Kosovo travel guide
2 MINUTE SUMMARY
If you want to understand Kosovo, look no further than its Olympic gold medal winner for judo, Majlinda Kelmendi. In the country’s Olympic debut in 2016, this 25 year old did her country proud by taking gold. She was only eight years old when war broke out and, after years of hardship in her home town of Peja, she took up judo when the war ended. A beautiful ball of energy, who has survived a war, she is a smiling, determined young woman, with mountain strength. Just like the country she represents. Because Kosovo is not only the newest country in Europe, but also has the youngest population, with over 70 percent under the age of 35. The cities are culturally cool, the stunning mountain regions invite healthy outdoor living and there is a great sense of welcome and multi-cultural pride. Plus the golden sun shines on its mountains, valleys and lakes throughout the summer making it, on many fronts, a guaranteed winner.
Read more in our Kosovo travel guide.
Read more in our Kosovo travel guide.
Kosovo map & highlights
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME
There are a lot of places to worship in Kosovo, no matter what your belief system. You have ancient Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches, the famous Ottoman mosques in Pristina , 13 churches alone in the village of Velika Hoča, and of course, there is so much to worship in nature. From the Rugova Canyon to the many peaks over 2,000m in the Prokletije Mountains, with stunning waterfalls and lakes in between. And then, to be truly Kosovar, one must also worship Dionysus, the god of wine. Because with over 270 days of sunshine on its slopes, it’s a country that knows how to embrace its now thankfully happier climes. With wine and more wine.
This must be one of the smallest ski resorts in Europe, nestled into the Rugova Valley in the Prokletije (aka Accursed) Mountains with a maze of stunning hiking trails that follow ancient, and indeed contemporary shepherds’ paths, and hardly a tourist in sight. Stay in a traditional wooden house, and hike out to the likes of Little Lake Lićenat, at an elevation of 2,341m.
An Ottoman city close to the border with Albania it was badly hit during the Kosovo War of 1998-99, when many of the town’s ethnic Albanians were driven out, and homes destroyed. Now home again and making up almost all of the population, buildings are still being rebuilt, although many ancient ones also perished. Still, it is a town to learn about these difficult times, and support its restoration projects.
A dramatic location at the entrance to the Rugova Canyon and the Accursed Mountains, but is also a wonderful place from which to find traditional rural villages such as Goraždevac, with ancient log dwellings, including a 16th century log cabin church. Don’t miss a chance to visit the Banja e Pejes natural hot springs, and cool down afterwards back in town with the local brew, Birra Peja.
The capital’s ancient architecture was badly hit under Soviet rule, although there are still Ottoman mosques and an old town to explore. Today, it’s the culture, youthful joie de vivre around Rexhep Ruci main street, music and peacemaking history that attract. Also outdoor pools in summer, such as in Gërmia Park. Buy local handicrafts such as traditional silver and artisan foods here to support the local economy.
An ancient city, and Kosovo’s second largest, Prizren has architecture dating back to Roman, medieval and Ottoman times. Buildings stretch out around the River Bistrica, overlooked by the Šar Mountains. An elegant town with a hefty history, the Ottoman fortress, Orthodox Cathedral, UNESCO Church of Our Lady of Ljeviš and Ottoman Sofi Sinan Pasha Mosque are multicultural marvels.
Visoki Dečani Monastery
At the foot of the Prokletije Mountains, this serene Serbian Orthodox place of worship is home to an exquisite collection of Byzantine frescoes. When it snows, Decani Brotherhood monks, in long black robes, make a striking sight walking through the glistening white. Throughout the war, they gave refuge to people of all ethnicities in a church still protected by UN Peacekeepers.