History by the Sea: Durres Landmarks and the Beach
- Durres Amphitheater: Explore the partially excavated walls and extensive underground tunnels of one of the Balkans' largest Roman arenas, where 20,000 spectators once watched gladiators battle beasts – and each other.
- Archeological Museum: Discover a treasure trove going back to Greek and Roman times, from large columns and statuary to a collection of miniature busts of Aphrodite (Venus) and locally minted coins.
- Beach time on your own: Relax, walk, swim, or cafe-hop along Durres beach; clear turquoise waters, golden sand, and a balmy climate make this a great place to chill.
About this Tirana Tour
The port of Durres is Albania's second largest city, and by far its oldest. Founded by seagoing Greeks in 627 B.C., it's a town filled with enough important ancient relics to kick your imagination into overdrive – while along the coast, its miles-long strand of beautiful beach awaits, providing a perfect setting to forget everything for awhile.
In past centuries, maritime trading civilizations have risen and fallen here like the tides. Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans – each has been in charge at one time or another. Each has left its cultural gifts and battle scars behind. as you'll see in the outstanding collection of the Archeological Museum.
In modern times, people from all over the Balkans have been drawn to Durres as a place to relax and soak up the local warmth (both solar and human). Even two 20th-century Albanian strongmen, King Zog I and Communist dictator Enver Hoxha kept vacation villas here on the seaside bluffs.
Unfortunately, the strategic value of this harbor also attracted the attention of squadrons of Allied bombers during World War II, and much damage was done. But the rebuilding was swift, and few signs of the turmoil still show today.
What does show is the enormous new momentum underway since the '90s, when Albania awoke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from its decades-long Communist slumber and emerged as an uncrowded, unspoiled new travel destination.
Even the 2nd-century Amphitheater – until recently considered one of Europe's seven most endangered heritage sites – is now evolving at a rapid pace, with major new excavation plans underway and permanent protection all but assured.
But don't worry: Down along Durres beach, nothing's moving too fast. Once the historical part of the tour winds down, it's the perfect place for you to do the same.
King of contradictions
On a hill overlooking the Durres coast, one epically huge pink and white building stands above all. It was the villa of King Zog, ruler of Albania from 1925-39. In a country famed for its over-the-top dictators, he fits right in. Dipping heavily into the treasury to subsidize his high-rolling lifestyle, Zog managed to rack up a long list of enemies during his short reign – surviving some 55 assassination attempts and 600 blood feud threats. On the plus side, he opened Albania's borders in 1938 to save thousands of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.
Please make your way to the Kristal Center Bus Stop at Bulevardi Zogu I that is close to Tirana International Hotel to meet your tour representative.
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.
Expect a moderate amount of walking over flat and cobblestone surfaces with about 50 steps to climb.
Walking Tour, Scenic, Beach
46-seat Air-conditioned Motorcoach
English, German, French, Spanish, Italian
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.
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.
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