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A Detailed Guide to Exploring Peja, Kosovo

April 8, 2024 2 Comments

Ever wanted to visit a place based on a few photos that you may have seen? No, never? Well that’s about to change once you’ve read this detailed guide to exploring Peja. The phrase “hidden gem’ gets bandied about incessantly in the travel blogger sphere but it rarely ever fits the place most bloggers are trying to describe, Peja- while not by any means hidden- is definitely a gem worth exploring. Kosovo is one of those misunderstood places; people are my workplace wondered why I would even consider visiting there. The answer to that is in this this detailed guide to exploring Peja. Even if you aren’t reading this with the intention of planning a trip, I am sure that the scenery in my photos will inspire you to visit.  

Is Kosovo safe to visit? 

Your only associations with Kosovo might b e due to negative media in recent years after the bloody war with Serbia. While there is still (A LOT) of tension, there is no longer any active conflict. So yes, Kosovo is safe to visit. For your reference we travelled as two women of colour. 

How to visit Kosovo

Kosovo’s international airport is served by many carriers offering flights from destinations all over the world. The country is also service by extensive bus routes from all over Europe. How you choose to visit depends on your budget and preference If you are visiting other countries in the Balkans along with Kosovo, please take time to read my post about border crossings into Kosovo (based on my own personal experience).

How to get to and around Peja

Peja is connected with other parts of Kosovo via a bus and rail network. However once in Peja, it is hard to get around without a vehicle. We rented a car in Pristina and drove to Peja. I recommend using Auto Union in Kosovo. You can email or whataspp them: reservations@mbrentacar-ks.com or +38349355100.

If you cannot drive in Kosovo, you could also look for a local tour guide to take you around in their vehicle. A friend of mine used this company and would recommend them particularly for solo female travellers. She was especially happy with the guide’s photo taking skills so if that’s important to you, definitely look no further.  You can reach out via their website or WhatsApp: +38343922590.

Where to stay in Peja

Expat Butterfly and I stayed at Ujevara Drinit Resort and we are really happy with the location and comfort of the rooms. It was not a budget accommodation but I do think it was worth the price we paid (150EUR for two nights, including breakfast).

Day 1: White Drin Waterfall & Rugova Canyon

Stop 1: White Drin Waterfall 

Ease yourself into your time in Peja with a minimum effort, maximum reward walk to White Drin Waterfall. There are two access points: you can enter and park at Ujevara Drinit Resort or you can park near the Bardhe restaurant. Whichever one you choose makes no difference as visiting the waterfall is free with an easy to follow path. The walk will take you around 30 minutes to circle the waterfall, admire the scenery and take photos. 

Make sure to walk the entirety of the path as there are really epic photo spots and you can even relax in the shallow pool at one point (so have a swimsuit if it’s warm). Something to note is that the water is really icy!

There is a “Sleeping Beauty” cave onsite but at the time of our visit, it was closed. 

Stop 2: Explore Rugova Canyon 

If you have your own vehicle, it’s really simple to drive to Rugova Canyon Viewpoint and make a stops along the way. The drive albeit stunning, is also a bit precarious as the roads are narrow but just drive slowly and be mindful The first place to stop is at parking for Lumi I Bardhe restaurant. Don’t eat here- the service is appalling. Rather, instead of turning right to enter the restaurant turn left and you’ll see this perfect spot for photos. The rocks are slippery so do wear appropriate footwear.

Your next stop is beyond this red bridge:

After you’ve passed it, you will see the wings mural on the wall and some trinket sellers.

The main attraction here is not the wings but rather, these pretty waterfalls! If you’re getting in, just remember that the water is COLD. Water shoes might help especially as it’s rocky. 

Lastly, you will make it through some epic tunnels to the final destination on this Rugova Canyon tour which is this viewpoint:

This glass ‘box’ is not actually the best viewpoint. You should see a carpet/souvenir seller where the road curves. Walk behind his stall and you’ll find a metal staircase. Please be careful when descending as some of the steps are… missing. 

Once you get tot the bottom, you will most likely have the place to yourself and can take all the photos your heart desires, have a picnic, read a book or meditate. Its a great spot!

Day 2: Hike to Kucisko Jezero 

The hike I started but did not finish… let me explain. 

At the time when I visited Peja, spring had just sprung (it was early April) and while temperatures in Peja were around 15 degrees Celsius, it did not occur to me that the mountains would be a different story (this is how you know that I grew up in a tropical place!). The hike starts at Gur-I-Kuq restaurant where you can park your car and use the bathroom.

Walk away from the restaurant (under the sign and turn left). This is the hike starting point.

Keep an eye out for these red and white markers which show you the path to follow.

Even though this hike is 5kms round trip and should take you an hour up and an hour down, this hike is strenuous and you climb up a steep mountain rapidly. Other websites classify this as a moderate hike and I am inclined to agree. 

However, the incline isn’t why I couldn’t complete the hike. 

Around halfway up the mountain we encountered snow. At first it was a little and then before we knew it, it became knee deep. It became trecahours and impossible to continue as we were not wearing appropriate gear. My hands were numb and my feet were wet. We made the decision to turn back when the wind picked up.

Of course going down in snow and ice was far trickier than going up. Let’s just say there was a lot of slipping and sliding. Scrapes and bruises were the mountain’s parting gift to us. Thankfully neither of us were seriously injured.

While I have no regrets that I attempted this hike, my advice here is to go either well equipped for hiking in ice or to avoid this hike until mid-May when all the snow has melted. Otherwise you will be miserable.

While everything I’ve mentioned in this post can easily be accomplished in one (LONG) day particularly in summer when the sun sets at 9pm, I urge you to take the time to enjoy the slow pace of Peja and at least spend a night. We spent two nights in Peja and left feeling well rested.

Where to eat in Peja

Ujëvara e Drinit

Perhaps I was biased because we stayed here but the seafood platter for two was delicious. There’s also something magical about eating next to the river, watching the water gush past as you sip your drink.

Anës Drinit

This place had some of the best complimentary bread I have EVER eaten (you know it was divine because I have no photos of it!) and the value for money was outrageous. Definitely pay them a visit, order the grilled trout and devour their fluffy garlicky bread! 

For both places above you might need to make a reservation particularly in summertime as they’re both very popular with locals.

We also spent two nights in Pristina as it served as the gateway for our trip to Peja. If you want more details about my time there, feel free to peruse my Kosovo highlight on Instagram

If you liked this post, and are travelling around the Balkans, you may also be interested in my other content from the region:

Tips for Visiting the Tetovo Painted Mosque (Macedonia)

Hiking to Duf Waterfall (Macedonia)

Visiting Golubac Fortress and Veliki Buk Waterfall (Serbia)

A Guide for visiting Subotica (Serbia)

Spending a weekend in Uvac Canyon (Serbia)

If you enjoyed this detailed guide to exploring Peja, please pin it using the pin below:

Have you considered visiting Peja in Kosovo? Or has this detailed guide to exploring Peja just put it on your list? Let me know in the comments below!

expatpanda

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2 Comments

  • Pree April 21, 2024 at 1:48 pm

    The Rugova Canyon looks awesome! The waterfall pictures are unbelievable! Glad to get confirmation that Kosovo is “safe” since we all know the media likes to exaggerate things to the nth degree 😒

    • expatpanda April 22, 2024 at 2:41 pm

      Even Serbians think that Kosovo is dangerous and its a 5 hour drive from Belgrade 😂

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