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Recommendations to Visit Kosovo
Kosovo is the youngest country in Europe and a new place to visit for enthusiastic travelers. Being a small country between different ethnicities, it unifies history and tradition. Many of you probably have heard about its country recognition process and past difficult times. Kosovo is a destination that offers history tours, in addition to incredible nature, kind people, adventure travel, and affordable tourism. Thanks to its geographical position, Kosovo has a natural beauty and is easy to travel around. In this blog, I will list my recommendations on how-to absolutely enjoy Kosovo.
Get out in the nature of Kosovo
Kosovo is a relative mountain country with an average altitude of 810m (2660ft). In the southeast is the mountain range of Sharr, and in the west is Bjeshket e Namuna, or The Accursed Mountains. Overall these mountains have a lot of peaks over 2500m, with Gjeravica peak standing at 2656m as the highest peak in Kosovo. Meanwhile, Dukagjin and Kosovo Polje create the lower plain of Kosovo.
Things to do in the Sharr mountains
Kosovo is a sensational place for hiking. Sharr mountains have several hiking trails, varying in different categories. Particularly Sharr mountains are famous for their diversity of vegetation. Prevalla is a village in the Sharr mountains, where many hiking routes start. From Prevalla you can hike to Jazhincë Lake, an 18 km long trail that takes about a 6-7 hour walk. Bring your swimsuit in summer to refresh in the cold water.
Ljuboten peak (2498m) is another challenging hike in the Sharr national park, between the borders of Kosovo and North Macedonia. It is a long hike, but very beautiful because you can see all the plain of Kosovo.
High Scardus Trail is a long hiking route in this area. In fact, the trail starts in Kosovo, passes through the mountains of Albania & North Macedonia, and ends in Lake Ohrid. High Scardus is the most off-the-beaten track you can experience in Europe.
Brezovica, Prevalla, and Brod are three ski resorts where you can have fun in winter. Brezovica is the largest ski resort in Kosovo with nine ski runs from 300m to 3500m. Indeed, it is the most popular winter destination in Kosovo.
Prevalla is 28km from the city of Prizren, lying at 1800m above sea level. Although it has a beginner ski resort, there are many good hotels.
Brod is the southernmost village in Kosovo. The hamlet of Brod rests by mountains and has a high snow density. Arxhena mountain resort has four lifts and is a cozy place for accommodation.
Hike the Accursed Mountains
The legends behind these mountains are tremendous and are a paradise for nature lovers. Accursed Mountains national park includes Gjeravica (2656m), the highest peak in Kosovo. You can reach it from the nearby town of Decan. Via Ferrata Decan is another place to visit in this area. The climbing route is 400 meters and needs about 2.5 hours to climb. From the top, you get to enjoy great views of the Decani gorge.
Rugova canyon has a length of 25km and starts nearby the town of Peje. Following the road from the Peja Monastery, continue driving along the Lumbardhi river to reach the border with Montenegro. Along the way, one can be amazed by waterfalls, springs, canyons, and green nature. The village of Boge has a small ski resort and several great hotels. Furthermore, Rugova canyon is part of the Peaks of Balkans hiking trail, that crosses through three countries; Kosovo, Albania, and Montenegro.
Mirusha park is in central Kosovo and has 12 waterfalls and 16 lakes. This nature reserve is a popular destination in Kosovo during summer and winter when the water freezes. Above all Mirusha is a vast place for hiking and swimming.
White Drin waterfall
The source of the White Drin river is 10 km away from Peje, and it is perfect for a day trip. At the village of Radac, White Drin creates a waterfall 30 meters high. It takes only a 10min walk from Trofta e Drinit restaurant, which is a great spot to enjoy fresh trout fish. Another 5min walk from the waterfall is The Sleeping Beauty cave. The cave has a metal rail and enough lights to admire the stalactites and stalagmites. Must be remembered that the cave is open during the summer period.
The Marble Cave is in the village of Gadime. You can easily reach it by driving from Prishtina. The cave is 1300 meters deep and is rich in crystals, stalactites, and stalagmites.
Learn about religious sites in Kosovo
Kosovo is mainly a Muslim country, but the Serbian minority is of the Eastern Orthodox religion. As a result, Kosovo has four UNESCO sites, all being Serbian Orthodox monasteries.
Decani Monastery is a medieval monument from the 14th century built by king Stefan Decanski. The church has a grand collection of icons and frescos. It is an active monastery for priests and is open to curious tourists. NATO peacekeepers guard the site, so you need to show an ID at the entrance. Remember to dress appropriately when visiting the site.
The Patriarchate of Peja monastery is a group of four domed churches. It dates back to the 13th century and used to be the residence of Serbian Archbishops. Today the site serves as a monastery for nuns. In addition, you can get an audio guide for 5 Euros to learn more about the history. Also, on this site are NATO peacekeepers, so you must show an ID at the entrance.
Gracanica monastery was built during the 14th century by king Stefan Milutin. The paintings of Gracanica rank amongst the best Byzantine art in the country. The monastery is still active, and priests can help you guide inside. Remember to dress appropriately when visiting the site.
Cathedral Mother of God of Ljevis is the fourth site part of UNESCO. The monument is in the city of Prizren and is permanently closed. If you are patient and lucky enough, you can ask the police at the entrance, who might help you reach out to the priest in charge.
Monastery of the Holy Archangels is 5km from Prizren and is a complex founded by Emperor Stefan Dusan. Indeed, it was the burial church of the Emperor. Eventually, the monastery is an important Orthodox site related to the medieval Serbian empire. If you can’t visit inside Mother of God of Ljevis in Prizren, this would be an exciting replacement. Also, NATO peacekeepers guard the site, so you need to show an ID at the entrance.
Besides Serbian monasteries, there are beautiful and impressive Ottoman mosques in Kosovo.
Sinan Pasha mosque is the largest mosque and a characteristic landmark of Prizren. It was built in 1615 with carved stones from the Lumbardhi river passing by. The mosque has painted murals from the 19th century in the Ottoman baroque style. Tourists can visit all day, besides praying times.
Hadumi mosque dates back to 1596 and is in the old town of Gjakovo. The prayer hall has unique Arabesque murals and creates a peaceful atmosphere.
The Great Mosque of Prishtina built-in 1461 is the oldest in the city. It is in the old bazaar of Prishtina. The mosque is dedicated to Sultan Mehmet Fatih II. Given that it is next to the Great Hammam and Sahat tower, it makes an Oriental impression within Prishtina.
Cities to go in Kosovo (Prishtina, Prizren, Peja, Gjakovo)
The main cities in Kosovo are pretty small, and one day is enough to visit the important tourist attractions. Depending on your itinerary in Kosovo, you don’t need to spend an overnight in all of them.
Prishtina is the biggest city in Kosovo. The capital was hugely affected by Kosovo War, and some monuments remain in the center city. Visiting Prishtina on a walking tour takes between 3-4 hours. If you can drive around Prishtina, try visiting the Bear Sanctuary and Sultan Murat shrine. For a pleasant walk or cycling in nature, get to Germia Park on the outskirts of Kosovo.
Prizren is the historical capital of Kosovo. During the Ottoman period, the city had the administration of Kosovo vilayet. For that reason, the city has a classic oriental old town. Prizren was the center of the Albanian Renaissance during the 19th century. The Albanian League museum is a fine place to learn about history. Take a walk up at Prizren fortress for amazing views of the city. Prizren stands at the foot of Sharr mountains, so it is a pleasant city to spend an overnight for more outdoor activities.
Gjakovo is a small town in the western part of Kosovo. It has the largest Old Bazaar in Kosovo including many handcrafted shops. Some things to do in Gjakovo are visiting Hadumi Mosque in Old Bazaar or enjoying a meal at Hani i Haracise restaurant. It is an old han from the Ottoman period converted into a pleasant restaurant.
Peja is the gateway to Bjeshket e Namuna national park. The town has a cozy vibe resting by the mountains. It is a popular destination for outdoor sports. Around the town are many cycling and hiking tracks. Stay at Shtepia Alpike Ranch or Hotel Camp Karagaq to have easy access to the beautiful nature of Rugova Canyon.
Together with a travel guide, you can visit Kosovo in the best way. Add some flavor by combining it with the nearby countries of Albania and North Macedonia. Albania & Kosovo in 9 Days and Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia in 1 Week are two tours where you can explore the most popular attractions of the Balkans.
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