Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Kosovo, among 15 cheap places to visit in Europe

Ros Walford/ Rough Guide
If you’re short of cash, it doesn’t mean you have to starve the travel bug entirely; simply choose your destinations wisely. Europe can be pricey but there are many places where your money will go further. Here are 15 recommend places, on a budget, to visit for 2016. Among them is also Kosovo, described as a sleepy Balkan gem.  Here is why Rough Guide suggest Kosovo:

"For getting off the beaten track: Kosovo
This is a sleepy Balkan gem where you can avoid the tourist crowds. Only in recent years have visitors been starting to rediscover Kosovo‘s rugged mountains, stunning Ottoman architecture, World Heritage medieval monasteries – and its super-cheap restaurants and bars."

Read more:

Rugova Valley

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Road Tripping Kosovo: From Pristina to Pec to Prizren

What I’ve noticed about Tripadvisor forums in less-developed nations (namely the Balkans, Stans, and Caucasus) is that tripadvisor works as a way for guides to sell themselves that is more organized than, say, waiting outside train stations and major attractions and touting oneself. It was this former method that I was introduced to Arsim from Kosovo Holidays. As a disclaimer, I will say that it can be hit or miss using the “find your guide on Tripadvisor” method – we ended up with an extremely preachy, annoying driver for the day in Georgia last year who really rubbed us the wrong way. But, that being said, Arsim was great.
Arsim met us early in the morning at our hotel in Pristina with a cute old junker of a red Nissan (it seemed fitting for the day and the place), and we were off to Pec.... It only took about an hour to reach Pec from Pristina after driving through some really amazing and historically significant countryside. It was a bit of a somber drive knowing that parts of the country we were driving through were hotbeds of ethnic cleansing during the Kosovo War in 1999 (like the Drenica Valley). Having Arsim as a guide was extremely useful, as we would have missed out on this historical context had we simply taken the bus.

Once in Pec, we did some cursory sightseeing around the town – stopping by the city’s largest Catholic church and dusting off my ten Italian phrases to chat with the priest before making our way to the Patriarchy of Pec.

The Patriarchy of Pec is an interesting place because it is the center of the Serb Orthodox Church, but is located in Kosovo. Everyone I have talked to about the Yugoslav relationship with religion has told me that Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks, and Kosovars alike are not extremely religious people, but the fact of the matter being that the center of faith of one nation (Serbia) is located in another (albeit contested) nation is quite staggering. There was a bit of tension in the air whenever Arsim (a Kosovo Albanian) and the nuns at the patriarchy exchanged words – no surprise there, seeing as the war was less than twenty years ago.

It was then onward to Prizren – but not before one other stop. Kosovo is famous for its kullas – or fortified houses – especially in the western part of the country close to the borders with Montenegro and Albania. They were built initially during Ottoman occupation as protection from attacks (either from foreign armies, or feuding families). Their construction is fascinating, with livestock usually kept on the bottom floor, then the second and third floors being living quarters, and the fourth floor being a place where men of the family socialized. We were welcomed into a family’s kulla after Arsim made a quick phone call to an acquaintance – someone he apparently knew tangentially as welcoming of tourists into his home. Like most sites we had visited to this point in Kosovo, it was free to visit. I didn’t take any pictures inside to respect the family’s space, but you can see the buildings themselves are quite impressive.

Arsim kindly offered to show us a few different spots – including the bazaar in Gjakova – but we declined, wanting to reach our final destination.

Kosovo is a small nation, so if you have time, it’s easy to get around on your own. Some places, however, like clusters of original 18th century Kullas in Isniq, may only be reached via your own transportation (or hitchhiking!). We used Kosovo Holidays to arrange our driver and tour for the day, and found them to be very friendly and affordable. We particularly liked them as they were locally owned and operated in Pristina – though they have a sister company that operates in Albania out of Tirana. All of their tours and services are custom built to meet your needs. If you’re heading to Kosovo and want some help on the ground, they are a great provider – you can contact Arsim at Kosovo Holidays via email at – conversely, if you are cruising the Kosovo forums at Tripadvisor and ask a question, Arsim will likely be the first person to contact you!

See full article here:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Greetings From Prishtina, Kosovo

Don’t be surprised if someone in Pristina stops you on the street, asks where you’re from, and tries to invite you for a coffee. The capital of Kosovo is one of the most welcoming places in Europe, where a stranger is just a future acquaintance and hospitality is taken seriously. This is how the Paste Magazine, a leading online arts and lifestyle brand in USA, describes Kosovo, the newborn destination. The author Valerie Hopkins, writes about two days tour in Pristina showing the most important places to visit, the restaurants and bars, and between the lines you can understand the history of Kosovo after the war. " Pristina is also the capital of the youngest country in Europe—both by Declaration of Independence (February 2008) and by age of population (70 percent under 35). The city has emerged from the destructive wars of the 1990s and become a bustling capital teeming with trendy 20- and 30-somethings, cafes, clubs and restaurants. It’s still rugged; cars park on the sidewalks, construction is ubiquitous, and you’ll see the occasional carload of U.N. troops. But make no mistake, Prishtina is safe and welcoming. It’s an easy place to make friends—more people speak English than in many other European capitals—and because Kosovo is the only country west of Belarus that requires a visa to visit European Union countries, locals are keen to chat with foreigners"

Full article is here:

Greetings from Prishtina, Kosovo
Day One

For breakfast, hit Trosha, just off Nene Tereza (Mother Theresa) Boulevard, to try a gjevrek, a Turkish-style bagel served with soft and creamy feta-like cheese. Or, if you’re really hungry, grab a byrek, flaky phyllo dough with various stuffings like minced meat, cheese, spinach or pumpkin if it is in season.

Fortified, stroll down Nene Tereza, central Prishtina’s main street and lifeline. At one end, the behemoth Yugoslav-era Grand Hotel towers above a square named for Zahir Pajaziti, a soldier in Kosovo’s war with Serbia (1998-1999). At the opposite end, in front of Kosovo’s new government building, a statue stands of Albanian national hero Skanderbeg on a horse, brandishing a sword and wearing a helmet with a goat on it.

Head past Skanderbeg and a statue of Kosovo’s first President, Ibrahim Rugova, who championed nonviolent resistance during Serbian repression of ethnic Albanians (which make up 90 percent of the country’s population) in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. Then pass the Carsi Mosque to the city’s open market. Walking down Xhemajl Prishtina Street to the entrance to the complex you’ll see store after store selling ornate traditional bridal garb, which is still worn by many bridal parties in Kosovo. Wander the stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, homemade cheese and olives out of barrels and nearly every other product and souvenir-esque trinket.

In the market, check out Qebaptore Shaban for a quick traditional but hearty lunch. Qebapa are Kosovo’s version of kebabs, served with soft bread, onions, and dried red pepper. You can also try the qofte, succulent flattened meatballs.

Not far away, the ethnological museum Emin Gjiku, situated in a beautiful old estate showcases what life was like for a family during the time Kosovo was part of the Ottoman empire, with rooms richly decorated with hand-woven carpets, traditional garb, and exhibits about cultural beliefs and traditions.

Head back toward the center and check out NEWBORN (pictured at top), the permanent art installation celebrating Kosovo’s post-independence era. Then head to Renesansa in the neighborhood of Ulpiana. The restaurant is a perfect mix of fine dining and home-cooking. The best part is there is no menu to scrutinize. A prix-fixe of 15 euros ($17) gets you a table full of sumptuous mezze, salad and various meat dishes—plus unlimited wine, water and raki, a homemade distilled spirit made from fruit (normally plums or grapes). The small plates are an assortment of homemade mountain cheese, creamy spreads with hot peppers, and grilled veggies served up with homemade bread. The number of main course dishes depends on the size of the group but usually consists of slow-roasted veal with garlic, or Tave Elbasan, baked lamb in a yogurt sauce. Renesansa, owned and run by Ilir Zhubi and his four children, is one of Prishtina’s best kept secrets from tourists because it isn’t advertised, but it is centrally located. (For more information, call +377 44 239 377.)

If you want an elegant après-meal drink head to Soma Bookstation, a recently opened bar and bookstore where Prishtina’s well-heeled go to be seen and admire all the others who want to be seen. If you’re into something a little less scene-y and a bit quirkier, check out Dit’ e Nat’, or Night and Day, the coziest café in Kosovo, which also happens to be a great place for morning coffee; afternoon reading; or chatting with the students, artists, and activists who hang out there.

After 11 or 12 walk down the street to Maroon pub, a club where you can get your fill of Kosovo pop tunes, gyrating women and laidback men, then head around the corner to Zanzi Jazz Bar, which heats up after 1 a.m. and often has live music.

Day Two

Pick up a macchiato and a bun or sit down for some waffles with a chocolate hazelnut topping at Sach Caffé on Bill Clinton boulevard. A few blocks away, check out the 10-foot statue of U.S.A.’s 42nd president. Keep an eye out for the Hillary boutique nearby. (Yes, they do sell ladies pantsuits.) Clinton, along with Americans in general, is popular in Kosovo because of the leadership in the NATO bombing campaign that ended the war with Serbia.

Walk back toward the center, you will pass the unfinished National Cathedral and then, on the university campus, Kosovo’s National Library (above). An emblem of the city’s funky 1980s architecture, the building has been described as one of the world’s ugliest buildings. However, it is not without its charm. There is no official account of this, but legend has it the building represents the plis, the traditional white felt hat worn by Albanian men, but that the plises are in chains, because of the subjugation of ethnic Albanians during Yugoslavia. (Indeed, before the University was established in 1969 after a long campaign of protests, Albanians had no access to higher education in their mother tongue.)


Less than 10 percent of Kosovo’s population consists of ethnic Serbs. Three miles from Prishtina is the majority Serb town of Gracanica, named for its UNESCO World Heritage monastery. Built in the 14th century, the three-domed nave is covered wall-to-ceiling with ancient murals depicting bible stories like the Last Judgment and the passion of Christ. A taxi from the center of Prishtina costs about 5 euro.

Strolling around town you will notice that all the signs are in Serbian, rather than Albanian, and though euros are accepted everywhere, so is Serbia’s currency, the dinar.

Not far from the monastery in both directions is Hotel Gracanica, a brand new Swiss-designed hotel with a pool. The hotel’s restaurant serves a simple menu of elegant traditional food and Sunday offers a hearty brunch for 10 euros consisting of seasonal treats like peppers stuffed with meat and rice, omelets with leeks and homemade byrek. If you’re more in the mood for Old World tradition and a hearty pork-based meal (pork is hard to find in Prishtina, because the majority of its population are nominally Muslim, though many people who don’t eat pork do drink alcohol) head instead to Ethno Kuca. There you can try the slow-roasted pork with cabbage, the lamb roasted traditionally in a cast iron pan over an open fire, and fantastic spicy peppers in garlic sauce.

When you’re back in Prishtina hit up MaBelle to try Trileqe, Kosovo’s own take on Tres Leches, a milky caramel cake sensation. Lots of local food is similar across the Balkans, but Trileqe is more or less unique to Kosovo.

Mother Theresa street comes alive in the early evening and if the weather is nice, the whole city will be out walking. Settle into Taverna Tirona, on a little side street off the pedestrian area known to locals as “raki street” because of the prevalence of joints serving up the local spirit. Tirone, decorated with pictures of old Pristhina, is a delightful place to sip wine, beer or raki in the early evening. They also have a fine menu of mostly finger food. For a good meal, a few blocks down on Qamil Hoxha street is Shpija e Vjeter, or “the old house,” a restaurant built around a beautiful old wooden house. Make sure you try the homemade bread with ajvar (a red pepper and eggplant spread) and the sallate shop, or shepherd’s salad.

If you’re in the mood for electronic music head to MegaHerz. For the real party animals, Shalter, a club at the old train station, stays open until 4 a.m.

To Stay

A central hotel favored by traveling businessmen and diplomats, Sirius is in the very center of the city. While the décor and accommodations are pretty standard, Sirius has a rooftop restaurant with nice views of the city and the location can’t be beat. Rooms start at 85 euros.

The White Tree
Undoubtedly the coolest hostel in Prishtina, The White Tree is also a hangout spot for members of the city’s creative types, because of the cozy outdoor space. The rooms are simple hostel style, but the owner is welcoming and it is an easy place to make friends. Beds cost 9-12 euros and a private room is 15 euros per person.

Getting There
Because Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, travel for people without national ID cards, like most American passport holders, can be tricky. If you enter Kosovo from Serbia and wish to return to Serbia, this should be no problem. However, if you fly directly into Kosovo, or enter via another country like Albania or Macedonia, Serbia will not admit you. Just something to take into consideration when planning a trip.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Kosovo: Harmony prevails in this corner of the Balkans

"Kosovo, the harmony prevails in this corner of Balkans. Now the tourism now is a prime objective. The trauma of the near past seems to inspire the Kosovars as they display the energy of a people that are fixed on a secure future". Here is how Peter Duncan, a founding member of The Natural Adventure Company (, which offers trips to Kosovo, describes the newborn destination in Balkans.

In its article published by The Independent he writes about the people's life and beautiful places in Kosovo which are restored and developed after the war:

" Now the country is at peace and, apart from the golden statues of war heroes, there is little to show of the destruction that took place – the minarets have been restored, and tourism is a prime objective. The concrete of communism has disappeared. In the university town of Peja, where the British used to come in their thousands when it was part of Yugoslavia, the streets are full of family life as the diaspora return for weddings and summer celebrations. The mountains and pastures are close by, and in this small landlocked nation, you can experience all the pleasures of a good hike and return to feast on fresh food that such proximity brings; my favorite dish is slightly hot yellow peppers with cream.In nearby Boge – its new houses with steeply-pitched roofs to cope with the winter snow – the talk is of an expanding ski resort. The trauma of the near past seems to inspire the Kosovars as they display the energy of a people that are fixed on a secure future. I had come primarily to trek in the mountains, and discovered that borders count for nothing when you are high up – you can dip into Albania and Montenegro while walking the peaks of the Balkans.
The chirping of the multi-coloured crickets, freshwater lakes, and free tastings of cheese and honey from hilltop farms, were enough to keep me happy. I imagined the life of an early hunter-gatherer as I gorged on wild strawberries and blueberries, which are often collected by locals to sell in the markets.  In a remote valley I met a man who was building a house on his inherited land. While he roasted root vegetables on his stove, he told me of his grandfather who, out of respect, would hide his axe from the tree he was intending to cut down. A harmonious connection to the natural world still prevails in these rural corners of the Balkans.

In the small town of Junik I slept in a kulla – a stone house – with intricately carved wooden ceilings. The mayor advised me to climb the highest mountain in Kosovo, Gjeravica, for its panoramic views. A Kosovan TV documentary crew decided they should follow me on my trek, with the hope that I might inspire others to do the same.

I reached the summit well before they did and only met up hours later as they hobbled into our rendezvous point. I'm still waiting for the premiere, but I do hope many others will visit this beautiful and abundant land...."

Here is the link:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Why go to Kosovo?

More and more tourists are exploring Kosovo. They are all surprised by hospitality, normality of life, history, culture and weird architecture. Here how the blogger Dom Giles, describe Kosovo:

"Kosovo is in our heads because of the war in 1999 and the NATO bombing campaign on Serbia when it refused to accept Kosovo's Independence in that year. Ultimately, Kosovo gained independence ( in most people's eyes) in 2008 making it Europe's newest country. I wanted to see what it looked like. 
I hoped and expected to find a 'normal' county with 'normal' people doing 'normal' things. And I did. 

I went to the Enthnologocal museum and had a long chat with the curator who was quite upbeat about Kosovo's future. More than 50% of the countries population is under 25, which bodes well for the future. 

So, little Kosovo (you can ride across it in about an hour) used to belong to Yugoslavia and Orthodox Christian Serbia refuses to recognise it. So it's a little weird that the tourist highlights of Muslim Kosovo are two Orthodox Serbian Monastery's protected by NATO. We had to hand in our passports to visit. 

The 20 or so nuns in the first one and 25 monks in the second one live in almost total isolation as the local populations want them to leave.

My final stop was also the highlight. Lovely little Pritzen. Kosovo's third largest town ( 180,000 people) It had a river, a castle, churches, mosques, coffee shops and when we were there, an eight day film festival.

Castle at the top. 

Prizen was also the place where I've seen my first ( for 10 minutes!) rain on the whole trip! So there you have it. Kosovo. Just a regular place full of people trying to get on with life."

read more:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lonely Planet: Five reasons to visit Prizren, Kosovo’s cultural capital

If you’re looking for culture in Kosovo, it’s best to head south to Prizren. Seated at the foot of the Shar mountains and close to the Rahovec (Orahovac) wine region, Kosovo’s second city packs a heavy punch with its rich history, traditional handicraft shops and gastronomic delights. Mix that with incredible nearby nature and a renowned summer film festival, and you have a ‘must-see’ destination to add to your Balkan travel itinerary. Here are the five reasons to visit Prizren (in short)

1. Exploring the old town. Throughout history Prizren has played an important role in the region which was first settled in Illyrian times
2. Unique film festival. To witness Kosovo’s cultural capital at its liveliest and to enjoy a unique cinematic experience, there’s no better time to visit Prizren than during Dokufest (
3. Shopping for traditional handicrafts. The ultimate shopping experience in Prizren is paying a visit to one of the city’s many filigree shops.
4. Local cuisine and wineries. From its famed ëmbëltoret (confectioneries) to the best qebaptore (barbeque restaurants) you’ll find in the country, Prizren is the gastronomic heart of Kosovo.
5. Trekking in the Shar mountains. Prizren is a perfect starting point for exploring the Shar mountain range, which borders Macedonia and Albania, on either a day trip or overnight. Though barely updated since its heyday in the 1980s, when it was a downhill-ski backup for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Brezovica (about 40km east of Prizren) is Kosovo’s main ski centre.

Read more:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pristina, aventura en Kosovo

It's happy to see that Kosovo, the new born destination, is attracting the people from all over the world. A Spanish traveler and blogger visited Kosovo, and is sharing his experience and impressions with his friends and other people. The article is published in the site Two backpacks on Route (
Dos Mochilas en Ruta).
"Pristina, an adventure in Kosovo", describes all the route that the two backpackers from Spain made in Kosovo, and also you can find beautiful photos of the places they visited.

You can find the full article in this link:


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The beauty of Gjakova

Another traveler wrote about Kosovo these days. He is Paul Diming from US, who likes taking photographs of pleasant landscapes, wonderful wildlife, birds, flowers & plants all over the world.
Look how he describe through photos a morning stay in Gjakova, city of Kosovo. 

"While modern clothing popular is popular in Kosovo today as it is in the West, the traditional clothing of Kosovo can be still be seen and is available in the bazaars.  I did see a few elderly men dressed in traditional clothing during our visit.
Gjakova was hit hard during the Kosovo War.  While most of the people have returned and the damage repaired, there is still evidence of the war if one looks close enough."

Read full article and see his photos here:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Favorite: Kosovo!

A great blog dedicated to Kosovo, and what this new country can offer from the eyes of a tourist. A traveler from Norway, Silvia Lawrence is one of the few tourists who wrote in details about new Kosovo. Here are some of her lovely impressions about Kosovo.

"I was SO excited about Kosovo! I love when a new place totally blows me away, and Kosovo did just that.
Pristina must be home to some of the friendliest people in the world. From the waiters enthusiastically asking where we were from and offering us free coffee and/or rakia to the strangers turned Facebook friends striking up conversations with us on the street, I pretty much just wanted to be best friends with everyone I talked to in Kosovo. I mean really, how can a capital city be this friendly? In the evenings most of the city’s population (over half of whom are under 25!) can be found walking along the main promenade, cheerfully greeting each other with seemingly little other objective than to see and be seen".

Read full article here:


As Dan said when we were leaving the capital, “Pristina is one of my favorite cities we’ve visited, which is quite remarkable considering how ugly it is.” Because oh yes, a lot of Pristina’s architecture is pretty baffling.
I have to admit, I didn’t have particularly high expectations for Kosovo. Last year while in Albania Danielle and I had considered making a quick trip up to Kosovo, but everyone told us the country was pretty boring, and we believed them.
But still, when Dan tried to convince me to skip Kosovo again and instead spend a few more days in our heavenly apartment on the Bay of Kotor, I put my foot down and insisted that this time I had to go. And luckily my birthday was coming up, so Dan had to listen to me.
I’m not exactly sure why I so wanted to see Kosovo – maybe it was all the stories I had heard about how odd and quirky its capital city Pristina is........  read more:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Gračanica: A Serbian Enclave in Kosovo

Within a short drive south of Prishtina, Kosovo is the Serbian enclave of Gračanica.  The town is inhabited by approximately 11,000 people, many of whom are refugees driven out of Prishtina at the end of the Kosovo War.  Gračanica is also the administrative center for the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo.

Below is the statue of Miloš Obilić, a Serbian knight in the service of Prince Lazar, during the invasion of the Ottoman Empire.  The statue is in the middle of a roundabout in Gračanica.  Notice the flag of Serbia to the left of the statue.

Read more:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

An introduction to Kosovo culinary

Since ethnic Albanians make up 94% of Kosovo's population, the cuisine of Kosovo is very similar to Albanian cuisine. The cuisine features lots of fresh produce, beef, lamb and chicken. Seasoning is typically flavorful, but not spicy. The bread is fresh baked. Yogurt and yogurt based sauces are common.
 We stayed at neighborhood restaurant, Te Pini in Prishtina.  It features a relaxing cafe atmosphere with outdoor dining, typical of Prishtina.  Here is one of the special food:  Qofte Prizreni - (Beef & Lamb) with Yogurt.

Read more about: Sampling Kosovar Cuisine in Prishtina

Paul Diming

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Exploring Prishtina

Yes, Kosovo uses the Euro!  That makes it really easy to travel to Kosovo.  Walking in Pristina after a long flight really does help reduce the effects of jet lag.  So we headed downtown to see the sights.  The first building we saw was the Yugoslavia era National Library of Kosovo.  It was designed by Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjakovic and dedicated in November, 1982.    During 1990's, the building was used to house refugees from Croatia and Bosnia.  Unfortunately, there are many grand buildings in Prishtina that are languishing due to lack of funding.

Read full article of American blogger Paul Diming  and see his photos:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Google brings Prishtina in 3D on Maps

When switching to Earth View on Google Maps and when tilting the view, something beautiful happens with Prishtina. The whole capital of Kosovo, has been brought in 3D Imagery showcasing entire buildings in detail, including government buildings, apartments, bridges, landscapes, etc in very precise conditions and amazing details.

Tirana, Skopje, Sofia, Belgrade or Athens still don’t have this 3D Imagery View on Google Maps on Earth View, while the closest city benefiting from this Google Technology is Zagreb in Croatia, Plovdiv in Bulgaria or Timiosara in Romania.
The Google Maps Imagery Updates, includes only the above mentioned cities so far on the map, while Prishtina looks new to the spot, which makes sense since it has been not officially added to the list, yet the imagery has been implemented on Google Maps.

How does 3D Imagery work? As you zoom in, buildings and terrain will start to appear in 3D. Once you can see the buildings, pan, zoom, tilt and rotate to explore the 3D environment. You can view 3D imagery when you’re using Google Maps on Desktop.
You enable this view by clicking Earth View on Google Maps on the browser and by clicking on the tilt view icon to explore more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Kosovo: what to see in Europe's newest country

The landlocked Balkans nation of Kosovo is not an obvious holiday destination – but that deserves to change, writes Tom Rowley, Telegraph Travel.

This landlocked Balkan country is not the most obvious holiday destination but five years after the former region of Serbia declared independence, westerners are starting to visit. For the moment, they are counted in their hundreds not thousands, but these first tourists are discovering an enchanting country with rugged scenery good for walking and Ottoman-era architecture, ideal for a relaxing long weekend or an excursion as part of a longer tour taking in neighbouring Macedonia or Montenegro.
Prizren city

Read the full article:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Kosovo tourism presented at BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live

First aired on 27th April 2013 on BBC4 Radio, this is the first of the stories about tourism in Kosovo with John McCarthy.
John McCarthy visits Kosovo and finds the beginnings of a tourist industry in the villages of Janjevo, Runjeva and Junik.