The ancient city of Durres is considered the most ancient city in the Republic of Albania. Presumably, it was founded by Greek colonists around the 7th century BC. The city itself is a great place to visit on any season of the year. However, it’s the summer holidays that attract tourists from all over. Durres is right on the Adriatic coast. Furthermore, its sandy beaches, virgin vistas, and Mediterranean climate make it a go-to destination from local and foreign tourist. Summer is just around the corner, so I am going to show you 5 beaches in Durres that you should visit at least once.
1. Bishtpalla Beach
Bishtpalla beach, roughly translated, means Sword handle beach. This name is due to the curvature of the beach itself. It’s one of my favorites Durres beaches because of the intimacy it provides. Bishtpalla is one of the smallest beaches on this list and one of the best-preserved. It is located on a tinny peninsula.
To get there from Durres city, you take Porto Romano road. When you reach a military zone you head left. After you’ve headed left, there is an uphill climb, not too steep. When you reach the top of the hill you will see a restaurant. The restaurant is situated on top of the cliff from where you take a winding dirt road to the small beach called Bishtpalla.
The view from atop the hill is breathtaking, especially if you arrive early in the morning. On top of the hill, you can see the vastness of the Adriatic sea. The beach itself is beset on both sides by a continuous cliff.
Parking should not be a problem, as there is plenty of space on top of the hill. However, if you decide to go there around 11 O’clock on a Sunday at the height of summer, you will have to park right at the top of the hill and make your way down on foot.
For accommodations on the sand, you will have to pay around $5 for the entire day. There are no free spaces where you can plant your own umbrella. This is a major problem almost everywhere in Albania. Even though by law restaurants and resorts have to vacate at least 15% of a beach for those that do not wish to pay for an umbrella, they usually ignore it.
Furthermore, being a small beach, finding a spot, even a paid one, is difficult in the summertime. It’s best if you get there early is what I am saying. However, there is only one restaurant and the food there isn’t very good. The view is breathtaking, but everything is overpriced and the food is sub-par at best. Still, it is one of the best beaches in Durres
It is a great little beach, with amazing view and scenery. However, if you don’t get there early you might not even find a spot to sunbathe. Furthermore, there is only one restaurant and the food is not that good and overpriced. Although, a quick visit in the morning is more than worth it.
2. Gjiri i Lalzit
Gjiri i Lalzit, or Lalzi Bay, is the most popular of all the Durres beaches. I used to go there before it was well known. I am not trying to say that I went there before it was cool, I am not that hip. However, Gjiri i Lalzit has changed drastically these past 10 years.
It has gone from a nearly un-visited and empty beach to the most frequented beaches in Durres for the summer holidays. Gjiri i Lalzit has gone from ugly duckling to the beautiful swan, all because of one simple thing, re-constructed road.
It took the Albanian government nearly 12 years to re-construct a road roughly 8 Km. When it was finally done, around 2009 if I recall correctly, Lalzi Bay saw an increase in visitors. As a teenager, I would see around 1000 people a day in Lalzi Bay, and this was at the height of summer. Nowadays, you can see thousands upon thousands of people. It is pretty cramped is all I am saying.
Reasons to visit
There are a couple of reasons that Lalzi Bay is so sought after as a holiday getaway. Firstly, it is very close to the capital city, around 9 Km drive. Secondly, it is very spacious. It is basically a virgin beach, even though thousands visit it every day. There are very few buildings and surrounding the beach is a massive forest of pine trees. The trees were planted during the Communist dictatorship of Albania.
Enver Hoxha, the Albanian dictator, “believed” that Albania could be invaded any day by the capitalistic West. To “combat” this imaginary invasion, he built thousands of bunkers. The bunkers were spread along the Albanian coastline. You can even see some in Lalzi forest. However, the forest itself makes for great picnic ground and a place to rest.
The third reason that Lalzi Bay is so frequented, is because of its vast and clean sandy shore. Durres has 62 Km of beaches, 25 of these Km belong to Lalzi bay. The restaurants and bars in Lalzi have kept the beach very clean during the summer holidays. Furthermore, unlike in many Durres beaches, Lalzi Bay offers free spaces to rest on the shore.
Another great thing about Lalzi Bay is the vitality. During the hot summer days, you can see foam parties on the many bars, frequented by young people. These great parties, with local and guest DJ, carry on through the night. Furthermore, the food and drinks are very high quality, especially seafood and cheaply priced. You can order a plate of shrimp for around $7 and the fish is even cheaper than that.
Also, make sure to stop and get ice cream in the village before you arrive in Lalzi. They make delicious ice cream from fresh milk. You will have to wait in line quite a while though, as the ice cream is very popular.
Lalzi Bay deserves the title of the most frequented of Durres beaches. It is impeccably clean and offers a variety of activities and cuisine. It is easy to get to and very near the city of Durres and Tirana as well. The only thing keeping me from giving it full marks is the many people that visit it. It sometimes gets too cramped.
3. Kallmi beach
Out of all the Durres beaches on this list, Kallmi beach is the only one that deserves the title as a virgin beach. Whereas other beaches have been “polluted” by infrastructure, Kallmi has not had that fate… yet.
Kallmi beach is perfect for a private retreat. It has very few visitors, due to the roads being in a poor state. Visitors found in Kallmi beach, are locals or people from the city of Durres. There are very few shops or restaurants and almost no sanitary environments, like showers or toilets.
What Kallmi beach lacks in refinements, it makes up for in un-touched scenery and clear, crystal waters. It is a great spot for people that don’t like big crowds and also don’t mind a bit of rough road.
Kallmi beach is around 4 Km from the city of Durres. You could practically walk there. The beach is located to the west of Durres mountain and to get there, you have to follow the road called Currila (Tsurilla).
I strongly recommend that you bring your own supplies with you. Towels, umbrellas, food, drink, etc. You will need it on this beach.
Although I love secular beaches, the lack of basic necessities like showers or toilets, make it a bit too rough. Even though it is a virgin beach with almost no buildings, it also lacks roads and practically no lifeguards. It is a good beach to visit for a couple of hours, but that is it.
4. The Great Beach
The Great (big) beach of Durres is exactly that. It is one of the most populated and diverse of the Durres beaches. By diverse, I mean it has a lot to offer, much more than the others.
A city beach
As a beach, it starts in the city of Durres and ends at Kavaja Rock or Shkembi i Kavajes. Being so close to the city, it is one of the most populated of the Durres beaches. As we know, population means infrastructure and The Great beach has the most of all the other beaches on this list.
The Great beach offers visitors restaurants, shops, car rentals, hospitals, hotels, etc. You can take a long stroll from the city to the endpoint at Kavaja Rock, roughly 5 Km. The beach is very well lit during night time, which makes it a favored destination for couples. It is also one of the few Durres beaches where it is accessible during day and night.
Being so near to the city, it is densely packed as a beach, mostly by tourists rather than locals.
The Great beach offers some of the best seafood dishes in Durres, albeit at a more steep price. When i visited it, a plate of oysters cost me around $10, compared to $6 at the other Durres beaches.
Apart from the infrastructure and the great food, it doesn’t have anything unique about it. If you like being close to the city and enjoy the nighttime strolls along a well-lit shore, then this beach is a 10/10.
5. Cape of Rodon
I have mentioned Cape of Rodon before, and I shall do so again. It is a very rare spot with a great history and view.
The Cape of Rodon or Kepi i Rodonit is one of my favorite of the Durres beaches. Technically it is a buffer point between the municipality of Durres and that of Lezhe. That being said, it is one of the most beautiful and virgin beaches in Albania, with a great history to boot.
The cape is named after the Illyrian god of the sea Redon. Redon or Rodon was the Illyrian equivalent of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon.
The cape of Rodon is one of those places that are not only beautiful but of great strategic significance. The cape is situated on a tiny peninsula from which you can see as far north as Montenegro and as far south as Vlora. The city of Kruja can also be seen from the cape.
Cape with a history
The Cape of Rodon is also known by the name “Kepi i Skenderbeut” or the cape of Skanderbeg. Skanderbeg is the national hero of Albania. A medieval Albanian Prince, who successfully held back the Ottoman Empire from occupying Albania and furthermore, Italy, for 25 years.
To defend his lands from a sea invasion, Skanderbeg built a heavily fortified castle at the foot of the cape. Parts of the castle still stand today and are free to visit.
Skanderbeg hired architects and engineers from the city of Raguza (now Dubrovnik in Croatia) to build this castle. He later offered it as a wedding gift to his bride Andronika (Donika) Arianiti.
The cape of Rodon also holds a very old Catholic church, dating back to around the 8th century AD. The church used to be an orthodox church but later was taken over by the Catholic Bishop of Durres. The church is where Skanderbeg’s sister was married. The small chapel is a great piece of ancient history and religious architecture.
Entering Rodon national park will cost you around $1. There is also a small beach where you can sunbathe. The cost per beach umbrella is around $5. There are also 2 traditional restaurants. They mostly serve different kinds of meat products and other traditional Albanian cuisines. Being the only two restaurants there, it’s safe to say that their prices are a bit drastic.
Cape of Rodon is one of the few Durres beaches to have a castle, a beach, an old church, and not many people. It’s about 40 minutes drive north Lalzi Bay.
I am a big fan of Cape of Rodon, for its beautiful vista, history and its general potential. It’s right in the middle of the Albanian coastline. With a bit of investment, it could become a major tourist spot. The only thing that it lacks is more infrastructure and maybe a few hotels and bars would be nice.
Durres beaches are some of the most visited in Albania. Unlike the southern ones, they are of sand rather than rock, which makes them ideal resting spots. Summer is nearly here and if you plan to take a tour of Albania’s coastline, then a visit to Durres’s beaches is a must.