Pristina is the capital city of Kosovo and its political and economic centre. It may not be as fascinating as other Eastern European capital cities, but Pristina is charming in many ways. I has great café culture, quirky architecture and the people are wonderful. Two not-to-miss places in Pristina are the Newborn Monument, which is a symbol of the county’s independence (Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008), and the inescapably ugly National Library of Kosovo that was built in 1982 by the Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjaković. It is known for its 99 domes and a giant metal fishing net that covers the whole structure. Don’t forget to enjoy a coffee at one of the two coolest bars in town, Soma Book Station or Dit’n’Nat, both are pleasant spots frequented by students, as well as by the international community living in town.
Prizren is considered to be the cultural capital of Kosovo. While Pristina is more international and has a vibrant nightlife, Prizren is famous for its old architecture, religious buildings and history. It is located just one hour by bus from the capital city, so you can think of it as a day trip destination. The best thing to do in Prizren is climb to the top of the old fortress, Kalaja, and admire heartbreaking views of old town. Bring your camera with you because the panorama includes several mosques, churches, bridges and red rooftops. Then come back into town and visit the Shadervan area, which is the prettiest district of Prizren, with ancient mosques, crowded cafés and an eye-catching old stone bridge.
Peja is a town located in the western region of Kosovo, not far from the Montenegrin border. The reason why everyone should visit it, apart from its beautiful kulla (typical architecture of northern Albania and Kosovo), is because Peja is the gateway to Rugova Canyon and Patriarchate of Peć. If you are into outdoor activities and love mountains, this is the right place for you: you can hike, trek or just enjoy the open air in this beautiful region of the Balkans. If you want to admire great sights too, don’t miss the old Patriarchate, a medieval Serbian orthodox monastery.
Another great day trip from Pristina, and a lovely town to include on the Balkan trail, is Gjakova, a small city located near Prizren. The most beautiful part of this enchanting town is its old bazaar, the oldest and largest market of Kosovo. It’s a unique place that is perfect for buying original souvenirs made by local craftsmen, and sipping excellent Turkish coffee. Gjakova was seriously damaged during the Kosovo war, but after a big push to restore the city with the help of local artists, the town is now one of the prettiest urban areas in the Balkan Peninsula. Don’t forget to take a walk above the city at dusk to admire Gjakova’s ancient mosques, Orthodox churches and Catholic churches. It will take your breath away.