2 Day Itinerary: Albania’s UNESCO City, Berat
During my month and a half long trip to Albania I visited many cities, historic sites, and natural areas. Berat in particular was one of my favourite Albanian destinations! So, I must tell you about what there is to do in Berat plus give you a detailed 2 day Berat itinerary.
Berat caught my eye due to the diverse experiences it offers. You can find plenty of rich history and culture here as well as outdoor adventure opportunities and great food experiences. There’s something for everyone in Berat, so I’d highly recommend adding it to your Albania bucket-list!
Quick facts about Berat – it’s known as the “city of a thousand windows.” Berat was officially named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Berat is surrounded by mountains; the most famous being the holy Mount Tomorr.
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Quick Albania Travel Guide:
Currency: Albanian LEK (aka ALL). This is a closed currency so you’ll need to wait until you’re in Albania to exchange $.
Transportation: to enter the country you can find 1 international airport in Tirana, 1 port in Saranda (daily ferry arrivals/departures to Corfu, Greece), and a bus line from Montenegro. Buses are very cheap here, but unreliable. Driving is chaotic, I’d recommend sticking to buses. There are no trains within the country.
Phone: purchase a local SIM card from Vodafone – the plans are cheap and they include lots of data, however international minutes are typically not available.
Language: Albanian, however you can get by with English – google translate recommended for smaller cities/villages.
Helpful Info: don’t drink the tap water or bring a purifying bottle like this one. Bring an international travel adapter, and notify your bank before travelling.
Travel Insurance: ALWAYS purchase reliable insurance prior to your trip. This insurance is trusted by backpackers and adventure sport enthusiasts around the world.
Albania is one of the last “undiscovered” countries in Europe. Plan your trip while prices & tourism levels are low!
- 18 Helpful Tips You Should Know BEFORE Travelling Albania
- 17 Best Places in Albania
- Backpacker’s Guide to the Best Hostels in Albania
- Hiker’s Guide to the Albanian Alps
- 10 Reasons to Visit the Shala River aka the “Thailand of Albania”
How to Get to Berat
Berat is located just a 2 hour drive from Tirana along the Osumi (or Osum) River. If you’re not road tripping Albania, you’ll need to take the bus.
The bus in Albania is extremely unreliable and flaky, so finding accurate time tables and schedules online will be nearly impossible. I’d instead recommend inquiring about bus schedules at your hotel or hostel – the employees are super knowledgeable and they’ll be the most accurate source of information.
Getting to Berat in particular can be a bit complicated depending on where you’re coming from. I ventured to Berat from Permet – I’d highly recommend visiting Permet if you’re travelling in Albania – and had to hitchhike the final distance (by the way, hitchhiking in Albania is totally safe and super easy). However if you’re coming from bigger cities like Tirana or Saranda you should be able to get a direct bus with no problems!
For reference, the regional bus terminal in Berat is located at approximately these coordinates, but you can catch an intracity bus to this point – no need to walk all that way if you’re staying in the Mangalem or Gorica neighbourhoods!
Where to Stay in Berat
Luckily, Albania is one of the cheapest travel destinations in Europe! It’s not actually part of the EU and it hasn’t been subjected to Schengen inflation which makes it a total backpacker’s paradise.
With that being said, Berat is a super affordable destination in Albania and you can easily find accommodations here for 10 euros/night.
My top recommendations for where to stay in Berat are as follows:
The Backpacker Experience in Berat
- Berat Backpackers is THE hostel to stay at in Berat. It offers a superb free breakfast (like actually the best free breakfast I’ve ever had at a hostel) as well as excursions to the wineries and Osumi Canyon. They’ve also got TONS of outdoor garden space and they’re located in the heart of the Gorica quarter of Berat.
- You can check current prices for Berat Backpackers here: Booking.com or Hostelworld.
- Maya Hostel is the sister hostel to Berat Backpackers. They also offer excursions and a delicious free breakfast! This is a great alternative to Berat Backpackers if Berat Backpackers is full.
- You can check current prices for Maya Hostel here: Booking.com or Hostelworld.
- Alternatively if both Berat Backpackers and Maya Hostel are full, you can check out Hostel Mangalem.
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Something Mid-Range in Berat
If you’re simply searching for mid-range accommodations in Berat, look no further than Guest House Hava Baci. This guesthouse’s price point is on the cheaper end for it’s location in Berat AND it provides complimentary breakfast!
The luxury Experience in Berat
You’ll find the ultimate 5 star experience in Berat at Hotel Colombo. Hotel Colombo offers the “epitome of class” as well as a delicious continental breakfast! Perks of Hotel Colombo include a large amount of amenities as well as a prime location near the Berat castle and Osum River.
You can check current prices for Hotel Colombo on Booking.com.
The Cultural Experience in Berat
Hotel Mangalem is situated within the old stone city district of – you guessed it – Mangalem. Here you can immerse yourself in the historic culture of Berat. You’ll be staying in an old stone building just steps from many museums, the Osumi River, and the Berat Castle.
You can check current prices for Hotel Mangalem on Booking.com.
Things to do in Berat
1. Raft or Hike Through the Osumi Canyon
Check out this reel of the Osumi Canyon from my Instagram to see what it’s like!
Starting off my list of “things to do in Berat” with nature, of course! The city is located right next to the beautiful Tomorr Mountain National Park which makes Berat the perfect base for exploring the mountains and the nearby water.
The best thing to do in Berat (according to me) is visit the Osumi Canyon. The Osumi Canyon is considered the “Grand Canyon” of Albania and it’s surely a natural attraction you don’t want to miss!
Keep reading for tips for visiting the canyon.
^Watch what it’s like to hike & swim through the Osumi Canyon!
How to get to Osumi Canyon
If you have a car you can drive the windy mountain road to the canyon yourself, however if you don’t the canyon can be fairly difficult to access. You can try your hand at hitchhiking or ask your hotel or hostel for bus/walking directions, however the easiest and most stress-free way to visit Osumi Canyon is via tour.
Berat Backpackers offers a super social, full day tour to the canyon as well as the nearby Bogove Waterfall (I’ll talk about this next) for 40 euros. The tour includes transportation, a traditional Albanian lunch, and friendly local guides who will stop at all the good viewpoints along the way. The guides visit this canyon all the time so they know the highlights of the canyon, like: where to swim, best cliff jumping spots, etc.
I’m a DIY traveller and I don’t like paying for tours, however this one was totally worth the money! I’d definitely recommend it.
You can book your stay at Berat Backpackers via Hostelworld or Booking.com.
If you’re not staying at the hostel, you can still book their Osumi Canyon tour here.
If you’re visiting Berat early season when the water levels are high, you can actually raft through the canyon – here’s the link to the rafting tour.
2. Visit Bogove Waterfall
Bogove Waterfall is the perfect place to visit on a scorching summer day in Albania. The water is icy cold and the deep pools make for a perfect swimming location – don’t forget your bathing suit!
Bogove waterfall is another semi-difficult place to reach. Apparently it’s possible to access via bus/walking, however I honestly wouldn’t recommend doing this because it seems like a complicated/lengthy process. Instead, I’d recommend participating in the guided Osumi Canyon tour. This way you can tick both attractions off in the same day!
Here’s the link to book the canyon/waterfall tour.
3. 4×4 up Mount Tomorr to the Sotira Waterfall
If you’re looking for things to do in Berat with a hint of adventure, you can book a 4×4 tour up Mount Tomorr to the Sotira Waterfall! Mount Tomorr is the city’s most famous mountain and it’s also known as the “holy mountain” – it has important spiritual significance which you’ll learn all about on the tour.
This tour includes experienced guides, lunch, 4×4 transportation, a swim at the Lakes of Dardhes, entrance fees, and the possibility to customize the excursion.
One word of advice – if you’re not one for the heat, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this tour in peak summer. The Balkan heat can be superrrrr intense and if you want to access Sotira Waterfall you will need to engage in a quick hike from one of the old mountain villages.
You can book the Mount Tomorr & Sotira Waterfall tour here.
4. Participate in the Free Walking Tour
If you’re looking for things to do in Berat (that are 100% free), I’d suggest the city’s walking tour. The walking tour is completely free and is run by a knowledgeable local who will bring you to the castle and an old church in the Gorica Quarter.
He will also point out all the museums and historical points in the city.
The tour is run once in the morning and once in the evening – check with your hotel or hostel for an updated tour timetable. I’d recommend participating in the evening tour as you will see sunset from the castle!
5. Visit the Berat Castle
If you’re looking for things to do in Berat, the Berat Castle should be at the top of your list. This is one of the biggest and most impressive castles in Albania.
I totally goofed and just walked to the top of the castle for sunset – the view is great as it overlooks all of Berat and the surrounding mountains, but you can actually go inside the castle as well. Missed this, oops.
There’s an entrance fee of 300 LEK (3 euros), but inside you’ll find so much history, places to eat, and souvenirs from the locals who are still living in the castle. Don’t be like me – see the view and thennnn go inside the castle.
6. Participate in Xhiro & Grab an Ice Cream
Xhiro translates to “walk” in English and this “walk” is a beloved Albanian pastime. Every night in Albania – no matter where you are – you’ll find that local Albanians emerge from their homes as the sun sets. They go for a slow cruise around town, grab a drink at the local patios, and enjoy friendly conversation.
I’ve come to loooove the Albanian patio/xhiro vibe. It’s the perfect way to wind down from a busy day and engage in local culture.
My favourite way to enjoy xhiro is to grab an ice cream cone and people watch. Berat is great for xhiro because you can hear lively music and watch the light of the day disappear behind Mount Tomorr. The best spots for xhiro in Berat are Bulevardi Republika and the Mangalem quarter.
My ice cream suggestion to you is Pasteceri Tori. I’m OBSESSED with tasting ice cream everywhere I travel to and Pasteceri Tori easily has the best ice cream in all of Albania. Crunchy cone, rich consistency, and absolutely yum flavours. Plus a double scoop was only 90 LEK which is the cheapest ice cream I’ve found in Albania too!
7. Learn About Albanian History
I’ll admit I’m not much of a history buff so when I was looking for things to do in Berat I didn’t consider the museums. BUT, Berat has a few museums that I’m sure are jam packed with rich history – Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage site, after all!
The museums and other historic/culturally significant places in Berat include: The Iconography Museum, a few old churches, the Lead Mosque, and the National Ethnographic Museum
8. Stroll Through the Gorica and Mangalem Quarters
Those weird words, “Gorica” and “Mangalem,” I keep mentioning… Here’s what I’m talking about:
The Gorica and Mangalem quarters are two neighbourhoods within Berat. They’re super cute and old looking so you’ll want to have your camera ready when you walk through them!
The Mangalem quarter is located beneath the Berat Castle, whereas the Gorica quarter is located across the river. Most of the hostels in town are located within the Gorica quarter, so if you’re staying at one of them you won’t miss these neighbourhoods!
9. Wine Tasting
Foodies and wine connoisseurs, listen up! Before you finalize your list of things to do in Berat, considering adding a wine tasting tour to your itinerary.
Berat’s countryside is filled with vineyards which make this the best place in Albania to sample wine (and raki, of course).
You can book a Berat wine sampling tour here or if you’re looking for a social experience, you can book a wine tour directly with Berat Backpackers when you stay with them.
10. Try the Traditional Foods of Berat
If you want a taste of the traditional food in Berat (on a budget), head over to Eni’s Traditional Food. It’s relatively cheap and delicious!
You’ll find that the traditional food in Albania varies by region, however it’s all quite similar. In Berat you can expect to find:
- Stuffed peppers and stuffed eggplant.
- Fig is also super popular in Berat. In the fall you can find fresh figs on the local trees, but when you visit in summer your best bet is trying fig jam or fig ice cream which is delicious.
2 Day Berat Itinerary
Wondering how long to spend in Berat? I recommend staying at least 2 nights in Berat to fully experience everything. However a third night would certainly not be too long and it would allow you to check a few more things off the “Berat bucket list!”
Day 1 in Berat
Arrive in Berat and check in at your accommodations – I recommend Berat Backpackers or Hotel Mangalem.
Grab lunch at Eni’s Traditional Food and take a stroll around town. Day 1 is a great day to visit the museums and the mosque before doing the walking tour in the evening.
The walking tour will end at the Berat Castle. You can watch sunset from here, then venture inside the castle to check out more of Berat’s history and local vendors.
Afterwards head on down back to the city and grab dinner on Bulevardi Republika or near the main road by the Old Town. These two locations are where you’ll find the best xhiro vibe.
And don’t forget to grab a cone from Pasteceri Tori’s!
Day 2 in Berat
Day 2 is adventure day! Today you’re setting off to either raft or hike/swim through the Osumi Canyon. This is a whole day excursion, so by the time you return to Berat it’ll be time for dinner and bed – trust me, you’ll be tired after this big day of adventuring!
You can book the Osumi Canyon rafting tour here (early season) or the hiking/swimming tour with Berat Backpackers here.
Tips for visiting the Osumi Canyon:
- Wear a bathing suit under your clothes.
- Bring lots of sunscreen.
- Better yet, if you’re sensitive to the sun wear a long sleeve shirt and/or pants.
- Wear a hat and bring sunglasses.
- Have a big breakfast and bring snacks (a large lunch is included, but it’s a late lunch).
- There’s a quick hike to the waterfall – runners are helpful for this, but sandals (or my fav, Crocs) are nice for walking around the waterfall/beach at the canyon entrance.
- Bring a travel towel.
- I brought a GoPro which was the best and only way to photograph/record the canyon whilst swimming through it.
Optional: Day 3 in Berat
If you want to extend your stay in Berat for an additional night you can fit in one of the two following activities: wine tasting or Mount Tomorr/Sotira Waterfall.
You can book the wine tasting tour here or the Mount Tomorr tour here.
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About The Author
Hey! I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.
After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.
I’m now focused on travelling the world and seeing everything our beautiful home has to offer.
I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.
I am also an advocate for the environment and do as much as I can to take care of our planet.
Get to know me and my story more here 🙂
I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!