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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

Best Things To Do in Berat, Albania

Updated: Jul 18

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Berat is a beautiful historic town in Albania to visit and once you set foot here you’ll quickly realize why it’s so popular among tourists. Berat is often referred to as the “town of a thousand windows” due to the many large windows that adorn the historic homes of the old town. Its history far predates the building of these houses though, reaching as far back as the 6th century BC when it was founded as an Illyrian settlement. From the 3rd century BC it grew into a castle town and today the old town is split up into three distinct neighbourhoods that are all equally enjoyable to explore on foot.

There are a number of interesting things to do in Berat and it’s a very walkable town as well but be prepared for a lot of steep streets and steps. The walk up to the castle is the most strenuous but there are some parking spaces at the top of the hill if you’ve rented a car (arrive as early as possible to snag one). Since Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site parking in the old town itself is limited so chances are you’ll have to park at the base of the hill.

Having spent 2 days in Berat I found that it was more than enough time to see all of Berat’s main attractions and find some off the beaten path spots as well. I rented a car in Tirana with Capital Car Rental and it took less than 2 hours to drive between Tirana and Berat. You can also get the bus from Tirana to Berat which will cost around 400 ALL but the journey takes closer to 3 hours. Here are some tips about what to do in Berat, where to eat in Berat, and where to stay in Berat to help you plan your visit to this historic town in Albania.

Table of Contents

Things To Do in Berat

Best Places To Eat in Berat (and the surrounding area)

Where To Stay in Berat

Things To Do in Berat

Berat is an interesting town in Albania to walk around, with hidden gems and picturesque corners at almost every turn. There are a lot of free things to do in Berat and even attractions that have an entry fee are very cheap making it the perfect destination if you’re visiting Albania on a budget. Here are some of the main attractions in Berat to add to your itinerary.

Take in the view from the New Bridge of Berat

View of the old town of Berat from a new bridge.
View of the Mangalem Quarter

The best view of the Mangalem Quarter can be found on the New Bridge of Berat. This iron bridge isn’t as popular as the nearby Gorica Bridge but it does allow for easy access to the Gorica Quarter where you can find a number of unique restaurants and places to stay. The bridge can be quite busy so you’ll need to be patient before you can get a photo without any people in it but the wait is worth it.

Explore the Mangalem Quarter

Stone street in Berat's old town with wooden door.
Street in Berat

One of the most popular places to visit in Berat is the historic Mangalem Quarter. It sits just below the castle and is often referred to as the Ottoman Quarter due to the unique and rare examples of Ottoman-era houses still standing. There aren’t too many points of interest in the quarter itself but you should take some time to explore its narrow streets on foot - you never know what you’ll come across!

The Ethnographic Museum is a popular museum in Berat to visit, located halfway up the hill to the castle. Unfortunately it was closed when I was in Berat so I didn’t get a chance to go inside.

Walk along Republic Boulevard

Main pedestrian street in Berat's new town lined with trees.
Republic Boulevard

In stark contrast to the Mangalem Quarter is the newly built Republic Boulevard which sits below the old town running parallel with the Osum River. The boulevard is lined with cafes and restaurants so it’s a nice area to stop for lunch or a refreshing drink if you’re visiting Berat in the summer. In the evenings you’ll find Republic Boulevard full of locals having their nightly stroll.

Gaze up at St Michael’s Church

Orange brick and stone church in Berat built into the mountain.
St Michael’s Church

St Michael’s Church is a very uniquely placed church in Berat, located on the edge of a cliff surrounded by trees. This Byzantine church dates back to the 14th century and hiking up to it is considered to be one of the best things to do in Berat. The trail itself starts from the base of the river so it’s quite a climb but if you have the time then it’s worth it. If not, you can take a photo from below like I did.

Gorica Bridge

A white stone and brick bridge crossing the river in Berat.
Gorica Bridge

Gorica Bridge is an iconic landmark in Berat and is one of the oldest Ottoman bridges in Albania. The bridge was originally built in 1780 using wood but following damage during the First World War it was rebuilt using stone. It’s fully pedestrianized and is a popular attraction for both history lovers and architecture enthusiasts. It also connects the Gorica Quarter to the rest of Berat.

King Mosque

King Mosque in Berat with tall white tower attached.
King Mosque

With a history dating back to the 15th century, the King Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Albania. This Ottoman-era mosque is still in use today and sitting behind it are a couple of other interesting buildings that are worth taking a quick look at. It sits at the base of the Mangalem Quarter so you can’t miss it as you make your way up to the castle.

Gate of the Pasha

A stone entry gate leading into a square in Berat.
Gate of the Pasha

Sitting almost completely opposite from the King Mosque is the Gate of the Pasha. It was originally built in the late 18th century and is a great spot for photographers who want to capture a unique angle of the former palace of the pasha, which sadly now lies in a ruined state. You may come across a friendly dog or two as well if you’re lucky.

Saint Demetrius Cathedral

A large cathedral in Berat with orange tiled roof.
Saint Demetrius Cathedral

A short walk from the Mangalem Quarter is where you’ll find the beautiful Saint Demetrius Cathedral. This Greek Orthodox Church sits in the main square of Berat and can be easily reached from Republic Boulevard. There was a lot of construction work in the square when I tried to visit so instead I found a better angle of the cathedral from the window of Piccolo Grande Amore which is a nice spot for lunch.

Near the Saint Demetrius Cathedral is also the very popular Lead Mosque which dates back to the 16th century and is an important religious building in Berat.

Bachelor's Mosque

A 19th century mosque along the river in Berat.
Bachelor's Mosque

Since Berat was at one time an Ottoman town you shouldn’t be surprised to find a lot of mosques here. Each one is very different from the other though, which is why I would also suggest adding the Bachelor’s Mosque to your list of things to see in Berat. It’s located in the lower half of the Mangalem Quarter and was built in the early 19th century for unmarried men from a variety of different guilds.

Go souvenir shopping

Shop in Berat selling handmade traditional lace.
Qendistari Berati

You’ll find a number of souvenir shops in Berat but to avoid buying tacky souvenirs I would recommend shopping at local artisan shops instead. The main road leading up to the castle has a few good options including Qendistari Berati where you can purchase traditional lace and fabrics that are handmade on site by the owner.

Berat Castle

Entrance gate to Berat Castle with cobbled street.
Berat Castle

One of my favourite things to do in Berat is to visit Berat Castle. It was built in the 13th century and is one of the largest castles in Albania. This castle is more like a citadel than a regular castle since a good portion of locals still live within the castle’s walls and there are a number of hotels and restaurants here too. There are some interesting places to visit inside Berat Castle such as the Church of the Holy Trinity, the Onufri Iconography Museum, and the Red Mosque.

Between 9am and 6pm there’s an entry fee of 300 ALL but if you visit outside of these hours you can walk around the castle for free. I would recommend visiting at sunrise before the tourists arrive so you have the grounds all to yourself as well as great lighting for photos.

Church of the Holy Trinity

Ottoman style church in white and orange brick inside castle walls in Berat.
Church of the Holy Trinity

If you’re planning to visit Berat you can’t leave without making a stop at the Church of the Holy Trinity, which is located within the grounds of Berat Castle. It’s a medieval Byzantine church that was built between the 13th and 14th century. The church isn’t open to visitors but it’s one of the top attractions to see in Berat and is a beautiful piece of historic architecture to look at.

Berat Viewing Platform

View of Gorica neighbourhood in Berat from the castle.
Berat Viewing Platform

Before heading back down the hill from Berat Castle make sure you stop and enjoy the beautiful view from the Berat Viewing Platform. From here you’ll get a birds eye view of Gorica Bridge, the Osum River, and the Gorica Quarter which is home to the Church of St Spiridon. Some of the best restaurants in Berat can be found in the Gorica Quarter too so don’t forget to take some time and explore the streets there as well.

Best Places To Eat in Berat (and the surrounding area)

Berat may be a small town but it doesn’t fall short when it comes to great tasting Albanian food. Some of the restaurants in Berat have become extremely popular with tourists so you may need to book in advance to secure a seat. You can also look for alternative places to eat in Berat that may not be as well known with tourists but are popular with locals which is always a good sign. Here are my top recommendations for where to eat in Berat.

Tradita e Beratit

One of the best restaurants in Berat, which also doubles as a hotel, is Tradita e Beratit. It’s located in the Gorica Quarter in a beautiful historic building that’s been lovingly restored, with an outdoor seating area that provides you with a breathtaking view of Berat and the surrounding countryside. It’s a family-run restaurant where the mother cooks all of the food and other family members help to serve it and attend to the guests.

It’s not just food that you get with this dining experience though, everything is thoughtfully presented and has a background story to it so you’ll learn more about the origins of the ingredients as well as the history behind some of the dishes. Tradita e Beratit serves a set menu of Berati and traditional Albanian food so you can taste a variety of dishes in one sitting.

They pride themselves on being a kilometre 0 restaurant meaning that all of their ingredients come from locally sourced producers. The tasting menu really reflects the seasonal produce of the region and when paired with a bottle of their own distilled wine you’ll have a dining

experience that you’ll be talking about for years to come.

Shtëpia e Kafes Gimi

Plastic cup of fresh orange juice from local cafe in Berat.
Fresh orange juice

Located along Republic Boulevard is a little cafe called Shtëpia e Kafes Gimi that appears to be very popular with the locals. Although I didn’t come here to eat, I did order a freshly squeezed orange juice which was very refreshing and significantly cheaper than one that I tried in Tirana.

Piccolo Grande Amore

Vegetable lasagna and cucumber soup with bread.
Piccolo Grande Amore

Sitting behind Saint Demetrius Cathedral is a little hidden gem in Berat called Piccolo Grande Amore. This locally run restaurant is situated on the top floor of a building with an incredible view of Berat and it’s very budget friendly. The menu is a mixture of homemade traditional Albanian food and pizzas so there’s something for everyone. I’d recommend trying the cucumber soup if you want something to cool you down in the summer months.

Temi Albanian Food

As I mentioned earlier there are quite a few restaurants inside Berat Castle and since most of them have very similar menus it can be tricky picking the best option. After reading several reviews I chose to dine at Temi Albanian Food one evening. I ordered the stuffed peppers and vegetable soup but there were plenty of other dishes on the menu. Although this wasn’t the best food in Berat that I tasted, it's a good option if you’re already inside the castle.

Hotel Castle Park

Hotel Castle Park is a popular place to stay in Berat and is located in the forest behind the Gorica Quarter. As well as being a hotel, they offer a lot of tour services such as rafting the Osumi river, hiking tours, and even wine tasting tours in the region. I joined their traditional cooking class where I made a few Berati dishes before enjoying my creations on the outdoor terrace.

If you don’t fancy trying their cooking class they also have a popular restaurant that’s open daily that has a wider selection of food on offer - including pizza! The restaurant at Hotel Castle Park is considered to be one of the top places to eat in Albania with their slow food concept.

Restorant Roshniku

A 30 minute drive from Berat will bring you to Restorant Roshniku - a family run restaurant who use only local ingredients from the village and surrounding area. It’s an incredibly unique place to eat in Albania where all of the food is cooked using wood burning fires, and like other restaurants I came across in Albania they only have a set menu so you can sample a variety of Albanian dishes at once.

Our tasting menu had a lot of vegetarian-based food in it which was great. It also included local cheese, olives, and goat which was a new experience for me. Restaurant Roshniku even has their own vineyard so you can enjoy your meal with a beautiful Albanian wine of your choice. When you arrive you have the option of sitting indoors or outside, depending on the weather and the time of the year, and you can book a cooking class here too!

What I loved about this restaurant (apart from the food) was that all of the interior was hand built by the owner and much of the furnishings and decorations were repurposed and given new life. Restaurant Roshniku is one restaurant near Berat that’s worth driving to and we can’t wait to go back the next time we’re in the area to see what new seasonal dishes are on the menu.

Where To Stay in Berat

Hotel Vila Aleksander

If you want to stay in the heart of Berat’s Mangalem Quarter then your best option is Hotel Vila Aleksander. This beautifully restored historic building is nestled in between the narrow streets of the town and the newest addition to the building was constructed using traditional methods as well as local materials. Since Berat is a protected town, Hotel Vila Aleksander was restored in a way that still reflects the charm of the surrounding buildings. Its location makes it the best place to stay in Berat if you want to easily explore the entire town on foot.

We stayed in one of their double rooms which had direct access to the lower terrace. The room was beautifully decorated with a spacious modern bathroom, air conditioning, and a large TV. There are two terraces for guests to enjoy in the nice weather and each one has a stunning array of flowers decorating it with plenty of seating areas where you can enjoy the breathtaking views of Berat and the mountains beyond. If the weather cooperates you’ll be able to enjoy a nice breakfast served on the upper terrace put together using ingredients from their garden.

Hotel Vila Aleksander is located halfway up the hill leading to Berat Castle so there isn’t any parking available directly in front of the hotel. We used the parking garage of a nearby hotel at the base of the hill which was reasonably priced with a security guard on site. There are quite a lot of steps leading up to the hotel as well so don’t bring too many heavy bags with you!

>> Click here for the most up to date prices at Hotel Vila Aleksander <<

It may be small but there are a lot of things to do in Berat whether you’re planning a day trip to this historic town or will be staying a little longer. Its narrow streets lined with Ottoman-era houses give the town a distinct vibe that you won’t find anywhere else in Albania, so if you haven’t already visited Berat it definitely needs to be on your upcoming Albanian itinerary.

If you have any questions regarding things to do in Albania, what to do in Berat, Tirana, Vlore, or Gjirokaster, or need some advice about travelling to Albania for the first time please feel free to reach out via email or through Instagram where you can also follow along with my latest adventures.


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