10 reasons why you should travel to Kosovo right now
Do you know where is Kosovo? The Balkan Peninsula — how many things can be associated with this phrase. These are the beautiful landscapes of the South Slavic states, and the rich historical heritage left by numerous epochs that made their way in these parts. The Republic of Kosovo is not a fully recognized State located on this peninsula. The capital of Kosovo is the city of Pristina. The republic is inhabited by its citizens in the number of 1.8 million, the area is also not large, it is only 10,800 km2. Naturally, the republic also has unpleasant memories related to the conflicts between its neighbors, and to be more specific, the war in Kosovo. This long process has greatly affected the entire region and was a turning point in the formation of Kosovo on the map as a republic. Despite all this, today Kosovo is not a pool of pessimism and decline, and such a world-famous sphere as tourism is widespread here. Every year, the country is visited by about 40 thousand tourists, mainly from Germany, Italy and the United States, and it is also safe to say that this figure will only grow over time. In the meantime, we will discuss 10 reasons why you might also visit Kosovo.
1. Natural landscapes
The heritage of Kosovo has always been characterized primarily by natural values. They identify various areas of Kosovo as potential sites for protection under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme and the Convention for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage. These natural values are found mainly in the massifs of the four mountain ranges of Kosovo, that is, in the mountains of Shar-Planina, Bieshket-e-Nyamuna, Koritnik and Pastrik. These regions represent the largest number of potential sites for inclusion in the World Heritage List. Of these, 3 sites were of regional significance, and 19 sites were caves. The consideration of the above-mentioned Territories for protection within the framework of UNESCO will provide a legal framework for the protection of natural and cultural values in Kosovo, as well as support their sustainable development. In addition, the protection of these territories will contribute to the development of a very important aspect of tourism in the Kosovo economy. After all, thanks to these efforts, you will personally enjoy the local scenery and natural beauty.
2. Summer festivals
With the onset of summer, most travel enthusiasts leave their homes and go to the beaches for the sake of everyday recreation. However, in the warmer months of the year, there are several reasons to travel to Kosovo, even though there are no beaches there. From July to September, the youngest country in Europe hosts several interesting festivals that you, dear friends, should definitely visit. Among them: the "Pristina International Film Festival" is a film festival held by the capital of Kosovo every July since 2009, a year after the country's independence. The festival showcases international and local films and draws special attention to the Kosovo film industry. The festival includes four categories of competition, including medium-length films, European feature films, documentaries, and Balkan films. The "Kosovo Architecture Festival" starts in July and ends in October. This is the most famous architectural event in the country with a large program that includes exhibitions, screenings, lectures and master classes. Most of the events take place in the capital, but, nevertheless, the program is also distributed throughout the country. The "Sunny Hill Festival" is held every August in the heart of Gemia Park, also known as the lungs of Pristina. This is a musical event organized by a charity organization, where famous singers, as well as local and foreign artists perform. The Hardh Fest is aimed at promoting regional products of the village of Rakhovets, such as wine and raki. This is a great opportunity to try great local products and have fun in one of the least visited Balkan regions.
Although Pristina is the largest city in Kosovo, many people consider Prizren to be its cultural capital. This ancient city, located at the foot of the Shar Planina Mountains, near the border of Albania and Macedonia, is full of historical attractions. A trip to this city is an extraordinary chance to plunge into a historical journey. Its history dates back to early Roman times, and numerous influences from the Middle Ages and the Ottoman period are also felt. Prizren is an "undiscovered tourist treasure", unlike many other places in the Balkans. Its Old Town is dotted with Byzantine architecture, such as the restored Old Stone Bridge from the 16th century, where the Church of Our Lady of Levis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located. The 11th-century Prizren Fortress is particularly good for watching the sunrise and sunset. With a little imagination, you can even call it a miniature version of the city of Mostar. Add to this easy access to the spectacular mountain scenery and you will get one of the best views in the republic.
4. Coffee culture
In all the Balkans, the coffee culture is of great importance. This meal is based on the long-standing customs of the local population and has acquired the status of a tradition over the years. The Kosovo people often sit for an hour for a single espresso or cappuccino while chatting with your friends or relatives. And older people maintain strong ties and friendships with each other thanks to gatherings over a cup of coffee, among them you can notice men aged 60 to 70 years, drinking coffee in groups of three or four people. And it all started, oddly enough, with the conquest of the Balkan Peninsula by the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century, they brought to the Balkans not only Islam, but also one of the most beloved things in the future in Kosovo — coffee. The Ottomans eventually left Kosovo in 1912, but their coffee and related traditions remained. And every guest who is lucky enough to be on these lands, can gladly support this tradition.
5. Gazivode Lake
This is the largest lake that the Republic of Kosovo can boast of. It is formed by the dams of the Ibar River. The lake is shared by the countries of Serbia and Kosovo. Its area is about 12 square kilometers, of which Kosovo owns more than 9 square kilometers, and Serbia about 3 square kilometers. This reservoir with an average depth of more than 100 meters is a haven for many representatives of aquatic fauna, including many fish. Every tourist will remember the moment when he sees the magnificent landscape that opens from the hilly terrain outside the vast lake. Travelers from all over the world visit this lake when they decide to mark Kosovo on the map as a "conquered" land in search of aesthetic beauty.
6. Wonderful Kosovo people
Despite quite recent unpleasant times for the republic, such as the Kosovo war, the residents here are hospitable, friendly and very talkative. Don't be surprised if a stranger comes up to you and speaks. In many countries this would be quite sketchy, but here in Kosovo it would be out of curiosity as to where you came from and why you decided to travel to Kosovo in a good way. Most of the younger generation speak English very well, and you will not find it difficult to find a common language with them as well. Some members of the older generation may not speak more than a few words of English. But if you know Italian or German, it is quite likely that among them there will be those who can understand you. All of the above is characterized not only by the capital of Kosovo, but also by many other cities of the republic.
7. Historical saturation
As we have already mentioned, Kosovo stands out on the world map for its destructive past. From the civil war to the newly gained independence, there is much to learn about the history of Kosovo. This story did not get to learn in one night. You will hear many stories about the meetings first-hand from the locals. Kosovo war is fresh. Many of the problems faced by the Republic of Kosovo have not yet been resolved. There is still tension between Kosovo and Serbia, but I would like to emphasize that as a tourist you are completely safe here. A great way to experience the local history is to take a free walking tour of Pristina or visit one of the museums. There you will learn all about the medieval conquests and the cultural aspects of those times. But the best way is to talk about it with the Kosovo people about relatively recent events.
The food in Kosovo is as hearty and hospitable as its inhabitants. Here you will have to forget about your diets for a while, as you can expect a lot of grilled meat and vegetables, toppings and cakes made of honey and cheese. Serbia and Kosovo do not differ much in the customs of cooking, but each has its own characteristics. A traditional favorite in Kosovo is "Tave", a hearty dish of meat, tomatoes and eggplant, baked in the oven. This is guaranteed to fuel even the most strenuous mountain trek. But Flia is the Kosovo culinary superstar, and you shouldn't leave without tasting it. This is a dish of pancake dough covered with cream and yogurt, and a pie with cheese, meat or vegetable filling. Traditionally, Flia is cooked in an outdoor oven for a couple of hours and served on a huge tray in front of the whole family. Every year, on March 18, the country celebrates "Flia Day", when it is customary to invite the family, and eat Flia all day.
9. The cheapest country in Europe
The difference in prices for Kosovo accommodation, food and shopping can be easily noticed when crossing the borders of European countries. Even on the border of Serbia and Kosovo, you can feel the changeability, because the Republic of Kosovo is probably the most profitable in all of Europe. Although the cost of accommodation is similar to the cost of living in the rest of Eastern Europe, for example, a hostel with a high rating costs about 10 euros per night. However, everything else is cheap. Beer should cost no more than 1.50 euros. You can usually find food for less than 5 euros per person, which is even better if you search in a decent restaurant. And a snack with a sandwich with burek or chevapchichi will cost only a couple of euros. In addition, the capital of Kosovo can please you with a large number of free rides.
10. A chance to visit the Newborn Monument
This is one of the two main attractions of Pristina — this is the" Newborn monument" (Newborn monument). Kosovo is the youngest country on the map of Europe, having declared independence only after the end of the war in Kosovo on February 17, 2008, and so far only 115 countries recognize it as an independent state. The sculpture "Newborn" is a kind of symbol of a new country and rebirth. At first it was only painted yellow, but eventually it was covered with the flags of the countries that recognized the independence of Kosovo. Now every year on February 17, the monument changes its appearance. In any case, NEWBORN is a very good reason to visit Kosovo, because at such moments you realize the importance of freedom and self-development in any size.
Anar has been promoting himself to tourism for several years now. He believes that the key to success can be obtained by starting to learn something new. And the surest way, in his opinion, is to travel, because nothing cheers us up as getting to know new people and their cultures. His interests also include cinematography and all its components, being another incentive to visit the places where his favourite films were shot. Working in hotels as a guest relations agent taught him not only the basic requirements of "conquering the horizons" but also the most critical lesson: "New places and experiences are better than old hobbies".