Comeback Destinations for Experienced Travelers
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Forests and ravines perfect for trekking and an unjaded, pro-Western youth culture are attracting independent travelers who see the lack of luxury hotels and tour buses as an asset. The Kosovo circuit proposed by a handful of pioneering travel agencies, such as the U.K.-based Regent Holidays, includes the capital Priština's unusually high density of bars and live music venues, the Ottoman market towns of Peć and Prizren, and the Rahovec wine region. The Connecticut-size country has four UNESCO World Heritage sites from the medieval era, including the Gračanica Monastery and the Dečani Monastery, the interior of which is covered with 1,000 14th-century frescoes. While the Kosovo war devastated much of the region's unique mix of Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman architectural heritage, and a push for modernization has led to the razing of hundreds of traditional Ottoman stone houses in the capital, others are being preserved and converted into boutiques and restaurants.
Know the backstory:
During the 1990s, Serbian forces carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, an ethnic Albanian enclave of the former Yugoslavia. Some 10,000 Albanians, mainly Muslims, were killed, and almost one million were expelled from their homes. Kosovo declared independence (still unrecognized by Serbia and Russia) in February 2008, making it Europe's youngest republic. Its population is also Europe's youngestand one of its poorest.
The charm of Kosovo's hotel scene lies in its quirky enterprises, including holdouts from the Communist era. One of the most unusual places to stay is the Hotel Trofta, a working trout farm in northwest Kosovo with a popular restaurant that serves fresh fish 25 ways. The Hotel Royal, a wedding cakeshaped structure in the Pejton district of downtown Priština, is the most convenient base for exploring the capital's nightlife.