The more than 2000 years old village is a UNESCO-recognised site.
I planned 3 days to stay there, which easily turned into a week because of several reasons. The village is stunning, there are also vivid and calm places nearby, including natural and historical sites and party (ish) places too.
So here is my Berat travel guide.
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How to get there?
I went to Berat from Saranda, where you can find 2 buses to go there daily, but if you want to approach it from Tirana there is a bus every hour.
The bus station is relatively far from the old town, but you have more options to get there. You can use the local bus or go hitchhiking as I did. Fine, it wasn’t really hitchhiking, because I was just walking to the direction of the old town and once a car stopped by me and offered a ride. Kind Albanian people.
Where to stay?
Maya Hostel Berat – not question!
Go there, book at least 3 days, because for at least one day you want to stay in the hostel and chill out. Additionally, Maya Hostel works with volunteers – I volunteered here too, please find the whole story below in the story time section – so you have an option to have free breakfast and accommodation for a few hours a day of easy-peasy work in exchange. Making breakfast, washing dishes, checking people in and out, changing the bed sheets and so, I wouldn’t say it is a hard job.
The hostel has private and also dorm rooms, but you can have a private space even in the dorms too. Another thing is that the bathroom is more beautiful than mine back home – yes, I have a gorgeous bathroom. The breakfast is abundant and delicious and the staff help you to organize your itinerary.
What to do – Berat travel guide
I’m pretty sure that you will spend most of your time taking photos, like at every step you take from the time you reach the old town of Berat. Even more, I’m this sure: message me if I’m wrong and be my guest for a coffee.
Berat is known as the city of 1000 windows and these stunning stone buildings allow you to soak up all of its beauties. If you go downtown you can spot some modern buildings and also wonderful churches and mosques that represent various religions. Many of them have wonderful frescos inside.
Wandering around the hidden alleyways will let you enjoy the architecture at the fullest. Walk nice and slow and you can notice some hidden gates that take you to a rooftop bar or restaurant with an amazing view of the city – and ridiculously cheap prices will come with it -. A downhill street paved by squared cobbles will take you to the next recommendation of this Berat travel guide.
I can highly recommend you to visit the Castle when the sun goes down! It’s so gorgeous! Additionally, when you go there at that time, the heat won’t hurt you so bad. Be prepared for lots and lots of people and steep routes.
St. Michaels Church
This impressive building was built on the hill in the 14th century. If you are on your way to the castle, you cannot miss it.
A little hike
There are some easy hiking trails around the city, which allows you to be lost in nature for a little while. Not too challenging ways though, but you may find some cool spots for a picnic and the shade of the trees will protect you against the sun.
For more fun
Getting sick, one day job, little kitty, amazing staff, a lovely girl… More reasons why I can highly recommend staying at Maya Hostel.
As I mentioned above I enjoyed my staying at Maya Hostel so much, so when the time of saying goodbye was approaching I asked the manager whether I could stay for a few more days. He told me that he needed another volunteer because one had just left recently so I would have free accommodation and breakfast for a little work.
Let me clarify something at this point: volunteers are not there because of their work.
Yes, they will work and have to do some things like changing bed sheets and washing the dishes after breakfast, but the main reason why a hostel – or at least this hostel – works with volunteers is the spirit that they can add as a plus to hostel life.
A lot of people travel alone – such as myself – but not all of them have the courage to open to other people and say hello.
And here is the point when a volunteer is such a big help. They will say hello at first, they will invite you to join them, they will help you to organize your itinerary or simply they have just a huge smile on the face and transmit some good vibes.
So people who own a hostel should start working with volunteers.
But back to the story.
So I started to work as a volunteer and guess what… I became very sick. But truly, with high fever and vomiting.
The hostel owner and his mom were so kind!
They provided me a place where I could be alone a bit for a nice sleep and I got a cup of something. I can hardly tell you what it was, and when I asked them they just told me it’s a kind of grass that grows on the mountains of Berat only.
Oh, and it looked like this:
A little bit seedy-looking and not very encouraging, but I thought I couldn’t get any worse, so why not?
And Guys, I slept like 12 hours and when I woke up I was totally fine. It really seemed to me that I got a kind of Albanian magic potion.
Eh, so if you are reading this, you may know my blog and how emotional I can be sometimes and you maybe won’t be amused by this kind of vulnerable confession.
Fortunately, I get sick very-very rarely, but when I do it is just so horrible to me and the only thing I want that time is my mom’s healing hug. It was just the same in Berat, but she wasn’t there with me. But that caring and attention that came from the hostel people made me feel something similar. It was a huge add on why I can honestly recommend this hostel.
You know if you just meet a friend of a lifetime.
It was this feeling with another volunteer girl – who was a volunteer for more than a day, not like me – Anna, who impressed me in the very first second I saw her.
Later on, it turned out that she is truly amazing! She’s travelling the world as a volunteer and trying to help everywhere she can. She was like fresh air for my smoggy mind and I loved hearing her stories about her life. None of them was the Barbie kind of pink story that I used to hear from travellers, but more it was so real and sometimes sad and hard, like when she was on a mission in South Africa and what kind of training she got there.
I always feel I’m so boring when I meet a person like she is.
And the most surprising, even shocking fact about her is that she doesn’t have a smartphone and isn’t on any kind of social media platform – fine, I’m just kidding, it’s not shocking, but not too common, right? And guess what, she is happy without likes and shares and can contact everyone she wants! We are still keeping in touch, although she is in Greece and I’m in Australia.
Oh, I almost forget the kitty!
I made a new friend there, who is actually everybody’s friend, a little cheeky kitty from the neighbourhood, who always tries to steal your food. But he’s just so lovely.