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Reasons to visit Pristina, Kosovo

(Last Updated On: 28/08/2018)

Imagine a provincial city that suddenly becomes the capital of the new, independent country. What’s more the country is still a disputable territory under the observation of international forces hence often in the spotlight. That’s the story of Pristina, Kosovo – a newborn capital.

There aren’t any major things to do in Pristina, the city isn’t often named one of the Balkan highlights. For most of visitors the capital of Kosovo might be just ugly and boring and I get that, that was my very first impression too when I visited Pristina as the day trip from Skopje (capital of Macedonia).

Visit Pristina Kosovo

But then something weird happened, just like with Sarajevo or Yerevan. The city started growing on me and I was dreaming of returning. And so during my second visit I loved more or less everything about Pristina!

So what it doesn’t have any major tourist attractions or highlights! Instead it’s the city with the amazing vibe and cafe culture, both are among the best I’ve ever experienced!

Visit Pristina Kosovo

Now I’m in Pristina for the third time. I didn’t really plan to come here during this Balkan travel but since I was so close and had to get from Belgrade to Macedonia I figured why not stopping in Pristina along the way and enjoy it again. And so here I am, writing the post about reasons to visit Pristina, Kosovo from my favorite cafe (my computer even remembered the wifi password here! ;))

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Reasons to visit Pristina, Kosovo

I literally can’t decide which order I should put those in as each of them is a very solid reason for me to visit Pristina. So, here we go:

Top 5 reasons to visit Pristina - the cool and vibrant capital of #Kosovo #travel Click To Tweet

Cafe culture

Coffee in Pristina is the best, hands down. Everyone thinks so and even me, who is not so crazy about coffee, can vouch for it. With the prices starting at 1€ (and 2-2,5€ for the most expensive coffee in the menu) you can be sure Pristina is a pure heaven for every coffee lover!

The city is full of cafes, you can find one every few steps! Some of them are just a random places with few tables, others are stylish and trendy (and so is the clientele there). You can be sure that you will find something for yourself in Pristina!

Visit Pristina Kosovo

My favorite places are Soma Book Station (where I’m sitting right now), Dit e Nat and Half & half cafe.

If you’re wondering why the cafes are busy day and night there’s a second truth to the phenomenon (besides being the favorite pastime activity of locals in the Balkans). The unemployment in Kosovo is huge, also among young people. Therefore, instead of sitting at home and feeling miserable people head to the cafe, order one cup for 1€ and spend hours sipping it and chatting with friends.

Visit Pristina Kosovo

Laid-back vibe

Pristina has one of the coolest vibes I’ve ever encountered! Just like the cafes, the main pedestrian street – Bulevardi Nënë Tereza – is always full of people walking it up and down.

When I arrived today (on Monday!) at noon I was surprised how many people are out there, talking a stroll. Even if the weather was gloomy and it was about to rain any second people were there. That’s actually what I remember the best from my first visit to Pristina. It was midweek some when in November and the city was vibrant and alive.

Visit Pristina Kosovo

It seems like everyone is on the boulevard! Teenagers and students head there after school, young people who have nothing better to do hang around there, so do older people who want to kill the time, in the afternoon people in formal clothes hang around here after work (numerous government and international institutions are located nearby) and in the evening literally everyone is here.

I remember last time I was in Pristina on the warm weekend it was almost impossible to walk through, there were so many people! And everyone had a great time! Albanian people even have a word for this activity – xhiro – and that’s what makes the cool Pristina’s vibe for me!

Visit Pristina Kosovo

Newborn monument

This is one of two main attractions of Pristina – the NEWBORN monument. Kosovo is the youngest country in Europe, declared its independence on 17th February 2008 (and still only 115 countries recognize Kosovo as the independent state). The NEWBORN sculpture is a peculiar symbol of the new country.

At first it was only painted yellow but eventually it was covered in flags of the countries that recognized Kosovo independence. Now, every year on 17th February, the monument changes its look.

I’ve seen it in military pattern or covered in clouds but the most I like the current look with bricks and letters N and W lying down. It means there should be no walls (hence N and W are used) and I think it says a lot about current times.

Anyway, NEWBORN makes a very good excuse for me to visit Pristina – I simply have to see the current look of the sculpture!

Visit Pristina Kosovo Newborn in 2014

Visit Pristina Kosovo Newborn in 2016

Visit Pristina Kosovo Newborn in 2017

The ugliest / prettiest library in the world

Former Yugoslavia really knew how to built buildings in brutalists style (Skopje being probably the best example here). But for me the most beautiful brutalist building, ever, is in Pristina.

Visit Pristina Kosovo

Some call it the ugliest library in the world, I call it the prettiest! The building of the National Library of Kosovo was designed by the Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjaković and opened in 1982. It is especially known for the distinctive domes (99 of them to be exact) and the metal fishing net that covers the whole structure.

Visit Pristina Kosovo

It’s interesting to peek inside too and see how the domes look from that perspective! Every time I see this building I can’t help but smile, it’s so pretty!

Visit Pristina Kosovo

Perfect daytrip base

Pristina can be a great base to explore Kosovo! The city is centrally located and there are regular bus departures to more or less every city in Kosovo (and to Skopje!). The longest journey would be to Prizren, around 2 hours and 4€.

Prizren, Kosovo

And there is so much to see in Kosovo! Prizren for beautiful old town with the fortress above (a place that everyone loves but for me it kind of lacked the vibe Pristina has), Gjakova for the great old bazaar (also full of cafes), Peja as the getaway to the Prokletje Mountains or Mitrovica – a city divided between Albanians and Serbs. Here you can read more about what to see in Kosovo!

Gjakova, Kosovo

But as great all those places are it was Pristina that stole my heart and returning here in the late afternoon was great, just in time to enjoy the social runaway on the main pedestrian street!

Mitrovica, Kosovo

Pristina, Kosovo – practical information

If you decide to visit Pristina (I highly recommend it!) here is also a mini cheat sheet to the city!

How to get to Pristina?

Pristina has an international airport and recently it’s been served by low cost airlines too! I once took EasyJet from Berlin, now there is also Wizzair flying from Budapest. Head to Skyscanner to find the best deal on flights to Pristina! (I always use this website when searching for flights!).

You can also fly to Skopje, Macedonia and from there it’s only 2 hours to Pristina, buses run regularly and the price should be around 5€. There are also bus connections from Belgrade, Serbia – I took it this morning. The ticket costs 18€ and the journey was 6 hours (it was supposed to be 7!).

There are conflicting information about crossing the border of Serbia with the stamp from Kosovo in your passport. Most of the people claimed to have problems with it (which involved angry Serbian border police) but some said it wasn’t the problem at all.

To stay on the safe side I use my Polish ID to cross the Serbian border (in Kosovo the allow only passports) – check with your Ministry of Foreign Affairs which documents you might use when crossing borders of both Kosovo and Serbia!

Also, if you entered Kosovo from any other country than Serbia and want to continue to Serbia you might have issues too as Serbians would think you entered their country illegally. In that case it’s better to go to Serbia via Macedonia.

Why you should visit Pristina - a cool and underrated capital of #Kosovo #travel Click To Tweet

What to see in Pristina?

Besides NEWBORN monument and the National Library there are few more things to see in Pristina! My newest discovery (that I found out about from Instagram) is the view from the tower of the cathedral. It costs only 1€ to ride the elevator up and you can admire the whole city and its surroundings from there. Be sure to find the statue of Bill Clinton (with hilariously enormous hands!) surrounded by blocks of flats – it’s so very random!

Visit Pristina, Kosovo

Visit Pristina, Kosovo

Where to stay in Pristina?

Unfortunately Pristina still lacks the affordable accommodation but it is definitely improving! This time I’m staying in Han Hostel and for 25€ I have a spacious single room with breakfast. The hostel is located right by the main pedestrian street, few steps away from my two favorite cafes! The only downside – it’s on the 3rd floor with no elevator (but the stickers on the stairs tell you how many stairs you have left!). Click here to check the deals and details on Han Hostel!

If you’re looking for a hotel or apartment in Pristina check the best deals on accommodation in the city here!

Where to eat in Pristina?

If you’re after a quick bite I can definitely recommend Papirun, it’s the best! They serve cheap and delicious sandwiches, salads or soup! In the lunch time it can get very busy here! Just downstairs you can find Baba Ghanoush with delicious food from Middle East.

If you’d like to try to local food and have a proper meal then restaurant Liburnia is a place for you. The interior is really beautiful with so many flowers and plants and the food is to die for! Good thing about prices in Kosovo is that they won’t ruin your wallet!

Visit Pristina, Kosovo

Is Pristina safe?

Yes! I actually find it one of the safest cities I’ve been to! Streets are full of people until late night hours and no one really bothers you! Locals are friendly and willing to help you if needed. Often you will also see soldiers of international forces around but mostly just killing time walking up and down the street, like everyone else does. The only downside of Pristina was the some backstreets weren’t properly lit up but it wasn’t too much of the deal either.

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Visit Pristina, Kosovo

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There are 18 Comments.

  1. Anna Mikołajczyk
    18:21 08/10/2017

    Jak mogłaś popełnić … taki fajny post :)

    • Kami and the rest of the world
      18:22 08/10/2017

      Powstal tam na miejscu, wiec to by wiele wyjasnialo ;) dzieki!

  2. Katarzyna Olech
    18:22 08/10/2017

    Half&Half!!! The best place ever!:)

    • Kami and the rest of the world
      20:47 09/10/2017

      I prefer Soma but enjoyed half&half too!

  3. Stacja Bałkany
    19:25 08/10/2017

    Heh mi Prisztina serca nie skradła, ale także do niej wrócę. Fajnie bardzo za to wspominam kulturę kawiarnianą oraz ceny w kawiarniach :) A także uśmiechy, bezpieczeństwo i gościnność. Muszę koniecznie zwiedzić Prizren i udać się pociągiem do Pei :) Aktualnie czytałem sporo o genezie rozpadu byłej Jugosławii, gdzie Kosowo a raczej nieumiejętna polityka Serbii sporo znaczyła, ale to już długi temat :) w każdym razie do Prisztiny także wrócę :)

    • kami
      09:20 11/10/2017

      Prizren jest bardzo ładny, ale troche mi tam brakowało klimatu Prisztiny. Za to Gjakova była dla mnie wielkim pozytywnym zaskoczeniem w Kosowie. No i nie ukrywam, że do Prisztiny wracam głównie dla kawiarni ;)

  4. Nick
    19:32 08/10/2017

    I love the view from the Hill of Martyrs in Pristina! And the library is definitely one of my favorite buildings in the whole world!! ♥️??

    • kami
      09:21 11/10/2017

      I still need to make it to the Hill of Martyrs – I was hoping to go there now but the weather was really poor and I’ve devided to skip it. Library is just the prettiest!!

  5. Manh D Dao
    02:30 09/10/2017

    was there in April, a very unique city

    • Kami and the rest of the world
      20:47 09/10/2017

      unique is a very good word to describe it!

  6. Emily Lush
    03:59 09/10/2017

    The cafes look so cosy! I can’t wait to see the National Library of Kosovo in person – what a building!

    • kami
      09:22 11/10/2017

      I think you’d like the library, it’s such a crazy building! And cafes in Pristina are really the best!! That’s actually my main reason to keep returning there!

  7. Heidi Säynätkari
    06:37 09/10/2017

    Visited Pristina in may, and it really suprised me! How cool and laid back it was. And the coffee best I ever had. My kids just loved the never ending stairs to our house. Like Skopje, I would love to go back to Pristina!

    • Kami and the rest of the world
      20:45 09/10/2017

      sometimes those surprising destinations, like Pristina or Skopje, are the best! :) the coffee is really the best in Pristina!

  8. Amy Newton
    12:53 28/10/2017

    Love your post! I just moved here this summer and concur on many of the places you recommend, Soma being my favorite too. I still have many places to explore in the region. Thanks for sharing! And if you are back in Pristina any time, look me up…we’ll grab a macchiato!

    • kami
      21:54 22/12/2017

      Thank you for your kind words Amy and for your offer, I will definitely be back sooner or later so hopefully we can meet! I bet you’re having a great time in Kosovo!

  9. Lorraine Liyanage
    08:45 10/04/2018

    The library looks like my dream building! Thanks for all the tips, am hoping to visit later this year if I can figure out the quickest way there!

    • kami
      14:24 07/05/2018

      You’re very welcome! Pristina is pretty amazing and I really hope you will get there soon! Where would you be coming from? I can give you some tips how to best get there!

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