Berat, Albania is a small city of just over 65,000 residents but with a long, storied history. Its alternative titles are ‘The White City’ or ‘Museum City’ or, more notably, ‘The City of a Thousand Windows.’
Each of these names makes a reference to Berat’s signature style of architecture; white houses with orange roofs with at least half a dozen windows on each side. These 18th or 19th-century houses are a symbol of this often overlooked city.
And while these houses are stunning (they also make up Berat’s UNESCO World Heritage Site), there are so many more things to do in Berat.
It’s only 100km south of Albania’s capital of Tirana which is just less than two hours drive. Spending 48 hours in Berat is the ideal stopover between the capital and the Albanian Riviera on the southwest coast.
This 48 hours in Berat itinerary will show you how to get around Berat, the best time to visit and where to stay in Berat for every budget.
It will list all the top places to visit in Berat, the best things to do and the tours you should book to have a fantastic trip to Berat.
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The Best Time to Visit Berat
There’s a reason why Albania is marketed as the cheaper, less-crowded alternative to a trip to Greece.
They are next-door neighbours and have very similar climates! Berat, which is in the south of Albania, has dry, hot summers and cold, drizzly winters.
July is the hottest month with highs of 37°C (10°C) and January is the coldest with lows of -3°C (27°F).
Few visitors travel to the city in the winter (November – February) so this is not the best time to visit Berat. Not all restaurants will be open and you might not be able to do some of the outdoor activities.
Accommodation and flight prices in Albania stay fairly consistent throughout April – October and it never gets “over-crowded” in summer like other tourist hotspots. However, avoid travelling in July and August because the soaring temperatures make exploring thirsty work.
The best time to visit Berat is in the shoulder seasons from April – June and September – October. The weather will be warm yet not unbearable.
You will also be able to enjoy the annual multicultural festival in June and the wine festival in October.
How To Get Around Berat
Berat is a very small city on the Osum River. If you have no difficulty walking, this is the best way to get around during your 48 hrs in Berat.
It takes 30 minutes to walk from the hospital in the east of the city to Berat Castle in the northwest which is almost the entire length of the city.
The New Bridge of Berat and the Gorica bridge allow you to cross the river easily and you won’t have to spend a penny.
Berat does have a bus route, but that’s ‘a’ bus route because there’s only one. It begins at Berat Bus Terminal in the northeast and travels through the Old Town, the Gorica Quarter across the bridge, and to the easternmost point of the city.
Taxis are available from the bus station too and they’re also in Iljaz Vrioni square if you want to hail one.
If you need private transport, you can rent a bike from 1001 Albanian Adventures or a car from Besmir Rental Cars. All types of transport are affordable but cars and bikes aren’t necessary for most in a small city like Berat.
Where To Stay in Berat
There are three main neighbourhoods you should consider staying in during your 48 hours in Berat: Mangalem Quarter, Gorica Quarter, and Kala.
Mangalem is the Old Town in the heart of the city, Kala is further up the hill where Berat Castle is, and Gorica Quarter is just across the river. All three offer a range of great value hostels, guesthouses and hotels.
Berat Backpackers – This hostel opened in 2009 and was the second hostel ever to open in Albania. It’s an institution! Situated in the Gorica Quarter, the hostel has a choice of dorms and private rooms in a 300-year-old villa.
Berat Backpackers’ rates start at €20 (though they can be cheaper in the off-season) and that includes a free breakfast. And because it’s across the river, the hostel has gorgeous views of Berat Old Town.
It’s in the Kala neighbourhood only a stone’s throw from Berat Castle in a beautifully renovated mansion that has retained its old-world charm but has all the modern touches you need for a comfortable stay. There’s a guest lounge and they even offer free breakfast.
Hotel Colombo Berat – One of the best things about travelling to somewhere like Berat is splashing out on a 4-star luxury spa hotel but paying far less than you would elsewhere! Rates at the Hotel Colombo Berat start from a bargain €70 per night with free breakfast.
This elegant and modern hotel has an onsite restaurant and also offers free guest parking. You’ll find it in the east of the city next to the Lulishtja gardens.
Things To Do in Berat on your 2 day Itinerary
Taste Traditional Albanian Cuisine
Traditional Albanian food is underrated and often overshadowed by other countries. It’s similar to Greek and Mediterranean food in that it has a lot of seafood, nuts, garlic, vegetables and fruits.
Middle Eastern dishes like baklava and moussaka are quite common in Berat and other parts of Albania too.
One of the only ways you can really experience Albanian cuisine is to eat homemade food. And that’s not as difficult as you might think!
Albanians are extremely hospitable people and it’s common for them to invite travellers they’ve just met over for dinner.
Food is often served with a cup of mountain tea (a type of herbal tea you’ll find in Berat), a glass of wine, or more likely some raki.
Witness Breathtaking Views of Berat
Berat is super close to Albania’s Tomorri Mountain National Park, so it’s not a flat city. This means there are lots of hills you can climb up for breathtaking views over Berat and the nearby countryside.
The Gorica Quarter has some great viewpoints because you can look back over the beautiful Old Town.
Places to Visit in Berat
One of the top things to do in the city is to visit Berat Castle. It’s a huge complex of a ruined 13th-century castle that sits on one of the highest hills in the city.
At one time, around 20 mosques and churches would have made up this impressive fortress. One of the churches is the 14th-century Byzantine Holy Trinity Church which you can visit inside.
The Ruins of the Red Mosque haven’t survived quite as well but the site is still worth visiting. Muzeu Kombëtar Ikonografik Onufri is a museum housed inside another of Berat Castle’s old churches. It displays religious relics and art that you might find interesting.
Berat Ethnographic Museum
Over the last few centuries, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish people have all called themselves residents of Berat. I
t’s an incredibly multicultural city with a diverse past which is why visiting the city’s Ethnographic Museum is such an insightful activity.
It displays many artefacts relating to Berat’s varied history including a model of what Berat would have looked like during medieval times.
The King Mosque
Depending on prayer times, if you are not Muslim you might not be able to have a look inside the King Mosque. But it’s worth trying!
This historic mosque dates back to the 15th century when it was built by Sultan Bayezid II. Its prayer hall has an intricately painted ceiling and script from the Quran surrounding the door frames and ceilings.
If you aren’t able to visit the King Mosque, try the Lead Mosque just down the street instead. This one is more commonly open to visitors and, though it doesn’t have an ornate interior like the King Mosque, it is much larger. And it was built in the 16th century so there’s still a lot of history in those walls.
Solomon Museum Barat
There aren’t any synagogues left in Berat as there sadly isn’t much of a Jewish community still living in the city.
If you’re keen to know more about the history of Judaism in Berat then the Solomon Museum is the best place to visit. It’s not a large museum, but it’s fascinating.
For example, you can learn stories about how the people of Berat attempted to conceal their Jewish neighbours during WWII.
Saint Demetrius Cathedral
Saint Demetrius Cathedral is the main church in Berat. It’s an attractive, white-patterned church with two towers and an ornate wooden altar.
It’s an extremely modern church as it was only built in the early 1990s and consecrated in 2014. Though it’s nowhere near as historic as the Holy Trinity Church, it’s very much still worth visiting.
Tours To Do in Berat
Old Town Walking Tour
You can visit the museums and you can walk around the ruins, but you won’t get to learn much about the stories and histories behind the artifacts and buildings.
Many of the signs aren’t in English and you won’t find much information about these historic sites online.
That’s why taking a walking tour with a local, knowledgeable guide around this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the best way to see the city.
Albanian Wine Tasting
Believe it or not, Albania has an extensive wine region. You just might not have tried any or heard about it before because most of it stays in the country and isn’t exported.
Book a wine-tasting tour so you can sample some of Berat’s local grape varieties while you’re there. Most wine-tasting experiences are located at their vineyards and often include samplings of red wine, white wine, and some raki too.
Osumi River Canyon
If you travel south down the River Osum that flows through Berat, you will eventually reach a deep canyon called the Osumi River Canyon. It’s only 54km away so it’s an ideal place for a day trip.
You can go swimming, rafting and hiking in this area. Bogovë Nature Park and its majestic waterfall are between Berat and Osumi so you could experience both.
48 Hours in Berat
Day 1 in Berat
Begin both of your days in Berat with a free breakfast at your accommodation, as the majority of hostels and hotels include it in your room rate! Then, take a walking tour of the city.
Most walking tours will include Berat Castle, the Holy Trinity Church, the Ruins of the Red Mosque, the King Mosque and the Old Town area.
When you get hungry, head to Temi Albanian Food which is a popular local lunch restaurant. You can enjoy dishes like moussaka and stuffed peppers with fried potatoes and grilled vegetables.
After lunch, explore the faith buildings of the Lead Mosque and Saint Demetrius Cathedral. Take a walk through the Lulishtja garden while you’re over there before heading to the Ethnographic Museum.
Cross the beautiful Gorica Bridge and, if you have time, hike the short Mali Partizan loop. After you’ve worked up an appetite, head to dinner at Eni Traditional Food Berat.
Most wine tastings take place at night so that’s the perfect way to round up your first day in Berat.
Day 2 in Berat
Take a day trip down to the Osumi River Canyon and maybe the Bogovë Nature Park and its waterfall if you have time.
Don’t forget to get dressed in your swimming clothes as there are no changing rooms on the side of the canyon! Most tours provide a lunch of wild BBQ meat, vegetables and salad.
Unless you’re travelling in winter, you should be back in Berat just in time to catch the sunset from the Berat Castle or Gorica viewpoint.
If you’ve not managed to talk any locals into inviting you over to their house for dinner during your 48 hours in Berat, the next best thing is to eat at Homemade Food Lili.
This is a makeshift restaurant with a very limited menu because it’s literally run from a local woman named Lili’s house.
Recommended tours in Berat
- Berat Tours in Albania, Canyoning in Osumi Canyon, Skrapar
- Berat | History & Local Food
- Entertaining Cooking Class in Berat, Albania
- Berat Tours – Sunrise on the Gorica Ruins,Hiking and Albania Food
- Wine Tasting day in Berat (Visit to the Berat Castle & Lunch included)