The city of Berat, Albania has many names. Some call it the “Museum City” because every single building is so historic and well-preserved.
Another name is the “Town of a Thousand Windows” due to most of the 18th and 19th-century houses in Berat having upwards of six windows on each wall.
If Berat is in the market for a third nickname, it could be, “one of the most beautiful budget destinations for backpackers!”
Albania, in general, is an ideal country for budget backpackers from Western countries because it’s an affordable country.
Albanian currency is the Lek, not the euro, which gives those earning income with USD or EUR, for example, an advantage.
Berat also has lots of outdoor activities that cost nothing to enjoy as well as cultural monuments that are inexpensive to visit.
It will also tell you about cheap tours you can do in and out of Berat on a day trip so you can explore the local area on the cheap!
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The Best Time to Visit Berat
Berat enjoys long, hot summers and cold (but not freezing), drizzly winters. July is the hottest month with highs of 33°C (91.5°F) and January is the coldest with lows of 1°C (34°F).
The fantastic summer climate is the reason why more and more travellers are choosing to visit places like Berat in Albania rather than Greek Islands. You can enjoy the same climate for a fraction of the price!
But in recent years, summer temperatures in July and August have been known to soar to 37°C and even 40°C (104°F). For that reason, the shoulder seasons of April – June and September – October are more pleasant times to visit.
Flights and accommodation prices don’t fluctuate much from April – October, nor do crowds, but the weather will ensure your trip is far more enjoyable.
Though Berat is a very small city (around 65,000 residents), they do have some annual festivals. The city hosts a multicultural festival every June and a wine festival every October.
How To Get Around Berat on a Budget
For able-bodied travellers with a reasonable level of fitness, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to walk to get wherever you want to go in Berat.
It’s a small city so it won’t take you longer than 20 minutes at the most to walk to wherever you want to go.
You could hire a car from Besmir Rental Cars, the only car rental in the city, but this will be an unnecessary expense for most budget travellers.
Taxis are cheap and you can usually find them at the bus station (or the taxi rank in Iljaz Vrioni square) if you need to transport your luggage.
If you’d rather cycle than walk, you can hire bikes from 1001 Albanian Adventures which is a tour company but they do also rent out bikes.
Only one bus travels through Berat (unsurprisingly, it will have #1 on the front). It travels from the Berat Bus Terminal in the north of the city to the easternmost point of the city through Gorica and the Mangalem Quarter.
Where To Stay in Berat on a Budget
Berat is a small and affordable city to visit, so virtually every neighbourhood will suit budget travellers!
There are three Berat neighbourhoods that are closer to the attractions and the historic centre. All have lots of accommodation options whether you’re looking for hostels, budget guesthouses, or mid-range hotels.
Mangalem Quarter – This neighbourhood is Berat’s Old Town. It sits on the banks of the Osum River which flows through the city just west of the main road and Lulishtja park.
When most people think of Berat, this is the neighbourhood they imagine: a jumble of white houses with orange roofs dotted around the mountainside.
It’s well-located next to the New Bridge of Berat so you can reach the Gorice Quarter with Berat Castle just up the hill.
There are a number of cheap guesthouses and budget hotels in this neighbourhood with prices starting from around €35 a night for beautiful views and clean, well-appointed rooms.
Gorica Quarter – There’s only one main neighbourhood across the river, and it’s the Gorice Quarter. If you stay in this area, you wouldn’t be surrounded by Berat’s famous architecture.
You would be able to have the best views of it, which some travellers would prefer. Most people travelling on a budget stay in this region because it’s where the best hostel in the city, Berat Backpackers, is located.
There are other hostels and guesthouses here too. It’s easy to walk from here to the rest of the city via the New Bridge of Berat and the gorgeous Gorica Bridge.
Kala – Want to stay close to Berat’s main attraction, Berat Castle? Then you should stay in the Kala neighbourhood.
It’ll be a little more difficult to carry your luggage up to your hotel or guesthouse (or you can get a taxi!) but it will be worth it for the views.
There are a few guesthouses and cheap hotels in this area as well as some nice restaurants so you won’t have to traipse up and down the hill every time you want to eat.
Budget Things To Do in Berat
Wander Around Berat’s Old Town
Most people visit Berat for the architecture and natural landscape, and as you’re walking around Berat Old Town it will be easy to see why. Berat’s entire historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its age and multicultural heritage.
It’s over 2,400 years old which is only around 300 years younger than Rome. You’ll be able to find buildings and ruins dating back to the 4th century BC (at Berat Castle) up until the present day (Bulevardi Republika, for example).
The Gate of Pasha and the old Water Cistern are two historic structures you should make an effort to visit as you wander around.
Visit Berat’s Best Viewpoints at Sunset
Berat is a hilly city which means there are lots of gorgeous viewpoints. For the best scenery and photographs to post on Instagram later, there are two viewpoints you should visit.
The first is in the Gorica Quarter just to the west of the New Bridge of Berat. You’ll be able to get a stunning view of the city from across the Osum River.
The second is just south of the Church of our Saviour. From here, you’ll be able to look out over the entire city and into the countryside beyond.
Eat Traditional Albanian Cuisine
Though it’s situated in Eastern Europe, Albanian cuisine more closely resembles Greek and Mediterranean food. You can expect to see a lot of olive oil, seafood, nuts, olives, soft cheese, fruits, and vegetables on menus.
Beef, veal, lamb, and pork are popular meats and you can expect to see garlic and onions in almost every dish.
Albanians are big tea drinkers. In mountainous places like Berat, you might be served herbal mountain tea rather than Turkish-style black tea which is popular in other areas of the country.
Albanians also love making both sweet and savoury pies and Pite, a type of pie, is considered the unofficial national dish.
It’s very normal for Albanians to invite visitors into their homes to share a meal with them. It’s entirely up to you whether you accept an invitation but don’t be alarmed!
This might be the perfect opportunity for you to try a delicious and authentic meal in Berat without spending a penny.
Hike the Mali Partizan Trail
It would be a shame to travel all the way to Berat and not see more of the beautiful countryside. From the Gorica Quarter, you can hike the Mali Partizan Trail.
Follow the path to enjoy a short, circular route with a beautiful viewpoint or continue the hike up the mountain if you want a more challenging route.
Places to Visit in Berat on a Budget
Can you believe that one of the top things to do in Berat is completely free? Because it’s true! There is no Berat Castle entrance fee so you can wander around at your leisure.
Berat Castle is a ruined 13th-century fortress that used to have over 20 churches and mosques in its complex.
One of these former churches houses the Muzeu Kombëtar Ikonografik Onufri museum which displays many Byzantine and religious artifacts and charges a nominal ticket price.
National Ethnographic Museum
Albania, including Berat, has had people of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faith living on its lands for centuries. It is a far more culturally diverse land than most people think. That’s why the National Ethnographic Museum in Berat is so insightful.
As well as housing objects relating to Berat’s past, the museum also has a model of what a medieval street in Berat would have looked like.
It’s a very affordable attraction as the entrance fee is less than the equivalent of €5 in Albanian Lek.
Holy Trinity Church
As Berat has a rich multicultural heritage, you should aim to visit at least one Christian and one Muslim building. Sadly, there are no synagogues (ruined or not) remaining in Berat. Check out the Holy Trinity Church as your Christian building.
It’s free to enter and sits on the same complex as the Berat Castle. It’s a medieval Byzantine church built in the shape of a cross with a dome at the centre. It dates back to the 13th or 14th century and is in remarkably good condition.
Ruins of the Red Mosque
Down the street of the Holy Trinity Church are the Ruins of the Red Mosque. It dates back to the 15th century when it was built by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II.
You can still see the outer walls of the mosque and some of the towers. It’s an open ruin and completely free to enter any time of day.
Cheap Tours To Do in Berat
Osumi Canyon and Bogovë Nature Park
Most travellers visit Albania for its natural beauty and budget travellers are no different. That’s why this Berat budget travel guide recommends taking a day trip to the Osumi Canyon.
You can also stop at Bogovë Nature Park and check out the amazing Bogovë waterfall on the way.
The Bogovë Nature Park is around 37km south of Berat down the river which is approximately a one-hour drive. Berat Canyon is only 30 minutes further south, so it’s cost-effective to experience them both at the same time.
You can go hiking, rafting, and swimming while enjoying the amazing scenery in both of these places. All completely free yet priceless experiences!
Cultural Walking Tour
It’s one thing to see the beautiful houses, mosques, and churches in Berat but it’s quite another to learn the stories behind them.
Since Jewish, Muslim, and Christian people have called Albania, including Berat, their home for centuries, there are countless stories to be told.
There are so many ancient and important monuments in Berat that aren’t listed on Google Maps so you wouldn’t know they exist.
Ask your accommodation to book or recommend a local guide as there are quite a few in Berat who are available to show you around.
It’s the only way to learn about the real Berat from the perspective of Albanians who call it home. And many of these tours are free/tip-based so they are incredibly cheap.
Albanian Wine Tasting
If you were to book a wine tasting in France or Italy, you would expect to be shelling out a pretty penny. But not in Albania and definitely not in Berat.
Albanian wine is rarely exported to other parts of the world so tasting a variety of grapes is essential during your trip.
And if attending an organised wine tasting is out of your budget, hit up a few different bars in Berat and ask for recommendations!
You’ll always get a better experience and learn something if you book an experience with a knowledgeable wine expert.
Recommended tours in Berat
- Berat Tours in Albania, Canyoning in Osumi Canyon, Skrapar
- Hiking in Berat by 1001 Albanian Adventures
- Berat | History & Local Food
- Entertaining Cooking Class in Berat, Albania
- Wine Tasting In Berat
- Wine Tasting day in Berat (Visit to the Berat Castle & Lunch included)