Kosovo is one of the youngest countries, located in the notorious Balkans – Western Balkans, more particularly. Read along to see what our Kosovar writer suggests you can do when visiting this beautiful country.
Kosovo lies at the center of the Balkans, occupying an area of 10,887 km², with a population of about 1.8 million, very diverse and lively human beings. Kosovars speak Albanian, and have a few differences in dialects, depending on which part of the country you’re in. Albanian is one of the hardest languages to learn, as it belongs to the category of Indo-European languages.
We do not have a beach where you could go, nor do we have modern architectural buildings, however, Kosovo is very rich in traditional culture, mountains, and oral history, which can overwhelm you as the stories of locals are filled with passion. And most importantly, Kosovo is known for its superb hospitality, shown to you by all of the people who will greet you instantly, invite you in for a coffee or tea, and show you around.
Given these clues, here are 10 more specific things I think everyone visiting Kosovo should do.
Hang Out with Locals
So, you should start your journey by talking to the locals, and understanding as much of the initial cultural background as you can. If you’re visiting Kosovo, you should know, that we like to hug a lot, mock you, invite you to places, ‘force’ you to have one more cup of tea, we will insist to pay for your meals, and will insist you stay at our homes just for the sake of hospitality, and showing you what hosting a friend means in Kosovo. Trust me, you’ll have a blast, but of course, be prepared for a little bit of a cultural shock. Women, still, pretty much do everything related to house chores and men are still considered providers of the family.
Prizren used to be the first capital city of Kosovo. Right now, it is one of the most diverse, multicultural, and dynamic cities in Kosovo. You have a mixture of Albanian and Turkish traditions, yummy traditional food, and beautiful mosques for you to visit. The highlight of the city is the Fortress, from which you can gaze at the entire city. I’d personally advise you to visit Prizren during one of the most famous festivals in the Balkans Dokufest which is hosted and held by artists of Prizren. During this festival, you have cinemas improvised in the most unusual sites of the city, including cinemas at the fortress where you could watch documentaries, and enjoy good music — all under the sky’s stars during summer nights.
Visit Rugova Mountains
The Rugova Mountains are located in the north-western part of Kosovo. This is a region you will probably want to visit during winter, and it is located within Bjeshkët e Nemuna (the Cursed Mountains – ask the locals about the name), also known as the Albanian Alps. It was proclaimed a national park in 2013. The Rugova Mountains are ranked 45th in winter sports by the International Ski Federation. The sights there, are remarkable, with crystal waters and beautiful lakes hidden behind the hills.
Visit Prishtina’s Day and Night Life
If there’s one thing we take a lot of pride in — it is the coffee we make. We claim to even be better than Italians themselves, on the quality of a macchiato and espresso. So you should definitely check out the numerous coffee shops in Prishtina, without forgetting to enjoy its dynamic nightlife as well which begins on the bohemian road called The streets of Rakija. If you like alcohol, you will find the best quality in the tavernas located around this street.
Visit the Ethnological Museum
The national Ethnological Museum is a component of the National Museum of Kosovo, which provides rich cultural background on Kosovo’s cultural inheritance. It is a compound of four buildings that go all the way back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum also consists of a very interesting ethnological exhibition, which elaborates on life in Kosovo, in the ethnological aspect, during the XV-XX centuries.
You can’t really get a hold of the cultural background in Kosovo, without visiting rural areas and staying there for a little while if you have the time. I would personally recommend the beautiful villages of Dragash, Junik, and Gadime. These will provide you with the best of both worlds — pretty sights and cultural context.
The National Art Gallery of Kosovo
If you’re looking for something more contemporary, and you want to see what are Kosovo’s artists all about, then you may want to go and check out the National Art Gallery of Kosovo. You’ll have many pieces to look at, and this place will give you a more modern taste of Kosovo’s young artists.
Hike with Locals
Kosovo has many hiking communities, as we have many beautiful mountains and peaks to go and see. You can find these communities online, via Facebook or other platforms. Each of them has professional guides, who can let you know the history and background of every site you visit together. The fun part of it is that the guides are usually historians, who could also provide you with a lot of funny stories related to the things they have witnessed and seen during their hikes.
Don’t go around chasing waterfalls — unless you’re chasing the waterfall of Mirusha. This beautiful site is a chain of waterfalls found in the Mirusha River, situated on the south of the Gremnik Mountains, on the way to Gjakova. Whether you’re visiting during the summer for a refreshing swim, or during the winter, when the waters freeze and become crystals — you won’t be disappointed!
More Hanging Out with Locals
Do finish your journey with the local women and men of Kosovo. Let them know about your insights, the way you perceived citizens, and all the sites you have visited. Appreciate their hospitality and you will gain some friends for life, as Kosovars will remember you for an eternity, and will make sure to let you know that you have a place to stay anytime you’re in the Balkans.
Photo: OPIS Zagreb/Shutterstock
You might also like:
All your donations will be used to pay the magazine’s journalists and to support the ongoing costs of maintaining the site.