Guided Berat Tour: the Fortress, Onufri Museum, Wine Tasting, & Lunch
- Cobo Winery: Taste delicious wines made by a family leading the resurgence in Albanian winemaking. Snack on local cheese and olives and admire a collection of paintings by artists banned during the Communist era.
- Berat Fortress: Tour the imposing ruins of the "Kala," a mostly medieval castle (the site dates back to the 4th century B.C.) on a hill 700 feet above town. The neighborhood within its walls is still occupied today.
- Onufri Museum: Visit an 18th-century church in the fort with more than 170 magnificent liturgical artworks, the majority by Onufri, a 16th-century Albanian icon master renowned for his vibrant reds and lifelike figures.
- Lunch and free time: Enjoy a hearty Albanian lunch of cheese and chard burek (pie), meats, salad, dessert, and beer or soft drink. Then explore the cobblestone streets of this lovely town, built on steep terraces along the Osumi River.
About this Durres Tour
About 50 scenic miles from Durres, an ancient fortress city has endured for 25 centuries under the Albanian sun. They call it the White City, the Living Museum, the Town of a Thousand Windows. The names all fit, but none does Berat full justice.
Presiding high above it all, the majestic ruin of Kala Castle's upper fortress stands broken but strong, providing million-dollar views (roughly 123,500,000 leks worth) of the Albanian mountains and riverside neighborhoods below, where an avalanche of white, many-windowed homes cascades down forested hillsides carved by the waters of the Osumi.
On your tour through the cobbled Kala quarter, surrounded by the citadel's walls, you'll walk winding lanes where locals live in rustic, red-tile-roofed dwellings. And where lovely old Byzantine churches abound, including the one that houses the museum where Onufri's brilliant icons are showcased.
;In your free time after lunch, you may want to check out the Ethnographic Museum, a beautiful 18th-century townhouse displaying everything from regional filigreed clothing to olive oil presses. Upstairs, the living quarters reveal the domestic traditions of bygone days.
A bit closer down to the river, you can walk though Mengalem, the town's predominantly Ottoman quarter, with its 16th-century Lead Mosque (named for the coating of its dome) and Sultan's Mosque, and the elaborately decorated 19th-century Bachelors' Mosque – built for Berat's once-sizable contingent of unmarried young artisan-assistants working in the stone, wood, and leather trades.
Wherever you roam in town, you'll keep running into good reasons why UNESCO added Berat to its World Heritage List in 2008. You can toast their decision over a glass of tasty white or red shesh wine at Cobo Winery.
Shesh, that's good
Bottles of Albanian shesh and vlosh may not yet be on your hometown restaurant's wine list, but that's changing fast. Since the fall of Communism in the late '90s, families like the Cobo clan (they run the kantina you'll visit on this tour) and others who weathered Albania's decades-long political winter have emerged from hibernation and reinstituted the ancient tradition of winemaking here. They also love making traditional rakia fruit or nut brandy – a Balkan specialty often tossed back at the end of a meal. Brace yourself; it's potent stuff.
Please make your way to the Durres Bus Terminal at Rruga Hafiz Podgorica to meet your guide.
In need of retail therapy after your tour? Shopping is available 7 days a week, although early closing at 3:00pm on Sundays is generally observed. Look for traditional Albanian souvenirs - embroidery, woolen items and Raki Skrapari, the local liquor.
Plan to walk a total of 1 mile with up to 75 steps over varying surfaces including cobblestones and flat surfaces.
Bus Tour, Cultural, Scenic
Vehicle sizes vary, depending on the size of the group.
English, German, Spanish, Italian, French
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages. Travelers must be 18 years of age or older to participate in the cognac and wine tasting portion of the tour so bring photo ID for proof of age.
Special Medical Restriction
Travelers must be in good health, disclose their physical fitness and advise any conditions that might impact their participation in the tour.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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