Things To See In Berat Albania In One Day

Things To See In Berat Albania In One Day

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Things To See In Berat Albania In One Day


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Berat, Albania, a UNESCO World Heritage site, captivates its visitors with an enticing blend of timeless Ottoman architecture and well-preserved castle grounds. This ancient city is an exemplary model of two religious communities living in harmony throughout centuries. As you ponder on the things to do in Berat, Albania in one day, you’ll find a wealth of options right at your fingertips.

Start your day by exploring the stunning Osum River that bisects the city’s two quarters, Mangalem and Gorica. The cobbled streets, reminiscent of medieval times, will ignite your imagination. Marvel at the city’s unique feature that earned it the nickname, “The City of a Thousand Windows.” One glance at the beautiful white houses with dark timber-framed windows clustered against Gorica Hill, and you’ll instantly understand its origin.

Berat is more than just a location—it’s an immersive experience promoting relaxation, sparking imagination, and nurturing exploration. The locals’ unparalleled hospitality makes you feel right at home. Experience the tranquility of the city, a peaceful haven free from the chaotic hustle and bustle of ambulances, utility vehicles, and noisy electronic signages.

Dive into Berat’s rich history by visiting the iconic Kala Castle, and absorb local culture at the Ethnographic and Onufri Museums. Marvel at the city’s beautifully preserved mosques, and embrace the natural beauty of its enchanting canyons and breathtaking waterfalls. Even in the span of a single day, Berat, Albania offers an array of unforgettable experiences waiting to be discovered.

Quick itinerary/Key Takeaways

If you, like me, have a short attention span, then here are some crucial takeaways you need to know before visiting Berat, along with a suggestion on how to structure and plan your visit.

Berat operates mostly on cash; most areas, including hotels, don’t accept cards. While Euros are accepted, Albanian Lek is preferred. Obtaining Lekë in the USA, however, can be challenging. The most convenient way to travel here is by bus, though we opted to rent a car. Just make sure your hotel offers parking.

Consider visiting in May or late September to avoid crowds and secure cheaper accommodation rates. To fully immerse yourself in the serene views and environment, I recommend spending at least two days in Berat. If you plan to visit Osum Canyon or any waterfalls, you might need to allocate 2-3 days.

Start your visit by taking a bus up to Kala Castle. Here, explore the Red Mosque, the cistern, and take time to read the signs at some of the churches. Also, be sure to visit the viewpoint for 360-degree views of the city below. Pay a visit to the Onufri and Ethnographic Museums, then head down to Republika Boulevard for a meal and a refreshing fruity yogurt drink.

Day two choose from the many hiking or rafting options near Berat (see below). Make sure to allow yourself time to soak in the views at Arben Elizi Guesthouse with the delicious breakfast.

Berat Castle (Berat Kalaja)

It’s rare to visit a castle where residents still inhabit the complex, but Berat Castle is one such place. This fortress dates back to 200 B.C., a time when the Romans passed through and destroyed the wooden fortification. The castle as we see it today, however, hails from the 13th century, majestically towering above the city and offering incredible views of the surrounding landscape and river below—a strategic location for defense. For a unique lodging experience, you can actually stay INSIDE the castle walls in 13th-century homes! The castle is currently undergoing further restoration, as it has now been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Although I found this incredibly appealing, I should mention the considerable effort required if you choose to ascend on foot to any of the homes. The climb could be rated as moderate on Alltrails due to its steepness (a 10% grade) and the slick, uneven cobblestones, which can be treacherous even when not wet.

Though the ascent to the top is only about 0.6 miles (1 km), it felt like at least a mile to me. Be sure to bring a hat or umbrella to shield yourself from the sun, which can be quite relentless during the climb. Don’t forget to bring your water.

IF YOU PREFER NOT TO CLIMB the steep roads, there’s an afternoon bus departing from the opposite side of the city, heading to the castle’s summit. My friends and I discovered parking on the south side, which could be convenient for a quick visit. While I didn’t notice any parking permit requirements during our visit, keep in mind we visited in October, a time when tourist traffic was relatively low.

Things To Do In Berat Castle

Upon entering the Outer Gate from the South Side, you can meander through the traditional Ottoman houses. Continue weaving your way through the alleys to the North side of the Castle. Please note that the stairs can be quite steep in certain areas. Although you can walk around the walls, be mindful that there are no safety rails and the footing can be unstable. So, ensure you tread carefully when navigating these areas.

Inside Berat Castle, you’ll find an array of shops, homes, souvenirs, captivating views, and friendly locals. Additionally, the Castle houses the Iconography Museum, which I’ll delve into more detail about shortly. If you plan to just explore the fortress without entering any shops or museums, allow approximately two hours.

Throughout your exploration, you’ll encounter a multitude of handmade carpets, tablecloths, lace items, and ever-friendly locals. You can also find spices, small iconographies, dried fruits, and jams along the way.

The Red Mosque, located within the fortress, is one of the country’s oldest mosques, with only its base minaret remaining. However, there is an internal staircase that allows you to climb to the top for a better view over the houses.

Inside the castle, you’ll discover more than 20 distinct Christian churches, including the remarkable 13th-century Holy Trinity Church, the 16th-century Church of St. Nicholas, and the 13th-century St. Mary of Blaherna Church, adorned with beautiful frescoes. The St. Mary Church houses biblical scene frescoes from 1578 and stunning mosaic flooring. It’s one of the oldest churches in Berat and worth a visit, although its opening times can be inconsistent.

The best way to navigate the castle area is to acquire a map or print one out before your visit. The area can be a bit tricky to navigate without guidance. There are plenty of guides who can walk you through the castle, a service I highly recommend. Along your journey, you’ll find signs painted onto the walls as well as informational placards detailing the various sites.

As you wander through the alleyways, you’ll encounter courtyards and a large cistern in the center, which historically served as a water storage facility during sieges.