More than ever, Kosovo is ready to welcome the visitors.
If you give it a chance, it won’t just provide an immensely astounding synergy of unaltered nature and otherworldly architecture, sensations and encounters; it will also astonish you with its exceptional service, making you feel as though you’re walking the red carpet from the from the very beginning of your journey to its end.
We are bringing you the best of Kosovo and top 10 places you should definitely put on your bucket list
The largest city in Kosovo, Pristina, which has a population of 200.000, is the country’s capital and is rapidly growing. In other words, there is a lot of construction taking place throughout the city, and if you decide to go back there later, you’ll be astonished at how much has transformed in such a short time.
Pristina’s first impression will presumably be one that depicts a frenetic synergy driven on by traffic congestion, pedestrians who don’t seem to care about the few traffic laws that exist, and loud construction noises that blend in with the echoes of old monastery bells and the muezzin’s call from the mosque.
Even though the overwhelming chaos may be your first impression, Pristina will win your heart if you offer it a second chance and immerse yourself in its turbulent history, incredibly diverse culture, brave people, hospitable heritage, exquisite food, and every other aspect that distinguishes this “newborn” city.
❐ Pristina. You should be aware that Pristina is not for everyone and that, after the initial shock wears off, you will either adore or loathe this city. It’s a place you’ll remember for the wild range of exquisite feelings you experienced, not for any particular building.
While you are in Pristina, make sure to walk the George W. Bush boulevard, take a photo of Bill Clinton statue, visit the amazing Kosovo Museum, learn the legend of Pjetr Bogdani at Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque, climb the bell tower of Cathedral of Mother Theresa, have a coffee at Skender Bey Square, enjoy the symbolism behind the Newborn Monument, and pay a respect to war victims at Heroinat monument which consists of 20 000 pins each depicting one woman raped during the Kosovo war.
In the end, stay hypnotized in front of the massive National Library which, again, you will either love or hate.
You will need two full days at least to soak up the city’s atmosphere and, no matter what you do, always remember to interact with people and that you chose this city to embrace some new knowledge. Allow yourself to completely savor this experience.
Nestled on the slopes of the Sharr mountain and banks of the Prizren Bistrica, this amazing city is the cultural and political capital of the Kosovar Albanians and, without any doubt, deserves to be explored above and beyond the tourist trails.
Soak up every atom of its vibrant atmosphere bustling in preserved narrow streets, souvenir shops and religious objects.
While in Prizren, make sure to visit Town Museum, explore the striking Sinan Pasha Mosque built in 1615, cross the Old Stone bridge highly resembling the Emperor’s bridge in Sarajevo, see the amazing Hamam Of Gazi Mehmet Pasha and, of course, meet the local vendors to get some excellent handmade clothing, shoes, or trinkets for dirt cheap.
❐ Prizren. Finding your favorite position in this old stone labyrinth and taking a playful stroll around its many rooms, underground hallways, and amazing net of walls that once served as a city defense may be the highlight of your Prizren discoveries.
The magnificent Kalaja Fortress (Kaljaja), which towers over the city and the surrounding valleys, and the ruins of the Orthodox Church “Our Lady of Ljevis,” are a must-see while in Prizren. The church, which King Stefan Milutin built in 1306, has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage in Danger and as a Monument of Cultural Exceptional Importance.
The majestic Kalaja Fortress, which serves as Prizren’s emblem, is a short stroll from the ruins. Grab your cameras because you are going to face the spectacular views and chambers of Prizren Fortress dating back to the 11th century.
The fort offers the city’s best view stretching over not only the entire Prizren but also the surrounding Mountain of Prokletije and Peja.
Peja is thought to have been constructed on the ruins of Siparantum, a former Roman settlement. It is one of the rare towns that proudly maintains both Serbian medieval and Ottoman architecture. Peja is renowned for other things including its thriving market and art of craft preservation.
Peja’s chapel and nunnery complex, which is tucked away on the outskirts of the town, is another noteworthy feature. The beautiful frescoes that cover the walls and ceilings of the Orthodox monastery complex known as the Patriarchy of Peja date back to the late 12th century.
Although you should announce your visit, exploring the Patriarchy of Peja’s beautiful premises and gardens will be well worth the “hassle.” Experience emotional detachment and mental clarity while exploring the complex and discovering the religious diversity that this city is so proud of.
❐ Rugova Valley. It consists of 13 villages predominantly inhabitated by Albanian Kosovars. The houses of villages, including the shepherd´s settlements known as katuns, reach the height above the forest line and are in pasture areas covered with vast fields and meadows
Exploring the enthralling Rugova Canyon, which has a length of 25 kilometers and a depth of up to 1,000 meters, is another absolute must while in Peja.
This canyon is considered to be one of Europe’s longest and deepest canyons. Due to its geological, hydrological, speleological, and botanic significance, it is listed as a protected monument of natural heritage.
As the Rugova gorge road narrows, you will be able to admire numerous springs, including a 25-meter-high waterfall. This area is known for its abundance of water, charming villages, and hundreds of caves that are yet to be found and explored. If you are into zip lines, this is the best place to try yourself and enjoy a 750-meter adrenaline rush and spectacular views stretching over the gorge.
This tiny, historic hamlet is overflowing with cuteness. According to locals, and many foreign visitors, Gjakova is the most charming town in Kosovo.
Although being somewhat slow-paced today, during the Ottoman Empite, Gjakova used to be a major trading hub on the sought route between Shkodra and Constantinople.
As you stroll through this beautiful place, it will be difficult to accept that the most recent 1990s war left about 85% of town in ruins.
❐ Gjakova. Narrow streets of Gjakova, one of the most charming places in Kosovo which was established as a trading town and home to the largest bazaar in the Balkans, named Çarshia e Madhe (the Grand Bazaar). The Grand Bazaar was heavily damaged during the recent war and over 75% of local stores and shops had to be rebuilt.
One of the largest and oldest in the Balkans, the intriguing Gjakova Grand Bazaar is a must-see. It spans for more than a kilometer and is a great spot to interact with locals, discover life in Kosovo, and enjoy charming stores while admiring the skills of local artisans creating beautiful woodwork or selling exquisite wedding costumes.
In its woodworking studios and bazaar stores, Gjakova continues a long legacy of workmanship.
Besides the bazaar, allow yourself to experience the out-of-this-world 16th century Hadum Mosque, the Catholic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, and a captivating Ethnographic Museum.
Even the fact that you will struggle with the name of the city (Mitrovica or Kosovska Mitrovica) will offer you a hint as to the Gordian knots you will be working through with each and every question and response you receive.
Mitrovica will give you a genuine time-traveling experience, taking you from prehistoric civilizations, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and Serbian kings all the way to the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with its prides and prejudices, as well as the knowledge that this city was formerly known as “Titova Mitrovica.”
Due to its strategic location, Mitrovica was formerly a prehistoric hub and an Illirian necropolis. The city’s area, along with the entirety of Kosovo, was governed by the Bulgarian realm of Tsar Simeon (897-927), but the Byzantines regained control of it once this kingdom fell.
❐ Mitrovica. Shrine to the Revolution or Monument to Fallen Miner at the Partisan Hill. This massive concrete monument is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the World War II battles.
The city was split into the municipalities of North and South Mitrovica at the 2013 local elections as a result of the prior conflicts. Today, Mitrovica is one city under two roofs, two institutions, two systems, and two states divided by one single bridge. The level of everyday life in the city will surprise you if you take your thoughts off the fact that the bridge is a station of the Kosovo police forces and is guarded by KFOR personnel.
The fact that Mitrovica is frequently depicted in the media as a location of riots and conflicts even after the most recent Kosovo war would appear fairly unexpected, even if this shouldn’t come as a surprise anywhere else in the globe. Without any concerns walk the notorious Mitrovica bridge, explore the both sides of the city and give this city a chance.
After hearing all the legends surrounding Mitrovica, you will be astounded and taken aback by this city, which, aside from the KFOR-guarded bridge, appears to be an utterly tranquil setting where one could envision residing.
Barely beyond the city of Pristina, Gracanica Monastery is the second most important Orthodox site in the territory, just after the Patriarchate of Peje. Gracanica is one of four sites in Kosovo that are under UNESCO protection.
Over the centuries, it went through a tumultuous past but was spared by the last war. Protected by Kosovar police, Gracanica Monastery is today home to about twenty nuns who, in addition to their monastic duties, are also engaged in embroidery, agriculture, and icon painting.
There is no checkpoint at the monastery, and you are not required to announce your visit here, so feel free to walk through its premises and learn more about the amazing Byzantine techniques this monastery is renowned for.
❐ Gracanica Monastery. Founded by a Milutin, king of the Nemanjic dynasty in 1321, this monastery has been listed as one of the four sites in the country that is listed and protected by UNESCO.
UNESCO protected Orthodox Monastery Decani is located only 20 kms south of Pejë. It is is situated in the Metohija region, along the Decan’s Lumbardh river canyon, at foothills of the Accursed Mountains and about 2 kilometers separate from Decan town.
The Monastery dates back from the 14th century and is a perfect synthesis of Byzantine and Western medieval styles. Known as a home to over 1000 frescoes, Decani Monastery is the best-preserved Serbian monastery.
Nowadays, due to the fact it is on a list of endangered monuments, Decani Monastery is guarded by KFOR forces while The Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of Raska and Prizren oversees the monastery.
You will need to pass the checkpoint but shouldn’t have any issues with entering. Take a walk in and around the monastery, meet with the local priests and learn about the imposing history and everyday life woven from daily prayers to producing the souvenirs, wines, rakijas and other local products.
❐ Visoki Decani. UNESCO protected monastery Visoki Decani is one of the most important symbols of the rich Orthodox heritage in Kosovo
White Drin, along with its amazing Radavac waterfall, is not to be missed while in Kosovo. The entire 122-kilometer-long Kosovo segment of the White Drin flows through the country’s semi-karst region.
The White Drin is an underground river that rises beneath Mount Ljeb (2,382 meters above sea level) and emerges right here, at the stunning 25-meter-high waterfall, with a flow rate that can reach 65 meters per second at the end of winter. Radavac waterfall, surrounded by thousands of shades of greenery, has been a bucolic spot and a protected area since 1983.
The area is also known for the captivating magic of the subterranean world—Radavac Cave. Also known as the “Sleeping Beauty,” this cave is known for its vast network of tunnels, corridors, and galleries sculpted by a natural water force over the centuries.
❐ White Drin. The river source is known for its amazing waterfall and beautiful trails where you can do some nice and easy hikes as well as explore the complex Radavac cave.
Discover the Accursed Mountains and some of the best hiking trails in the world. Erected from formerly inaccessible trails forbidden during the Cold War, The Peaks of the Balkans is a project created to represent a reconciliation and future development between Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania.
Unless you are in a full hike which will include the three countries and, roughly, 14 – 15 days, we would definitely suggest trying yourself out in one of the stunning trails of Mt. Gjeravica (Kosovo’s highest peak) or enjoy a bit easier but still embraced by captivating alpine sceneries and intriguing legends of the Accursed Mountains high up to the grandiose Mountain Hajla.
❐ Gjeravica. Known for its numerous large and small lakes, Gjeravica is the the second-highest mountain peak in the Accursed Mountains the Dinaric Alps chain.