Kosovo has always held its position as the hub of its neighbors as well as the entire world, from ancient times and the Ilirians to the modern age of dystopian Utopia disguised as multiculturalism and current conflicts.
On the other hand, curiously and against all the logic, you won’t find this country in any travel guides or lists of popular tourist locations.
Kosovo is just still in the process of competing for a spot on the global tourism stage.
Being from the Balkans, an area infamous for its wars, conquistadors, and communication breakdowns throughout the ages, our team realized we should use the “power” we hold to promote Kosovo in achieving its mission of being a well-known tourist destination.
Located in the Balkans, Southeastern Europe, Kosovo is in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. It is a landlocked country bordering Montenegro, Albania, Serbia and Macedonia. Current borders were established after the WWII when Serbia declared Kosovo as its autonomous province.
With an area of 10,887 km², Kosovo is today the youngest European country and the 2nd youngest in the world. It has a population of 1.8 million people.
Due to its strategic position it has always been on a numerous wish lists of many conquistadors. Yet again, it managed to gain its independency and so much-needed peace.
❐ Kosovo flag. The six white stars placed above a golden Kosovo map represent six major ethnic groups of the country: Albanians, Serbs, Bosniaks, Romani, Gorani and Turkish people.
Although there is still a long list of countries that have not recognized Kosovo, Kosovo is the youngest independent country in Europe.
That is to say, officially, Kosovo belongs to no other country, neither to Albania or Serbia. It belongs to its people – Kosovars.
Although people of Kosovo often relate themselves as Serbs, Albanians and minorities such as Bosniaks, Kosovo gained its diplomatic recognition as a sovereign state on February 17, 2008.
Kosovo is just as safe as any other place you might choose to visit.
You are quite likely to learn about Kosovo for the first time by reading news articles on the instability of the Balkans and the ongoing national conflicts that roil Kosovo and its neighbors.
What the media refers to as “unsafe” is simply the product of a lack of knowledge, enthusiasm, and infrastructure that would make this country more accessible to tourists. Together with the entire Balkans, common sense eventually triumphed over a few radical viewpoints and understood that cooperation, acceptance, and tolerance are the only ways to ensure one’s survival.
In other words, the only war Kosovo is dealing with at this moment is the war against prejudices.
❐ Pristina. Although collective consciousness very often has a negative connotation, we assure you that in the Balkans, of which Kosovo is an unquestionable part as an independent state, the strongest collective awareness is the one representing the need and urge to overcome mediocre ideas that have been oppressing the region and the country for centuries.
Marked by war and political instability, Kosovo still has a long way of gaining its reputation as a desirable tourist destination. However, you won’t often feel as secure and welcomed as you do in this part of the world.
In fact, based on our team’s observations thus far, we cannot identify even a single square mile of this little European heaven as hazardous.
If you are a respectful citizen of the world with an an awareness of cultural differences, safety is a rarely concern. Except in some extreme destinations which, we assure you, Kosovo is not one, the only potential danger might arise only when the traveler neglects respect, tolerance and acceptance of diversity.
❐ Sport and Youth Centre Palace of Pristina. Traveling should teach us how to embrace a gift of having the whole cosmos of differences which will help us learn, grow and become more grateful human beings. In the end, it is those obscure differences that are repeatedly opening a window of understanding our crucial similarities.
The easiest way to reach Kosovo is by taking one of the numerous and quite budget friendly flights to Pristina airport. That is to say, unless you are already traveling through the Balkans.
Kosovo has one international airport – Airport Adem Jashari which is also referred to as Pristina International Airport. The airport is located 15 km southwest of the city of Pristina and has a plethora of flights to numerous destinations.
Some of the airlines flying from Pristina Airport are Austrian Airlines, Edelweiss Air, Eurowings, Pegasus Airlines, SWISS, Turkish Airlines, easyJet and Wizz Air.
On the other hand, you can easily reach Kosovo by public or private transportation whether you are traveling from Serbia, Albania, Montenegro or Macedonia.
❐ Pristina is the capital of Kosovo with a population of more than 200.000 people. It is close to many Balkan countries such as Serbia, North Macedonia, and Montenegro.
Yes, you can easily reach Kosovo by traveling directly from Serbia.
One of the most frequent questions we get from our guests is whether they should be concerned about crossing the border between Kosovo and the neighboring countries.
The myth that we must immediately dispel is the one saying you might meet some issues when crossing the borders. If you heard that you have to enter and exit at the same border crossing, you got the wrong information.
Moreover, if you were wondering whether you are allowed to travel towards Belgrade, enter Kosovo via the “notorious” border crossing between Serbia and Kosovo that leads to Mitrovica, and then continue your journey through Kosovo and exit at any other border, perhaps towards Albania, Montenegro, or Macedonia, the answer is – yes.
❐ Mitrovica. Mitrovica Bridge is connecting the two banks of the river Ibar and, more importantly, the so called “Albanian” and “Serbian” sides. You can freely cross the bridge and explore both sides of the city.
Most towns in Kosovo have frequent, reliable public transportation, and the majority of the buses have air conditioning for your comfort.
Even though there are metered taxis in the majority of cities, you should be ready to bargain when the meters aren’t in operation. However, taxi service in Kosovo is trustworthy, and rates are fair, whether it is a metered cab or a negotiated fare. You might meet some issues in case you are into exploring some remote places though.
The easiest way to travel around the country is still through a travel agent.
In case you are traveling with your own car, do note that Kosovo is not a member of the Green Card System. However, you can purchase insurance at the border (10 EUR).
Kosovo roads and traffic rules are something different. With lack of infrastructure, roads are usually jammed with both, pedestrians and vehicles. Although driving in Kosovo cities might shock you at first, if you are a patient driver and not in a rush, once you understand the rules, you will soon feel comfortable and safe driving around.
❐ Rugova Gorge. The road along the Rugova gorge will be one of the most spectaciular rides you had. Driving through the hairpin turns plunging into hand-made tunnels and re-emerging beneath the amazing views of striking peaks, powerful springs, waterfalls and caves is a truly unique experience.
Although we believe people should never be judged by their beliefs, we understand the potential fear of the unknown and the need for information.
While there is a significant Orthodox Serb community in Kosovo, the majority of people in that country are Sunni Muslims. Christianity, on the other hand, has a long history dating back to the Roman Empire.
Although religion plays an important role in everyday life, Kosovars are very easygoing and relaxed people, so if you were worried you might find yourself on the edge of extremism, rest assured you will meet no such issues and you will be respected no matter your own religion or beliefs.
❐ Prizren. Neslted 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.
The main languages are Albanian and Serbian. However, especially during the last decade, the majority of local people can speak English too. English is widely spoken amongst young people who are taught the language at schools starting from primary education.
The elderly people might not be as fluent but they will make up for it with their kindness which will overcome the language barriers. You will never be “alone in the world” when in Kosovo.
❐ Vibrant Kosovo Bazzar. Despite might appear stern on the outside, Kosovars are amiable and friendly people, so there is no need to worry about potential communication difficulties.
The Kosovo economy, which was the weakest in the former Yugoslavia, is currently developing. Kosovo, in contrast to several popular Balkan destinations like Croatia and Slovenia, will actually help you save money while on vacation.
By heavily investing in the development of the tourism industry, this country will enable you to get incredible lodging for less than 30 EUR (depending on what you’re searching for) and eat like a king for 10 EUR, which will easily include a good local beer as well.
A bottle of water costs 0.5 EUR, and as the official currency is the EUR, conversion is simple.
❐ Gjakova. On the route connecting Shkodra and Constantinople during the Ottoman era, Gjakova operated as a commerce hub. Moreover, it was one of the Balkans’ most advanced commercial hubs at the time.
Food in Kosovo is a mouth watering, orgasmic experience in Kosovo. Kosovo cuisine consists of traditional dishes of each of the Kosovo native ethnic groups.
It is significantly influenced by Albanian cuisine, but your taste buds will actually feel as the whole Balkan cuisine found a safe haven here.
Make sure to try some of the famous stuffed paprikas and sarmas along with the famous Resenik, grilled meat and cabbage pie traditional for this part of the world.
❐ Flija. One of the most popular meals found in both Albanian and Kosovan cuisine. It is made up of several layers that resemble crêpes and is served with sour cream and butter. The name means “sacrifice” in English and is definitely one of the most popular meals to try while in Kosovo.
Seek for the answers. Everyone in the Balkans has their own story and will be more than happy to share it with you.
The best thing we can do is work to understand one another and the motivations behind various acts and behaviors in a society where we need to think there is no pure evil nearby.
While everyone has their own motivations, it is important to understand that, unless you really want to, you are not required to choose a side or become fully involved in difficult political or historical events.
Right now, you should just grant yourself the freedom to have a rather unique experience and travel a different country, leaving the whole of your biases behind.
❐ Christ the Saviour Church. Its construction started in 1995 under the auspices of the Milosevic regime and was halted by the Kosovo war.
Absolutely. The world of pride, diversity, historical enigmas, everlasting conflicts, incredible stubbornness and endurance will most likely be a life lesson that you will remember for the rest of your life. Kosovo will engage all your senses, intrigue your mind and lead you to the conclusion that you will never want a trip that offers less of the same again.
It’s spectacular mountains, limestone peaks, European’s deepest gorges, captivating streams, waterfalls and abundance of caves, curvy roads and medieval villages, and warm welcoming culture which erected as a mixture of European and Eastern culture will 100% provide a trip to you will not only remember but will be able to feel even once you leave the country.