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Gjakova

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Kosovo : Gjakova
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Gjakova/Gjakovë (Albanian) is a city in western Kosovo with about 150,000 inhabitants.

Understand[edit]

Gjakova was badly hit by the Kosovo War of 1998–99, fought between Kosovo Liberation Army guerillas demanding the independence of then-autonomous province of Kosovo and Serbia, or Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as it was known then. Around 75% of town's population was driven out by Serbian Army during the war, and much of city's buildings were burnt or otherwise destroyed—by both sides of belligerents, as it seems. After the war, much of town's ethnic Albanian inhabitants returned (who now make up to 95% of the population), but it was the local Serbs to be exiled this time. Many of the stores at the downtown area, locally known as Qarshia e Madhe, were rebuilt.

While in Gjakova, make sure you talk to the locals, especially the young ones, since they're more proficient in English. And you will hear a story about every corner of the city. Talking about the past is a very actual subject, but people avoid it since many families there have lost at least one dear member. This is a life experience, it will change you forever...

Get in[edit]

Minibuses to Gjakova are available from the harbor where ferries from Albanian city of Shkodra across the Lake Koman/Lake Fierza terminate. Buses to Gjakova are quite often present(2014). Buses from Pristina travel each hour, starting from 6AM till 8PM. Travel takes about 1 hour and 20 mins and it costs 4 Euros. Buses from Prizren travel each half an hour, starting from 6AM till 8PM. Travel takes about 1 hour and it costs 2 Euros. Buses from Peja travel each half an hour, starting from 6AM till 8PM. Travel takes about 1 hour and it costs 2 Euros.

Getting to Gjakova from abroad, especially from Albanian cities is also quite often. Buses from Tirana to Gjakova depart everyday at 6AM and 3PM. The ride takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes, or 4 hours tops. It costs no more than 7-10 Euro or 15 R/T for students or 20 R/T normal payment. A great chance to enjoy Albanian-Kosovar newest highway and see the beauties of Albania's and Kosovo's mountains, lakes, rivers, bridges etc.

Get around[edit]

Since the city is not that big, the best way to get to see it is by walking. Thus, take your chance to talk to people and ask them to be your guide, they will lead you through everything and they will do it for free! People there have an open heart, who knows, if you are lucky you can get a free coffee or drink!

Public transport is able to take you to different part of the city. Buses appear at each bus station from about 7-10 minutes and the ride costs 0.50 cents.

Taxis are quite cheap, you can get around the city for €2-3 tops.

See[edit][add listing]

Most of the old architecture has been destroyed during the war and funds to reconstruct the damaged cultural heritage are insufficient.

The Radoniqi Lake is worth visiting! It's close to the airport, 7 km away. Taking a cab to there wouldn’t cost more than €15. Beware though, it's the drinking water source of the town, therefore swimming is prohibited! (Unless you go through bushes in the other side of the lake where guards cannot see.)

Or, you could drive 8 km towards the Albanian border and take a ferry to go to Shkodra across the Komani Lake, an artificial lake which snakes its way through valleys surrounded by awe-inspiring mountains. The ferry runs twice a day. An amazing 2-hour trip through the canyons! Enjoy!

Do[edit][add listing]

Gjakova city offers many things to do, and the prices are low.

There are four city pools, there are many historic monuments.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are many classy traditional restaurants in Gjakova, many fast-foods, fish fingers fast-food and many more alternatives to enjoy the original food that Gjakova has to offer.

Gjakovars (People who live in Gjakova) are the mighty lords when it comes to meat and its productions. They are known as the best of the bests in Kosovo for preparing meet and food. You get to eat amazing meat with salads and a special piece of bread called "Samun". This is enough for a meal, alongside with special home made "Ajron" or "Dhallë" in Albanian (traditional drink with water, salt and yogurt). This amazing meal will not cost more than 1.5 Euros and you will be able to explore the city for the whole day.

  • Qabrati (pronounced Chabrati) is on the top of the hill overlooking the city. Take a cab and within 10 minutes you'll be there enjoying a wonderful view of the city. They serve excellent and cheap traditional Albanian food which includes proper 300-gram beef steaks (for €6) and fresh salads with olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions and many other local dishes. Beers for €1.
  • The other one is called Hani te Qarshia e vjeter, in an old traditional house built during the WWI which has a nice cobblestone garden, serves excellent food and reasonable pricing.
  • For the lovers of fishes, there is a fast-food that provides fresh fishes(about 300 grams each) with salads and sea products. It costs 2 Euros with the salad and all. An extra beer for your taste, Birra Peja, costs 50 cent per half/liter. This place called Finger-Food "Lami" is one of the best fast-foods with fish products, being the best among years of experience.
  • There also is a good fish restaurant called Qingji i Ujit. It serves good fish and it's possibly the cheapest one you can get in Gjakova, along with various fresh salads, and traditional baked fish. In addition, they serve good beef steaks and many other local dishes, the coffee is also good and there is free wireless.
  • Fast-food called "Dea-F" is possibly one of the famous around the city. It is located in the center of the city just by old gymnasium. Food there costs from 1-3 euros, having a vary of products such as Toasts, Hot-Dogs, sandwiches, salads etc.

Drink[edit][add listing]

There are plenty of cafés and bars in Qarshia e Vogel (downtown) where you can go and have a Peja beer, relax and eventually meet youngs which would be excited to meet someone new in town.

New trends and cafes and bars are present in "Qarshia e Vjeter" (just 500M from downtown) that ensure you quality and cheap prices. Don't forget to talk to the people! Free-guide policy always applies.

Nightlife is pretty active during summer time. Young crowds go out on a promenade on the main street and then end up in bars and clubs. There is music during weekends, each Friday and Saturday there are live DJ-s performances and also live Singers performing for the public. One of the famous bars is called "HD" and it is located about 2KM from the city's downtown. Don't hesitate to ask people, everyone knows where this is.

Great places to go are present and the best part of it is that you don't really have to get tired looking for them. Just a question or by walking you see people having fun! We love our life!

Domestically brewed Peja Beer is a MUST. Cocktails are also everywhere and they don't cost more than 2 Euros. Long drinks cost not more than 2-3 Euros. Tipping is not mandatory but probably highly appreciated!

Spirits are also cheap. In any given bar/pub you can taste the home make Raki for 0.5 Euro per shot (at least 5 cl that is).

The city is quite crowded especially during summer time due to large numbers of expats visiting friends and family!


  • N'tabhane. Very busy bar. Lots of young people. Nice garden. Prices 1-5 Euro.  edit
  • Cacoo bar. Very crowded bar with very good staff and clientele. Prices 1-5 Euros.  edit


Sleep[edit][add listing]

Hotel Jakova and Hotel Pashtriku. Prices range from €25-70. Not posh but good enough for an average traveller.

  • Hotel Amsterdam. Double rooms with jacuzzi and internet access. €50/night.  edit
  • Hotel Metropol. Perhaps 3 stars. Good place to sleep with a good staff. Calm and sleep tight. 15-20 per night..  edit
  • Hotel Carshia e Jupave. checkin: 13:00; checkout: 12:00. If you fancy excellence and you can afford paying from 30-50 then this is the place. Prices from 30-50.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Be aware that 70% of the city has been destroyed and people there struggle to lead a dignified life, so, showing off is probably something that you want to avoid. However, security is at its highest level, you're probably more secure there than in London or New York. You can walk at anytime at night in the city and not be worried about anything! Have fun and enjoy!

Get out[edit]



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