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Top 10 Things To Do In Berat, Albania
The city of a thousand windows, Berat is one of Albania’s popular gems and home to UNESCO sites, as well as 122 monuments of culture. From the Kalaja that looks over the city to the maze of cobblestone streets that run through the center of the like veins, there are a lot of sites to see in Berat.
Swimming, rafting, or hiking is just some of what to do in Berat in summer, while many of the city’s other landmarks are open all-year-round, so there is no shortage of activities to keep you busy. It is certainly a destination in Albania that makes a great weekend getaway!
From the famous Gorica Quarter to the King Complex, here are the top 10 things to do in Berat:
10 Best Places To Visit In Berat
It’s hard to pick just 10 things in Berat, as this city offers so much more. But, here are our top picks.
Hike Or Drive Up To Berat Kalaja Or Berat Castle
If you only see one of the Berat attractions, this is it! Berat Kala or Berat Castle is the most important among the top things to see in Berat. Once you enter the Castle, you can see the homes that are still inhabited by locals and wander through the old alleys with souvenir shops, cafes, and Byzantine Churches.
The entrance to the Kalaja is open from 9 am to 6 pm and costs LEK 100, but being a residential area, the Castle Quarter is open 24 hours.
One of the Berat tourist attractions within the Castle Quarter, aka Kala Quarter that’s often seen in images of Berat, is the 14th century Church of the Holy Trinity or Saint Trinity Church (Kisha Shen Triadha) with its red dome.
There’s an inscription inside the church with the name of Andronicus Paleologus, the Governor of Berat from 1302 to 1326, indicating that he probably supported the construction of the Church. Other Berat sites to see within the Kala are the Red Mosque, Church of St. Theodore, Church of the Dormition of St. Mary with the Onufri Museum inside it, and several small chapels that are mostly locked. From the Kalaja, you can also get an almost 360-degree view of the panoramic town with the rooftops of the homes below.
Visit The Onufri Iconography Museum
Although the Onufri Iconography Museum is located inside the Kalaja, it deserves its own place on the Berat top 10 places to visit list. The red and gold colors of Onufri’s paintings will capture your imagination and stay with you long after you have left.
The Onufri Iconography Museum is housed in the Church of the Dormition of St. Mary. It also houses the paintings of Onufri’s son Nikola, as well as David Selenica, Onouphrios Cypriotes, Kostandin Shpataraku, and many other painters.
The museum is home to 106 icons and 67 liturgical objects; and is open till 6 pm in summer and 4 pm in winter and costs 200 LEK to enter.
Visit The National Ethnographic Museum
One of the biggest in the Balkans, the National Ethnographic Museum, is one of the top places to see in Berat. Set in an old 18th-century Ottoman house close to the Castle, it showcases clothing, tools, and furniture traditionally used by local Albanians.
The higher floors include living rooms, bedrooms, sitting areas that give you an idea of life in times past. You can also see the bathroom and the shed holding the wine press nearby. Entrance to this Berat top 10 attraction costs LEK 200.
Wander Through The Mangalem Or Gorica Quarters
Just like Buda and Pest form two sides of Budapest, the Gorica and Mangalem Quarters occupy two different sides of the river in Berat. The Gorica Quarter, on the Southern side of the Osumi River, was the Christian section, while the Mangalem Quarter on the Northern side was the Muslim section. The views of each side taken from across the river are simply beautiful, as is the Gorica Bridge, which is one of the top tourist attractions in Berat.
While you’re in the Mangalemi Quarter, visit the Halveti Tekki, a monument of Ahmet Kurt Pasha built in 1782, and the famous Bachelor’s Mosque.
Or if you’re staying in the Gorica quarter, you’ll love getting lost in the streets in the evening and watching the families talking to each other in the otherwise quiet streets. Whether you choose to wander the alleyways of the Gorica Quarter or the homes in the Muslim Quarter that climb up the hillside, you’ll enjoy your time at these Berat points of interest.
Visit A Winery
You can’t visit Berat and not go wine tasting. It’s right there on every list of things to do Berat for a reason!
A visit to the traditional vineyards near Berat that have a long history of wine-making will have you sipping whites and reds and coming back for more. The Cobo Winery is about 20 minutes drive from Berat and arranges tours showcasing the family’s history of winemaking. The tour is followed by a wine tasting session with locally grown olives and homemade Albanian cheese and a tête-à-tête with a member of the Cobo family.
Another vineyard, the Nurellari Winery or Nurellari Kantina, is about 10 km out of Berat in the village called Fushe-Peshtan. Established in 1995, the father and son team have been filling Albanian glasses with some amazing wines, and there is an onsite restaurant where you can have a meal as well.
If you’re thinking about what to visit in Berat to take a break from all the sightseeing, opt for the experience of staying at the Nurellari family’s recently started luxurious hotel. What better way to spend a few days than in the tranquility of intoxicating vineyards?
Visit The King Mosque Complex
The Sultan Mosque (Xhamia e Sulltanit) or King Mosque forms the center of a complex of religious buildings built in the 15th century by Sultan Bayezid II. The Mosque is reflective of the wealth of the Ottomans during their golden period.
Anyone can enter as long as you are adequately dressed and take off your shoes. The murals on the walls and ceiling include verses from the Quran and a beautiful wooden ceiling. The Islamic library showcases wooden carvings, while the nearby teke where you can see dervishes perform is also a must-see in Berat.
Drive To Bogove Waterfalls
If you’re looking for things to do in Berat in June or anytime in summer for that matter, a trip to Bogove Waterfalls will ensure you have some fun in Berat. An hour’s drive will get you to this aquamarine waterfall that tops the list of Berat tourist destinations.
Bogova, meaning “of the Gods,” takes its name from the nearby Bogova village. With a drop of 20 meters down to its beautiful blue waters, it’s one of the cool things to do in Berat, especially in the heat of summer. If you want to play it safe, though, it’s better to find another spot along the Osumi River to swim in.
Hike Up Mount Tomorr
Set in the heart of the Tomorr National Park, hiking up Mount Tomorr is one of the must-do things in Berat for nature lovers.
The Christians go up on Assumption Day, which is August 15. The Betakshi have an annual pilgrimage up from Aug 20 to 25 in honor of Abbas ibn Ali. In Albanian legends, Baba Tomorr, an old giant with a long flowing white beard, stays in the mountain and watches over the city of Berat.
Mount Tomorr National Park is also home to endangered species like bears, wolves, and some birds of prey. But for the nature lover, Mount Tomorr is a wonderful place to go hiking, skiing, or donkey riding.
Visit The Ruins Of The Red Mosque
The Red Mosque or Xhamia e Kuqe is another one of the Berat landmarks built by Sultan Bayezid II in the 15th Century. It was originally called Mosque of the Ruler and built circa 1431.
Built with limestone and red brick, the mosque is unusual since it has a minaret on the left. You can walk up the cylindrical staircase inside the minaret to get a 360-degree view of the city, including all the Berat places to see from the top.
Visit The 16Th Century Izgurli Mosque Or Lead Mosque
The Lead Mosque is the last on your list of Berat top 10 attractions. Also known as the Izgurli Mosque or Xhamia e Plumbit, it was built in 1553 or 1554 by the feudal Lord Ahmet Bej Uzgurliu when he converted to Islam.
It’s popularly known as the Lead Mosque because of the lead coating on its domes. You can enter this top ten Berat attraction if you take your shoes off.
- Visit the 19th Century Bachelor’s Mosque
- Go hiking, rafting or swimming in Osumi canyon in spring
- Take an evening walk or xhiro on Republica Bulevardi
- Climb the tricky Gorica Hill for the best Berat views
- Take a trip to see the ruins of Mbjeshova Castle
Foodie Things To Do In Berat
Wondering what to do in Berat at night? Hit the cafes, restaurants, and clubs, obviously. You’ll love the range of Albanian cuisine on offer at some of these famous places in Berat.
In the Gorica Quarter, this restaurant serves traditional Albanian dishes and some good house wine. The restaurant with simple decor overlooks the river and serves lush dishes that will satisfy your taste buds.
A simple restaurant serving kebabs and pizzas in the Mangalem Quarter, the Heaven’s Kitchen must go on your list of Berat tourist places to visit. The souvlaki and gyros here are really delicious.
An air-conditioned restaurant with traditional decor, the Restorant Wildor serves an excellent house wine and baklava dessert. You also have to try the chomlek and the rabbit ragu. Make sure you add this restaurant to your list of fun things to do in Berat.
Serving traditional Berati fare such as tave kosi and pispili, the Mangalemi Restaurant serves traditional fare made with locally sourced materials. You can enjoy a meal in the air-conditioned interiors or on the breezy terrace from where you have views of Berat sights such as the Castle, Gorica Quarter and Mangalem Quarter.
Bar Restorant Tradicional Onufri
Really close to the Castle, one of the places to visit in Berat for foodies, the Onufri Restaurant has an indoor area as well as a shaded terrace. The restaurant run by Koco and his family is a place where you can enjoy authentic Albanian cuisine with wine or raki. They do allow smokers, so if you have a problem with that, pick a spot on the terrace instead.
Homemade Food Lili
With a handful of rustic wooden tables and traditional tablecloths, Homemade Food Lili has an air of pure simplicity. But Lili, the owner, is the friendliest person you’ll ever meet, and his wife creates the most excellent dishes that you’ll love to eat. Lili’s is small and gets full really fast, but if you managed to get a table, you’ll find that it was one of the best things to do in Berat.
How To Get To Berat?
- If you’re coming to Berat from Tirana Airport, you can catch a minibus that that will get you here for 400 LEK or 4 USD. You can buy the tickets on the bus itself and reach Berat in about 2.5 hours.
- If you’re coming to Berat from Saranda, there are buses twice a day that will get you there in about 6 hours for 1200 LEK or 12 USD.
- From the Berat Bus terminal, you can catch a public bus to the city center at 30 LEK or 0.50 USD. Or you could hire a taxi at around 500 LEK or 5 USD.
Top Berat Tourist Accommodation Options
- Situated just 100 meters from the Osumi River, the dome covered Hotel Colombo offers plush 5-star accommodation
- A 450 m walk from the Old Town; the elegant 4-star Hotel Residenca Desaret offers magnificent views over the city of Berat
- The boutique Hotel Muzaka set next to the Osumi river is 500 m from Old Town and showcases amazing dark wood furnishings that take you back in time
- Centrally located in Berat, the bright and cheery family-run Hotel Orestiada is close to the Castle and Republica Boulevard
- Also close to Osumi River and the Kalaja, Hotel Onufri has traditional wooden furnishings and rooms that look out over the rooftops in Berat
- 300 m from the Gorica Quarter, the charming Hotel Vila Aleksander that’s named after it’s owner, is in a renovated building with traditional decor reminiscent of traditional Albanian designs
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