Berat is a city in Albania. In 2008 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman city. It is one of the country's most beautiful cities, and is known as the "city of a thousand windows".
Capital of its surrounding eponymous county, Berat is 71 km north of Gjirokastër, 70 km west of Korçë, 70 km south of Tirana and 33 km east of Fier. The town is known for its well preserved architecture influenced by the Ottomans and Byzantines. There are a variety of Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques in the town reflecting the historical influences of the region and the coexistence of different religious and cultural communities. It is known as the "city of a thousand windows" because of the architectural style whereby buildings are constructed with a multitude of windows on a background of whitewashed walls to make use of daylight. Combined with the hilly nature of the town, the buildings rise above each other on the slopes, making for a striking impression on visitors.
Berat sits beneath the snowcapped Mount Tomorr, a holy mountain for Albanians, along the banks of the River Osum. Berat Castle rises above on a hill on the eastern bank of the river. The combination of a hillside fortified town with a backdrop of mountains and river makes for a picturesque location.
- 1 Berat Bus Station, Rruga Antipatrea (north outskirts of town on Rruga Antipatrea), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 24hr. Bus station linking Berat to major towns in Albania. Places to buy food and drink available inside the terminal. The station is in the northern outskirts of town, so take a local bus (30 lek) or a taxi to the centre. Alternatively, it's around a 45-minute walk south along the main road. Check the board at the bus station for destinations and departure times. Take a Furgon/Van from Tirana to Berat (500 lek). From other towns make a connection via Fier (200-250 lek). Buses also run from Tirana to Berat (400 lek). To Sarandë (via Gjirokastër), departs 08:00 and 14:00 daily, 6 hours (1000 lek).
The old centre of town is small enough to be toured by foot with a significant climb up to the Kala area. Taking a walk on the footpaths of the old town is a must!
- 1 The Castle (Kalaja). It was mostly built in the 13th century, but with origins going back to the 4th century BC. If you walk around the quiet cobbled streets of this ancient neighbourhood for long enough you'll invariably stumble into someone's courtyard thinking it's a church or ruin (no one seems to mind,though).
- 2 Onufri Museum (Muzeu Kombëtar Ikonografik Onufri), Rrugica Shën Triadha (within the Kala). Closed Mondays. The Onufri Museum is inside the Kala quarter's biggest church, the church of the dormition of St Mary. The church dates from 1797 and was built on the foundations of an earlier 10th-century chapel. Today Onufri's spectacular 16th-century religious paintings are displayed along with the church's gilded 19th-century iconostasis. Don't miss the chapel behind the iconostasis, or its painted cupola, whose frescoes are now faded almost to invisibility.
- 3 Berat Ethnographic Museum, Rruga Andrea Tavanxhiu (in the grounds of a traditional house, on the way up to the castle). Just off the step hillside that leads up to Berat's castle is this excellent museum, which is housed in a beautiful 18th-century Ottoman house that's as much of an attraction as the exhibits within.The ground floor has displays of traditional clothes and the tools used by silversmiths and weavers, while the upper story has kitchens, bedrooms and guest rooms decked out in traditional style.
- 4 Mangalem old town area (below the Kala, south of the river). a traditionally Muslim area.
- 5 Gorica old town area (Below the Kala, north of the river). A traditionally Christian area.
- Numerous Byzantine Churches, dating from the 13th century.
- 6 St Mary church (Kisha e Shën Mari Vllahernes), next from Rrugica Panajot Haxhimihali (within the Kala).
- 7 Church of St Demetrius (Kisha e Shën Mitrit) (within the Kala).
- 8 Church of St. Theodore (Kisha e Shën Todrit) (Kala northern part).
- 9 Church of St. Sophia (Kisha e Shën Sofisë) (within the Kala).
- 10 Dormition Cathedral (Center of the Kala).
- 11 Holy Trinity Church (within the Kala).
- 12 Saint Michael Church (Kisha e Shën Mëhilli), Rruga e Shën Mëhilli.
- 13 Cathedral of St. Bitri (Katedralja e Shen Bitrit), Rruga Antipatrea and Rruga Rilindja corner.
- Several Mosques from the Ottoman era (starting from 1417).
- 14 Sahatit Mosque (Clock Mosque, Xhamia e Sahatit), Rruga Xhamia e Sahatit.
- 15 Kuqe Mosque (Red Mosque, Xhamia e Kuqe), Rrugica Mbrica (South part of the Kala).
- 16 Bachelors' Mosque (Xhamia e Beqareve), Rruga Antipatrea.
- 17 Mbret Mosque (King Mosque, Xhamia Mbret), Rruga Mihal Komnena.
- 18 Tekke of Helveti (Teqeja e Helvetive).
- 19 Lead Mosque (Xhamia e Plumbit), Rruga Gaqi Gjika.
- 1 Tomorri Mountain (Parku Kombëtar Mali i Tomorri) (20 km east; can be reached with 4x4 vehicles). A national park. There is a Bektashi Temple at the mountain peak.
- 2 Bogova Waterfall (Ujëvara e Bogoves), Bogovë village (S 30 km between Berat and Corovode.).
- 3 Osumi River Canyon (S 58 km. Skrapar District). One of the most beautiful rivers in Albania passing through canyons as high as 100 meters. Outdoor Albania offers a 3-hour rafting experience inside the canyons.
- Take a walk on the peculiar footpaths of the Old Town featuring exterior flower and plant decorations, tight paths and unique local hospitality.
- Horse ride at Gorica Hill.
- Take a walk along the main Promenade at sunset where locals hang out for some fresh air.
- Rafting - Raft through the gorges around Berat and Permet.
- 1 Cinema.
- 2 Osum Park.
- Albania Rafting Group, Rr Benat-Permet. Rafting tours for all levels to some stunning gorges around Berat and Permet. All ages welcome. Rafting starts at €50 per person and hiking tours start at €20 per person per day.
- Traditional souvenirs include stone carving, wood chipping, and textile products. You will see women making lace products in the Kala area and this is sold extensively.
Dishes to try include rice with turkey (pilaf me kaposh deti), Mont Blanc pastry named after the white peak of Mount Tomorri, and the delicious figs and olives of the area.
- 1 Ajka Restaurant (across the Osum River). Delicious food with an excellent view.
- 2 Guva Mangalem Hotel-Bar-Restaurant, Rruga Llambi Guxhumani, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Average. Rooms: air conditioning, room service, Internet, bathroom.
- 3 Hotel and Restaurant Mangalemi, Rruga Mihal Komnena (Across from intersection with Rruga Dr. Lluka), ☏ . Renovated stone mansion from the 18th century that is a combined hotel and restaurant. The restaurant has several dining areas including an outdoor terrace serving traditional Albanian dishes. Double room in the hotel starting at €35. Main courses ~600 lek.
- 4 Wildor Restaurant, Rruga Antipatrea (At the intersection between Rruga Antipatrea and Shetitorja Osumi), ☏ . Two story restaurant built in the classic Berat architectural style with second floor windows overlooking the River Osum. Open stone interiors. Serves traditional Albanian dishes. Main courses ~500 lek.
- There are also a variety of restaurants within the Kala area offering Albanian cuisine.
- Try traditional Raki made from walnuts (Raki me arra), and peculiar juice made from roses.
- Cobo Winery, Ura Vajgurore, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Features locally made wine and a winery tour.
Accommodation is mainly in the form of private rooms as many traditional house owners have turned their localities into B&B. Hotels are also available.
- 1 Berat Backpackers, Rruga Nikolla Buhuri 295, Gorica, ☏ . Berat's hostel. Prices from 1350 lek
- 2 Hotel Nasho Vruho, Rr. Llambi Guxhumani, Mangalem District, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 3 Lorenc Guesthouse & Hostel, Stiljano Bandilli Road, Porta 18 (cross the old bridge of Gorica, there is the square Alfred Gimitiku and you will see the Road), ☏ . Nice private guesthouse in an old quarter of Gorica. It's run by Lorenc and his mother, feels like home. €12.
- 4 Hotel Omer, Rruga Antipatrea (Less than a 1-minute walk east of Bachelors' Mosque), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Small tidy hotel in a traditional Berat-style building. Breakfast included. Doubles €32.
- Tirana - There are buses.
- Gjirokastër - Take a bus.
- Sarandë via Gjirokastër - departs 08:00 and 14:00 daily, 6 hours (1000 lek)
- Fier - If you wish to travel to Fier, it is recommended not to take shortcuts as the direct road between Berat and Fier is in bad shape. Instead, go via Lushnjë.