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5 Reasons Why This Unexpected European Destination Is Soaring In Popularity Right Now  

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Countries like France, Italy, and Spain may dominate the European tourism market.

But what if you want to get off the beaten path and explore somewhere lesser known? 

Pristina downtown street view in the center. Cityscape of the central area of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo

Western Europe can feel like Florida in the summer months thanks to the huge number of American tourists traveling across the region. This can make it hard to enjoy an authentic travel experience.  

Is it time to think outside the box? 

Here are 5 reasons why this unexpected European destination is soaring in popularity right now: 

Record Visitor Numbers  

Entrance to the characteristic National Library of Kosovo

Kosovo is a beautiful landlocked country in Southeastern Europe.

It is also Europe’s newest country, which might explain why it isn’t on people’s radars as a typical travel destination.  

Its lack of coastline also means that Kosovo is not an obvious choice for conventional tourism, but despite this, a record number of travelers are headed to the country in 2023.  

Last year, Kosovo welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors, which is a whopping 86% increase compared to 2022 and beats the previous record year of 2019 too.  

Kosovo is a beautiful and safe place to visit where you can be sure of a warm and friendly welcome. Because the number of people visiting Kosovo is still relatively low, you’ll find that people are curious and keen to chat with you as you travel through the country.  

Beautiful Cultural Cities 

 old town in Prizren, Kosovo

Kosovo’s capital city Pristina received the highest number of visitors to the country and it’s easy to see why. Pristina is a fascinating city of two halves: you can enjoy people-watching from one of the city’s many modern coffee shops or hunt for souvenirs in its charming bazaar area.  

It is a city that feels very cosmopolitan and it attracts a huge number of ex-pats and digital nomads which means it has a vibrant and multicultural energy.  

If you’d rather explore Kosovo’s most historical and culturally rich city then head to Prizren instead. Prizren's charming old town is breathtakingly beautiful whilst being compact enough to explore on foot. 

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Serbian Orthodox Church of Our Lady of Ljeviš is one of the most fascinating attractions in the city and it’s well worth exploring.  

Because Kosovo is so conveniently compact there’s no need to choose between Pristina and Prizren. By car the journey between the 2 cities only takes an hour while the bus ride takes less than 2 hours meaning you can explore both cities in one vacation.  

Affordable Destination  

Wide Angle Camera View Of A Street Scene In Pristina, Kosovo

If you’re a budget traveler, then you’ll be pleased to know that Kosovo is the cheapest country to travel to in the Balkans, and it is also incredibly affordable compared to other European destinations.  

Kosovo is an easy country to explore via public transport and the public transport system is incredibly affordable. Taking an intercity bus between Pristina to Peja will cost around €4.00 ($4.38) while single journeys around either city cost just €0.40 (44 cents).  

In Pristina, the price of a 4-star hotel starts from $34 per night right now, and in the cheaper city of Pristen, you could stay in a 4-star hotel from $25 per night. If you want to save a little more cash then 3-star hotels in both cities start from $12 per room per night.  

Outdoor Adventures  

The beautiful nature of Rugova canyon in the countryside of Kosovo

Outdoor adventurers will love the Rugova Mountains in the northern part of Kosovo which have been designated a national park.

They are home to one of Europe's longest and deepest canyons as well as beautiful, dense evergreen forests.  

You’ll be spoilt for a choice of activities here.

During the winter months, these mountains are a popular spot for an affordable ski trip and in the summer you can enjoy hiking, cycling, and even ziplining. You can enjoy a 650 m zipline flight over the Rugova Canyon (10 euros per person) during the warmer months.  

This is also a great place to get a taste of rural Kosovan life. As you’re walking through the forests across the Rugova Mountains you’re likely to meet loggers preparing for winter, shepherds herding sheep, and villagers picking fruits and berries.  

These are people who live on the land, work hard, and work for themselves.  

Incredible Food 

homemade pastry called gomleze in Kosovo

As well as the exceptional coffee culture where spending time in coffee shops is a way of life and a great way to meet new people, Kosovo is known for its incredible food.  

Typical Albanian dishes are most common here, and you’ll find yourself enjoying delicious, rich plates of local meat and cheese served in a myriad of different ways. Pies, flija, kebabs, and stuffed peppers are popular here.  

But if you’re interested in world cuisine then you won’t be disappointed, especially in Pristina. Here you’ll find restaurants serving some of the best Persian, Indian, and Chinese food in Europe.  

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