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Kosovo, one of the least visited countries in Europe, makes for an interesting and diverse holiday destination. With the recent turmoil having ceased, it is becoming a popular holiday spot thanks to its beautiful mountains, ancient ruins, historic monasteries and different cultures. It is quite a small country so it is a great place to explore by car. Visitors can drive through the mountains, valleys and the Balkan mixed forests, as well as tour its cities, towns and villages.
Driving Tips for Kosovo
Road conditions vary throughout the country from fair to poorly-maintained, with the worst roads being found in the rural areas. The government is constantly making repairs to improve the road conditions. Motorways are toll-free, but signage is scarce and in Albanian.
Driving licences: a UK driving licence can be used, but an International Driving Permit is required for long-term stay.
Which side does Kosovo drive on: the right.
Motorways: 75mph (120kph)
Rural areas: 62mph (100kph)
Built-up areas: 37mph (60kph)
Alcohol limits: lower than the UK limit of 0.08 per cent at 0.05 per cent. If above this limit, the offender can be put in jail.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: mandatory for passengers and drivers. Children under the age of 12 must ride in the rear seats.
Mobile phones and GPS: drivers can use a mobile phone only if it is connected to a hands-free system. The use of GPS is allowed but English speakers may have a difficult time navigating using local place names.
Cost of fuel in Kosovo: petrol is considerably cheaper than in the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: credit cards are not widely accepted at petrol stations so travellers should be sure to carry Euros. However, a credit card is required to collect your car hire.
Insurance: car hire includes third-party insurance but it is also recommended to get excess insurance. The European Green Card is not valid here.
Traffic and parking: parking is scarce in Pristina and many locals park on the sidewalks. Some hotels offer parking, and paid car parks can be also be found.
Trains cross the border into Kosovo directly from Kraljevo (Serbia) and Skopje (Macedonia), but they tend to be very slow. A ticket from Skopje in Albania to Pristina is around £3.20. Domestic trains are also available and cheap – Pristina to Pec costs around £2.40 - and although trains are comfortable and offer stunning scenery, rail travel in Kosovo is slow. Not all areas of the country can be reached by train. For a complete schedule, visit Kosovo Railways.
Taxis are readily available in city centres, run on meters and are not expensive compared to taxi travel in the UK. In Pristina start price is around £1.20 (more after 22:00) and the per-kilometre rate is around 50 pence. It is possible to arrange a fixed rate before heading off. To ensure the taxi’s legitimacy, check to see that a meter is in fact present.
Long-distance buses enter Kosovo from neighbouring countries and terminate in Gjakova, Prizren, Peja or Pristina. These are not so expensive, with a ticket from Albania via Prizren typically costing £8.00. Travelling by bus within the country is relatively cheap and comfortable, for example the ticket price from Pristina to Pec is around £2.40, and bus travel allows visitors to reach just about any destination. Most big cities have inner-city bus services, which are cheap - 30 pence a trip in Pristina - but can be difficult for tourists to use as drivers rarely speak English.
Kosovo is completely land-locked so there is no port or ferry service. Still, minibuses from Gjakova meet ferries at Albania’s Fierza Lake; these ferries arrive from Lake Komon (Albania).
The principal airport and only airport of entry into Kosovo, is Pristina International Airport Adem Jashari. It lies 15km southwest of Pristina and has been operating since 1965. A variety of European airlines fly into this facility.
The vibrant city of Pristina, the capital city of the country, is where most visitors start their Kosovo exploration. Here, visitors can stroll through the streets and snap photos of the mosques, look at ancient artefacts at the National Museum of Kosovo and sip on coffee while people watching.
Just south of Pristina is the village of Gračanica, home of the famous 14th century Serbian medieval Gračanica Monastery. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most beautiful in the country, having a stunning exterior and an interior adorned with magnificent paintings and frescoes.
The historic city of Prizren in the south is filled with monasteries and mosques that date back to the 14th century, including the Mosque of Sinan Pasha and Bajrakli Mosque. The Ottoman-era hammam is also a main draw here and a symbol of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the area.
To the west, at the foot of Bjeshket e Nemuna mountain, is the Orthodox influenced city of Peja. Visitors will see some stunning architecture here, including the Pećka Patrijaršija (Patriarchate of Peć), the Visoki Dečani (Decani Monastery) and the spectacular Gryka Rrugoves (Rugova Canyon).
The less-visited village of Brod offers visitors a completely different experience; here, the locals get around on horse back and the houses are made from mountain rocks.
Kosovo experiences a continental climate, with cold and snowy winters, and hot summers. In Pristina and the eastern part of the country, it can get as warm as 30°C in the summer months, while in the south temperatures can soar to above 35°C. Winters in the south are warmer, while in Pristina the winter temperature averages around -4°C but it can get as cold as -10°C.