I still keep wondering what took me so long to visit Albania. I’ve been hearing for past few years how amazing, untouched and off the beaten path it is and how now is the time to go there yet only this past November I managed to visit this mysterious Balkan destination.
After a long and adventurous journey I got to Berat, probably the biggest highlight of Albania, and it was love at first sight. Even if I was deadly tired I just couldn’t stop pinching myself as this place was too beautiful to be true!
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Berat Albania – the White City
Berat, Albania is one of the oldest towns in the region, founded back in the ancient ages. After some troublesome history and changes of the name the city was finally called “Beligrad” – “The White City” (the current name is just the derivative of it). It’s pretty obvious where it comes from as the Old Town of Berat is full of white houses, all of them facing the river (hence another name – “the city of thousands windows”).
The number of monuments and interesting places and things to do in Berat is outstanding- there’re mosques, narrow cobbled streets and the fortress – Berat castle – dating back to the Middle Ages. No wonder Berat made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008!
I totally can see why everyone goes crazy about Berat as I fell under its charm from the very first moment too. It was very early in the morning, the weather was perfect and the sun gave some magic light to the white buildings occupying the hillside and standing almost on top of each other. As it turned out the place I stayed in was in the last row of houses – getting there was a little bit tiring but the view was the best reward. I could have stared at it for countless minutes and it didn’t get boring!
What to do in Berat, Albania
Since the old part of Berat is so small it was very easy to see everything in one day. Getting lost in the maze of narrow, slippery and cobbled streets was a pure pleasure and even if couple of times I was sure I’m in a totally different place it was still a great way to get to know this part of the city.
An easy walk across the river Osum offered the spectacular view of the Old Town, the one that is probably the most known of Albania and appears on half of the postcards. Again, I could have sat there for hours and just stare at what’s in front of me, it was so beautiful… But I couldn’t as there was still one more place I needed to see – the Berat castle!
Climbing the steep and slippery road was quiet a challenge – not only I had to focus really hard not to topple but also at some point catching a breath wasn’t so easy (yes, I’m that badly out of shape…). But as soon as I climbed the wall of the Berat castle and saw the view over the town and surroundings I knew it was worth all the effort.
It was just breathtaking! The rays of sun put the light over the nearby mountains, the wait houses with red rooftops were way below me and at that time I was extremely happy and grateful for my unconventional lifestyle. Only travelling can give me this kind of joy!
Evening in Berat
In the evening I went for one last walk around. The town and especially the main pedestrian street were full of people, mostly men. The houses were beautifully lit up, the numerous cafes were bustling with guests, the game of chess was in the course on nearby square. It was probably just a typical Sunday evening in Berat, Albania.
After having a breakfast, outside with the stunning view it was time for me to leave Berat and continue the journey. As much as I loved it I know I will most likely never make it back there. But that’s ok as one day is enough to fall in love with the place and have fond memories of it! And there’s still so much of Albania that needs to be discovered!
But now just let me show you Berat. Can you blame me for loving it so much?
Visit Berat, Albania – practical information
How to get to Berat
Couple of years ago it was rather difficult to get in Albania in general. When I went I flew to Thessaloniki, Greece and then traveled to Berat from there. Now there are low cost airlines flying to Albania which makes everything so much easier. You can check the best flight connections at SkyScanner or Momondo, I often use these websites too!
There are numerous minibuses that can take you from Tirana to Berat, every hour or even more often. The journey takes just under 3 hours and the ticket should costs around 400 LEK ($4 / €3,20).
How to get around Berat
The bus station is a bit away from the center but there’s a frequent bus that goes between these two places, the ticket is 30 LEK. Once you are in the center you can just walk everywhere.
Where to stay in Berat
Here are some recommended Berat hotels:
- Hotel Belgrad Mangalem (9.3/10 on Booking)
- Hotel Mangalemi (9.8/10 on Booking)
- White City Hotel (9.5/10 on Booking)
- Hotel Rezidenca Desaret (9.5/10 on Booking)
Where to eat in Berat
There are numerous good and affordable restaurants in the center in Berat. One thing is sure – no matter where you go you are in for a treat as Albanian food is so fresh and delicous! You can find some of the best restaurants at Trip Advisor!
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