With so much talk about Kosovo politics, one sometimes forgets that Kosovo is a nice place to visit. I know everyone has their “list” of what to do in Kosovo. Not to be outdone, here’s mine.
1) Visit Rugova Valley: Located in Peja, Rugova Valley is a nature lover’s dream. If you’re stuck in Pristina, you often times forget that Kosovo is actually not all concrete and mud, but a very green and mountainous area. Rugova Valley embodies that. A river where you can have picnics. Rock climbing. Hiking. Clean air. Caves you can explore. Amazing and breathtaking views. A stones throw from Montenegro. All free.
2) Visit Prizren: Without question, this is the most beautiful city in Kosovo. It’s also arguably the most diverse and most tolerant. Minarets and churches are meters apart. It doesn’t matter what language you speak. If you meet someone who was born and raised in Prizren, chances are they speak Albanian, Serbian, Bosnian, and Turkish.
3) Visit Brezovica: One of the best – if not the best – ski center in the Balkans. It’s only 10 kilometers from Prizren. Beginner skiers beware: the slopes are super steep. You know your black diamond ski runs back in the United States? Most of those are bunny slopes compared to Brezovica’s outrageous ski runs. Moreover, skiing there is dirt cheap. A lift pass for the day is about 10 or so euros. Lot of cheap places to stay, including a hotel.
There is a bit of tension there because the Serb government still owns the ski center and they say they’re not giving it back. Apart from that, once people start skiing, people generally forget if the person skiing next to them is Serb or Albanian. However, even if you don’t ski, it’s still a great place to visit. Amazing views. You can see Macedonia. And, the town surrounding Brezovica, Strpce, serves some great pork dishes. If you eat anywhere in Strcpe, be forewarned: you will be absolutely stuffed when you leave. Also, try the slivovitz . . . but make sure you have a designated driver!
4) Visit Decani Monastery: The monastery is located in Peja, which is a few hours drive from Pristina. It’s on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It’s protected by the Swedish Military. Very cool place to visit. There’s an old nun inside the monastery that gives a free tour.
5) Try a Maccahiato (Or Two Or Three): Once you try a maccahiato from Kosovo, you will realize that the coffee or “maccahiatos” you have been drinking beforehand are trash. Cafes in Kosovo make — hands down — the best cup of maccahiatos on the planet. (A maccahiato is a double espresso with some foamed milk). For between 50 to 75 Eurocents, it’s a steal. If you put your plastic stirrer in the middle of the maccahiato, it will stand upright. Kosovo Maccahiatos put the F in foamy. (Note to Howard Schultz . . . I know your Starbucks stores are doing fine, but if you added Kosovo maccahiatos to your list, your business will boom even more.)
6) Try Kebabs from Pristina: Kebabs are these little 3 inch sausage things. I don’t know how else to explain them. They are made of lamb and an assortment of spices. They come in a set of ten. It comes with bread, cabbage, and a unique red pepper sauce condiment (red bell-like peppers are everywhere in Kosovo). You usually have it with yogurt (just like you would if you had a burek).
Kebabs are much like pizza back in NY. Everyone has their opinion of who makes the best kebabs. So I’ll add my two cents to the debate. The best kebabs come from Pristina. There’s one on UCK street near the Raiffeisen bank with a blue awning. I don’t know the name of the restaurant but the kebabs literally melt in your mouth. 2 euros and you get yourself 10 sizzling kebabs that will make your stomach smile. 50 eurocents for a yogurt drink.
That’s my top 6 list. Please comment if you have others you’d like to add.