Help Wikitravel grow by contributing to an article! Learn how.

Kosovo

From Wikitravel
Europe : Balkans : Kosovo
Revision as of 14:56, 3 August 2009 by Local hero (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
[[File:noframe|250px|frameless|Kosovo]]
Location
[[File:LocationKosovo.png|250px|frameless]]
Flag
[[File:100px-Flag of Kosovo.png|108px|frameless]]
Quick Facts
Capital Pristina
Government Parliamentary democracy
Currency Euro (€)
Area 10,887 km²
Population 2,126,708
Language Albanian 90 % (official), Serbian 6 % (official), Turkish, Romany
Religion Muslim 92 %, Orthodox 6 %, Roman Catholic 1 %
Electricity 230V/50Hz (European plug)
Country code +381
Internet TLD none
Time Zone UTC +1

Kosovo, Albanian: (Кosova) Serbian: (Косово). Is a "de-facto" independent country in South Eastern Europe. After a lengthy and often violent dispute with Serbia, Kosovo declared independence in February 2008 despite heavy Serbian opposition. Kosovo is largely an Albanian speaking and Muslim area, but there are also significant numbers of minorities living within its borders, especially Serbs. Kosovo borders Albania to the west, Montenegro to the northwest, Macedonia to the south, and Serbia to the northeast.

While the legitimacy of the Kosovar government is disputed by many countries, from a traveller's point of view the Kosovar government has de facto control of the country. This is not a political endorsement of claims by either side in the dispute.


Cities

Understand

The population of Kosovo is about 92 percent Albanian, who use the name Kosova exclusively.

Many people in Kosovo can speak English; they are more than willing to help you and tell you their stories. You, as the outsider, will get to hear both sides.

If you are interested in more than just seeing beautiful mountains and ancient ruins on your vacation to 'the region', Kosovo strongly recommends itself.

  • Seeing the UN and the international community in action (or lack thereof) is quite interesting.
  • speaking to people in a post conflict environment is an eye opener that tends to cause a person to stop thinking of people in countries of civil conflict as simply nuts.
  • You'll get a first hand view of about 5 different cultures (Albanian, Serb, Roma, Ashkalia, and Bosniak)
  • You'll gain an understanding of what happens when governments allow industry to function when both environmental regulations and solid, defensible property rights are scarce
  • You'll come to enjoy a lot of coffee-shops around Prishtina
  • The Kosovars tend to be very friendly towards the USA, for its support of their independence. (ie: they have "Bill Clinton Boulevard" in Prishtina, as well as a large picture mural of him on the side of a building). They also are very friendly to Western European countries.

Info You can get a superb atlas of Kosovo from the OSCE that has detailed ethnic maps (before and after the war), vital statistics, along with navigational maps. To get the map, ask for the NGO Information office near the OSCE building in Pristina.

Talk

The majority of the population of Kosovo speaks Albanian. Serbo-Croatian is universally understood, but most Albanians refuse to speak it.

Get in

Citizens of countries such as Albania, Australia, Canada, EU, Lebanon, South Africa, and Turkey do not need a visa but if you are planning to stay in Kosovo for more than 90 days you MUST register at the Police Department for the Registration of Foreigners, which is next to the central police station. Citizens of other countries that have significantly contributed the the rebuilding of the Kosovo probably also do not need visas either, although Kosovo is starting to implement a stricter visa regime. N.B. The 90 day rule for the registration of foreigners applies to everybody.

You can enter Kosovo through the northern border with Serbia through Kosovska Mitrovica or near Pristina. There are bus connections from Belgrade and Nis to Pristina and Prizren and from all the major towns in Serbia to the northern parts. Most used transport route is through Macedonia and Prishtina airport. Skopje is only one and a half hours from the capital city of Kosovo, Prishtina. Travelling from Prishtina to any other city of Kosovo does not take longer than an hour and a half. For instance, from Prishtina to Prizren it takes an hour and a half, if there is no traffic, but the most it can take is two hours. The distance to Peja is also similar.

NOTE: As Serbia does not recognize Kosovo, you will not be given a Serbian exit stamp if you enter Kosovo from Serbia. Likewise, if Serbia finds any Kosovan stamps in your passport, they will be crossed out and replaced with Serbian stamps, although you are unlikely to be denied entry because of them. However, if you are living in or intend to travel frequently to Serbia, you will need to get matching pairs of entry and exit stamps; this means backtracking and leaving Serbia via a recognised border crossing point, such as the Belgrade airport.

UN-sign at the Kosovar border station of Deneral Jankovic welcoming visitors arriving from Blace, Macedonia [Photo: RP]

By plane

SAS Scandinavian Airlines [1] offer direct flights from Pristina to Copenhagen on Saturdays.

Scanderbeg Air also offers direct flights from New York-JFK twice a week for the Summer of 2009

By bus

From Montenegro you can enter through Rozaje to Peja/Pec(approximately 2.0 hours).

From Macedonia you can take a bus to Prishtina (approximately 2.5 hours)

There is a border crossing in the Presevo Valley in Serbia.

There are a couple companies offering buses from Istanbul via Skopje.

From Albania you can enter through Prizren, although supposedly the Tirana-Prizren bus ride along the mountain road can cause the faint-hearted to move on to the next life.

By train

There are also trains crossing the Kosovo border. Two daily services connects Kraljevo in Serbia with all towns on the Leshak - Fushë Kosovë (Kosovo Polje), connections from Beograd are possible but includes a long stay between train at Kraljevo, thus bringing the journey to more than 12 hours for 399 km. Since March 1, 2006 an identical service, twice daily, runs from Skopje in Macedonia to Prishtina in Kosovo. It is hard to gets timings for these trains. Trains are very slow and convey second class only, but they give the opportunity to see a lot of the country and are a good value at approximately €4 each way.

By car

To enter Kosovo, the validity and acceptance of the International Motor Insurance Card is in doubt. Some sources say that you will need to purchase insurance liaibility at the border for 50€ before the border guards will allow you to enter. Travellers report that as of Decmeber 2008 this so called Green Card was accepted by border police and customs. Ensure also that you have your Vehicle Registration and a Power of Attorney from the owner if the car is not yours.

Get around

BUS The best way to travel intercity in Kosovo is by bus. The buses are relatively cheap (Pristina to Peja, 2.50 EUR).

Kosovan Railways Kosovan Railways (Kosovske Zeleznice - Hekurudhat e Kosovës) are currently (2006) running the following passenger train services: from Fushë Kosovë (former Kosovo Polje; a city near Pristina) to Leshak (a town North at the Serb frontier) three trains a day. From Fushë Kosovë at 07.35, 11.18 and 14.15 and from Leshak at 09.55, 13.19 and 16.50. The train passes through most of the Serbian enclaves that are strung up through the northern part of Kosovo. The system is seen as a way of helping to make the lives of the Serbs in the enclaves easier but also as a way to help integration. The service is free of charge to local people. Another service runs twice a day from Fushë Kosovë at 04.17 and 19.00 to Hani i Elezit (former General Jankovic) on the border to Macedonia, return journeys from Hani i Elezit starts at 05.53 and 20.44. A local suburban services runs from Fushë Kosovë to Grazhanica with departures from F. Kosovë at 05.40 and 19.17, returning from Grazhanica at 06.30 and 20.05. The railway is about to order some self-propelled diesel railcars to improve services. http://www.kosovorailway.com/home.php?lang=3&mod=home&cat=32

TAXI Beware, often in Kosovo taxi drivers and other people involved in the grey market transportation system will try to rip you off.

Prishtina

Prishtina is the capital city of Kosovo. Places that should be visited in Prishtina is the quarter near the National Museum of Kosova. In addition to visiting the museum where a lot of archelogical artifacts are presented, in both ways when you exit you see the old mosques, since the Ottoman Empire.

Great Mosque in old part of Prishtina


See

The Water fall Of The Drini River-Located North Of Pec Behind The Berdynaj village, during the summer this place is fantastic, the water fall is great and the road to the river is amazing, narrow road with wires on one side and the river on the other this is a great part of kosovo. SEARCH THESE 2 VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE(Waterfall of Radavc, Peja, Kosovo) and (Burimi i Drinit të Bardhë, pjesa 2, RADAC)


  • The Peć Patriachy
The Peć patriarchy lies 2km to the north west of the Pec city center. This location was the seat of the Patriarchy of the Serbian Orthodox Church starting in 1302 and for many Serbs is considered to be of extreme national importance. All of the Serbs who lived in Pec have either left or been forced to do so by Albanian nationalists leaving the Patriarchy to be heavily guarded by NATO troops, with a few remaining clergy. It is a beautiful monastery with many spectacular paintings. If you go, dress conservatively.
  • The Rugova Gorge
The Rugova gorge is also to the north west of Peć and can be found by following the same road that leads to the Pec Patriarchy. Just drive further. The canyon has extremely steep walls reaching possibly up to 300 meters.
Very beautiful old "shopping center" from 17th century. It was burned down from Serbian Army forces during the war in 1999 and reconstructed recently. Also in the center of the bazaar is located an old mosque that was build in the 15th century.
  • The Mitrovica Bridge
An interesting symbol of the division of the population in Kosovo. This bridge is the dividing line between Serbs and Albanians in Mitrovice/Mitrovica. It will almost always be safe to approach the bridge and look at it, although the French soldiers who guard it may not let you cross if the political situation is worse than average (average not being so good).
  • Dečani Monastery
  • Gračanica Monastery
The most historical city in Kosovo. It has plenty of beautiful Islamic architecture.
One of the most spectacular villages throughout the Balkans.
  • The Roma quarter (mahalla) in Gjilan
Gjilan is located to the South East of Pristina. If you can get to Gjilan, the Roma quarter can be found by asking around.

Brezovica Ski Centre - Old infrastructure but great slopes, located in Southern Kosova.

Novo Brdo (in Latin documents written as Novaberd, Novus Mons or Novamonte; and in Saxon miners' documents as Nyeuberghe) was mentioned in the historical documents as early as 1326. Novo Brdo was a metropolis at the time, with a huge medieval fortress built on the top of an extinct volcano cone, the remains of which can be visited today, and residential sections sprawling all around. In the outer wall of the fortress a large cross is visible, built into the stones. The castle, or fortress, was thought at one point to have dated back to the Byzantine Empire.

Novo Monte Fortress


Ulpiana , one of the most old cities in the Balkan peninsula is just 20-30 minutes away from Prishtina towards Gjilan and that is the city that is know to have been re-constructed by Justinian I emperior.

Do

Eat

Lots of great burek, (baked pastry stuffed with cheese, meat or spinach). Try the drinkable yogurt - it's superb. Lots of kebabs and other Ottoman Turkish style food. As far as you are in an Albanian territory, you could try Albanian food as well. Fli, a very good pastry, can be found in different traditional restaurants. One of the most notable 'Pellumbi', although be aware because you might overpay. Lots of pizza in restaurant pizzeria "SAN REMO" in city of Peja the best meat you can eat in Country House.

At the bakery you can buy a fantastic loaf of bread for under one Euro.

The grocery stores have a plentiful supply of Western food.

Drink

Beer e Peja is a pretty good brew. It is brewed in Peja (Pec). Even though Albanians are predominantly Muslim drinking is still quite liberal.

Sleep

Accommodation in Kosovo can be expensive, meaning it is probably the same as hotels in surrounding countries (starts at 25 EUR and goes over 100 EUR) and primarily is designed for people working for the development agencies. Your best bet on finding a place to stay is outside of Prishtina (if you're with the car) and to have a contact there ahead of time (even if its just somebody you met over the internet) and stay with them. Or possibly contact some of the smaller development organisations, such as Balkan Sunflowers, and ask if they can help you with accommodation staying in a rural community.

But in the otherside if you plan not to sleep, go at the bars (i.e. Hard Rock Bar - close to KEK- Energy Enterprise, you have a good prices and of course the best rock music in town, considering the elite people in there, such as musicians, actors, etc. Other places to visit are Strip Depo, close to the ABC Cinema, Kafja e Vogel(Small Cafe) close to OSCE. Kosovo youngsters, as in other Balkan countries, are largely cafe going culture, so you will find these places full any day during week. Reception Room, located opposite to Skenderbeg monument, seems to be a popular night club for 2007.

Skopje in Macedonia has some very cheap accommodation so doing day trips to Kosovo from there is very much a possibility.


Stay safe

Avoid making comments about politics in Kosovo, although ask as many questions (within reason) as you like. They are very open about their hatred of each other and more than willing to tell you about it.

Read the news before going. In July 3rd 2005, three bombs exploded near UN headquarters. This could be a signal that one of the groups has had it with UN and international intervention which could lead towards violence against foreigners...but then again maybe not. Point being, stay on top of the news.

Also, with Kosovo's declaration of independence, things could heat up again. Again, stay on top of the news before going.

The Serbs are a very hospitable people and very friendly. The most likely encounter starts with them saying your country (if you are American or British) bombed them. Their next action will most likely be inviting you into their home to drink 'rakija' with them and offering you way too much food, end of discussion of politics. Though that is the most likely encounter, occasionally you will meet somebody who may not be as hospitable. Be smart, and if the discussion gets a bit intense don't verbally resist and get in an argument about the war, agree with them where you can and downplay your country (as truthfully or untruthfully as you feel you can do).

Land mines

Like much of the Balkans, land mines were heavily used during the Yugoslav civil war. Stay on the pavement, if you go off the pavement stay on well worn paths. Wandering off of trails can be dangerous. On the other hand don't let this minor problem make you not visit Kosovo. So long as you don't go wandering around in the bushes where clearly no-one else goes, it poses no hazard to you. In other words do not be an idiot and say I want to hike through that forest!!!

Rabies

Don't pet dogs - stay away from them!

Get out

The are direct flights from Priština International Airport to London, New York City, Zurich, Geneva, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Vienna, Zagreb, Hamburg, Hannover, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Rome, Milan, Verona, Ljubljana, Budapest, Tirana, Istanbul and Antalya. Soon, there will be direct flights to Sarajevo and other destinations.

There are direct bus links to most cities in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Note that if you plan to go to Russia after Kosovo, you may encounter a bit of trouble entering the country as Russia still considers the declaration of independence of Kosovo to be illegal.




This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!



Variants

Actions

Destination Docents

In other languages

other sites