Top Things To Do In Kosovo
Kosovo is not a country that you automatically think of when you’re trying to come up with the next location to visit on your bucket list. The thing is, if you avoid this beautiful country, you’re missing out, big style!
Kosovo is well known for the Kosovo War of 1999, but, putting the sad part of Kosovo’s history to the side – you should know – that things have changed, and history shouldn’t define a country.
While once a war-torn part of the globe, Kosovo is now a very safe country for tourists and one which is welcoming more and more visitors every single year. Will you be one of them?
You might not be that aware of where Kosovo is, in fact, and possibly don’t know which countries are near Kosovo either! To answer the question of ‘where is Kosovo?’, Kosovo is in Europe, and it is within the Balkans. Landlocked, with Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro as its neighbors, Kosovo has its own special culture, but it certainly has influences from those countries around it too.
Pristina, the capital city, is a great place to visit and is home to a huge amount of old versus new, as well as many Kosovo attractions in general. You can easily walk around the city and explore without even needing to use public transport!
Because it’s quite likely that you don’t really know that much about Kosovo travel itself, let’s give you the low down, before letting you in on some of the best things to do when you visit Kosovo.
How To Get To Kosovo
Pristina International Airport is the only international airport in Kosovo so that means that you need to visit the capital as part of your stay.
There are countless flights every day to and from major cities in Europe, but you could also enter Kosovo via a land border from another Balkan country.
Do you know what language they speak in Kosovo? The official answer is Serbian and Albanian, with differences as you travel across the country. Having said that, English is widely spoken in key tourist hot spots.
If you intend to drive, you’ll pass some fantastic scenery, and driving around the Balkans, in general, is a great idea, so you avoid the not-so-on-time public transport options.
What you might have a problem with is renting a car from another Balkan country and entering Kosovo with it. For this reason, check out any restrictions before you make a decision. For ease of travel, flying to Pristina and then hiring a car from the airport will be the easiest.
List Of Cities In Kosovo
Notable towns and cities as part of your Kosovo itinerary should be:
We’ve already mentioned that this is the capital city. There are plenty of fun things to do in Pristina, and you’ll also find a fun cafe vibe here, and plenty of modern amenities to enjoy, such as vibrant nightlife, restaurants, and shops.
A local Pristina travel guide will help you see the main sites and give you lots of interesting information on Kosovo’s history. Pristina is also where you will find the majority of the Kosovo nightlife, so that is something to bear in mind if you’re keen to party.
A historically significant place to visit, and a change from the capital in many ways. You’ll find old examples of architecture, fantastic views, and the famous bridge made of stone. Prizren is about an hour away from the capital, which makes it super-easy to visit, even without a car.
In the west of the country, surrounded by some of the highest Kosovo mountains and even more beautiful scenery you will find Peja, quite close to Montenegro. Nearby you’ll find the Rugova Canyon, which has plenty of outdoor activities,
This is another town you can easily reach from the capital, and even though it is a small city, it’s a very sweet one, with beautiful architecture and a calm vibe. You’ll find many old churches and mosques side by side, as well as a vibrant bazaar. This is a great place to add to your Kosovo sightseeing list.
With plenty of nods to Roman history, this is a very interesting city to visit, and it’s almost like going back in time.
If you want a city which is young, fun, and full of life, this is the one you need to visit. You should be sure to check out the historical monuments around the city to complete your visit.
If you love wine and raki this is your destination. The homemade raki, knock your socks off and is one of the biggest Kosovo tourist attractions!
Is Kosovo Safe?
We have to include this section because so many people ask whether Kosovo is safe or not. Let’s be clear – Kosovo is safe.
As with any countries in the world, avoid talk about previous tensions and wars throughout history, and do not get involved in political conversations of any kind. If you see large protest-type gatherings – avoid them. This is the type of advice you will see time and time again in any country, but it applies more so in Kosovo.
The one thing we do need to mention about Kosovo safety is to try and avoid the city of Mitrovica. The simple reason is that there are tensions there between ethnic groups and it’s best to stay out of it. The north of the country, on the border with Serbia, is where any type of trouble would likely to be. Steer clear of that part (for now at least), and you’ll enjoy your stay in Kosovo without issues!
The other piece of advice is about unexploded landmines, dating back to troubles during the ‘90s. As with most Balkan countries, the overwhelming majority of these mines have been cleared, and you won’t have problems on main roads, however, if you venture off-road, this is something you should be aware of. Simply stick to the marked roads.
I am sure, you’ll enjoy your stay in Kosovo!
Best Places To Stay In Kosovo
Kosovo has plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation, but to give you a few starters, here are some great places to stay in a few of the main towns and cities.
Hotel Hani, Peje
This small, family-run hotel is the ideal spot when staying in Peje and even provides an airport shuttle to make your life easier. Rated as five stars, it’s like a home away from home, with an onsite restaurant which serves delicious, mouth-watering meals with authentic hints. Free parking is also on site, so you can explore the local area in and around Peje with ease.
Hotel Princi I Arberit, Pristina
Another five-star choice, this hotel is a great and central place to base yourself during your exploration of the capital city. The outside swimming pool is ideal for those traveling with kids, and the spa and wellness center is good for those who fancy a treatment or two. The on-site bar and restaurant will be a great welcome home vibe after a long day sightseeing.
Astoria Luxury & Spa, Gjilan
A modern place to stay, this hotel gives you a luxury spot to rest your head, and the on-site spa is ideal for casting your cares away as you relax completely. Rooms are ultra-modern and spacious, and there is a coffee machine in every room, for your morning wake ups. The bar and restaurant are also fantastic for international and local dishes.
Hotel International Prishtina & Spa
Staying in the capital means five-star luxury and this hotel certainly fits the bill. With a spa and wellness on site, there is a swimming pool and bar to complete your amenity list. Rooms are large, modern, and there is free wifi on site to help you stay connected.
Hotel Albatros, Prizren
If you’re with the kids, staying at this is the ideal spot as it has an outdoor pool during the summer months and is the perfect way to cool down. Overall, this hotel is a central and comfortable choice, and also offers airport shuttles to make life easier. Check out the on-site restaurant for some local dishes to make your mouth water!
Best Things To Do In Kosovo
Now we know all there is to know about Kosovo, and you’re sure everything you’ll be safe, let’s get onto the good stuff – the best things to do in Kosovo!
Visit The Imperial Mosque in Pristina
Kosovo is a mainly Muslim country, and as a result, you’ll find many beautiful and intricately designed mosques wherever you go. The Imperial Mosque in Pristina is one of the most beautiful you’ll see, and visiting here should be on your list.
Dating back to 1461, built by Sultan Mehmet II Fatih of the Ottoman Empire, this is a stunning and peaceful place to head to.
Remember to dress properly when visiting any mosque, covering your head if you are a woman, removing shoes whether male or female and making sure that arms and legs are covered modestly.
Visit Pristina’s ‘Newborn’ Monument
One of the most photographed places in the whole of Kosovo is the ‘newborn’ sign in the capital. This pays homage to Kosovo’s independence in 2008, which effectively made it the youngest country in the whole of Europe, hence the sign. Every year it gets repainted in a different style, so one picture every year will never be the same as another!
Chill Out In A Coffee Shop
Yes, you can do this anywhere, but Kosovo has a great coffee culture, and you’ll find pavement cafes everywhere. Sit in the sun and soak up the rays, enjoying a cup of java as you watch the world go by. People watching opportunities are plentiful, especially in the capital! You’ll easily find a friendly local to chat to, and you could even try something most people seem to enjoy – Turkish coffee. Beware, it’s very strong and very thick, so you might prefer to stick to a latte!
Enjoy An Authentic Night Out On Raki Street
The capital’s side streets are ideal for enjoying nights out in a more authentic manner, and Raki Street (called that because you literally can enjoy as much raki as you like) is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local culture. As a side note, the prices on these streets are far lower than where the tourists go on the main streets, which is a big winner!
Take Part in The Xhiro
In the evenings you will see a strange sight – literally people just getting up and going out for a walk, quite a lot of people. This is called the ‘xhiro,’ and it is a way of life in Kosovo. This is a way for people to walk off their evening meal, catch some fresh air, and catch up with locals. Kosovo overall is a very sociable country, and you’ll be able to meet all sorts of people. This is quite the sight to see, and join in if you can!
Visit Prizren’s Fortress
This fortress constructed by the Ottomans is one of the most visited spots in the whole of Kosovo, not just Prizren! The fortress is free to enter, and the view from the top is simply divine! Be sure to have your camera with your this one.
Enjoy The Nightlife In Pristina
The capital city is a great place to enjoy a spot of nightlife, and probably one of the most vibrant places in the entire country. You’ll find music from all over Europe, clubs, bars, and some incredible restaurants to line your stomach before you head out. Be sure to try some authentic Kosovo food, including cevapcici, which is quite common across the whole of the Balkan region. This is a type of skinless sausage, and it’s delicious!
One of the best places to eat in the whole of Kosovo is called a gebabtore. This is a bbq meat restaurant where you can get all your local delicacies!
Visit Rugova Canyon
If outdoor adventures are your thing, then head to Peja and the nearby Rugova Canyon. Caving here is very popular, with stunning underground crystals, as well as stalagmites and stalactites to explore. The area is also famous for walking, hiking biking, and generally enjoying nature.
Visit The Bear Sanctuary At Novo Selo
Very close to the capital you will find one of the most astonishing sights – bears! Once upon a time, bears were mistreated for the tourism industry and used for entertainment. Thankfully that is now illegal, and these beautiful creatures are roaming free and healthy in this wonderful sanctuary. Make sure you head here, for sure.
Ski In The Sjeshket e Sharrit Mountains
Whether you’ve skied before in your life or not, this is the best place to go for skiing fun and stunning views.
You’ll also hear these mountains called the Sar Mountains, and they offer alpine fun at a fraction of the price you would pay in the more well-known ski resorts across Europe.
Brezovica is the best place for beginners, but it also has some higher quality runs for experienced skiers too. The highest spot is around 2200 meters, which gives you an idea of the views!
Visit The Pec Patriarchate Monastery
Located close to the entrance to the Rugova Canyon you will find one of the most beautiful buildings, called the Pec Patriarchate Monastery. This is an Orthodox monastery which dates back to the 13th century.. It is UNESCO listed, which gives you an idea of its importance. Set with the Rugova Canyon in the background, the view is impressive.
Visit The Marble Cave
Another popular natural spot to visit is the Marble Cave, which is very close to the capital, and therefore easy to reach. Parts of the cave are still to be explored, but the parts that are open to the public are really spectacular. This is one of the best places in Kosovo for nature lovers.
Visit Visoki Decani Monastery
If you’re a fan of history, head to the burial place of the Serbian King Stevan Decanski, from the 14th century. This beautiful monastery is quite close to Peja and is another addition to the UNESCO list.
These are some of the best places to visit in Kosovo, a country which you might not have had on your visit list, but one which should definitely be on it now!