours are offered by expert local guides & operators
Head off the beaten path with our unique tours & activities
You can rely on our team of travel industry experts
Your order is subject to TourTrek's Booking Ticket Agreement, including all TourTrek and GoBe policies incorporated therein.
Have you been on this experience?
Write a Review
Fields marked are required.
Please enter your review.