While it may be a small city, there are plenty of things to do in Berat, Albania.
Known as the City of 1000 Windows, Berat is one of the most popular places to visit in Albania, after the capital city of Tirana.
The UNESCO town is stunning, with well-preserved Ottoman houses lining the hillside and the Berat Castle perched atop the highest point.
The impressive views may be what draws people to visit Berat, but there is so much more to this city. From exploring the castle to wandering the narrow streets of the Old Town, there are plenty of things to do in Berat.
And while visiting a UNESCO city or admiring architecture isn’t what you think to do when travelling with kids, Berat is actually a great destination for families.
With plenty of things to keep everyone entertained, Berat should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Albania.
What is Berat known for?
Berat is known as the City of 1000 Windows, and it’s easy to see why.
White Ottoman houses appear to be stacked on top of each other as the hill rises from the river to the castle. And with large, square windows on the upper floors, it seems like a thousand windows are looking at you.
How much time do you need in Berat?
While it is possible to visit Berat on a day trip from Tirana, and many people do, if you have the time, it’s worth staying overnight in Berat.
If possible, staying two full days will give you the chance to explore and experience all the best things to do in Berat/that Berat has to offer.
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Top Things to Do in Berat
1. Visit the Berat Castle
The most iconic sight in Berat is undoubtedly the castle, which has been guarding the city since the 13th century.
The castle, or Kala as it’s known in Berat, is perched on top of the hill overlooking the city.
It’s a steep walk up to the castle from the Old Town, or you can drive up and park at the top.
Inside the walls, the castle area is still inhabited and you’ll find shops, houses and even a cafe.
There’s also plenty of ruins to explore and quite a few churches to see, although not all the churches are open.
You could easily spend hours wandering the area inside the castle, climbing the stairs and looking out over the old walls.
There’s also a great view over the city from the lookout of the castle.
While we explored the castle during the day, the lookout would be a fantastic spot to see the sunset!
2. Visit Holy Trinity Church
Berat has quite a few churches, and there’s around 20 churches inside the castle walls.
One of the most visited is the Church of the Holy Trinity, or Kisha Shen Triadha in Albanian.
Located on the southern side of Berat Castle, it dates back to the 13th century and is one of the oldest and best-preserved churches in Berat.
Inside, you’ll find beautiful frescoes, similar to other churches in the castle area, but most of the time the doors are locked and you’ll only be able to view it from the outside.
3. Stroll through the Old Town
Berat’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why.
The well-preserved Ottoman houses are built into the hillside, and the streets are incredibly narrow. It feels like you’re stepping back in time when you wander through the Old Town, and it’s a great place to explore.
The Old Town actually spans both sides of the river and the Osum River divides Berat Old Town in to two quarters; the Mangalem and Gorica quarters.
Originally the Mangalem quarter was predominantly muslim, while Gorica was the Christian quarter.
These days the Mangalem quarter is the more touristy side, while Gorica is still very much a residential area, but it’s worth wandering through both sides.
From the Gorica quarter, you’ll have an impressive view of the houses climbing up the hillside with the castle at the top.
There’s also a hike from the Gorica quarter that climbs the hill for great views of Mangalema and Berat Castle.
Fun Fact: The name Berat actually comes from the Slavic word meaning “White City”.
4. Walk across the Gorica Bridge
The Gorica Bridge is one of the symbols of Berat and it’s definitely worth crossing!
The stone bridge was built in 1827 and it spans the Osumi River, connecting the two halves of the Old Town.
The Gorica Bridge is a pedestrian bridge and it only takes a few minutes to walk from one side to the other.
It’s also one of the most photographed spots in Berat, so make sure you have your camera ready when you cross!
5. Stroll Along Bulevardi Republika
Bulevardi Republika is long, wide pedestrian street that’s lined with cafes and restaurants on one side, and the Lulishtja Park on the other side.
It’s a great spot to people watch while you enjoy a coffee or snack, or even an ice cream. In the evenings, it’s full of people out for a walk taking part in the Albanian chirp.
6. Experience the Albanian Xhiro
The Albanian Xhiro is an evening stroll, and it’s a tradition that’s still alive and well in Berat.
Every evening, as the sun starts to set, locals head out for a leisurely stroll along the Bulevardi Republika.
You’ll see people of all ages out for a stroll, and it’s a great way to experience the local culture.
No matter what time of year you are visiting, it’s one of the best things to do in Berat.
7. Visit the National Ethnographic Museum
The Ethnographic Museum is one of the top places to visit in Berat.
Located in a beautiful 18th century house in the Mangalem quarter of the Old Town, it’s a small museum where you’ll learn how locals lived under the Ottoman rule.
The first floor has displays of traditional clothes and tools, while the second floor has furnished bedrooms and a kitchen to give you an idea of how the local people lived.
It’s a great way for kids to see and learn about how people lived in the past and it’s well worth a visit!
Other Things to Do in Berat (not necessarily for kids)
8. Visit the Onufri National Museum
The Onufri National Museum is in the Berat Castle area, inside the Church of the Dormition of St. Mary. It’s named in honour of Onufri, one of Albania’s most famous icon painters.
The museum is small, but it’s worth a visit to see some of his work as well as traditional Albanian icons.
9. Saint Demetrius Cathedral
Located at the eastern end of Bulevardi Republika, you can’t miss this huge cathedral. It’s an active cathedral, so you’ll see locals going in and out, but visitors are welcome to go inside and explore.
While it’s not as old as some of the other churches in Berat, in fact it was only built in the early 2000’s, it’s interesting to see an Orthodox cathedral across from the main mosque, reflecting Albania’s multi-religious history.
Other Things to See in Berat
- Red Mosque – The first mosque in Berat, located in Berat Castle.
- Sultan’s Mosque – One of the oldest mosques in Albania.
- Halveti teqe – A small building where dervishes used to perform.
- Lead Mosque – The big mosque on the town square with a lead-coated dome.
- Chapel of St.Michael – Perched on a cliff ledge, the chapel is best seen from the Gorica quarter.
Things to do Around Berat
Visit the Bogove Waterfall
The Bogove Waterfall is one of the most popular day trips from Berat. It’s about an hour’s drive from Berat but can be combined with a trip to the Osumi Canyon, making a full day trip.
The waterfall is small, but it’s beautiful and you can even go for a swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall. Even in the summer, the water is chilly though!
If you have your own car, there’s parking at Bogove waterfall and it’s a short 20 minute hike to the falls. There’s also a bus that runs from Berat to the Bogove, and a trail right from the bus stop to the falls.
You can also book a day trip to Bogove Waterfall and the Osum Canyon.
Visit Cobo Winery
Cobo Winery is a family-run winery, just 20 minutes from Berat.
They offer tours of the winery as well as wine tasting, and it’s a great way to learn about Albanian wine.
The tour includes a visit to the vineyards, the winemaking process, and of course, a tasting of the wines.
Explore the Osum Canyon
The Osum Canyon is one of the most popular day trips from Berat.
It’s about an hour’s drive from Berat, but can be combined with a trip to the Bogove Waterfall, making a full day trip.
The canyon is beautiful, and there are a few spots where you can go in and swim. It’s warmer than the waterfall!
Hike in Tomorr National Park
Mount Tomorr is the highest peak in the Tomorr National Park, and can be seen from Berat. It’s a popular spot for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.
If you don’t want to hike to the top, you can also book a guided tour from Berat that includes a jeep ride to Mount Tomorr. There’s also a tour that combines a trip to Mount Tomorr with a stop at Bogove Waterfall.
Where to Eat in Berat
We had lots of recommendations for this place and it didn’t disappoint!
It’s worth visiting just for the great view across the river, but the food’s pretty good too! Be sure to try the qofte – Albanian meatballs.
Homemade Food Lili
This was another well recommended spot and we passed by it a few times without realizing it.
The food is delicious and homemade, and they also serve homemade wine. It’s popular though, so be sure to make reservations!
Another good place to eat in the Mangalem quarter is Heaven’s Kitchen.
It’s a good spot for a quick meal, with souvlaki, gyros, crepes and other grill options to choose from. They also serve up the best pizza in town.
Where to Stay in Berat
Located right in the Mangalem quarter in traditional Ottoman houses, the Hotel Mangalemi is a great choice to stay in Berat.
It’s reasonably priced, centrally located and an easy walk to most things to do in Berat.
There’s also a rooftop restaurant serving traditional Albanian food.
White City Hotel
If you’re looking for a more modern hotel, the White City Hotel is a good choice.
It’s located right on Bulevardi Republika, across from the park and steps away from plenty of restaurants and cafes.
The rooms are modern, clean and air-conditioned, and breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace, overlooking the Old Town.
How to Get to Berat
Berat is located about 100km south from Tirana, the capital of Albania.
If you’re coming from Tirana, you can either drive yourself or book a tour. If you’re driving, it’s just over 1.5 hours and is a pretty easy drive on the main highway. Just follow signs for Tirana-Elbasan-Berat.
Buses leave from Tirana every half hour during the day and the trip takes about 2.5 hours.
There’s also a bus from Berat to Saranda, which runs twice a day and takes about 6 hours.
From Gjirokaster, the bus takes about 4 hours and runs several times a day.
Furgons, a shared shuttle, also run regularly between Tirana and other cities to Berat.
However, in true Albanian style, there is no schedule or fixed time so you just go with the flow and leave whenever the shuttle is full.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Berat is a small city and most things are within walking distance. However, there are a few hills so be prepared for some uphill walking!
- As with many European towns, the streets are narrow and cobblestone. This makes it difficult to use a stroller if you are travelling with young kids.
- It’s also a good idea to have good footwear as you will be doing a lot of walking on uneven surfaces.
- Berat is a very safe city and we never felt uncomfortable walking around, even at night.
- It’s a good idea to bring a scarf, especially if you plan to enter a mosque or orthodox cathedral, where women may have to cover their hair.
- While English is not as widely spoken as in Tirana, most people we encountered spoke at least some English, so communication was never an issue.
Is Berat worth visiting?
Absolutely! There are so many things to do in Berat, from exploring the Old Town to visiting the castle and museums. With its well-preserved Ottoman houses, traditional Albanian architecture and delicious food, Berat a unique city that’s definitely worth visiting!