Kosovo

KOSOVO TRAVEL GUIDE

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Kosovo is Europe's newest country and a fascinating land at the heart of the Balkans that rewards visitors with welcoming smiles, charming mountain towns, incredible hiking opportunities, and 13th-century domed Serbian monasteries just for starters.

 

Kosovo is still a disputed territory and after a lengthy and often violent dispute with Serbia, Kosovo declared independence in February 2008. As of 2019, 101 UN states recognize it as independent, and the Republic of Kosovo has become a member country of the IMF and World Bank, despite heavy Serbian opposition. While the legitimacy of the Kosovar government is disputed by many UN countries, from a traveler's point of view the Kosovar government has de facto control of most of the country; local Serb authorities administer five municipalities in the north.

 

It’s safe to travel there now, and indeed is one of the last corners of Europe that remains off the beaten track for travelers.

 

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KOSOVO QUICK FACTS

Capital: Pristina

Currency: Euro (€)

Area: 10,887 km²

Population: 1,845 million (2018)

Language: Official: Albanian 95%, Serbian 3% Regionally Spoken: Turkish, Romany

Religion: Muslim 95%, Orthodox 4%, Roman Catholic 1%

Electricity: 230V/50Hz (European plug)

 

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KOSOVO PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

  • 7 January, Orthodox Christmas
  • 17 February, Independence Day
  • 9 April, Constitution Day
  • 1 May, International Labor Day
  • 9 May, Europe Day

Also, Easter Monday, Orthodox Easter Monday, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha.

FESTIVALS IN KOSOVO

Kosovo
 

BEST TIME TO VISIT KOSOVO

Kosovo has a continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters. Snow can fall as early as November and as late as April. July and August are invariably hot, although May and June can be too. The night-time/daytime temperature differential is generally greatest in September and October.

 

The best time to come to Kosovo is during spring (late April, May, or early June) when the fields are bright green but there is still some snow on the tops of the mountains and the flowers in the meadows are in bloom. There is still a risk of heavy rain in April but it is rare for this to last more than a day or so. In July, August and early September the flights and roads are busy with travelling not quite as easy or cheap and the weather can easily be too hot to explore - although September generally offers pleasant weather.


  • April - PriFest, the Pristina International Film Festival, brings a touch of international glamour to the capital.

  • May to September - You don't have to worry about high-season crowds in Kosovo!

  • August - The excellent DokuFest in Prizren is Kosovo's best art event.

 

KOSOVO WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Kosovo has a predominantly continental climate, with warm summers and cold winters. In the southwest Dukagjini Plain, this transitions to a mild Mediterranean climate with more frost-free days and higher annual rainfall. Average temperatures range from -27°C in winter to 39°C in summer. Annual precipitation ranges from 600 mm in the eastern Kosovo Plain to 1300 mm in the western mountains.

Kosovo

KOSOVO TOURIST SEASONS

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

JANUARY

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FEBRUARY

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APRIL

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MAY

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JUNE

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JULY

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AUGUST

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SEPTEMBER

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OCTOBER

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NOVEMBER

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DECEMBER

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SPORT & ACTIVITIES

SNOW SPORT IN KOSOVO

The snow sports season in Kosovo is in January and February, boasting some of the cheapest skiing opportunities in all of Europe.

HIKING & CYCLING IN KOSOVO

The best time for outdoor activities in Kosovo is from April to December. Remember to pack a rain jacket when hiking in the mountains!

BEACH OPTIONS IN KOSOVO

SURFING IN KOSOVO

KITESURF IN KOSOVO

Kitesurfing spot details and weather

 
 

HEALTH RISKS IN KOSOVO

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Kosovo

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

For the latest travel health notices and recommended precautions click

KOSOVO TRAVEL COSTS

The newest country in Europe is also possibly the cheapest one to travel in the Balkans. The capital Pristina is modern and full of trendy coffee shops where locals gather to sip delicious coffee and catch up for hours, and Prizren is a small but charming old town, often compared to Mostar in Bosnia.

 

KOSOVO TRAVEL TIPS

The best way to travel intercity in Kosovo is by bus. Buses are relatively cheap - Pristina to Peja is €4.00, for example. Within Pristina, rides cost €0.40. Kosovo has good bus connections between Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia, with regular services from Pristina, Peja and Prizren to Tirana (Albania), Skopje (Macedonia) and Podgorica (Montenegro). There's also a train line from Pristina to Macedonia's capital, Skopje.

 

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF KOSOVO

  • See the sights in Pristina's charming bazaar area and discover this bustling capital.

  • Breathe deep at Peja's Saturday Cheese Market.

  • Buy local wine and cheese at the serene 14th-century Visoki Dečani Monastery

  • Wander the picturesque streets of Prizren's charming old town.

  • Trek around the Rugova Mountains.

  • Visit Kosovo's new Bear Sanctuary Pristina and see rescued bears living under excellent conditions.

 

Pristina - Far more a provincial town than a great city, Pristina makes for an unlikely national capital, and yet feels more cosmopolitan than the capitals of many larger Balkan nations due to the number of foreigners working here: the UN and EU both have large presences here and the city feels rich and more sophisticated as a result. Pristina is a fast-changing city and one that feels full of optimism and potential, even if its traffic-clogged streets and mismatched architectural styles don't make it an obviously attractive place.

 

Not far in distance, but worlds away from the chaotic capital, the smaller towns of Peja and Prizren both offer a different pace and a new perspective on Kosovar life.

 

Prizren - The most historical city in Kosovo, capital of the Serbian empire in the XIV century. It has plenty of beautiful examples of Serbian and Ottoman medieval architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Serbian Orthodox Church of Our Lady of Ljeviš is located in the city. Even though the frescoes in the church are badly damaged (the building was largely destroyed by Albanians during the war), there are some stunning, ancient wall paintings here and the entire experience is a sad and troubling example of how ethnic hatred can fracture previously peaceful societies.

 

Peja - Known as the "City of Tourism", in western Kosovo, sits at the mouth of the Rugova Gorge and adjacent to the newly formed Accursed Mountains National Park. Peja is Kosovo's third-largest city and one flanked by sites vital to Orthodox Serbians. With a Turkish-style bazaar at its heart and the dramatic but increasingly accessible Rugova Mountains all around it, it's a diverse and progressive place that's fast becoming Kosovo's tourism hub.

 

Gračanica Monastery - Explore beyond Pristina by heading southeast to one of the most beautiful examples of Serbian medieval ecclesiastical architecture. This monastery was built by the Serbian king Milutin in the Serbo-Byzantine style. It is noted for its frescoes, and being the only medieval Serbian monastery found in an urban setting complete with an old school and archives.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Site - Visoki Dečani Monastery is one of the most important monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Just 15km south of Peja, you will find one of Kosovo's absolute highlights - famous for its elegant and peculiar architecture. As an orthodox monastery from the XIII century, it successfully mixes western and eastern church building elements to form a particular hybrid style only known on the territory of old Serbia.

 

DON'T MISS

  • Velika Hoča, a beautiful village with 13 medieval churches and a centuries-old tradition of wine-making.

  • Waterfall Of The Drini River - Located north of Peja behind the Berdynaj village.

  • The Rugova Gorge. The Rugova gorge is also to the northwest of Peja and can be found by following the same road that leads to the Peć Patriarchy and driving further. The canyon has extremely steep walls reaching up to 300 meters.

  • The Gjakova Old Bazaar. A very beautiful old "shopping center" from the 17th century. It was burned down during the war in 1999 and reconstructed recently. In the center of the bazaar is an old mosque that was built in the 15th century.

  • The Mitrovica Bridge. An interesting symbol of the division of the population in Kosovo. This bridge is the dividing line between Serbs and Albanians in Mitrovice/Mitrovica. It will almost always be safe to approach the bridge and look at it, although the French soldiers who guard it may not let you cross if the political situation is worse than normal (with 'normal' not being so good either way).

  • Novo Brdo - Mentioned in the historical documents as early as 1326, Novo Brdo was a metropolis at the time, with a huge medieval fortress built on top of an extinct volcano cone, of which the remains can be visited today. In the outer wall of the fortress, a large cross is visible, built into the stones.

  • Ulpiana, one of the oldest cities in the Balkan peninsula, is just 20-30 minutes away from Pristina towards Gjilan. It was re-constructed by emperor Justinian I.

WHAT TO PACK FOR KOSOVO

 
Kosovo

WHAT TO EAT IN KOSOVO

'Traditional' food is generally Albanian – most prominently, stewed and grilled meat and fish. Kos (goat's-milk yogurt) is eaten alone or with almost anything. Turkish kebabs and gjuveç (baked meat and vegetables) are common. Look out for:

 

  • Byrek - Pastry with cheese or meat.

  • Gjuveç - Baked meat and vegetables.

  • Fli - Flaky pastry pie served with honey.

  • Kos - Goat's-milk yogurt.

  • Pershut - Dried meat.

  • Qofta - Flat or cylindrical minced-meat rissoles.

  • Tavë - Meat baked with cheese and egg.

  • Vranac - Red wine from the Rahovec region of Kosovo.

 

LGBTQ IN KOSOVO

 
Kosovo
 

WHERE TO STAY IN KOSOVO

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