The town of Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected due to its very well-preserved Ottoman style architecture and townscape. The beautiful city of Berat is known as the “town of a thousand windows”. Many travellers will visit Berat immediately before or after Tirana depending on the direction they are travelling.
A fun hostel with a nice vibe. You know that you will be meeting an interesting group of people staying in this place. A beautiful location and the best choice for accommodation in Berat. Make sure you follow the instructions on hostelworld to reach the hostel. The locals in Berat refer to the hostel as ‘Scotty’s Hotel’, due to the fact that it is run a guy named Scot. If you get a bit lost you can refer to the hostel by this name to receive directions.
Sights and Highlights
Berat Castle is a fortress overlooking the town of Berat. It dates mainly from the 13th century and contains many Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques. It is built on a rocky hill on the left bank of the river Osum and is accessible only from the south. The castle is still inhabited which makes for a very unique experience in comparison to similar medieval style castles.
The Giro is an Albanian tradition and is a means for socialising in small towns. The citizens of the town repeatedly walk up and down the main boulevard. The Giro is by far the most important social institution in Albania. It is the stage on which most of social discourse is played and constructed. The Giro has its own dress code, acceptable and non acceptable language and non verbal behaviour. People are defined socially by others and define themselves on this popular stage. Going for a Giro requires rigorous preparations such as polishing your shoes, dressing appropriately, doing your hear, checking the time, anticipating your Giro friend and your audience. Having sorted their presentation out, people walk down to the main boulevard and start “giroing” then friends join in, the rest is walking and talking.
The Giro began as a means for socialising during the strict communist era in Albania when it was forbidden to congregate in groups larger than 3 people. Citizens would dress up and then head down to the boulevard where they would walk, chat and socialise in groups of 2 or 3. When you passed another group that you wanted to join for a chat, you would need to leave your group to join another group, potentially at the cost of an existing member who would take your place in your previous group. In this way it gave citizens an opportunity to make a lot of new friends very easily without breaking the rules.
The Giro in Berat is the most authentic in Albania and not to be missed. You can of course join, but be sure to wear your very best jeans and flip-flops, because the standards set by the locals is very high.
From Berat Backpackers, walk down towards the river in a north-west direction and take the bridge on Ura e Gorices across the river. You should now be to the south-west of the Castle and on a bridge downstream from the suspension bridge that is in the town center. Immediately turn left after the bridge and there is a two-story building with a restaurant upstairs and a wine cellar downstairs as well as outdoor seating along the banks of the river. This place is very local and the wine they sell is fantastically cheap.
The best way to find a drink in Berat is head to this pedestrian street down by river in the centre of town. There are numerous bars and cafes along its length and it makes a nice place to hang out for with other travellers.
The restaurant mentioned previously makes for a great location to spend sunny afternoons in Berat drinking local wine down by the river bank before you head upstairs to the restaurant in the evening for a very local meal. The owners and staff are very friendly and will happily converse with you if you strike up a conversation.
Berat is small and easily traversed by foot. There is a bus that can be caught from the bus station into the town centre. It is blue and white and only has one route so as long as it is going the correct direction along the river, it’s the correct bus.
Getting In and Out
Berat is well connected by furgon to Tirana in the north and Gjirokaster and Sarandë in the south. If you are heading to somewhere along the coast, first catch a furgon to Fier and onwards from there.