We turn to Kosovo as we continue our look at the Balkan Peninsula countries and why they should be on your bucket list. For curious travelers seeking authentic, immersive experiences, this relatively undiscovered (by mass tourism) country is a hidden jewel awaiting your arrival. Tucked between Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and North Macedonia, Kosovo boasts friendly people and pristine natural beauty, as well as a wealth of culture and history. Enjoy charming rural villages, 13th-century monasteries, an Ottoman-era fortress, diverse cuisine and more. Here’s why we love it.
The Lively Capital of Pristina
Amidst crumbling Soviet-era and Ottoman architecture, you’ll find sparkly luxury hotels, contemporary art, a convivial cafe culture and more. Sit awhile with your coffee before wandering through the old section of Pristina for a trip back in time. Nod to the Bill Clinton statue on his namesake boulevard - the former president is well respected throughout Kosovo for his strong support during the 1999 war with Serbia. Don’t miss the Newborn Monument in homage to the country’s independence, gained in 2008 (it’s the youngest country in Europe). Each year on the anniversary of independence, the monument is painted in a different style (for instance, in 2016, it was painted blue with clouds and barbed wire to reflect the continued conflict with Serbia). It’s a stirring and very timely sight to see.
For a smaller-town feel after your time in Pristina, visit picturesque Prizren, known for its hill-perched fortress, historic mosques and churches and red-roofed houses lining the tranquil Prizren Bistrica River. If you care to, take the half-hour walk to the top of the Ottoman-era fortress for amazing views back down on the minarets of the city and its surroundings. Something that makes Prizren stand apart is its renowned jewelry and bridal boutiques, so if you’re a bit of a fashionista at heart, be sure to admire the local artists’ creations.
The Addictive Coffee Culture
Not only for the caffeine boost, the cafes of Raki Street, near Nene Tereze Boulevard in Pristina, are popular for lazy hours of sipping, snacking and people watching. Choose from many independent coffee houses as well as the popular Prince Coffee for a variety of espresso drinks and tea - plus, Prince Coffee has unbelievable desserts.
Delicious, Local Cuisine
If you’re a meat eater, try the grilled specialties at a gebabtore (barbecue restaurant), which is similar to a rostilj in other Balkan countries. Among the delicacies you must seek out: peppers stuffed with minced meat or ground beef, vegetables, and rice; flaky burek pastries stuffed with meat, spinach or cheese; refreshing, cold tarator soup made with yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, walnut and fennel; and sarma, a mix of minced meat, vegetables, rice, seasonings, red pepper, paprika, ground sumac or tomato sauce rolled into cabbage or vine leaves.
If you’re seeking an off-the-beaten-path European destination perfect for a small-group tour, Kosovo may be your answer. Discover beautiful mountain scenery, age-old monasteries, delicious cuisine, art, history, architecture - all the makings of a genuine and memorable vacation. Let’s chat. You can sign up to schedule a consultation or sign up for my weekly newsletter for more inspiration.