Berat, Albania – A step back in time.

Berat, Albania – A step back in time.

Posted by on Feb 25, 2016 in Albania, Europe

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Where is Berat?

Berat is a charming little town in central Albania. It took a whole day to get there from Tirana which was predicted by guide books and blogs, but confused us as it was only about 130km away. Needless to say the roads were ghastly and often we drove at less than 30km per hour, arriving no less than 6 hours after we left Tirana!

Berat lies inland on the edge of the Osum river. In July 2008, the old town (Mangalem district) was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is famous for its collection of white Ottoman houses nestles around the base of a hill, earning it the title of the ‘town of a thousand windows’.

Berat Old Town

The old town is filled with white walls, cobblestones and children playing hopscotch and riding their bikes. Olive trees adorn the roads along with local men play backgammon while sipping hot coffee outside little cafe’s. The charm of this town attracts a lot of tourists each year who come in hordes to look at the white windows and the castle ruins at the top of a large hill in the middle of town.

It was a lovely place to just wander around. There is a large pedestrianised area along the river where the kids can run and play. We bought ice-cream and hot corn cobs dripping with butter as the sun went down and I felt a little like we had been transported back in time. This feeling was confirmed at breakfast the following day when we met a Canadian couple in their 60s. The gentlemen told me he had been born in Italy and immigrated to Canada when he was five but still spent every summer in Italy visiting family. He said that coming to Albania reminded him of his childhood in the 50s in Italy. I feel like that little snapshot of information was such a perfect description of Albania and its timeless culture.

We stayed at the The White City hotel and it was great. You couldn’t ask for a better location as it was right in the middle of town and on the river in-front of the walking area. The staff were welcoming, beds were comfortable, the shower was hot and best of all they have really fast internet in each room (well, fast for Albania!). It also had great views of the Ottomon houses.

Where to eat in Berat

We ate at some wonderful restaurants while we were in Berat. The first was Called Restaurant Mangalemi and came highly recommend on Trip Advisor, but we actually thought it was a little average. The views were beautiful but the service and food were just OK. It was still enjoyable and they gave both of us a little taste of some very potent liqueur. I know from past experience in Eastern Europe that these things never end well, it appears however that Scott hasn’t learnt that lesson yet LOL

Another night we wandered along the river and came across a delightful little place called Hotel Muzaka.  The kids played in the neat little courtyard and the food was fabulous.

We watched a shepherd move his flock up the river. The boys thought it was great and were well entertained.

There were local food markets outside near by and we bought some fruit for our long car trip the next day. It was wonderful to see all the Ottoman houses lit up at night and I also managed to capture a lovely photo of Scott and Tom pointing to the full moon in the sky. Tom is very interested in stars, planets, moons and anything to do with Astronomy so he is always happy to star gaze and spend time ‘looking up’.

We headed up to the castle and Fortress at the top of the hill in the middle of town. It was a long and hot hike but all four of us managed it quite easily. The cobblestones were a bit slippery, so half way through we took a side road and headed onto bush terrain. This was a lot easier for the kids! Milo found a dead snake on the road and so they played with it for a while. Tom also insisted on carrying our only backpack for the day which held all of our water. In a bid to encourage independence we obliged …. it had nothing to do with the fact that neither of us wanted to carry it on such a hot day LOL

Tom absolutely loves ruins. He seems to really draw a lot of energy when wandering around old buildings and sites. I am not sure where he gets it from as I am often thinking “you’ve seen one you have seen them all” however he just loves it. Both he and Milo had a great time clambering around the old rocks, looking in wells, running through fields and enjoying the magnificent view back across town that we found when we reached the top.

The roads are lined with little old ladies selling their laces and a selection of bric-a-brac. There was one that I particularly liked. I didn’t buy it but I wished I had.

It was so beautiful to see one of the little old ladies hanging out her laces to dry in the wind. I am not sure why it was such a breath taking scene as it was so simple, but for some reason it has stuck in my mind.

We had ice-creams at the top of the hill and then found a very old family run restaurant called Onufri and had a yummy traditional home cooked meal. I can highly recommend this place. The people were lovely, the food was delicious and the restaurant was cosy.

The beautiful views looking down from the Berat fortress grounds


The fortress of Berat in its present state, even though considerably damaged, remains a magnificent sight. The surface that it encompasses made it possible to house a considerable portion of the town’s inhabitants. The buildings inside the fortress were built during the 13th century and because of their characteristic architecture are preserved as cultural monuments. Wikipedia


Transport in Albania is always amusing and resourceful!

Beautiful Berat



Share and Enjoy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *