Visiting Berat, Albania – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

After spending a few days in Saranda, we packed our bags and started the process of figuring out how we were going to get to Berat, which was our next planned stop in Albania.

As we’ve mentioned before, there are no “organised” bus stations in Albania – so finding out where to get a bus from can be a little tricky at times.

visiting berat

We just went into a travel agency and they pointed at a street corner across the road and said that there was a bus leaving for Berat in 20 minutes and it would take 4 hours.

These buses are known as “Furgons” and they are basically minibuses that have no fixed schedule. They just drive from town to town and pick up random passengers along the route.

We hopped in one of these Furgons – armed with a bag full of junk snack food (since we didn’t have time for breakfast) and 4 hours later we arrived into Berat.

Visiting Berat

We heard that Berat was a must see city while travelling in Albania. The city has a nickname; city of a thousand windows. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site back in 2008 and as a result, the city has started to see an influx of visitors from not only Europe, but also from around the world.

Berat is made up of 3 parts;

  1. Gorica: a small village located on a mountain opposite the river Osum
  2. Kalaja: a church and fortress that towers over the whole city
  3. Mangalem: a layer of buildings that are built randomly over each other.

We loved walking around the various streets in the city as well as just chilling on the main square and watching daily life go by.

Berat Castle

Overlooking the whole city is a fortress that has a castle and a proper little village where people live, work and do everyday things. The castle itself was built back in the 13th century but the history dates back many centuries before that.

visiting berat castle

Getting up to the castle is a nice up-hill walk that will leave you panting at the top. The view of the city is decent and you get to explore the fortress along with having a nice coffee or bite to eat in one of the restaurants inside the fort.

As I mentioned, it’s a proper little village inside the fortress gates, and you have to pay the equivalent of €0.50 to enter – making it the first town we ever had to pay to get into!

Cheapest Restaurant in Berat

We enjoyed a cracking dinner at the white house restaurant during our first night in Berat. We had two Greek salads, a chicken dish, a risotto, a huge basket of bread and 2 liters of sparking water all for €11.50.

The quality of the food was amazing and the restaurant had a rooftop view overlooking the Osum river.

For what we eat, along with the quality of the restaurant factored in – it was definitely the cheapest meal we’ve had in a long, long time – definitely one of the cheapest meals ever on our travels.

Men Playing Dominoes in Albania

Along the main promenade in Berat – and in most Albanian cities, you’ll find a group of old local men gathered around playing dominoes! We came across a bunch of them and when then saw us, they gestured us over.

visiting berat

We were only too happy to try and converse with them, even though the language barrier meant that no meaningful conversation could be had. However, photos bridge that gap in any culture and it did the trick again in this instance.

They loved getting their photos taken and we went off to the nearest print shop to get each of them a print of a group photo that we took for them. We did something similar last year while we were travelling around India for 3 months.

men playing dominoes in albania

They loved it and wanted us to sign the back of each one with our names and the date.

playing dominoes in Albania

Accommodation Options in Berat

We stayed in the Hava Baci guesthouse for few nights we were in Berat. The guesthouse is located at the top of a hill overlooking the city and the experience of getting up and down from it was unique (rocky pathways and no set route).

hava baci guesthouse berat

The view was amazing, the WiFi was excellent and the owner provided a lovely ham/cheese toasted baguette for breakfast each morning. At €20 per night for the two of us, it was excellent value and highly recommend it if you ever get to visit Berat.

Albania is soooo cheap guys to travel around. The people are lovely, the food is delicious and if you can get over the slight difficulty of getting from A to B then you’ll love it there!

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