Kosovo – The Hidden gem in the Balkans

Kosovo is one of the least visited, yet a hidden gem of the Balkans, which is definitely worth visiting. It became an independent country only in 2008 and ever since it has been a transition economy. It is still not recognized by many countries, especially by Serbia, which still considers it a part of it. However, don’t get confused, they are extremely different.

The first thing you should see is the ‘Newborn’ Monument in Pristina, which is a clear message for the independence of the country. The letters ‘N’ and ‘W’ lay down as an acronym for ‘No Walls’.

Afterward you can see the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which was being constructed by the Serbians until 1999, but then the Kosovo war interfered with the construction and, in fact, it was never finished, as it is a symbol of the Serbian ruling.

Cathedral of Christ in Kosovo
Cathedral of Christ

A nice activity would be exploring the street market of Pristina, where you can enjoy locally produced food, ethnic clothes, as well as a huge amount of peppers, which is maybe one of the most symbolic tastes of the country.

As Bill Clinton had a big influence in the Kosovo war, he became a figure of a hero for the country and so at the Boulevard named after him, they also have an 11-foot statue of Clinton, which is one of the most attractive monuments in the city.

Last, but not least, the lively nightlife of Kosovo is something you shall not miss. You can enjoy a fancy drink at the hipster café Soma or just drink a beer with a native in the local bars. The community feeling of Kosovars is more than exceptional compared to most European countries, so hearing stories from locals is an unforgettable experience.

Next stop – Peja – a city surrounded by beautiful mountains. It is the starting point of the Rugova Canyon, so if you are interested in going on a hike, this would be the time! The Peja Patriarchate, recognized by UNESCO World Heritage, can be reached by a 30 min hike.

Later you can have an extremely delicious and at the same time extremely cheap dinner in the surrounding area. Then you can head to one of the nice bars where you can enjoy some live music. 

The monastery in the city consists of three churches connected in one, the most significant of which is the red church. All of them are decorated with beautiful mural paintings. It is ancient, but still functioning as there are people dedicated to spiritual life living in it. They are very warm and open so meeting them would be very easy if you are interested. 

The city center of Peja enjoys a pedestrian street filled with various restaurants and bars, most of which have beautiful terraces where you can have a relaxed afternoon. Afterward, you should definitely visit the old bazar of Peja where you can find many alternatively styled authentic souvenirs and local goods.

Nestled in the mountains, the next destination is Prizen, known as the cultural capital of Kosovo. Located in the heart of the historic center of the city, there are the Prizen Fortress, the Hammam of Prizen, the Sinan Pasha Mosque, the Church of Holy Savior and many more.

The Lady of Ljevis is a Serbian orthodox church, which dates to the 14th century and was later transformed into a mosque under Ottoman ruling. Nowadays it is another of the UNESCO Heritage Sites in Kosovo. In the afternoon you can head to the main square, which is also where the locals hang out, drink coffee and enjoy the restaurant and bars surrounding the square. 

Kosovo may not be the first destination to come up in your mind when planning your next trip, but this is not to say that the newborn country is not a must-see. Surrounded by friendly and warm people, beautiful nature, culture, fascinating history (not only ancient but also recent) and delicious cuisine, one might just find Kosovo to be the place to be. If you are still not convinced about Kosovo, you should go and see it yourself! 


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