Exploring the great outdoors in Kosovo

15/08/2017 13:16

Written by Bradt Travel Guides

Kosovo is an adventure seeker's paradise. In addition to being stunningly beautiful, the country's landscape also offers visitors a wealth of outdoor opportunities. Whether you're a keen hiker, skier, climber, or simply a thrill-seeker wanting to try something new, here are the best places to head to for adventure.  

Hiking

Gorge, Sar mountains, Kosovo by Daniel Sevcik

Kosovo is now being recognised as a hiking destination © Daniel Sevcik

Recently, Kosovo has been more widely recognised as the fantastic hiking destination that it is. Two of the best routes that you can take are The Peaks of the Balkans and Via Dinarica - both of which are cross-border trails. Peaks of the Balkans was established first and is a 192km hiking route that connects Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo along what was once one of the most remote and wild mountain areas in the region. Its most popular routes from Kosovo are Rekë e Allagës to Kuqishtë, Milishevc to Doberdol in Albania, and Kuqishtë to Babino Polje in Montenegro. The Via Dinarica network is a mega-trail in comparison at nearly 1,000km and extends from Slovenia all the way to Albania and Kosovo along the Dinaric Alps. The route was developed to cater also to cyclists, climbers, rafters and paragliders along three main trails – White, Green and Blue – that follow the natural direction of the Dinaric Alps from its highest peaks to the Adriatic coast. 

Skiing

Brezovica run, Kosovo by Snownjeri Wikimedia Commons

Brezovica is Kosovo's premier skiing destination © Snownjeri, Wikimedia Commons

Most people go to Brezovica for the skiing. The mountain has snow from December to the end of April and is higher up than Kopaonik and has better snow than Popova Šapka or Mavrovo. Back in 1984, it served as the back-up venue for the Winter Olympics hosted by Yugoslavia in the event Sarajevo didn’t get enough snow. There are six basins in Brezovica. The height of the resort is from 1,718m at the ski hotels and base of the lifts, to 2,522m. Though mostly empty from May to November, you can still find wonderful hiking opportunities here and as well in nearby Štrpce. 

Running

running, Germia national park, Prishtina, Kosovo by Dini Dedinca, Wikimedia Commons

Running in Germia is becoming increasingly popular © Dini Dedinca, Wikimedia Commons

Some Kosovars run as a hobby and running in general has become increasingly popular in GermiaPrishtina has a half marathon which is held on the first or second weekend of May each year and has now been run since 2001. It does offer cash prizes and so attracts runners from Bulgaria, Albania and even Kenya. In recent years a fun run of 5km has been added. The Gjakova Highland Marathon is an interesting new crossborder initiative that starts in Gjakova and ends in the Albanian town of Bajram Curri. Options include 42km, 21km or just a relay for fun; cash prizes are offered to the winners.  

Caving

limestone cave, Gadime by Attila JANDI, Shutterstock

Explore Kosovo's well-hidden caves © Attila JANDI, Shutterstock

The stunning Rugova Gorge also has a number of well-hidden caves that are just waiting to be explored. A group of friends has founded Kosovo’s first – and so far only – caving association, Aragonit Speleo Association, which is based in Peja. The association runs various projects exploring caves in Kosovo and other extreme sports. 

Mountain biking

Germia national park, kosovo by Fitore Syla, Wikimedia Commons

Germia National Park has some good biking tracks © Fitore Syla, Wikimedia Commons

Kosovo is ideal for mountain biking on the side roads and off-road tracks. Germia National Park has some good routes, including a single-track section, which has some challenging stretches. Particularly suitable areas for mountain biking are the undulating areas near GjilanKllokotKamenicë, along the Bajgora Ridge between Mitrovica and Podujevo and between Batllava and Gjilan. 

Horseriding

Horseriding, Kosovo by BeInKosovo

Explore Kosovo on horseback © Be In Kosovo

In Përlepnicë, Vali Ranch is a great place to spend the day. In addition to the hotel and restaurants, the complex offers visitors horseriding, a petting zoo, minigolf, and go-karting. Horseriding is available inside the pen for children and beginners, as well as longer trail rides through the hills overlooking the artificial lake for more experienced riders.  

Climbing

Mirusha Waterfall, Kosovo by Bujar Imer Gashi, Wikimedia Commons

There are good climbing opportunities near the Mirusha Waterfalls © Bujar Imer Gashi, Wikimedia Commons

If you love to climb, visit the Mirusha Waterfalls. The first waterfall opens into a natural pool, a popular place to cool down and swim on hot days. The water is fresh, but not as cold as you might expect. You can continue to climb up to the second waterfall and if you like you can jump back down into the first pool. Take care, however, as the stones are very slippery. Good shoes are essential. The third waterfall is altogether trickier, slippery with thick overgrowth. If you are into rock climbing, you can continue your climbs throughout the total 32km length of the Mirusha Canyon. There are more than a dozen waterfalls as you climb up, but it gets tougher at every level and most people give up at the fourth one. There are also some good caves in the vicinity, best visited with specialists.  

Paragliding

paragliding. Kosovo by Athens382, Wikimedia Commons

Paragliding is the perfect way to admire Kosovo's scenery © Athens382, Wikimedia Commons

For the real adventurist, paragliding courses are available in various locations throughout Kosovo and provide the perfect opportunity to view the country's breathtaking landscapes in a unique way. The Via Dinarica network was developed to cater for paragliders and other adventure sports enthusiasts. You can also contact Aeroklub Prishtina who organise paragliding courses. 


Planning your next adventure? Check out our guide to Kosovo: 

Kosovo, The Bradt Guide by Verena Knaus and Gail Warrender

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