There are actually quite a few reasons to visit Kosovo, and all were surprising to me. I had to pick and choose where to go the last time I was in the Balkans, and so skipped great places like Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Montenegro. I really didn’t know anything about these places, and hadn’t heard much besides what American media portrays. I’ve never seen a movie that shed an appealing light on a Balkan country, especially Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia. But this time around, I specifically headed to these countries, and as a result, I would definitely recommend each and every one of them. So here is
7 Surprising Reasons to visit Kosovo
1. It’s got a lot of beautiful country-side. Contrary to everything I’ve ever heard, Kosovo really surprised me with a lot of beauty. There weren’t a bunch of burned-out tanks lining the roads, or barb-wire-clad check-points every where. I can definitely recommend the city of Prizren.
2. It’s cheap. Evven though it uses the euro, everything is cheap. I stayed in a nice hostel, in a private room with a double bed for about 9 euro. I was able to eat like a king for 5 euro, and a beer was 1.50 or less. Even buses were cheap: I think I paid about 20 euro to get from Prestina to Podgorica, Montenegro.
3. Friendly people. Everyone I met was very nice and helpful. There was a slight language barrier, but people still tried to help me as much as possible. Some times they were even almost too nice- giving me free shots all the time!
4. You can smoke anywhere. It was so strange to go into a restaurant or bar or club and see people smoking. I don’t smoke, but it’s nice having even a small freedom. It’s funny seeing small, designate NON-smoking areas, instead of smoking areas.
5. Relaxing, non-touristy country. Although I firmly believe that this should change, people generally know Kosovo for it’s recent and turbulent past. People that know better however, go here because it’s a good place to relax. No tourists means that not everything revolves around tourism, which means no one is bothering you all the time to buy stuff. Plus, none of those annoying groups of tourists following a guide around, taking pictures of everything under the sun, blocking the walk-ways.
6. Awesome history. The Balkans are layered in so much history that it’s mind blowing, and Kosovo is no exception. You have the most recent, Soviet occupation and horrors. In the capital you will see miles of giant block housing complexes, where people were forced to live after being removed from their lands. Many times bullet-hole riddled. Then among these ugly blog buildings, you can find monasteries and mosques built in 14th, 15, and 16th century, that somehow survived the Soviets.
7. Very hospitable people. Kosovo is a melting pot of Europe, and for Europe’s newest country, it’s doing well for itself. I thought people would be more cold and inverted, but on the contrary I found them friendly, and eager. Progress is being made rapidly, cities are being rebuilt and people seem optimistic. In Prestina there is are streets named after Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. There’s even a three story mural of ol’ Bill on his street.