Gorica Bridge, Berat

24 hours in Berat, Albania

It’s very easy to spend 24 hours in Berat, Albania, one of the country’s most historic cities. Berat is more than 2,400 years old and is under the protection of UNESCO. It is known as both the City of a Thousand Windows and the City of the Floating Windows. This is due to the white Ottoman houses that line its hillside slopes. If you’re visiting Berat with kids there’s plenty to keep the family entertained. From clambering around the walls of Berat Castle to exploring the narrow cobbled streets of the old town.

Is Berat in Albania worth visiting?

Berat in Albania is definitely worth visiting, both for its historical importance and welcoming locals. It was one of the first stops on our trip to Albania with kids and we all had a great time there. History fans will especially enjoy this UNESCO city. Plus, photographers will be keen to get some snaps of the white Ottoman houses which line the hillside slopes either side of the River Osum and give the town its nickname of the City of a Thousand Windows.

If you’re thinking about going to Berat with kids, there’s also plenty to keep everyone from toddlers and teens entertained. After all, who doesn’t like climbing ancient castle ruins or chasing each other through narrow winding streets? Just a quick warning: there’s very little health and safety at ancient monuments, so keep a close eye on children.

We also found the people of Berat to be so friendly, especially with children. In one restaurant the owner brought his pet tortoise for my little adventurers to feed and in another the waiter made sure to serve their milk in fancy coloured glasses with straws. 

Visiting Berat, Albania

If you’re planning on visiting Berat in Albania you can definitely see the highlights in a day. If you’re pushed for time during your holiday, you could just consider a day trip from Tirana. However if you want to experience the famous windows lighting up in the evening, it is nice to stay at least one night there. 

It’s easy to visit Berat in a day from Tirana and a number of tours can arrange this for you. These options have all got great reviews from other travellers:

We decided to stay in a more residential area in an AirBnB near the castle. This was because we knew we wanted to explore the site early the next morning due to the hot weather temperatures at the time of year we were visiting (June). However, there are also plenty of accommodation options in the city close to the river. 

How to spend 24 hours in Berat, Albania

24 hours in Berat – Morning – Berat Castle (Kala)

Begin your day by heading to Berat Castle, known locally as Kala. The site is a unique place, as people still live within its walls. So if you arrive early in the morning you will see everyone starting to go about their day. You can also opt to stay the night at Berati Castle Hotel within the ancient walls.

Berat Castle view
The view from Berat Castle, Albania

The castle compound itself is pretty big and offers amazing views of the city. You can walk along the edges of the wall to experience different viewpoints and there are also parts of the building which can be climbed onto.

The site is a great example of Albania’s rich history, with a large number of churches and mosques dotted around.

A word of warning: there are no safety barriers/warning signs anywhere on the site. So if you are travelling in Berat with kids, make sure you keep a close eye on them as there are a number of steep drops.

Kid exploring Berat Castle
My little adventurer loved exploring Berat Castle

Within the walls of Berat Castle, there is a famous museum called the Onufri National Museum, named after the 16th-century Albanian artist. Onufri was famous for painting icons and pushing the boundaries of Byzantine art.

There are also a number of bars and restaurants. These are good places to hydrate on a hot day or warm up on a cold one. You can also have lunch here or there are a few good restaurants just opposite the entrance to the castle. We ate at one of these and had one of our best meals of the trip. The owner didn’t have any menus in English, but suggested a few options and we ended up with a real feast!

24 hours in Berat – Afternoon – Explore the old town

One thing I would note about visiting Berat is that much of the city seemed to close between 12pm and 3pm. This means it’s a good time to explore the narrow cobbled streets lined with traditional Ottoman houses. However, in the summer time it can get very hot, especially as the sun reflects off the buildings, so it might be best to find a cafe to hide out in and cool down!

Of course, you must head down to Gorica Bridge, which crosses the Osum River and is surely one of the country’s most photographed bridges. Built in 1780, the arched bridge links the two neighbourhoods, the more touristy Mangalemi and Gorica, which is more residential.

Neighbourhood of Gorica, Berat
You can see how Berat got its name of the City of a Thousand Windows

If you’re ready for a mid-afternoon snack and drink, head to Bulevardi Republika. This is a pedestrianised street which is great for people watching. The area steadily gets busier as the afternoon draws on. We did notice that not many of the bars have air conditioning, but lots of them have mist sprays and fans which do help to cool things down a little. 

Another of the town’s famous museums is the Ethnographic Museum, which contains many historical objects from Berat. This is perhaps not the most exciting place for small children, but is a good way to introduce older children and teenagers to the history of Albania.

24 hours in Berat – Evening – Experience the local cuisine

An evening in Berat is the perfect time to experience some of the local cuisine. There are lots of restaurants on Bulevardi Republika, but I would suggest heading down to the river. There are a number of restaurants on both sides of Gorica bridge and we opted for one right next to the bridge. It was the perfect spot to watch the hillsides light up and our little adventurers were transfixed by a man fishing with a big net from a sandbank in the middle of the river.

The food in Berat is quite meat-based. You will find lots of grilled and slow-cooked meat options on the menu. We really enjoyed trying a selection. There are also options like stuffed peppers and fresh salads for vegetarians and vegans.

Local food in Albania
Delicious stuffed peppers in Berat

How do I get to Berat Albania?

To get to Berat Albania you can travel by car from Tirana. It is 120km from the capital and takes about 2.5 hours. The drive is pretty straightforward, although like anywhere you should be prepared for driving in Albania, as it may be different to what you are used to at home.

Likewise, negotiating the narrow cobbled streets in Berat is not for the faint-hearted. The AirBnB we stayed in had such a steep narrow driveway that I actually wasn’t sure that we were going to be able to make it out when it was time to leave. It was definitely a time that I was very pleased that Mr A was driving, not me!

What is the temperature like in Berat, Albania?

The temperature in Berat varies greatly and is definitely dependent on the time of year you visit. In the summertime temperatures tend to range from 27C-33C. However in winter temperatures can get as low as 1C-13C. So the best months to go if you like a more comfortable temperature are probably the shoulder months of May and October.

We spent our 24 hours in Berat at the end of June and it was starting to get very hot, especially as there is not much shade when you’re out and about exploring. This meant that we had to make sure we made plenty of refreshment stops, which is something to bear in mind if you are visiting Berat with kids.

24 hours in Berat with kids

As you can probably tell, we had a great time travelling in Berat with kids. Our little adventurers were one and four when we visited and there was plenty to keep them entertained. Their highlight was definitely exploring the Kala, where they had plenty of space to run and climb. Something to note is that the cobbled streets can be quite difficult with a pram, so it might be worth considering a carrier if you have a baby or toddler.

Likewise, don’t expect to find baby changing facilities in most restaurants. However, everywhere we visited was extremely family-friendly. Staff in cafes and restaurants often went out of their way to make our little adventurers feel special.

Another thing to be aware of, especially in the Kala neighbourhood, which is where Berat Castle can be found, is that there are no safety barriers and lots of steep drops. So keep a close eye on little ones. 

There are lots of little parks dotted around in Berat, especially in the local squares which are surrounded by cafes. These become very busy in the early evenings as families go out for a walk. Again, safety is not really a main priority and there were definitely a few pieces of play equipment that we felt a little concerned about. So again, exercise caution in these areas.  

Is Berat in Albania safe?

We felt very safe during our time in Berat in Albania. People were very friendly and welcoming and there was nowhere that we felt worried. We stayed in a residential area and walked around there in the evening and had no concerns. According to the UK government, more than 120,000 British nationals visit Albania every year. Most visits are trouble-free. Having said that, as always, it is worth being aware of your surroundings. Always keep an eye out for pickpockets and petty theft in crowded areas. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my recommendations for how to spend 24 hours in Berat. As always, let me know if you have any questions!