When I travelled to the north from the seaside, after Gjirokaster I went to Berat. I've heard that this city is a must-see and I wasn't disappointed. It offers a nice walkable center, a castle built on a hilltop, and also some tracks on the other side of the river.
As usual in Albania, the bus station is a bit outside of the city center. But there are local buses covering the remaining distance, and while I don't know the timetable I didn't have to wait long.
The #1 thing when it comes to Berat is the castle built on the top of the hill. The road and the old town is next to the almost vertical rock wall which makes a remarkable sight. There is a steep road going up to the entrance of the castle, it is 10-15 minutes by walk.
It definitely worth a visit, not just the castle but also the view from the top.
People live inside the castle and there is an entrance fee. I saw another, much smaller, entrance without anybody collecting tickets there.
I also ate at a restaurant inside the castle and I was surprised how good it was. Top tourist places have the most expensive restaurants and it's generally a good idea to go a bit further, but it does not hold for Berat. The food was great and so much I skipped dinner that day.
On the other side of the river there is a hill with hiking tracks and a good view of the castle. As much as I love hiking in the forest, I went up several times while I was in Berat.
There is a designated hiking trail there, but don't expect proper hiking marks. But it was a nice activity to get out of the city into nature.
If you take a stroll on the boulvard you'll notice a familiar building. This is the Berat university building, which looks quite similar to the White House.
There is a waterfall not far from Berat and there are direct buses going there. So I thought it would be a nice day trip to go and see it. In the end I was a bit disappointed as it's not that big and going there took a lot more time than I anticipated.
But if you'd like to see it, here are some directions how to get there.
The bus stop itself is at the eastern part of the city, and the direct buses to Bogove seemingly go every other hours (there is no timetable). If you don't mind changing the bus you can go to Polican and find the connecting bus. Since I didn't know when the next bus comes, I waited for almost two hours for a direct bus.
When you get off the bus at Bogove, you'll need to hike for around 20-30 minutes up along the river to get to the waterfall itself. At one point a heard of cows along with a dog came and the dog was seemingly protecting the cows from me. With no people in sight, I had to go to the bushes to pass them.
The whole trip felt the middle of nowhere, I met probably one person through the whole trip, but it's likely he was a local.
As for the bus, it stops in front of the market. And the last one goes back to Berat sometime around 2:30pm. If you miss that, you need to hitchhike as there is nothing that goes that direction.
When you get off the bus at Bogove, go to the market and ask about the last bus. People in Berat told me a different time than the actual one. I had to rush to the waterfall and back just to wait a bit.