Set along the Osum River, Berat, Albania is an amazing place with beautiful views from the cliffs that tower above it. Berat was my first Albanian experience and it set the bar high. I had no idea what to expect from Albania but it was a fantastic and interesting country to visit.
In the early morning hours, my group got on our Albanian bus in Macedonia, decorated with the most amazing Las Vegas-style lights.
Once across the border, we arrived in Berat around lunchtime, I had myself a gyro and a local beer for less than $1. This may have ended up being my most pricey lunch in Albania. Food and accommodation is very inexpensive in around Albania.
A local guide met us at lunch and we received quite the amazing tour of Berat. The rain held off today and the sun came out this afternoon which added to the experience. It was the first sun we had seen in days (it seemed!).
On the backroads leading up to Berat Castle there were quite a few renovation projects on old homes being turned into small guesthouses due to the rise in tourism in the area. Garlic over the door to ward off evil was a common sight.
This is how you turn a boring alley into a beautiful spot:
The sun came out as we climbed up the gigantic hill to Berat Castle, which is actually a fortress and strategically overlooks the whole city.
It takes a good 30 minutes to climb it but we did stop a few times for the slow climbers and to take photos of these birds with giant feet. They reminded us of blue-footed boobies from the Galapagos (without the blue feet of course).
There is a road that for cars that takes you most of the way up but walking it is more charming.
Once at the top we got a specialized tour into buildings and churches that were padlocked shut. We felt special. Our guide had given the Croatian president a tour of Berat Castle the week prior and he was still excited about it.
One of the best things about Berat and Albania in general is that the touristy places were not crowded! It was such a nice change from the rest of Europe. If you aren’t big on lines, crowds and other people in your photos, Albania is the place for you.
People still live in the Berat Castle complex. The views are great but the walk home from town would be killer (I’m sure most drive).
Views from inside the some of the churches in the complex date back to the 13th century.
But the outside edges of Berat Castle were the best parts.
I tried to get the Albanian flag in as many photos as possible. The Albanian flag is pretty cool- red and black with an eagle. It looks straight out of Game of Thrones.
After all that walking the best idea we had was to get an Albanian beer and sit down. This was the table we chose. Best happy hour views ever!
Reader Question: Where have you been for the best happy hour views?