Unspoiled, welcoming and extremely beautiful: Peja and the Rugova Valley are on the list of top destinations for travelers who want to explore underrated places without breaking the bank. While Peja has an extraordinary history, Rugova Canyon boasts great natural beauty and is the best destination in Kosovo for enthusiasts of outdoor activities. Read our tips to know how to spend a gorgeous weekend here.
Enjoy the traditional side of Peja
Start your Kosovar weekend with a huge tasty breakfast. One of the best cafés in Peja is Prince Coffee House, a beautiful and well-decorated bar right in the Old Town. Order a Turkish coffee and a slice of trilece, a pie made with milk and cream, before you start your day of touring. Prince Coffee House is situated few steps from the old bazaar of Peja, one of the most characteristic sights in town. Spend some of your time here strolling through the market and buying some traditional souvenirs, such as handmade rugs, jewels and clothing. The old bazaar is near the old mosque of Peja, so don’t miss a visit to that, too.
Experience a spiritual moment
Grab a cab and head over to the old Monastery of Decan, a stunning church located 30 minutes away from Peja and hidden in a forest at the foot of the so-called Accursed Mountains, a mountain range extending from northern Albania to Montenegro. Decan Monastery is a stunning white building with a small cupola founded in the 14th century. Go inside the church to admire the frescoes with various scenes from the Bible. A curiosity: Orthodox monks still live here and produce fresh organic foods, like cheeses and wines.
Taste some traditional food
Once back in Peja, it is time to look for a traditional restaurant where you can try typical Kosovar delicacies. Kulla e Zenel Beut is one of the best restaurants in town that serves traditional Albanian-Kosovar food (menus start from 7€). The restaurant is located inside an historical kulla, a tower made of stones typical of Kosovo and Northern Albania, and has a small lovely garden.
Treat yourself like a prince/princess
If you want to be treated like a prince or a princess without spending a fortune, head to the Hotel Dukagjini, the only five-star hotel in Peja. It is a bit more expensive than other accommodations in town, but it is still affordable if compared to five-star hotels in Western Europe. Spend the night in one of their elegant rooms, enjoying the mountain view.
Get ready for excursions
After a great breakfast, leave the city center of Peja and head into the Rugova Valley, one of the most spectacular natural areas in Kosovo and the Balkan Peninsula. Rugova is home to lovely mountain villages, breathtaking peaks and a gorgeous canyon that offers some of the best views in the country. The best thing to do here is to spend a few hours in this natural paradise surrounded only by nature: Rugova is still unspoiled, so there are no crowds here.
Discover the main religious site in Kosovo
Before returning to town, spend the afternoon visiting the Patriarchate of Peja, one of the main cultural and historical landmarks in Kosovo. The Patriarchate is a medieval Orthodox monastery built in the 13th century and located between the entrance of the Rugova Valley and the city of Peja. The monastery consists of four churches, three of which are connected to each other.
Fall in love with Peja
For breathtaking views over Peja and the surrounding mountains, the best place to eat is Era, a beautiful restaurant located outside the city center. There is nothing better than coming here just before sunset, to admire great panoramas and enjoy a lovely dinner with some of the finest local wines.
Enjoy your last night in town
Peja is not like the capital city Pristina, which is a lively and vibrant town full of students and young people. There are few cafés open at night, but the best thing to do on your last night in Peja is to stroll through the city center and along the river Lumbardhi i Pejes, enjoying a tourist-free town and feeling lucky to be one of the few travelers discovering this amazing, secret European gem.