Kosovo Macedonia

Day trip from Skopje to Pristina, Kosovo

(Last Updated On: 13/05/2020)

No matter how much I enjoyed Skopje and its crazy statues there was one place that I had to visit during my stay in the capital of Macedonia.

You see, for the reason I cannot really explain I’m interested in difficult history, borders, internal conflicts etc. These are the things I can’t fully understand no matter how much I try and by visiting the places affected by those issues I feel I’m getting closer to figuring it all out (well, of course I’m not).

So when I’ve realized Kosovo is only a short bus ride away from Macedonia I knew I just have to visit this second youngest country in the world! While for others the safety might be an issue I knew that Kosovo has to be a safe country (I was right).

And so I went for the day trip from Skopje to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo.

Pristina, Kosovo

Short history of Kosovo and issues with entering the country

Technically Kosovo is not a country as it is recognized by 111 out of 193 countries (including Poland) but I personally believe in and support its independence, just like my country does.

The troublesome recent history and the cruel events at the very end of 20th century caused by the civil war in the former Yugoslavia led the country to eventually declaring the independence from Serbia in February 2008. As of today only South Sudan is a younger country, existing since 2011.

Despite an Albanian majority (as well as the official language and flag in use) Serbia considers Kosovo as part of their country and getting your passport stamped by the Kosovar border control might get you into trouble if you want to continue your journey onward to Serbia.

The best way to visit the newborn country is either by entering from and leaving to Macedonia or entering from Serbia and continuing the journey in any direction.

After my visit to Kosovo (that left me with two clear stamps in my passport, a pretty obvious evidence of my trip there) I had Serbia in my itinerary but I learnt I can cross their border only with my ID and fortunately using it didn’t cause me any problems.

Pristina, Kosovo

Skopje to Pristina – how to travel between two capitals

At first I was hoping to go to Prizren – second biggest city in Kosovo, with stunning location and amazing monuments, that is probably the highlight of the country.

Unfortunately, even if it’s only 80kms away from Skopje the journey takes 3 hours and the buses leave from Macedonia in the afternoon – there’s no way to make it as an easy day trip from Skopje. If I wanted to visit Kosovo I had to go to Pristina.

Frequent and fast buses connect the two capitals really well and such a daytrip is a piece of cake!

Pristina, Kosovo

I took the 8am bus from Skopje – the ticket cost around 5€ and the journey was supposed to take 2 hours, after all it’s less than 100 kms.

There were hardly any people travelling when we left the bus station but as we picked the people and packages along the way the bus eventually filled up.

The grumpy Macedonian border guard asked me couple of questions and (as always) confused he stopped questioning me after hearing about my job.

Borders always make me nervous and I was pretty anxious when we arrived to the Kosovar control point but the middle aged guy only asked me what my plans in his country are and how long I’m staying – I wanted to explain properly but he quickly said “Welcome to our beautiful country” and gave me my passport back.

I was in Kosovo, my country number 57.

Pristina, Kosovo

First impressions of Kosovo

The first impression of the new country were really good.

Even if the day was gloomy, the scenery around was really amazing – hillsides with beautiful autumn leaves, picturesque villages hidden in the valley, tall minarets cutting the sky.

Since I’m dealing with a terrible motion sickness and my medicine makes me so very sleepy I napped most of the way and when I woke up we were already in the suburbs of Pristina, where lots and lots of concrete blocks welcome visitors – a typical scene for most of the Central European countries.

Fellow passengers already knew very well I’m not a local so as soon as we were approaching the city (and I slightly woke up) they started asking where I want to go, offering help, explaining the way and welcoming in their country.

They all also repeated 5 or so times what time is the last bus to Skopje (at 6pm) so I would make it back on time.

Even if some of them didn’t know English they tried communicating in Serbian and we didn’t have all that much problems with communication. From the very first moment in Kosovo I felt really welcomed.

Pristina, Kosovo

How to get from the bus station to the center of Pristina

The bus station is not far from the center, some 15 minutes walking along Bill Clinton Boulevard.

The wide street is surrounded by concrete blocks among which a sculpture of Bill Clinton with exceptionally big hands can be seen. Next doors a clothing boutique named Hillary is located – coincidence? I don’t think so!

What struck me the most from the very beginning was how young and vibrant the city felt, how stylish teenagers and student look like.

A little walk further up brought me to the crossroads of Bill Clinton Boulevard and Xhorxh Bush Boulevard (yes, you read the name correctly) where the Univeristy of Pristina is located.

If someone is interested in the street fashion then this place is definitely worth checking out as the sense of style among young Kosovars is really good.

Pristina, Kosovo

The National Library of Kosovo – a gem of brutalism

The univeristy park hides the highlight of Pristina, one of the weirdest and most incredible buildings I’ve ever seen – the National Library of Kosovo.

The building got its unique and quirky look at the beginning of 1980s, according to the Croatian architect, whose work it is, the design is blending Byzantine and Islamic architecture.

Actually it more reminds of a big LEGO bricks bonded with a chain but for me it was also an orgy of the brutalism style, the kind of architecture I enjoy so much!

I guess 25% of my pictures from Pristina are of this building, I literally couldn’t take my eyes out of it! The look of the Library still brings lots of controversy, but for me it was just beautiful!

Pristina, Kosovo

A great bazaar to experience

Pristina doesn’t really have the Old Town. The area around Nazim Gafurri Street with remnants of the Turkish bazaar is home to couple of old and impressive mosques as well as the clock tower.

But for me the best thing there was a market, just a random one.

I really adore exploring this typical Central and Eeastern European selling places as that’s where the face and the vibe of the city can be best experienced. I wander around, observe people, look at the products, compare prices, I try to interact with local and sometimes I buy something…

Bazaars are often my favourite places in the visited cities and the one in Pristina was pretty decent as well.

Pristina, Kosovo

Nena Tereze Boulevard – the place to be in Pristina

The core of Pristina and the place where everything happens is Nena Tereze Boulevard – a partly pedestrian street full of social, cultural, political and business life.

Even if I was there around noon on a random November weekday the place was full of people, numerous cafes had hardly any free seats left and the miners’ silent protest walked through the street.

The fence around the government  buildings was full with pictures of people who went missing in 1999 when the conflict in Kosovo was at its fullest. It is such a sad reminder of the recent history of the newborn country.

Even if now Pristina looks like a completely normal place and is such a lively city it’s hard to forget the tragic past.

Pristina, Kosovo

Incredible cafe culture in Pristina

To be honest I was pretty surprised how vibrant the capital of Kosovo is. I read before about its amazing nightlife as well as exceptional and super cheap coffee but my expectations were nowhere close to the reality.

There were so many cozy and hip cafes to choose from that I wanted to visit each of them. Sadly with my limited time I only managed to sip amazing cappuccinos in two of them.

All the hype was true, I can’t recall where I had such a good coffee for the last time and 1€/cup seems to be an excellent price.

If I could stay in Pristina for longer I know I wouldn’t be bored, I could spend days sitting in the cafes, watching people walking up and down Nena Tereze Boulevard, reading or writing and just relaxing.

Pristina, Kosovo

Newborn monument in Pristina

I’d probably have spent most of my time in Pristina visiting cafes but there was one more place I wanted to see really badly – the big “NEWBORN” monument. It was unveiled on 17th February 2008, the day Kosovo was born and it commemorates a new, independent country.

At first the letters were all yellow and covered in signatures of thousands of Kosovars, including the most important people in the country.

Each year on 17th February the monument changes its looks.

Last year it showed flags of all the countries that recognize Kosovo as the independent state – I was hoping to see that but to my slight disappointment it is now repainted into the military pattern…

Still it’s a cool monument and a great way to celebrate the born of the new country!

Pristina, Kosovo

Pristina – a great city to relax!

Those few hours in Pristina passed by really quickly but that’s always what happens when you have a good time!

Even if the city isn’t full of attractions or it’s not even pretty I think it’s a great place to spend few days in, just to relax, feel the Balkan vibe, enjoy the cafe culture and go really off the beaten path.

I feel a need to explore more of Kosovo, this one day definitely wasn’t enough as it only piques my curiosity towards the country.

Next time I will want to see more places, with Prizren and Mitrovica being on top of my list but I also would love to return to Pristina and just be there and enjoy the atmosphere, without any specific plan.

Pristina, Kosovo

Surprising Kosovo

Kosovo surprised me in a positive way.

After seeing places that went through major conflicts recently (like Bosnia or Palestine) I was expecting a very poor, remote country at the outskirts of Europe.It was nothing like that!

I’m sure Kosovo deals with many problems and it might get into serious trouble when the international aid will be finished but at least it has a big potential and a young population who wants and can make a change.

And as for us, travelers and tourist, it is a great destination that really needs to be discovered.

So when you are in Skopje do yourself a favour and hop across the border to Kosovo too! Even if only to admire Mr.Chat, known also from streets of Sarajevo and other cities around the world!

Pristina, Kosovo

Skopje to Pristina – practical information

Kosovo border crossing

You need to have a valid passport to enter Kosovo, you will get a stamp that might make your visit to Serbia much more difficult.

The best way is to either arrive to Kosovo from Serbia and continue your trip further or arrive and depart from/to Macedonia. Check with your Ministry of Foreign Affairs if you can enter Serbia with ID only, Polish people can do that and it helps me to avoid problems with my passport stamps from Kosovo!

Getting to Kosovo

Recently there are more and more low cost flights to the Balkans – you can easily fly to Skopje and even to Pristina (I paid 60€/return from Berlin to Pristina in May 2016).

From Skopje buses to Pristina depart more or less every hour, the journey takes a little bit over 2 hours. In November 2014 and May 2016 I paid 5€ for one way ticket

Accommodation

It’s actually much cheaper to stay in Skopje than in Pristina.

I stayed twice at Public Room Anja and I can definitely recommend this place for the location and unbeatable price. Check out the prices and details here!

But there are lots of affordable accommodation to choose from in Skopje!

If you decide to stay longer in Pristina there are some good options too, just less of them!

Money

The local currency in Kosovo in Euro.

My number one tip for everyone is to start using Revolut bank card to save money when traveling.

You get the card by mail within a few days and you can use it all over the world. You top up the card in the app on the phone, where you can also have accounts in different currencies and exchange money between them, for no extra fee and at very favorable rates.

Everything is super easy and fast, you only need an internet connection to manage your accounts in the app.

Revolut supports over 140 currencies and offers free withdrawal from ATMs all over the world. In the first 6 months I’ve used Revolut card in 12 countries in 3 continents and had no issues at all. And I saved a lot of money in the exchange rates!

Click here to learn more about the service and order your own Revolut card!

Travel insurance

I never travel without the insurance as you never know what might happen on the road and better safe than sorry (I’ve learnt my lesson).

I can recommend World Nomads that offer the insurance dedicated to travelers just like you and me.

Click here to get the insurance policy for Kosovo here.


For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:

  • If you don’t want to miss new posts and news from me click here to sign to my newsletter! You can also follow me on Bloglovin!
  • Join my Facebook group about Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR and connect with fellow travellers and enthusiasts of these regions – just click here!
  • I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Kosovo too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. If you like what you are reading and seeing here and would like to support me and my blog please consider using those links. It would be like getting me a virtual drink that you don’t have to pay for! Thanks!

LIKED IT? PIN THIS POST!

pristina pin (1)       pristina pin (2)


love, kami 2

If you enjoyed that post why don't you share it with your friends? That would mean so much to me! Also be sure to join 27.000+ fellow travelers and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or Instagram for travel updates and even more pictures! If you don't want to miss new posts sign up to my newsletter or follow on Bloglovin!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  •  
    102
    Shares
  • 9
  •  
  • 93
  •  

34 Comments

  • Reply
    Michelle - Very Hungry Explorer
    07/01/2015 at 04:29

    Thanks for such an interesting post. I haven’t given much thought to visiting Kosovo – bit it is definitely going on my list now. And I’m with you – that library is fabulous!

    • Reply
      kami
      07/01/2015 at 19:56

      Kosovo is kind of forgotten place unfortunately. but that’s what makes it so interesting at the same time! thank you! :)

  • Reply
    Venci
    02/04/2015 at 15:37

    Lot of things to see in Macedonia! Just amazing. I believe that I’ve must have missed a lot the last time i was there. :( Planning to go again this summer.
    Greetings from Italy!
    Thanks Kami

    • Reply
      kami
      06/04/2015 at 22:45

      Pristina makes a really great day trip from Skopje so make sure to visit it next time you’re around! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Rose
    17/07/2015 at 17:39

    Interesting post! In a few weeks I’ll be visiting Kosovo myself, for the same reason you’ve visited. The photos are intruiging. I have to see this country!

    • Reply
      kami
      28/07/2015 at 22:05

      I hope you will enjoy it! Kosovo is just one of this quirky places you visit just so you can say you’ve been there! I’m actually hoping to return there next year!

  • Reply
    Bill
    18/10/2015 at 05:18

    Hi. I hope to make the same trip as you did. My question, will I have any trouble later in my trip trying to enter Serbia if I have Kosovo passport stamps? I plan to also travel to Serbia from Skopje but after visiting Kosovo. Thank you.

    • Reply
      kami
      15/11/2015 at 10:47

      I’m so sorry for such a late reply Bill! I’m afraid you would have problems – Serbians would consider you entering their country illegally if you go to Kosovo first. Check with your Ministry of Foreign Affairs if you can enter Serbia using any other document – I could do that with my ID only and so from now on I don’t show my passport at the Serbian border anymore

    • Reply
      Crazydre
      12/12/2016 at 01:29

      No Bill, it’ll be fine. Macedonia-Kosovo-Serbia is what isn’t OK. Serbia-Kosovo-Serbia and Macedonia-Kosovo-Macedonia-Serbia is totally fine

  • Reply
    margo
    02/01/2016 at 11:34

    hi hi,
    wow, im heading to the balkans and feel happy i found your post after some searching on different things.. i had no idea about the serbia / kosovo entry issues.. hmmm you said that if one enters and leaves via macedonia, then its ok? or is the issue still the fact that theres a kosovan stamp in your passport, so serbia will have an issue… ? thanks in advance, happy travels! :)

    • Reply
      kami
      07/01/2016 at 23:30

      hi! Where in the Balkans, except of Kosovo, are you going to? Such a great area, I’m heading there as well next month! If you enter/leave Kosovo from/to Macedonia you will end up with the stamp in the passport and once you go to Serbia you might have some problems. Best would be to enter/leave via Serbia. Also check if maybe you can cross Serbian border with your ID (for Kosovo it’s always a passport), I did it and it was all fine. Happy travels!

    • Reply
      Crazydre
      12/12/2016 at 01:31

      Serbia-Kosovo-Serbia and Macedonia-Kosovo-Macedonia-Serbia is OK. Macedonia-Kosovo-Serbia is not, but if you’re an EU/Swiss citizen and have a national ID card, you can cheat your way in with the Serbians.

  • Reply
    52 weekendy w Stolicach Europy | PAT TRAVEL
    25/01/2016 at 20:57

    […] Kamila znajduje też jasne strony w mało urodziwej stolicy Kosowa. […]

  • Reply
    Petra Hedvika
    02/03/2016 at 15:20

    Thank you for this article, I will be in Skopje in May and I just found another daytrip, thanks to you. I was waiting so long to get finally somewhere stamp to my passport, haha. Really interesting page, glad to find it. Greetings from the Czech Republic.

    • Reply
      kami
      05/03/2016 at 19:59

      Thank you for your nice comment Petra! Pristina is a very easy day trip from Skopje and I’m sure you will enjoy it! The weather in May should be already very pleasant, I’m going there at that time too! And a passport stamp is always a nice bonus! Cheers from Poland!

  • Reply
    Frank
    14/08/2016 at 21:47

    Concerning about border crossing back to Serbia after visit Kosovo through Skopje. What u meant by ID will be OK? Like US driving license? Is it possible not to have passport stamped border crossing into Kosovo?

    • Reply
      kami
      31/08/2016 at 12:13

      Best would be to check with your Foreign Ministry what document you’re allowed to cross the border with. For European Union ID card (not the driving license) is fine. When you go back to Serbia with the stamp of Kosovo you might have problems but they should eventually let you in. From my experience I can say that 90% of time Kosovo will stamp your passport but you can always try asking them not to do that. Good luck!

    • Reply
      Crazydre
      12/12/2016 at 01:27

      No, US citizens need a passport and cannot “cheat” their way in. In EU/EFTA countries, however, we have so-called national ID Cards, which function across Europe except Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, plus Turkey and Georgia.

      Kosovo does require ID cards (other than Kosovar, Serbian and Montenegrin ones) to be biometric, meaning many nationalities, such as French and Romanian, need a passport in practice.

  • Reply
    Haddid Harem
    06/09/2016 at 08:54

    Hi KAMMI, that was nice article. I dont know should people have to entering from serbia to kosovo ? I hope one day I can visiting to the beautiful city of pristina. thank you

    • Reply
      kami
      13/09/2016 at 21:54

      I heard that there are no problems entering Kosovo from Serbia. I hope you will visit it one day too!

  • Reply
    Crazydre
    12/12/2016 at 01:15

    “You need to have a valid passport to enter Kosovo, you will get a stamp that will immediately make your visit to Serbia much more difficult”

    Actually, you can enter Kosovo with an ID if it’s biometric. Polish ones aren’t, but Swedish ones (for example) are, so I never bring my passport when going to the Region, including Kosovo.

    Also, having Kosovo stamps is NO problem for the Serbians; rather, the problem is that if you enter Kosovo from anywhere other than Serbia and then wish to proceed to Serbia, you won’t have a current Serbian entry stamp. The Serbians will then say you entered Serbia illegally and refuse you (further) entry.

    If you go to a “normal” Serbian checkpoint, and they see your Kosovo stamps, they’ll simply put an invalidation stamp on them.

    • Reply
      kami
      12/12/2016 at 23:08

      Actually you are the first person and the only source so far that tells about biometric IDs but then I was researching this information a while. Also all the people I talked to who had Kosovo stamps had then some unpleasant situation at the border with Serbia, and it didn’t matter if they went there from Macedonia during the same trip or years later. But it’s good to know it’s not that bad after all! Thank you!

      • Reply
        Crazydre
        13/12/2016 at 02:09

        This is the Website of the Kosovan government https://www.mfa-ks.net/?page=2,158

        “Citizens of: EU and Schengen Zone Member States; Holy See; Principality of Andorra; Principality of Monaco; Republic of San Marino, Republic of Albania, Montenegro, and Republic of Serbia are allowed to enter, transit, and stay in Kosovo for up to 90 days for a six-months period with a valid biometric identification card.”

      • Reply
        Crazydre
        13/12/2016 at 03:25

        “Also all the people I talked to who had Kosovo stamps had then some unpleasant situation at the border with Serbia”.

        What exactly happened to them? If trying to go Macedonia-Kosovo-Serbia with a passport, you’ll be refused entry by the Serbians, even if the Kosovans never stamped you, simply because you don’t have a current Serbian entry stamp.

        If entering Serbia from Macedonia with Kosovan stamps, of course the Serbs may not like it, but they would have to let you in eventually.

        • Reply
          kami
          15/12/2016 at 08:36

          They were entering Serbia either from Macedonia or Montenegro, with Kosovan stamp in the passport and usually the border crossing involved long waiting, some shouting and threats, one of my friends has a page from the passport ripped off. These were all stories from 1-3 years ago but I still prefer to be on the safe side here and just cross the border with the ID

  • Reply
    Michael
    01/02/2018 at 19:39

    Wonderful information and manner of presentation. Thank you very much. I already planned a trip by bus from Skopje to Pristina. It’s very pleasant to have contact with like-minded people. If possible, questions that are very important to me, and for which I do not yet have an answer: 1) Do you know a website where you can buy tickets from Skopje to Pristina and back online? 2) Is it possible to buy tickets to the ticket office of Skopje to Pristina and back on the same day, for example, there at 8.00, back at 18.00)? 3) can I buy such tickets in advance for 1-2 days or only on the day of departure? or just just before the bus leaves?
    4) If you can not go back and forth, is it easy to buy a ticket from Pristina to Skopje? How much does this ticket cost? To pay in euros? Thank you. Sorry for a lot of questions. Sincerely. Michael.

    • Reply
      kami
      29/03/2018 at 20:25

      Sorry for my late answer Michael. I don’t know if you can buy the ticket online but you can easily do it at the bus staion in either Skopje or Pristina. You can do it in advance or just before the departure. The ticket costs 5€. Hope this helped!

  • Reply
    Aneta
    27/08/2019 at 21:23

    Hi Kami!
    its Kosovo enough safe for travelling ?
    By girl herself?
    Life is cheap right ?
    Do i need to prepare myself ?
    Its enought to see all in one day ?

    • Reply
      kami
      15/09/2019 at 15:25

      So many questions!
      1) – yes
      2) – yes
      3) – yes
      4) – it’s a regular country, nothing extraordinary
      5) – you can easily see Pristina in one day.

  • Reply
    dW
    01/09/2019 at 09:24

    Great travel blog !

    • Reply
      kami
      15/09/2019 at 15:25

      thank you!

  • Reply
    Simone
    11/10/2019 at 20:02

    Olá, tudo bem? Você lembra o nome da empresa de ônibus que você pegou para ir de Skopje até Pristina?

  • Reply
    RG
    15/12/2019 at 23:57

    Kami thanks for the bus tips in this article, this helped me out a lot. Took the Skopje to Pristina day trip FRI 29-NOV-2019. All went well.

    Some tips:

    1. You mention frequent buses, I missed the 8:00 a.m. bus from Skopje, the next one was 9:50 a.m., so had to wait in the bus station for a while.
    2. On the trip back, 5:00 p.m. bus from Pristina it was completely full plus three people standing, they all go off before the border. So you may want to get return tickets in advance. This was an odd day it was Black Friday and on the way in there was a one hour delay due to cars going to the shopping mall.
    3. The walk from the bus station to the main square along Bill Clinton street was not too long, since your photo there is a mural of Bill Clinton on the wall behind the statue.

    • Reply
      kami
      17/12/2019 at 09:58

      Thank you for the comment and the feedback! I hope you had a good time in both, Pristina and Skopje!

Leave a Reply

Let’s become friends!

Join me on Facebook for even more travel updates!