Kosovo Visitor Guide and Photo Gallery
As part of our guest writers series, we welcome Ryan and Megi. They had the fantastic opportunity to present at an international cybersecurity conference in Kosovo. Officially known as the Republic of Kosovo, it is a partially recognized state in Southeast Europe in the center of the Balkans. Its border neighbors are Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia. It unilaterally declared its independence in 2008, making it one of the world’s youngest countries.
Ryan and Megi stayed on a few days extra to visit the area. Since we have never known anyone to visit this Balkan area, we asked if they would be willing to write a blog post about their visit. We were thrilled when they said yes. Without giving away too much, they loved their time in Kosovo and found the country remarkable and its people warm and welcoming. But let’s hear it from them…..
- An exciting opportunity at a crazy time
- Map of Kosovo
- Kosovo’s turbulent history
- The Kosovars
- A young industrialized nation
- Facts about Kosovo
- What we visited in Kosovo
- Some other fun suggestions
- The Cafe Culture of Kosovo
- Our favorite experiences
- An inexpensive place to eat and play
- How to get to and around Kosovo
- Kosovo cuisine at its best
- Nightlife in Kosovo
- Where to stay in Kosovo
- What is the weather like in Kosovo?
- Safety Concerns
- Final Thoughts
- About our guest authors, Megi and Ryan
All photos, unless otherwise stated, were taken by Megi and Ryan.
An exciting opportunity at a crazy time
As a part of our Arizona State University engineering program, all seniors must participate in a year-long group project called Capstone. Throughout the year, our group of four students created a project focused on our interest in cybersecurity. We were selected to present our project at a local security conference in Arizona. While at the conference, we were approached by a cybersecurity professional from Kosovo. He was organizing a conference in his home country and invited us to present our project.
Being invited to present at an international conference was a huge honor, but the timing could not have been worse. The Kosovo conference was during finals week of our senior year. What made it impossible to resist was the conference invitation covered the cost of our flights and hotels. That sealed the deal; there was no way we were missing out on this fantastic opportunity.
While Ryan wasn’t as familiar with the area, Megi is from Albania and knew about Kosovo as it is one of Albania’s neighbors. As well, one of the official languages of Kosovo is Albanian. The conference was held in Prishtina (Pristina/Pristine, the spelling differs based on region and language), the capital of Kosovo.
Map of Kosovo
Kosovo’s turbulent history
The area in and around Kosovo has been inhabited for nearly 10,000 years, dating back to the Neolithic age. Bronze and Iron Age tombs have been found in the area. Its ideal geostrategic position, as well as an abundance of natural resources, were ideal in prehistoric periods. Hundreds of archaeological sites have been discovered and identified throughout Kosovo.
After serving as the center of a medieval Serbian empire, Kosovo was then ruled by the Ottoman Empire from the mid-15th to the early 20th century. During this period, Islam grew in importance, and the population of Albanian speakers in the region increased.
Conflicts and wars in recent centuries
In the 1800s, Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia which also encompassed some of Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia. In the 1900s, a territorial war broke out, which resulted in years of battles between the people of Kosovo, who wanted to establish their independent nation, and Serbia, who wished for the land for themselves. However, the area was sacred to the Serbs; the president of Serbia refused to recognize the rights of the majority. He instead wanted to replace the Albanian culture and language with Serbian institutions.
Kosovo has suffered greatly at the hands of the Serbians, who refuse to recognize its existence. The Kosovo War happened in 1998 and 1999, resulting in the tragic death of some 10,000 people. In 1999, NATO conducted a 78-day war against Serbia to prevent genocide in Kosovo against ethnic Albanians. Kosovo, formerly a province of Serbia and later part of Yugoslavia, had a majority of Muslim Albanians.
Kosovo refuses to relinquish its independence and is in the process of attaining NATO membership to preserve regional security.
An independent state
While visiting, we met many Kosovo citizens (Kosovars) eager to talk about their rich history. As a young nation with recent conflicts, many locals you will meet have personally experienced the battles this country has endured to achieve its independence.
After years of an ugly and brutal war, Kosovo finally gained independence in February 2008. As Serbia is on Kosovo’s north border, that region of Kosovo is still contested, with Serbia refusing to acknowledge Kosovo and continuing to lay claim to the country. This often leads to Serbia-Kosovo border skirmishes, resulting in the warnings to avoid north Kosovo if possible.
As of 2020, Kosovo is only partially recognized as an independent state by 97 out of the 193 United Nations member states. The border neighbors of Albania, North Macedonia, and Montenegro have no issues with an independent Kosovo. In total, 112 UN member states have recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition. Some countries unwilling to accept their sovereignty include their border neighbors, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia, as well as the larger nations of India and Russia.
This northern border tension tends to draw negative attention to the country’s safety, with the U.S. issuing a Level 2 travel advisory due to the threat of terrorism in Kosovo at the time of this post. That may sound scary but it is best to keep it in perspective, it is the same level as France. However, rest assured we can attest that this was not our experience and we felt safe at all times. Though we saw no threats, we were recommended to avoid discussing the Serbian-Kosovo conflict as many Kosovars hold strong feelings on the topic.
We found the people of Kosovo were incredibly kind and friendly. They are hospitable and very talkative. Don’t be surprised if a stranger comes up to you and starts chatting. In many places in Europe, this would never occur. But here in Kosovo, they engage you out of curiosity. They want to learn about where you are coming from and have a genuine interest in what brought you here.
Many Kosovars can speak and understand basic English, so communication was not an issue at restaurants, stores, or hotels. The people of Kosovo are strongly motivated to find their place in the world. They are expanding tourism and preparing their country to become global citizens.
Culturally this is a country that holds a strong muslin faith. Islam in Kosovo dates back to the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. Today, 95.6% of Kosovo’s population are Muslims, most of whom are ethnic Albanians. There are also Slavic-speaking Muslims, who allied themselves with Bosniaks and Gorani, and Turks. Kosovo, while a dominantly Muslim country, is very secular. Many local women dress in western attire but you will see some women dress modestly and wear hijab.
A young industrialized nation
Despite Kosovo’s very recent statehood, the country is very industrialized. There is easy access to electricity, water (though it is recommended to buy bottled water for drinking), transportation, food, and more. In the city, there are constantly new buildings under construction to support the influx of people and businesses.
Walking along the streets, you will find plenty of people out and about, often dressed very formally, even if only to go for an afternoon stroll. We did not see any homeless people during our time, although the occasional beggar may come by restaurants to ask for money. A decent number of stray dogs were walking the streets, but they showed no aggression toward the public. The government is currently funding programs to vaccinate, tag, spay and neuter them (although it is still advised not to attempt to engage with them).
Facts about Kosovo
- Kosovo is about the size of Jamaica (~6875 sq miles) and is slightly larger than the state of Delaware. It has a population of just under 2 million people.
- The currency is the Euro.
- While Albanian is the primary language spoken, Kosovo’s official languages are Albania, Serbian, and English, with many schools even requiring English to be taught.
- Most of the country’s population is Albanian, and the majority of the population lives under the poverty line.
- Due to its geographical location, Kosovo is an essential link between central and southern Europe, the Black Sea, and the Adriatic Sea.
- Unlike most counties, Kosovo only has one annual federal tax based on your income. Coupled with the low cost of living, many citizens do not want to leave the country for jobs, leading companies to instead come to Kosovo.
- According to locals, over 30% of Prishtina’s industry is technology related, which is constantly on the rise. This leads to considerable industry draw to the area (as well as technology-related events such as the one we were invited to).
- More than 70% of the country’s population is under the age of 35, which makes it the youngest country in all of Europe.
- The name “Kosovo” derives from a place in Serbia, meaning “field of blackbirds.”
- Limestone caves are abundant and are found in several parts of the country. The Marble Cave, a karst limestone cave in Kosovo, is a famous tourist destination in the country. A villager found the cave in 1966.
- About 40% of the country is covered by forest. The majority of the trees in the forests are oak and pines and are located in southwestern Kosovo.
What we visited in Kosovo
The Capital City of Prishtina is a city full of lively young people where modern shiny luxury hotels and contemporary art are alongside crumbling Soviet-style buildings. Stroll in the old part of Prishtina, where a handful of old-style houses with older men sitting out front will take you back in time.
Stop by the Newborn Monument in the center of the city – a tall typographic sculpture representing the birth of the new nation of Kosovo. The monument was unveiled on 17 February 2008, when Kosovo formally declared its independence from Serbia. It is freshly painted each year with a new theme on the anniversary of Kosovo’s independence. One year it was painted with the flags of the nations that have recognized Kosovo. After visiting the monument, head over to Bill Clinton Boulevard, where you will find the statue of Bill Clinton waving. This American president is adored here as he came to the aid of Kosovo during the 1999 war with Serbia despite not being part of NATO.
Explore Prishtina’s Germia Park, a popular regional park and the biggest in Prishtina. It is located northeast of Prishtina and covers an area of about 39 sq miles (62 sq. km). This mountain massif is a part of the Rhodope Mountains. We were surprised to see a big park just 20 minutes from our hotel (the center).
Germia park is a great escape from the city and had much to offer. The Germia massif is known for its biodiversity and is designated as a protected landscape. The park has a rich fauna with 63 species of animals and a variety of about 600 species of flora. There are walking/running trails, playgrounds, sports courts, an amphitheater, and breathtaking views. You will also find cafes and restaurants.
We took a short route and discovered some buildings that were half destroyed among the beautiful tall trees. Our host said that those were unfinished or destroyed Serbian buildings from the war. According to him, many Serbian missiles were directed at this park. Mines were planted in the park by the Serbians in an effort to control the area. Until 2008 it was hazardous to walk around the park as you could risk stepping on them. However, they were cleaned up after the war, and now it is entirely safe to visit.
Partaking in everyday life
Enjoy café life. Kosovo is known for its young, dynamic city life (don’t forget that 75% of the population is under 35 years old), and the coffee shop scene in Prishtina is gaining momentum with its excellent coffee, but also for its bohemian ambiance. Kosovars often sit for an hour over a single espresso or cappuccino, chatting with friends. Check out the Santea neighborhood, where an older district is being transformed into the place to be. (Learn more about Cafe Life in Kosovo farther down the page)
Talk with the locals. The locals are amiable and love to talk with visitors, especially Americans. Most Kosovars are familiar with Peace Corps volunteers and people from the U.N. or N.G.O.s living or working in their country. They are also a bit intrigued by Kosovo tourism since it’s a relatively recent phenomenon.
Shopping in Prishtina Just walking around, you will see plenty of stores and shops to stop by. There is also a big mall a few miles away.
Our experiences outside of the capital city
Wander the city of Prizren The conference organizer planned a day trip to beautiful Prizren for us. This was a city about 2 hours away from Prishtina. He rented a private bus for all of us, which made this experience unforgettable since we got to know the other speakers on the bus. We sang Albanian songs on the way to Prizren, which was so much fun.
Immediately after stepping outside the bus, we noticed a different vibe from Prishtina. Prizren’s main attraction is the river canal that splits the city into two parts. On each side of this canal, you will find beautiful pedestrian cobblestone streets that lead to lots of stores, restaurants, and, of course, coffee shops to the other side of the city. Prizren is one of the most picturesque places to visit in Kosovo due to its gorgeous Ottoman-influenced architecture.
Visit the Castle Fortress in Prizren Finding our way to the castle required a little hiking since the castle was on top of a mountain with an altitude of 1722 feet (525 m). On our way there we saw nice houses on the hill and enjoyed a lovely view of the city. What stood out were the many mosque towers (part of the architecture of a mosque where the prayers are announced for the whole city to hear). A resident confirmed that there are more than 40 mosques just in the city of Prizren. Kosovo’s primary religion is Muslim (96.6% of the population).
The castle of Prizren was built in the 6th century and was used to protect the city from foreign attacks. Although the Serbians destroyed the castle during the war, it has been reconstructed. The Prizren castle is known for the number of underground tunnels (called “bunkers”), which were a part of the defensive military fortification to protect people and weapons during the infamous war with Serbia. Entry to the castle was free, and we got to see the observation points of the castle and enjoyed a 360-degree view of the city of Prizren.
Take in the Lidhja e Prizrenit Museum (The League of Prizren Museum). This is the building where an intellectual group, The League of Prizren, would meet to defend Albanian rights and plan for a United Albanian territory. The League of Prizren was founded in 1878, and this building served as a home to many diplomatic meetings and the united Albanian dream. It was destroyed during the war. However, the Lidhja e Prizrenit building was reconstructed and is now a historical museum with items that were retained from the war. Tickets were 2 euros per person, giving us access to two different buildings. Traditional Albanian clothing and drawings of men fighting in the war were on display, among other items.
Hike the Mali I Sharrit Mountains (Sar Mountains). After spending most of the day in Prizren, there was one last stop that was just 30 minutes away from Prizren. Sar Mountains have a peak of 8697 feet (2651 m). We visited in late April and could still see snow on top of the mountains. The bus driver gave us a ride to the furthest point a car could go, where there was also a restaurant and locals selling honey.
The temperature was in the 50s, but the snow depth was about 20 inches during our short hike. While enjoying the beautiful lush green views of the Sar Mountains, we also met many beautiful dogs wandering around in the big grassy fields. On our way down from our hike, we stopped by to buy authentic homemade honey. We were given various samples to see what we preferred. We found the taste was different from the typical pre-packaged honey you find in the U.S.; it leaves a yummy and non-sweet aftertaste. A jar of honey costs 10 Euros, which is a reasonable price for the quality.
Ski the slopes in Bjeshkët e Sharrit Mountains (Sar Mountains) The ski resorts in Bjeshkët e Sharrit Mountains, also known as Sar Mountains, offer Alpine-style accommodations and new slopes to explore for less than half of the price you would pay in other European nations. The ski resort of Brezovica has sking for all levels. The highest point of the resort is 7,200 feet (2,400 m).
Some other fun suggestions
Though we didn’t get to do these during our limited time, here are other great suggestions when visiting Kosovo.
Visit the Anthropology Museum in Prishtina. This museum has free entry and includes a personal guided tour, sometimes by the curator himself. It’s a great insight into Albanian Kosovar’s traditional way of life. You get to see what traditional homes look like, wedding dresses, traditional jewelry, and many other fascinating historical items!
Seek out a traditional bazaar. It is a sight for the eyes and senses—a place to truly see what life is like for the Kosovars.
Mosques are just some of Kosovo’s undiscovered gems. Kosovo has many lovely mosques that are very welcoming to visitors.
Explore the Wine country. As a result of the abundance of sunshine, the growing environment for grape vines is ideal. The leading wine-producing area is the Rahovec Valley, also known as Orahovac, where you can do a tour of four wineries, the most famous being Stone Castle Winery.
Serbian Orthodox Churches The Serbian Orthodox churches in Kosovo are beautiful and historic though they represent a painful period for the Kosovars. The Peć Patriarchate in Peja is especially spectacular. These churches were built during the Serbian occupation when the rulers forced, at times violently, that all Kosovars convert to Christianity. Some churches have been vandalized as they represent the cruelty brought upon the people of Kosovo, but others see them as holy places that should be protected.
Enjoying the natural beauty
Walk in the Prokletije Mountains. Also known as the Accursed Mountains. This countrywide network of ancient shepherds’ trails rarely has tourists. The mountain village of Bogë is a perfect place for chalet-style hotels surrounded by snow-covered peaks. If you hike to the Mirusha Waterfalls, you will also be rewarded with a sweet swimming spot popular with locals.
Go Caving in, Peja. Peja will become the adventure hotspot of Kosovo one day. The nearby Rugova Canyon is gorgeous and has plenty of outdoor activities. Discover the crystals, stalactites, and stalagmites while searching for underwater waterfalls and lakes in this cave. Day trips with tour companies are very affordable because of the low cost of living in Kosovo.
Wander to rural countryside The modern city of Prishtina turns into rural rolling hills rapidly. Farmers herding goats, sheep, and cows hanging out on abandoned fortresses, such as Novo Brdo. It has a charm and simplicity that is quite captivating.
Hike the many Kosovos Mountains; Kosovo’s terrain is mountainous and lovely, with tons of potential for hiking. It is best to take an organized tour to get the most out of your visit.
Visit Rugova Canyon. With its length of over 15 miles and depth of 3,300 feet, Rugova is one of the most impressive canyons in all of Europe. The waters of the Peć Bistrica river have cut their way through the mountains making the setting breathtaking. The town of Peja is a good starting point for a hike along the canyon and the surrounding mountains.
The Cafe Culture of Kosovo
Coffee in Kosovo is by far the most desired drink, but it is not just about the drink but the culture and traditions surrounding it. Going on “coffee dates” is one of the most popular activities for locals. There is even a saying that Kosovars commonly use “Let’s go for a coffee.” In Kosovo, coffee shops are core to the community. It is the place to gather with friends, have a business meeting, or read a book.
There are, on average, three-four coffee shops per block in Kosovo, making it convenient to stop by on a busy day of sightseeing. Megi being from Albania, was not surprised to see the number of people spending time at coffee shops. However, after living in the U.S. for a while, she noted a big cultural difference. In Kosovo, people start their day by going to a coffee shop to meet a couple of friends or their significant others and will spend 1-2 hours there. It’s not just about getting caffeinated; it’s about the routine of “enjoying” coffee, Dressing up nice, sharing a story or two, and, well, you are in Europe, smoking a cigarette too.
An interesting side fact. The government is working hard to reduce smoking. Recently there was some legislation passed that banned indoor smoking, especially in restaurants and cafés, as an attempt to reduce smoking habits but also make locations family/children friendly. There are A LOT of people who are extremely unhappy with this and are boycotting locations that enforce these rules. As a result, many establishments build outdoor patios, or outdoor “enclosed” sections to allow for smoking while still keeping the indoor area smoke-free in an attempt to appease more customers.
Kosovar’s favorite coffee is a macchiato, an espresso shot mixed with boiled foamy milk. The coffee size is much smaller than what we traditionally see in the U.S. In Kosovo; coffee is served in small espresso cups, similar to much of Europe. Megi has lived in Albania for 19 years, traveled throughout Europe (including Italy), and has been a coffee drinker for over eight years. She can confidentially say that Kosovo’s coffee is one of the best coffees she has ever had. Their macchiato is creamy, the coffee tastes strong, and the aroma is of freshly roasted coffee beans. The amazing coffee taste and the bean strength make up for the small cup size. One shot will be plenty to provide the energy needed to get going for the whole day.
Our preferred coffee shop
Our favorite coffee shop in Kosovo was Mon Cheri in Prishtina. The contemporary French design, cozy ambiance, and bookshelf in the back made it unique from the other numerous coffee shops. We bought a bag of cookies and enjoyed a large Macchiato for a few hours. What adds to the pleasure of coffee drinking at Mon Cheri and all the other coffee shops in Kosovo are the real mugs in which the coffee is served. To-go paper coffee cups are not popular here since most people like to savor their time and relax when enjoying their coffee.
There are two popular times to get coffee, morning (from 6 am to 11 am) and afternoon (from 5 pm to 8 pm). Just like in most Western Europe countries, it is customary that coffee is consumed with a cookie or croissant, especially in the morning. However, some Kosovars think that the excellence of the coffee with anything else will “ruin” the taste.
Our favorite experiences
Kosovo is beautiful and has so much to offer, whether you’re looking for a city vibe or steep hiking mountains. Some of our favorites and we feel are must-do activities were:
- Prishtina: The NEWBORN sign downtown, signifying the independence of Kosovo. Around the tall NEWBORN display, you will find many historical monuments and parks that are worth visiting once.
- Prishtina: All the traditional local restaurants we ate at we thoroughly enjoyed. We loved the “fli,” “suxhuk,” and our daily macchiato.
- Prizren: The Castle of Prizren, “Lidhja e Prizrenit” and take a stroll by the canal. The path will take you around beautiful shops and restaurants. We wish we had gone to a mosque for a visit but couldn’t make time for it. However, seeing the architecture from the outside was very enjoyable.
- Near Prizren: Mali I Sharrit “Sar Mountain” park; though it was only a short hike, we loved the stunning scenery and adored trying out the local honey.
An inexpensive place to eat and play
What was a pleasant surprise was the low cost of living. Therefore, food, shopping, hotels, and more were affordable compared to some U.S. counterpart stores/restaurants. This allowed us as college students to venture out to experience their culturally diverse food options, tourist locations, and shops with more freedom.
If you click on the Expedia link farther down the page, you will be shocked at how low the accommodation prices are per night. Since we had our trip covered, we were not aware until we wrote this blog post how reasonable the cost was.
How to get to and around Kosovo
Transport from other countries was relatively easy with several options and airlines. The Kosovo airport is smaller, so there is a good chance you will have to land in a different country before flying to Kosovo. We transited through Turkey to get to Kosovo.
The Kosovo airport is very modern, and all signs are Albanian and English. Plenty of taxis and even drivers are waiting right out of the gate.
In terms of getting to Kosovo, make sure you check with your home country’s policies. As Kosovo is still a relatively new county, not all countries recognize it as an independent state, and if they don’t, you will likely need to take extra steps to get a Kosovo Visa. Travelers with a United States passport at the time of this post will not need a visa or take any additional steps to visit.
Driving in Kosovo
Driving in Kosovo is not something a foreigner should attempt in the city. The streets are very narrow and congested, with confusing traffic signs. There has been a recent push to enforce stricter speeding laws due to many accidents. We found that there are plenty of erratic drivers.
In the case of Prishtina, there are very few parking spaces to be had in the city. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see dozens of cars parked halfway up sidewalks.
There is no Uber or similar service; however, taxis are everywhere and available by phone call. Most hotels will be able to call one for you, or you can find one yourself by walking around. They are very cheap compared to most taxis in the states. They will charge more for popular places, especially the airport.
Private tour companies can drive you or your group to various cities for longer excursions across the country. There are also public buses within major cities, but we did not use them, so we can’t speak to personal experience.
Kosovo cuisine at its best
Food in Kosovo is a mixture of Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine, with specialties primarily meat and bread items. Like the rest of the Balkans, Kosovars love their meat, and they love it grilled.
Our first meal in Kosovo was breakfast included with our hotel stay. It contained sourdough bread, eggs, chicken sausage (pork sausage is not an option in most restaurants for religious reasons), cheese, butter, jam, and of course, espresso. We enjoyed our breakfasts here; however, it was not typical breakfast food except for the espresso. Make sure to branch out from the hotel breakfast and experience more traditional breakfast experiences n Kosovo.
In the photos above, you will see several meals we had during our visit and some settings we were in.
Our first lunch in Kosovo at the conference began our exposure to some local food. They served traditional local food as well as some standard conference fare. Some of the traditional food they served were fli, pite (pie, usually stuffed with cheese or cheese and spinach), feta cheese, giant pretzels, and baklava (dessert). It was a delicious and plentiful launch into our hunt for more local food experiences.
What is not to love about fli?
All you need is one bite of fli (also called flija or flia) to fall in love with this dish. Kosovo’s most popular and authentic dish, fli, is made of crepe-like layers separated by cream. Alternating layers of batter and cream are filled into a pan and baked one layer at a time over 5 to 6 hours. The locals describe this process as time-consuming but worth the time. Each layer is soft and moist. It is served with sour cream and butter.
Our favorite restaurant
One of our favorite meals and restaurants in Prishtina was at Shpija e Vjeter which translates to “The Old House.” Our conference host recommended this restaurant which was only a 6-minute walk from our hotel and surrounded by countless other restaurants and shops. It was our first time at a restaurant, so we were eager to try a little bit of everything, and because the prices were reasonable it made it possible.
First, we got some appetizers that included: pogacha bread (this is like the chips and salsa of Mexican food, most people eat bread on each meal in Kosovo), yellow pepper sauce (their most popular pepper and heavy cream sauce and a salad with feta cheese. We loved dipping the bread in the ajvar sauce (made with sweet red peppers and eggplant); however, Megi, a feta cheese freak, enjoyed the combo of pogacha bread and cheese the most.
For our main dishes, we got beefsteak with potatoes and vegetables (11.50 Euros), and beef pot-roast with potatoes and vegetables (7.00 Euros). The meat was delicious; the main difference between the two was the meat texture; we liked the beefsteak better as it was more tender and the sauce tasted better. In addition to the amazing meal, we enjoyed the ambiance at Shpija e Vjeter, as there was an outdoor area with many living plants. The restaurant was furnished with old items from the 80s, which made the place feel cozy and, as the name says, like an old house. The total cost of our lunch was about 34 Euros (for two people), including our appetizers, main meals, and drinks. Tips are not required in Kosovo, but they are appreciated; we tipped 5 Euros.
Other dining experiences
Another thing we tried during our trip was the Kosovar beef sausage (suxhuk), which is well known not only in Kosovo but in all of Western Europe. Their sausage (suxhuk), Megi’s favorite, has the right amount of spices and thick texture. It is typically served with sour cream mixed with salt and garlic, so yummy.
For dinner, we got fli again, and this time they served it with dhallte (salted yogurt and water drink), while for Megi, this tasted delicious, but we wouldn’t recommend it to those who dislike milk or yogurt. Ryan was less of a fan. Overall food was excellent, and fli and Kosovo sausage were our favorites.
Those interested in what might be a traditional local libation should seek out Rakia. Rakia (or rakija) is a way of life in the Balkans and an unavoidable part of Kosovo travel. Some hardcore Kosovar people even have it in the morning, claiming it kills the bacteria in your stomach. It is a powerful spirit and not entirely pleasant straight-up unless you enjoy it in cocktails like a Pear Rakia.
Nightlife in Kosovo
In Kosovo, the nightlife is trendy, especially on weekends. A typical weekend night out includes dancing and drinking a beer or two. We didn’t go out a lot on our trip since we had finals and a conference presentation to prepare. However, one evening we could not resist. Along with other conference speakers we visited a bar and got a taste of the nightlife in Kosovo.
The bar we went to in Prishtina was called Rockuzinë, a rock music club that translates to Rock Cuisine. They had live music and were primarily attended by young people (ages 18-30). The bar was small so it could get crowded at times. They offered typical bar drinks, and we got giggles from the server when we ordered coffee and apple juice; they didn’t have either. Rockkuzine was among the most popular bars, according to the conference host who invited us. The location was not very convenient as it was not close to other bars/restaurants; it was off the freeway, about 10 min walk from the other restaurants and coffee shops. Overall we liked the ambiance of this bar and would recommend it if you enjoy rock music.
Where to stay in Kosovo
While we can’t speak much about the overall quality of hotels in the city (as we had everything organized for us), we can speak about the hotel we stayed at, Hotel City. Hotel City is located near the heart of Prishtina and offers modern rooms. There is a restaurant/café on the bottom floor that provides complimentary breakfast. Next door is a small grocery store that contains food, snacks, drinks, and toiletries. There is also a service to travel back to the airport, and the front desk will call a taxi to visit the city.
The links below provide accommodations and vacation rentals in the capital city of Prishtina. If you want to look at other towns, enter the city name into the search engine. Compare Expedia and Booking.com as not all options are available at both locations. Booking.com is European based, and they often have accommodations that Expedia does not offer. Always look closely at recent reviews before booking.
What is the weather like in Kosovo?
Kosovo’s geographical location is influenced by continental air masses resulting in relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall and hot, dry summers and falls. Kosovo has 270 days of sunshine a year. Be warned; the summers are scorching hot. Staying hydrated is very important. It is the Mediterranean and alpine influences create regional variation. The highest rainfall is between October and December.
The ideal time to visit is late Spring and early fall. There is no peak tourist season because the country has not yet made it on the tourism map. That said, it is one of the last European secrets, and on top of being unspoiled and unexplored, it offers many things for visitors to do throughout the year. Spring and summer are the best seasons for festivals and outdoor activities, and fall and winter are perfect for skiing and visiting museums.
Though the warnings about traveling to Kosovo seemed a bit scary, we never had any concerns once there. We felt welcomed and safe everywhere.
For those interested in the U.S. State Department warning, you can get complete information by clicking here.
When traveling out of the U.S. we strongly recommend registering with the State Department through a program called Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or better known as STEP. It logs in a report (for free) of where, and for how long in the case a major emergency occurs. You may also register who you are with. This way, the US Government will know that you are in the country and have a way to contact and find you in case of an emergency, either back home or where you are located. It offers other protections as well. We registered and found it user-friendly. Learn more about this quick and free program from the blog post-Smart Travelers Enrollment Program.
Importance of Travel Insurance
As with any travel having good travel insurance is essential. If health problems occur, it would be ideal to have a policy that will evacuate to a more modern health system in neighboring countries. To become an educated consumer and learn where to buy the best coverage at low cost, check out the blog post; Travel Insurance: Protecting You and Yours.
In Ryans’ case, he bought a membership with MedJet Horizon. It provided peace of mind with the political unrest happening in the world. The membership covered medical evacuation back to any hospital you chose in the U.S., as is standard with MedJet assist. It also covers worldwide travel security, crisis response, and evacuation services in cases of terrorism, natural disaster, violent crime, and other safety concerns. The cost was $184, and it covered up to $60,000 of medical expenses that could occur before being medically transported out of the country and back to a U.S. hospital. To learn more about MedJet, check out the blog post, Global Medical Evacuation Coverage for Travelers: A frank discussion.
Cell service was excellent
You must contact your cell provider to set up an international roaming plan or rely on Wi-Fi. We had no problems with our roaming plans (Version and T-mobile), and most shops/restaurants have free Wi-Fi available.
Overall, Kosovo is a fantastic destination, boasting a thriving city and beautiful picturesque nature just an hour outside its capital of Prishtina. Its rich and recent history adds to the country’s unique charm and creates a culture of unity and pride in its citizens.
Kosovo is welcoming to visitors, with a growing tourism industry and plenty of opportunities to explore this fascinating young country. There is something for everyone, no matter your age or interests. Our experience, although brief and filled with schoolwork, still managed to leave an impact and a desire to return. As Kosovo adapts to the technology age, the industry is drawn to it, bringing employment, innovation, and attention, ensuring its spot as a global player.
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About our guest authors, Megi and Ryan
Megi is from Albania and came to Arizona in 2018 to attend Arizona State University. Leaving her homeland to attend college in a foreign country speaks to her sense of adventure. She graduated in 2022 with B.S.E. in Computer Systems Engineering with an emphasis in cybersecurity. She has decided to stay in the U.S. to start her career in cybersecurity. Before starting her new job, she spent some of the summer months visiting family and friends in Albania. She is excited to begin this next chapter of her life.
Ryan was born in Arizona and attended college at Arizona State University. He graduated in 2022 with a B.S.E. in Computer Systems Engineering with an emphasis in cybersecurity, along with two minors in French and Engineering Management. After graduating, Ryan spent time in Ireland on a family trip, followed by some downtime at home before starting his new career. Ryan will start his new job in cybersecurity in the fall.
Megi and Ryan met and became friends when they both had summer internships at the same company in Arizona. They must have made quite the impression as they both were offered and accepted full-time jobs there after graduation.
During their last year of college, they landed on the same team for their senior project. They never imagined that their senior project would result in invitations to present internationally and at conferences in the U.S. They aced the presentation and had an adventure they will never forget. For anyone interested, their senior project presentation in Kosovo can be viewed at this link.
We sincerely appreciate Megi and Ryan for sharing their unique experiences in Kosovo. Hopefully, we can visit ourselves in the next few years. It would be fun to explore all it has to offer, take incredible photos, meet the people of Kosovo, experience the culture, and tell its story.
For more information, check out this tourism site for Kosovo
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