Wednesday, April 17, 2024

15 Best Things To Do in Berat, Albania

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There are so many excellent things to do in Berat. Although Berat is a small city, it’s surprisingly packed full of culture and history to soak up.

From the beautiful Berat Castle to the cafe-lined Bulevardi Republika, and some of the best local food I’ve ever tried, Berat is a destination not to be missed.

I spent 3 months exploring Albania and one of my favorite experiences there was sightseeing in Berat. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in the whole of Albania. So, here are some ideas on how I recommend you best spend your time in Berat.

Best Things To Do in Berat

Berat is known as the City of a Thousand Windows thanks to the buildings with symmetrical window frames that sprawl across the hills. It’s also built around the Osum River and has beautiful mountains surrounding it. This makes Berat one of the most picturesque cities in Albania.

There are so many fantastic Berat attractions. Read on to discover a list of the best things to do when planning your trip to this Albanian city.

1. Osum Canyon

Known as the Grand Canyon of Albania, Osum Canyon is one of the best things to see in Berat. It’s a brilliant place to go hiking and is where you’re sure to see some of the lushest nature in the country. At the right time of year, you can explore the canyon by raft or kayak or go for a refreshing dip in the river after a long hike.

My favorite way to explore the canyon is by taking a tour. This brilliant tour also stops in a little town called Polican which was founded in communist times. It’s famous for producing millions of guns and now lies abandoned as a reminder of the past – it’s pretty cool to see.

As part of the tour, you’ll also visit the Bogove Waterfall, which is one of my favorite places to visit in Berat for its natural beauty.

2. Take a Historical Walking Tour

One of the best things to do in Berat is to take a walking tour. Berat is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so it’s not short on culture and history to explore. Because of this, there are quite a few walking tours to find in Berat.

My favorite tour is this Historic City Walking Tour which is led by a local guide. It’s excellent because you receive insider knowledge, cover a lot of ground, and get to see some of the most well-known tourist attractions in Berat. The tour includes stops at Berat Castle as well as the UNESCO sites of Magalem and Gorica.

If you’re traveling on a budget, the Free Walking Tour of Berat is also a good option, but remember to tip your guide at the end.

3. Visit the Ethnographic Museum

The Ethnographic Museum is housed in a beautiful Ottoman-style building and contains over 1,000 objects from Berat’s past. It’s one of the best places to visit in Berat to gain an insight into how the Albanian people used to live and find out more about their traditions.

My favorite part of the museum was the recreated medieval bazaar displaying the crafts of the region such as silversmithing, as well as the fashion of the era. If you’re a history buff, this is one of the top things to do in Berat. It’s like being transported back in time.

Tickets are 400LEK ($ 4 USD) each you can pay 500LEK ($ 5 USD) you get the audio guide too which is interesting to listen to.

4. Walk Bulevardi Republica

Bulevardi Republika is one of the best free things to do in Berat. It’s a really long boulevard lined by cafes and restaurants, as well as Lulishtja Park on one side too.

At one end is a beautiful view of the citadel and at the other is a fantastic view of The Tomorr Mountain. It’s a perfect place for a photo opportunity and is one of the top places to see in Berat.

One of my favorite cafes in Berat – Gimi Cafe – is located along the boulevard. Go for a stroll and stop for coffee and a crepe in this lovely spot. If you’re looking for a quick bite, the pizza at Guest Bar is pretty incredible.

5. Take a Cooking Class

If you’re a foodie looking for things to do in Berat, you should definitely consider taking a cooking class.

This fantastic cooking experience is held in Hotel Castle Park where you’ll make traditional Berati food while taking breaks to learn all about the origins of the ingredients and recipes. It’s such a fun experience and a great way to learn about Berat overall.

You cook in a working kitchen too, so it’s good fun and a great option for couples.

6. Go on a Wine Tasting Tour

There are some fantastic places in Berat to try the local wine. The best way to experience a few different wineries is by going on a tour. On this wine and food tour, you visit two wineries and taste five different wines. It also includes a traditional raki lunch. If you’ve not tried raki before, you’re in for a real surprise it’s the most alcoholic drink consumed in Albania…

You’ll taste some excellent dry white wines which are the best in Albania. It’s a fantastic way to explore the area and meet locals.

If joining a tour isn’t your thing, grab a taxi or drive up to Kantina Luani. This is a winery around 8 minutes from the Old Town by car. The wine tasting offered here is fantastic and they provide a great selection of Albanian food too. Their red wines, particularly the Pinot Noir, are fantastic. It’s one of the best things to do in Berat for couples.

7. Paddle and Kayak Around Tomorr National Park

One of the best places to visit near Berat is the Tomorr National Park. It’s a fantastic place to enjoy the great outdoors, and you can hike to the top of Mount Tomorr (see number 15) if you’re feeling really active.

Alternatively, make your way up to the lake for some water sports, which is one of the best things to do in Berat for families – particularly if your children are slightly older.

This outdoor adventure tour involves a hike to the lake, where you’ll head out onto the water on kayaks and paddleboards to admire the surrounding nature from the water. The tour even includes a delicious picnic lunch for you to enjoy in the park.

It’s one of my favorite things to do in Berat.

8. Rent Bikes and Explore

Renting a bike is a great option if you have limited time as you get to see so much more than you would by walking.

I rented a bike when I was in Berat and I actually rode to Bogove Waterfall as this was recommended by the company. It’s not a short journey, (it took me around 3 hours), but it’s so worth it. If you’re sporty or active, you’ll really enjoy this experience.

My top tip is to set off early, then stop by the Winery of Nurellari on the way back. It’s beautiful, and the wine is so good.

You can rent bikes here. The mountain bikes are of high quality, and the staff is happy to share with you the best routes they know.

9. Visit Berat Castle

Berat Castle is one of the top places to visit in Berat, and for good reason. Looming over the city, right at the top of a hill, lies this giant castle. It’s over 2000 years old and unlike most places, there are still people living within the walls today.

You’ll meet many of the residents inside as they sell homemade crafts, foods, and wares right outside their front doors. Of course, the history that you’ll learn about the castle inside is completely fascinating too.

Tickets cost 300LEK ($3 USD) or you can join a tour that includes entrance, transport, and a food and drink tasting session with a local family which is such a lovely addition after learning the history of the area.

10. Take a Photo from the Viewing Platform

One of the best things to see in Berat is the view from the Viewing Platform. It’s around a 20-30-minute walk uphill, but the view you’re rewarded with is truly spectacular.

On one side is the old town, with the UNESCO town of Gorica on display in all its glory, and on the other side is the newer part of the city. The views of the mountains and the river are incredible.

It’s one of the nicest things to do in Berat at night. Arrive just before the sun begins to set for the most romantic and picturesque ambiance.

11. Go on a Food Tour

Berat is a fantastic place to try some local, Albanian food. I ate some of the best traditional food whilst in Berat. I recommend trying byrek (cheese pastry triangles) and baked eggplants. Both can be found in most restaurants and cafes and are equally as delicious.

Some of the best things to try are preserves, cakes, and alcoholic drinks. Albanians love their raki, and they make all kinds of variations of it. There’s also a big focus on artisanal products made by locals in Berat so it’s a great place to pick up some treats to take home.

On this food tour, you’ll try lots of different tasty goodies. It’s at the Solidarity Shop which is a space for local artisans and producers to sell their goods. It’s a fascinating place to see all the handmade goods and give some new foods a taste.

12. Visit the Sotira Waterfalls

One of the best things to do around Berat is to hike to the Sotira Waterfalls. The waterfalls are super impressive, with the water emerging straight out of the rocks. It’s one of the best things to do in Berat in spring because it’s when the falls are at their fullest from the melting snow.

This trekking tour not only takes you to the beautiful falls but you’ll also pass through authentic old villages where you’ll experience authentic Albanian life. Not a lot has changed in these places over the last 200 years so you’ll gain a genuine insight into Albania.

It’s around a 2-hour round drive with a 2-5 hour round hike, so it’s a full day, but if you love nature, it’s one of the prettiest places to visit in Berat. You can book the tour here.

13. Walk the Gorica Bridge

The Gorica Bridge is one of the oldest Ottoman bridges in Albania, and it’s also one of the most popular things to do in Berat. This grandiose bridge is made of stone, has seven arches, and connects the Gorcia neighborhood to the rest of Berat over the Osum River.

It’s got a fairly dark history, with stories including that of a young woman being sacrificed to ensure that the foundations stood strong forever. Today, it unites both Muslim and Christian neighborhoods, which is a much nicer tale. It’s a lovely place to visit in Berat to take a photo, as it’s a gorgeous monument.

I definitely recommend crossing the bridge too. The neighborhood of Gorica is beautiful to walk around and there are some great restaurants there too.

14. Go Gliko Tasting

You must try Gliko when you’re in Berat. It’s a fruity preserve that’s famous in the city, made from whole nuts and fruit, and sometimes even vegetables.

On this Gliko tasting tour, you visit Dollani House in the Kala neighborhood, which is a cultural monument because it’s so architecturally beautiful. You’ll learn all about the history of the building, as well as what life was like back in those times.

Once you’ve marveled at the beauty of the house, you’ll get to taste the glikos as well as other liqueurs, raki, coffee, and suxhuk – a traditional Berati dessert from the Ottoman Era.

It’s one of the most unique things to do in Berat and I recommend it if you enjoy trying things that are a little different.

15. Hike Tomorr Mountain

Mount Tomorr is around 2450 meters above sea level and is one of the most famous mountains in Albania for its religious significance. Annual pilgrimages take place during the second half of August.

The highest peak is Cuka e Partizanit which is the highest peak in central Albania. It’s a difficult hike but the peak offers amazing views of the whole of Berat as well as North East and South West Albania; it’s incredible.

If you want to hike to the peak, I recommend taking a guide to show you the way as there are some difficult ridges to navigate. Make sure you stop at the snow holes as they never melt, no matter the time of year.

Quick Travel Itineraries For Berat

Usually, people will visit Berat as a day tour from Tirana, but there are so many things to do in Berat that you could spend a week here and still find plenty to keep you occupied. Here are a couple of potential itineraries to get you started:

1 Day in Berat Itinerary

If you’ve only got one day in Berat, I recommend taking a walking tour, which will take you to many of the best places to visit in Berat and teach you all about this magical city. In the evening, head to Homemade Food Lili for some delicious traditional Albanian food.

2-3 Days in Berat Itinerary

If you have 2-3 days to spend in Berat, I’d still recommend that you do the walking tour because it’ll teach you all about the city, and it’s an excellent way to find your bearings.

If you’re a foodie, I definitely recommend going wine tasting as the surroundings are beautiful and the wine is good. It’s also a great way to learn about Albanian culture.

Finally, on the third day, be sure to set out to see some of Albania’s beautiful nature. I recommend going to check out the Bogove Waterfalls – you can either book the tour, or rent bikes and cycle there yourself. Either way, it’s a wonderful experience.

1 Week in Berat Itinerary

If you have a week in Berat then you’ll have time to complete many of the things on the list. I recommend taking the Historical Walking Tour and stopping at the Viewing Platform on the way back to enjoy the views over the valley.

Head out of the city to the Bogove Waterfalls or to the Osum River to explore the canyon. Both are beautiful and fun days out.

For some rest and relaxation take a slow stroll up the Bulevardi Republika and stop for a coffee, or maybe a glass of raki while you basque in the ambiance. Grab some local food from one of the brilliant restaurants listed below and enjoy the slow pace of Albanian life.

With your energy back, I really recommend hiring bikes or taking a tour of the Waterfall. I loved cycling around Berat, it was such a memorable experience. If you’re an active person, why not hike Tomorr Mountain? I found it incredible, and you’ll make memories to take with you when leaving Berat.

Of course, a wine tasting is essential – I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of Albanian wine. The people are friendly, and not only do you get to taste wine but raki too. You’ll definitely return to your accommodation feeling merry!

Where to Stay in Berat

These are a few of the best neighborhoods in Berat for tourists:

Old Town – Best for First-time Visitors

If you’ve got limited time in Berat, the best place to stay is definitely the Old Town. You’ll be within walking distance of all the historic sites, as well as some fantastic bars and restaurants. You’re really in the heart of the action. I recommend the beautiful hotel Residenza.

Gorica – Best for Budget Travel

Gorica is a beautiful town that’s reached by crossing the famous Ottoman bridge, the Gorica Bridge. It’s one of my favorite attractions in Berat. Gorica is a little cheaper than the accommodation in the Old Town and is home to many hostels and hotels.

I recommend the Amalia Hotel or the Maya Hostel if you’re backpacking.

Lagja 30 Vjertori – Best for Families

To the southeast of Old Town lies this quiet little suburb. It’s not as touristy, but it’s close enough to walk into town. You’ll find some more spacious apartments here, along with all the amenities you require. This lovely B&B is gorgeous.

Best Restaurants in Berat

Don’t miss these great places to eat in Berat:

Homemade Food Lili

You won’t get better than Lili’s place for authentic Albanian food with incredible service. Lili is the loveliest man whose wife, Lela, serves the best Albanian food. It’s a small place, so make sure to book ahead. The lamb baked in yogurt is incredible.

Eni Traditional Food

Eni is located just over the bridge in Gorica. It’s another family-run restaurant that serves delicious Albanian food. I recommend the stuffed peppers and moussaka. Both make my mouth water just thinking about them!

Green House Restaurant

In the Lagja 30 Vjertori neighborhood, the Geen House Restaurant offers a more modern menu featuring fantastic salads, pasta, and rice dishes. It’s a great place to visit if you’re traveling with children as there’s a playground in the garden.

Tradita e Beratit

Another fantastic restaurant located in the Gorica neighborhood is Tradita e Beratit. It’s also a hotel, but the restaurant is super cute and romantic, with alfresco dining and lovely atmospheric fairy lights.

The food is both fresh and local. I recommend trying the local byrek.

Taverna Panorama

Taverna Panorama is a little out of town, but it’s for the view that you visit this lovely restaurant. From here, you can see over the whole town, the river, and the surrounding mountains – it’s a spectacular setting for a special meal. I found the cheese-stuffed olives and grilled peppers fantastic.

Getting To Berat

You’ll likely arrive in Albania in Tirana which isn’t very far from Berat and is easily reachable by car or by bus. You can either arrange a private transfer from Tirana, or you could get the bus from the main bus station. You can view the timetable here. The journey takes just under 3 hours and costs around 500LEK ($5 USD).

You’ll arrive in Berat at the Berat Bus Terminal, around 3 km from the Old Town. From here, you can either grab a taxi to your accommodation or get on a green city bus which will take you to the center. The bus costs around 40LEK ($0.40 USD) and a taxi may cost up to 500LEK ($5 USD).

Berat itself is a very walkable city, although parts are quite steep and hilly! You won’t need to rely on taxis or public transport or have to worry about renting a car. A popular way to get around Berat is to rent a bicycle.

Things To Do in Berat: FAQs

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Berat:

What is Berat known for?

Berat is known as the City of 1000 Windows. Its name comes from its famous houses nestled into its hillside which have lots of symmetrical openings. It’s a wonderful sight.

When is the best time to visit Berat?

The best time to visit Berat is during the shoulder seasons between April-June and September-August. July and August are still good times to visit, but it will be much hotter and busier.

Is Berat worth visiting?

Yes absolutely. The food offering is fantastic, the UNESCO Sites are beautiful and there’s some incredible nature to be explored. Berat really offers a bit of everything.

How many days should I spend in Berat?

A couple of days is enough to see most of the fun things to do in Berat. However, if you have a little bit extra, you can explore the things to do near Berat, like the Tomorr National Park.

Is Berat safe?

Yes. Albania generally is considered a very safe place to visit.

What is the most popular thing to do in Berat?

Of all the things to do in Berat, visiting the Berat Castle is probably the most popular. You’ll see homes that are still occupied by locals, walk through cobbled streets, and see lots of lovely little shops and cafes.

Is there nightlife in Berat?

While Berat is a quaint city, there are some great bars and lounges where you can enjoy a drink and music until late.

What foods should I try in Berat?

I had some incredible local food in Berat, the city is full of fantastic local restaurants. You should definitely try byrek (Albanian cheese triangles) while you’re there.

In Closing

I hope this article shows that there are many amazing things to do in Berat. It’s a wonderful city that you should definitely make time to see during your trip to Albania; even if you’re only able to visit for the day, it’s worth it.

The people are friendly, and it’s a unique city, unlike anywhere else I visited in Albania or even Europe. The best thing is that there’s something for everyone. Beautiful nature to explore, excellent local food and wine to sample, and history and culture to soak up.

I hope this article helps you plan what to see in Berat so that you can make the best out of your stay.

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