In recent years, Kosovo has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, and with good reason. Besides its many natural, architectural, and cultural spots to visit, the sheer friendliness of the Kosovan people will win you over. By traveling to Europe’s newest country, you can explore charming towns nestled among snowy mountains, deep caves with glittering stalagmites, a variety of wildlife, ancient ruins, 14th-century churches, and remarkable mosques. A trip to the Balkan Peninsula will provide you with the adventure of a lifetime.

01Gadime Cave

stalactite cave in Gadime, Kosovo dagmarxs / Getty Images

This remarkable marble cave is genuinely breathtaking. It contains crystallized stalagmites and stalactites that have formed over millions of years. Much of the cave system has yet to be explored, but the accessible areas provide a fantastic natural site for anyone adventurous enough to enter. Located about 12 miles from Kosovo’s capital city Pristina, Gadimë Cave is around 0.7 miles deep. At its lowest levels, you can see 25 beautiful lakes.

02Bear Sanctuary

A big brown bear in a wildlife sanctuary in Pristina, Kosovo

Beyond the village of Mramor in a remote woody area, you will discover a sanctuary for brown bears. Operated by a charity, this sanctuary is home to European brown bears rescued from captivity. The bears cannot survive in the wilderness, so they are housed in spacious, semi-wooded enclosures. Getting up close and personal with these cuddly but sometimes-fierce mammals is an experience you will never forget.

03Brezovica Ski Resort

Shar mountains in Kosovo Arsim Asllani / Getty Images

If you want to experience the thrill of winter sports among beautiful snowy mountainous, the slopes of Brezovica Ski Resort in the Sar Mountains provide excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities. There are slopes for all levels of skiers at Kosovo’s most prominent center of winter tourism. Besides participating in skiing and snowboarding in the winter, the mountains have lots of eco-tourism opportunities in the summertime, such as mountain biking and hiking.

04Pec Cheese Market

Close up of Sharri cheese. Hard cheese made in Gora, Opolje and Strpce

At the bustling cheese market, you will see Kosovan farmers and artisans selling their wares. On Saturdays, you can see the farmers congregating in the busy courtyard with their large barrels of goat’s cheese. A trip to this daily bazaar is not complete until you have tried some of the delicious traditional cheese for yourself.

05Visoki Decani Monastery

Decani Hihg - Decani Visoki Dragan Radosavljevic / Getty Images

Nestled among chestnut and pine trees beneath majestic mountains, it’s worth visiting Visoki Decani Monastery for its beautiful scenery alone. The Serbian king Stefan Decanski built this 14th-century monastery. By entering the monastery’s church, you will discover intricate floor-to-ceiling Biblical murals that will take your breath away. There is perhaps no church interior more beautiful in all of Europe.

06Dokufest

Dokufest Kosovo Photo by Samir Karahoda

Founded in 2002 by a small group of friends, this annual film documentary festival has since grown to become a significant cultural event. It attracts regional and international artists and audiences. If you’re a documentary film fan, you will love participating in the various programs, activities, and workshops that this eight-day festival provides. Alternatively, you can take less of an active role and enjoy the films screened throughout the event. Dokufest is held in Prizren every August.

07Rugova Canyon

Picturesque scenery from Rugova Corge in Peje, Kosovo. Rugova is considered to be one of Europe's longest and deepest canyons. It was created by water erosion and the retreat of the Peć glacier

Close to the border of Montenegro in the Prokletije mountains, you will come across one of the most spectacular canyons in all of Europe. Forged from the Pec Bistrica river cutting through the mountainous terrain, Rugova Canyon is 15.5 miles long and up to 3,300 feet deep. Due to the site’s geological, botanical, and hydrological values, the canyon has been declared a protected monument of national heritage. There are caves like Gryka e Madhe Cave that you can explore. The canyon also has excellent opportunities for hikers and rock climbers.

08Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque

Fatih Mosque in Night, Fatih Cami, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Yasin Fedakar / Getty Images

This incredible mosque in the city of Pristina was built in 1461 on the orders of Mehmed the Conqueror. Known as the Imperial Mosque to locals, the building has had a fascinating past. During the Austro-Hungarian era, it was converted into a Catholic church. But after WWII, it was reclaimed as a mosque and has continued to be the city’s most important mosque up to the present day. With meticulously-crafted interiors and spectacular painted ceilings, Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque is an architectural masterpiece that you won’t forget.

09Bazaar of Pec

old bazaar of Peja Photo by Shkurte ramushi

For an authentic taste of Kosovo life, check out this bustling market place in the center of Pec city, in which you will find a host of traditional Kosovo products for sale. First established during the rule of the Ottoman empire, the Bazaar of Pec has had a rich history. Situated in the middle of the market is the incredible Bajrakli Mosque. Built in 1471, it's a magnificent example of Ottoman-style architecture. You can’t miss the mosque’s striking dome, which is the oldest and highest dome in Pec.

10Prizren Fortress

Cannon in Prizren castle and city view cemagraphics / Getty Images

It’s worth walking the 15-minute steep hike from the old town in Prizren to this fortress. The superb views over the city and into the distance are unparalleled, and its ruins are worth exploring if you’re interested in learning more about Kosovo’s past. Some of the archeological remains found here date back as far as 1,100 BCE. Moreover, the Prizren fortress was a seat for Kosovo’s powerful Ottoman rulers. If you visit in the summertime, you could catch one of the various concerts and theatrical events held in the fortress’s grounds.