Nine Delightful Experiences in Kosovo - Europe's Newest Country!

Would you like to visit one of the world's newest countries? How about staying in a super plush Airbnb apartment in the heart of Prishtina? Do you want to travel around some stunning countryside? What about visiting a unique sanctuary which looks after rescued bears? Does eating meat several times a day sound good to you? Is getting a €60 makeover perfect for IG appealing at all? How about visiting a traditional Balkan city with ancient mosques, monasteries and cobbled streets? All this and more is possible in Kosovo, so read our list of nine delightful experiences to enjoy there and book a flight to Prishtina soon!

1. Visit the beautiful city of Prizren

If you're anywhere in Kosovo or Northern Albana, don't miss the chance to visit the charming city of Prizren. Situated just 85 kilometres south of Prishtina and just over the northern Albanian border, it's divided in two by the Bistrica River. One side of the river is a traditional cobbled-street old town full of interesting mosques, monasteries, and old architectural delights. You'll find the best restaurants and characterful hotels in this area too, some with pretty views overlooking the banks of the river. The other side is newer and less aesthetically-pleasing. Make sure you save enough energy to walk up to the beautifully preserved fortress with stunning mountain and cityscape views. 

The ideal place to eat after scaling the long path down from the fortress is Besimi Beska. Probably the best restaurant in Prizen, you'll find a range of salads, meats and European dishes on offer. Choose an outdoor table and spend the afternoon devouring your expansive meal while watching the world go by. If you don't want to rush back to Prishtina or onwards to Albania, why not spend the night at a cheap guest house? Hotel My Home was our choice for one night; it's a clean, decent, modern place and just €25 for a double room. Alternatively, check Airbnb for apartment options. 

2. Feel the Love at the Fabulous Four Paws Bear Sanctuary

If you want to support an organisation passionate about protecting wildlife, stop by the fabulous Four Paws Bear Sanctuary near Prishtina. Situated at the far end of a lovely lake on a partly forested hill, the sanctuary looks after bears who were maltreated in Kosovo in a different era. While the bears themselves aren't always eager to show themselves, we got to see a few of the less shy ones. However, far more interesting than that, was reading the heartbreaking stories of each and every bear - Four Paws have done a great job at showing both the cruelty and kindness of humans towards animals by retelling historical rescue and rehabilitation stories. 

Set across quite a large area, you could easily spend half the day here - eat at their excellent restaurant, browse at the well-stocked shop, play at the park, wander along extensive woodland trails or try to spot one of the more reluctant bears. It's a great break from city life and you'll get to experience beautiful countryside too. In the summer, if you're feeling brave, you can bring your swimsuit for a quick dip in the lake on your way home. To get there, either take a taxi right to the sanctuary itself (€25 round trip, get the driver to wait) or ride the public bus (make sure you get dropped at the far end of the lake, not near the first sanctuary sign). Entrance fee is just €1.50 but you can give a larger donation if you want.

3. Visit the Ugliest Building in the World: The National Library of Kosovo

Dubbed the world's ugliest building, Kosovo's National Library is nevertheless fascinating both inside and out. Set in the grassy grounds of the university, the building looks a bit threatening and very post-industrial - whether you like it or not is up to your personal taste, but it's worth going inside to check out the various exhibitions and book sections too. 

4. Go Shopping at Albi Mall

If you're looking for a huge western style shopping mall, take a taxi for €3 to Albi Mall just outside the centre of Prishtina. Alongside good quality clothing, food, and footwear shops, it has an excellent range of restaurants, a large cinema and a cool games area for kids - Raf loved the opportunity to play a few games and devour a few slices of his favourite pizza: pepperoni.  

5. Stay in a Plush Apartment in Kosovo's Capital City for €30

If you scroll down a booking.com or Airbnb search for Prishtina, you'll find the city's positively full of myriad quirky apartments. Because every tourist puts the likes of London, Budapest and Prague on their European destination list, apartments there can charge more or less whatever they like. Fortunately, mass tourism hasn't reached Prishtina yet and €30 is more than enough to bag a decent apartment space. Situated in the very heart of the city, the Light Studio perfectly suited our needs with it's modern interiors, large plasma TV, small balcony and fabulous beds.  However, if you want even more luxury, book a night or two at Hotel Swiss Diamond Prishtina (175 Euro + per night) or find a larger, more expensive apartment online.

6. Try Traditional Kosovan Food 

Alongside accommodation, the restaurant scene in Kosovo is similarly competitive both in terms of price and quality. Alongside traditional Kosovan food, you'll find an array of international restaurants offering Albanian, French, Italian and even Thai cuisine. While all the restaurants we tried had their upsides, two really stood out as the most memorable: Liburnia and Shaban Grill House.

Shaban Grill House

Situated right in the heart of the action on Bulevardi Nënë Tereza, Shaban Grill House is an unremarkable restaurant with two major upsides: price and location. It won't even cost 20 Euros to fill the stomachs of a family of four with burgers, grilled meat, salads and water. While munching on your meat feast, make the most of restaurant's glass frontage to check out the fashionable crowd
walking by.

Liburnia Restaurant

Probably the most popular restaurant in Prishtina, Liburnia offers a blend of Mediterranean, European and Albanian flavours. Tucked away down a side street near the city centre, it's easy to find on foot or take a taxi if you want to get there quickly! Once you get inside, you'll love the unique atmosphere and excellent service. Miras and I opted for a couple of Liburnia's finest meat main courses, while Raf decided on a plate of spaghetti. For food that tasted home-cooked and very delicious, the final bill of less than 30 Euro felt like the bargain of the century. Don't forget to drop by Liburnia if you're ever in Prishtina - you don't want to miss it!

7. Sip Coffee in Zahir Pajaziti Square

Don't underestimate the appeal of just sitting down and watching the day drift by in the Zahir Pajaziti Square area. Grab a coffee or ice cream at one of many establishments which offer outdoor seating and a great vantage point to observe the people of Europe's newest city. For us, travel slowed down in Prishtina after a fairly grueling trip through Istanbul, Tirana, Albania's coast and lakes. And the time we spent just chatting and drinking coffee on the capital's streets made us think about why we travel - is it just ticking boxes or do we actually want to enjoy life along the way? Seems likely that any future city trips we might take won't be as hectic as before and we'll hang out a lot more like this - just feeling the vibe.

8. Get a Makeover in a Top Salon for €60

If you're not an expert at doing your own hair or makeup, why not book a complete makeover appointment at one of Kosovo's top salons. Alongside top quality service, you'll pay a fraction of the cost of the same sort of salon treatment in northern Europe or the United States. It also provides a brilliant opportunity to interact with some authentic locals, learn more about the country and gain an authentic Instagram follower or two.

After seeing their vibrant images on Instagram, Miras chose Prishtina's Studio Volume as her salon destination in Kosovo. Our Airbnb host in Prishtina set up the appointment for us, which was fairly early in the morning on our second to last day. The make-up artist, Anna Ademi, uniquely began by pulling back her eyes to make them longer; she did this by tightly pulling and tying Miras' hair both sides. After that, she went to work on her face, creating a gorgeous smokey look fit for the catwalk. An hour later, Anna handed Miras over to a male hairdresser who put in a few waves and made her even more photoshoot-ready. From the salon, we wandered around a couple of iconic locations and snapped a few shots before heading back to make use of our lovely apartment for some boudoir shots. Worth every one of the 60 Euros we paid, we'd definitely recommend Studio Volume for any hair and make-up desires you might have while in Kosovo.

Makeup Video Highlights 


9. Feel the Optimism of a Newly Born Country

Whether it's posing at the New Born sign or checking out Bill Clinton's statue, there's plenty of super modern history to consume on the streets of Kosovo. While not everyone recognises the status of Kosovo as Europe's newest country, it's worth reading a bit about the country's history to understand both their passion for America (and Clinton in particular) and their desire for a fresh start. Demographically one of the youngest cities in the world, you can feel a real sense of energy by just wandering around the city.

Follow in our footsteps

– To get to Kosovo in the first place, start with skyscanner to find the cheapest international flight options. You can fly direct from almost all European capitals.

– Alternatively, combine Kosovo with other countries in the Balkans. Check Turkish Airlines for some particularly attractive open jaw options flying into Istanbul, onto Tirana and out of Kosovo, allowing overland travel around the region.

– Check booking.com and Airbnb for accommodation options in Prishtina and elsewhere in Kosovo. It makes sense to book ahead using booking.com (using free cancellation option if plans change) to ensure you get the right place for the right price.

Comments

Popular Posts