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Written by Cassie from Cassie the Hag.
So that you’re considering of visiting Kosovo or maybe are planning a extra intensive journey across the Balkans? Like many who’ve fallen for the charms of Europe’s latest nation, I really consider Kosovo is among the continent’s most underrated locations.
Now more and more tourist-friendly and secure to go to, the challenges of visiting a rustic that solely declared its independence in 2008 are far overwhelmed by the numerous nice causes so as to add it to your Europe bucket checklist.
Though it was the unbridled welcome of the locals that left the most important impression on me following my quick journey to Kosovo, it’s the integration of sudden cultural gems with beautiful nature that left me questioning why Kosovo isn’t extra common.
These are amongst the the explanation why my cease in Peja grew to become a agency favourite throughout my months solo backpacking the Balkans. (Facet observe: sure, it is a secure area for solo vacationers to go to too!)
About Peja, Kosovo
Peje, Kosovo. Photograph Credit score
Peja can also be recognized by its Albanian identify Pejë or Serbian identify ‘Peć’, which suggests ‘cave’, presumably after the close by canyon or caves which you’ll nonetheless go to right now.
This small metropolis has lower than 50000 inhabitants and is a part of the better Peć district of Kosovo, closeby to the borders of each Montenegro and Albania. Peja is among the ‘three Ps’ of Kosovo which are sometimes recommended as a really useful route by the nation. Probably the most well-known are the quirky capital Pristina and the cultural hub of Prizren. All cities are inside 2 hours of one another and accessible by common and easy bus routes.
I merely purchased my four euro bus tickets upon arriving on the station and was capable of stow my backpack under, making Kosovo a reasonably relaxed nation to journey round. Alternatively, you may lease a automobile, common with many who’re passing by on a Balkans street journey.
Though on the floor there isn’t a lot to do in Peja in comparison with its bigger European counterparts, it has some extremely distinctive historic websites of its personal and the encompassing surroundings is to not be missed. In actual fact, Peja is the proper gateway for mountaineering the formidable Accursed Mountains or visiting the close by Rugova Canyon. The mountain ranges listed below are breathtaking and the waterfalls are amongst the least visited in Europe. Besides by the locals, in fact, who’re certain to present you some nice ideas throughout your keep.
Traditionally, town was a significant spiritual centre in medieval Serbia, and was made the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church again within the 14th – 18th centuries. Though pleasant monasteries from this era stay within the space, sadly greater than 80% of individuals’s houses have been broken in the course of the tragic Kosovo Battle in 1999.
Town is visibly much less trendy than others in Europe, though that is no purpose to not go to; the tour business right here is famous for its extremely pleasant guides and the snug lodging are fronted by extremely hospitable locals.
Nonetheless not satisfied? My hostel dorm was solely 2 euros an evening (yep, you heard that proper) and a meal was by no means greater than four euros, though vegetarian choices are fairly restricted other than pasta and pizza.
Outdoor Actions In Peja
In case you are planning to go to Peja, the possibilities are you’re eager to make use of it as a base to go to the close by pure landscapes. Listed below are a number of the best-known hikes and outside actions within the area, all simply accessible from Peja.
Lake Liqenat (Half Day Hike)
That is the best hike to entry for these travelling by Kosovo on public transport and, though strenuous, is appropriate for much less superior hikers. The one bus to the Lake Liqenat hike is at 7am from Peja Bus Station (get off at Kuqishtë, on the bus is heading in the direction of Boge). The bus again is at 3pm or you would prepare an affordable taxi. Pin Kuqishtë to your google maps so you already know the place to get off. It is usually value pinning ‘Te Liqini’ to your map, which is a restaurant. The hike begins from behind this restaurant.
This hike has unimaginable views over the cool blue Lake Liqenat, which straddles the border of Kosovo and Montenegro. In actual fact, you would technically cross the border right here simply by swimming throughout the lake! In whole, you will notice two glacial lakes on this hike, alongside the magnificent peaks of the Accursed Mountain vary.
Hasan Peak (Half Day Hike)
This half-day hike is a little bit taxing, going as much as 1900 metres altitude, however doable for anybody of pretty good well being and price it for the surroundings. With guides, it’s additionally doable to soak up the snowy peaks in the course of the Winter interval, or else you may benefit from the stretching views of wildlife right here within the spring.
Should you don’t have a automobile, the hikes change into more and more tougher to entry, nevertheless you would prepare a driver or use this top-rated tour firm. Balkan Pure Journey has many mountaineering choices out there and seem dedicated to offering a rewarding expertise for his or her friends, no less than if their 5 star evaluations are something to go by. The one draw back is that for funds travellers they could be a little bit dear, beginning at a hefty 120 euros. You’d be higher off doing the Lake Liqenat hike should you select to journey by yourself and on a funds.
Hajla Peak (7-Eight Hour Hike)
Mountaineering as much as 2400 metres with views over each Kosovo and neighbouring Montenegro, that is the most suitable choice for adventurous hikers, particularly since you can also make it an in a single day keep. Not solely does the bottom camp have a mountain hut with fundamental facilities however you would additionally lease tenting gear from BNA for one evening, permitting you to proceed mountaineering to the height the next day if you want.
This specific hike can also be a part of the ‘Peak of the Balkans’ path. This longer trial will be accomplished over as much as 10 days relying in your route, crossing by Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo. It is strongly recommended to solely do that route with a information except you’re a extremely skilled hiker and is an unmatched solution to see these unspoiled landscapes.
Rugova Canyon And Through Ferrata (Rock Climbing And Zip Line)
Photograph Credit score: Otaulant
While these travelling by automobile can respect the 25km lengthy Rugova Canyon and its unimaginable 1000m depth from afar, these feeling adventurous can take the Through Ferrata choice, which interprets to ‘Iron Path.’ It refers to a route that utilises ladders and metal rungs with out the necessity for technical gear, although an affixed harness is secured protecting individuals from the potential for falling. Phew. This manner, you may view the canyon through an exhilarating rock climb.
For an ideal day journey, mix it with the close by 700m zip line, hurtling over the canyon in beneath a minute.
These in search of a extra stress-free day trip – or who’re fearful of heights – can take pleasure in strolling alongside the canyon whereas recognizing the numerous springs and waterfalls within the space.
Extra Issues To Do In Peja
The Previous Bazaar
Whereas in Peja itself, you may try the Previous Bazaar. In idea, it is a traditional-style market to select up some native souvenirs, although the choices may appear a little bit lacklustre with the doable exception of native jewelry artisans. Take into account dropping by to chill out in a restaurant and take a look at some Turkish espresso as a substitute.
Patriarchate Of Peć
Top-of-the-line issues to do in Peja is to go to the Patriarchate of Peć which is a 30 minute stroll from town centre. Alternatively, you would take a taxi.
This 13th-century monastery is now classed as a UNESCO World Heritage website and is taken into account an essential medieval monument in Kosovo. It’s nonetheless in use right now and you will notice the nuns going about their day. Inside, they are going to fortunately offer you a tour of the extremely spectacular flooring to ceiling frescos.
TIP: Serbian monasteries in Kosovo are often guarded. It’s possible you’ll want handy over your passport as a way to enter, as I did when visiting Patriarchate of Peć. Should you neglect your passport, you received’t have the ability to enter. Some travellers have famous they felt uncomfortable talking to the police drive however I had a really constructive expertise with a welcoming man and a cute canine on the entrance.
Visoki Decani Monastery
Simply over a 20-minute drive south of Peja is that this Serbian Orthodox Christian monastery. The distinctive domed exterior is surrounded by a powerful backdrop of pine forest and mountains, however the inside is the true show-stopper. Additionally a UNESCO World Heritage website, the church nonetheless has 1000 preserved frescoes and was in-built 1335. It’s famous for having essentially the most elaborate examples of stone ornamentation from this era.
White Drin Waterfall & Radaci Cave
One other spot solely round a 20-metre drive from Peja, though the waterfall is sadly in the wrong way from Decan Monastery. Nonetheless, it’s an important cease on the best way to common vacationer cities Gjakova and Prizren, Kosovo’s cultural centre.
Comply with the walkway by the forest and over previous stone bridges until you attain White Drin Waterfall, a very serene spot common with locals. Additionally throughout your go to, observe the indicators to Radaci Cave. Also called ‘Sleeping Magnificence Cave’, marvel on the stalactites and stalagmites on show. Tour guides right here communicate English and the cave is lit up inside with a multi-coloured show, so don’t fear should you’re a little bit fearful of the darkish. Convey a jacket and the small ticket value of two.5 euros.
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