Is Pristina worth visiting?
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Is Pristina worth visiting?

Debating visiting Kosovo and staying in the capital city of Pristina? Not sure if there’s much to do, if it’s safe, or even worth visiting? In this article, I share my experiences of Pristina so that you too can decide ‘is Pristina worth visiting?’

Nestled in the heart of the Balkans, Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, might not be your first choice when it comes to planning a European adventure. This dynamic city, however, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by intrepid travellers looking for a unique experience in a slightly different destination. Pristina’s rich history dates back centuries, with traces of Ottoman, Serbian, and Yugoslav influences blended into its cultural mix. Today, the city is a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity, with a bunch of things to see and do. Pristina boasts historical landmarks, a thriving arts and cafe scene that rivals many European capitals, and outdoor adventures are within easy reach. In my opinion, what sets Pristina apart most is its warm and welcoming atmosphere. Despite its tumultuous past, the people of Pristina are known for their resilience, hospitality, and zest for life. You’ll find themself embraced by the local community in this intriguing city. So, is Pristina worth visiting? Here’s why I totally think it is.

Quick Tips For Visiting Pristina

Get this: a full day tour of both Pristina and Prizren, so you can explore the best parts of two of Kosovo’s most intriguing cities in one.

Don’t miss: a visit to Pristina Bear Sanctuary, where rescued bears find refuge and rehabilitation. This was one of the highlights of my trip to Pristina.

Flights: find the cheapest flights to Pristina with Skyscanner.

Stay: Find the most affordable hotels in Pristina on

Is Pristina Worth Visiting? Top Reasons To Visit

Here are some of the top reasons why I think Pristina is well worth a visit, and why this Balkan capital should be on your list of destinations to explore.

It’s a welcoming and vibrant city

One of the first things I noticed about crossing the Serbian-Kosovan border was simply how welcoming the Kosovans were. Upon handing over my passport, I was touched by the genuine gratitude of the border force for simply visiting their country. This feeling permeated the rest of my stay in Pristina. Pristina radiates warmth and vibrancy due to several key factors. Firstly, its diverse population contributes to a rich tapestry of cultures, creating an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. The city’s history as a crossroads of civilisations has fostered an openness to new ideas and experiences. Pristina’s youthful energy, also infuses the city with dynamism and creativity, reflected in its burgeoning art scene, lively cafes, great restaurants and bars, and vibrant street life. Kosovo’s capital also hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, making it a diverse and interesting destination to explore. The resilience of its people, who have overcome adversity and conflict, also gives Pristina a spirit of optimism and determination.

Is Pristina worth visiting?

It has a rich history and culture

I was really surprised by just how much of a fascinating blend of historical influences Pristina boasts, from its Ottoman heritage to its more recent Yugoslav past. From ancient settlements to Byzantine influences, the city’s history is woven with layers of diverse civilisations. Architectural marvels like the Gračanica Monastery and the striking National Library of Kosovo stand as testaments to its storied past, while a thriving art scene adds contemporary flair. Culinary delights await in Pristina’s bustling streets, offering a taste of traditional Kosovar cuisine infused with flavours from across the Balkans. Explore ancient mosques, medieval monasteries, and modern architectural gems, all within the city limits. You can also immerse yourself in Pristina’s thriving arts scene, where colourful murals adorn the streets and galleries showcase the works of local and international artists. Whether exploring museums, savouring local delicacies, or simply soaking in the ambiance of this dynamic city, Pristina offers a journey rich in history, culture, and unforgettable experiences.

Is Pristina worth visiting?

It’s Europe’s Youngest Capital

Pristina is the ideal starting point for those eager to delve into Kosovo’s essence. As the capital city, it holds significant political and economic influence within the region, serving as the seat of the Government of Kosovo. Pristina hosts several international organizations, including the European Commission, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Notably, the substantial U.S. Embassy in Pristina plays a pivotal role in Kosovo’s internal affairs. Given Kosovo’s compact size, staying in Pristina makes it easy and convenient to explore Kosovo’s nearby attractions. Within an hour’s drive from the city centre, you can marvel at UNESCO-protected sites like the Gračanica and Visoki Decani Monasteries, the Patriarchy of Peja with its Rugova Canyon, and the historic Ottoman town of Prizren. It’s a great base for exploring the rest of Kosovo.

Newborn monument

It’s easy to get around

Is Pristina worth visiting? Yes! Especially as it’s super easy to get around and explore. Kosovo’s capital, like much of the country, has often been perceived as an unfamiliar and exotic destination for travellers. Nevertheless, in recent years, Pristina has witnessed a surge in popularity among tourists, and rightfully so. Pristina offers a safe and convenient travel experience, boasting numerous attractions and activities to delight explore. I found it an absolute breeze to get around, having come from Belgrade and leaving after for Skopje. The city has a reliable and frequently available public transportation system, predominantly comprised of air-conditioned buses for optimal comfort. Taxi services are mostly reputable too, with fair rates whether opting for metered cabs or negotiated fares. Given Kosovo’s proximity to Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, and Macedonia, you can seamlessly explore the rest of the Balkans starting from Pristina. Pristina International Airport, just 15 km southwest of the city, also facilitates easy access to neighbouring regions with a wide array of flights offered by major European airlines.

strong cafe culture and great food

When you visit Pristina, you need to experience the flavours of Kosovo with a culinary journey through the city’s diverse dining scene. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I visited, but I was really pleasantly surprised at just how great the food and drink scene is. While Albanian cuisine exerts a dominant influence, Pristina’s gastronomy also reflects the broader Balkan region and its kaleidoscope of cultures. Whether craving hearty stuffed paprikas, savory resenik, or flaky burek, Pristina satisfies every palate. Coffee culture also runs deep in Pristina, ingrained in its historical and social fabric. An integral part of daily life, coffee serves as a cherished ritual for connecting with loved ones, whether enjoyed in bustling cafes or the comfort of home. Join the locals at one of Pristina’s many cafes and embrace the city’s vibrant cafe culture. Sip on a strong espresso or indulge in a sweet treat while soaking up the lively atmosphere of the city streets.

Intriguing architecture

I love admiring the architecture of any new city I visit, and I found Pristina’s architecture particularly unique and intriguing. Embedded within Pristina’s history is the imprint of Yugoslavia, evident in the plethora of buildings that stand as enduring reminders of that era. Characterised by their robust, brutalist design, these structures evoke a sense of architectural prowess reminiscent of counterparts in Skopje and Belgrade. Yet, Pristina boasts its own share of remarkable buildings that are pretty captivating. Whether the enigmatic National Library of Kosovo, often hailed as one of the world’s most ‘ugly’ buildings, or the imposing Palace of Youth and Sports, you’ll see an array of iconic architectural marvels. Pristina’s architectural charm does, however, transcend brutalism; the Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa, the largest Roman Catholic church in the Balkans, is a beacon of contemporary splendour. You might also fancy immersing yourself in the ambiance of the Ottoman-era old town, where architectural treasures like the Imperial Mosque, are spectacular.

Things to do in Pristina, Kosovo

Great shopping

In Pristina, whether you’re after souvenirs, traditional dress, or contemporary fashion, you’re bound to discover something to your liking. The city has several shopping complexes, including the Pristina City Mall and the Big Shopping Center, each catering to diverse tastes and needs. If you’re looking for more traditional shopping, Pristina has a variety of markets, among which the Grand Bazaar is a bustling hub in the heart of the city. Here, you can find everything from traditional garments and textiles to unique jewellery and mementos. Tuesdays particularly come alive with market activity, as the alleyways surrounding the former Pristina Old Bazaar teem with vendors selling fresh produce and dairy sourced from nearby villages. Dating back to the 16th century, the Pristina Bazaar was an important regional trading centre, renowned for its shops, hammam, and mosque. While socialist reforms in the mid-20th century led to the demolition of the Old Bazaar under the slogan ‘destroy the old, build the new’, the spirit of its traditions continues.

Off-the-beaten-path adventures

One thing I really love about Pristina is the fact you can venture off the beaten path to discover hidden gems and enjoy authentic experiences. Escape the urban hustle and bustle with a visit to Pristina’s surrounding countryside. You can hike through lush forests, swim in crystal-clear lakes, and marvel at breathtaking mountain vistas, all just a short drive from the city centre. When I visited, we hired a driver and headed out into the countryside to see more of Kosovo and Pristina Bear Sanctuary. It was great to leave the city, and other cool activities include a graffiti tour to see vibrant street art adorning the city’s walls, or discovering the architectural charm of lesser-known bridges like the Zahir Pajaziti Bridge and Millennium Bridge. You can also delve into Pristina’s past by exploring its underground tunnels and bunkers, remnants of wartime resilience, or escape to rural retreats like Gračanica or Gadime for a taste of countryside serenity and authentic village life. Whatever you choose to do, there’s plenty to see and do in Pristina.

Off the beaten path in Kosovo

Super affordable city break

Pristina generally offers a budget-friendly travel experience, with accommodation, dining, and transportation all relatively inexpensive compared to other European destinations. You can certainly get more bang for your buck without sacrificing quality or comfort. Accommodation choices span from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses, providing comfortable rooms at prices ranging from €15 to €35 per night, to mid-range hotels priced between €35 and €100 per night. If you’re after a touch of luxury, the city has a few five-star hotels. We stayed at the Swiss Diamond Pristina, and it cost us only €50 each per night for a comfortable room and to enjoy the hotel’s amazing pool and spa facilities. Dining out in Pristina is also good for budget travellers – you can enjoy hearty meals for less than €10, often accompanied by a local beer. With the euro as the official currency, currency conversion is pretty easy, making it simple for travellers exploring other Balkan destinations.

How To Get Around Pristina

Getting around Pristina is relatively easy, thanks to its well-developed transport network. We had no troubles when we were there, and actually chose to walk as much as we could thanks to the city’s compact layout. Here are the primary ways to navigate around the city:

  • Public transport: Pristina has a reliable and affordable public transportation system of mostly buses. The buses cover most areas of the city and run frequently throughout the day. Fares are typically cheap, and tickets can be bought directly from the driver as you board the bus.
  • Taxi: taxis are widely available in Pristina and are a convenient way to get around, especially for shorter distances or when travelling at night. This was our primary way of navigating our way around the city thanks to the cheap fares. I would, however, recommend booking a taxi through an app or via your hotel concierge. When we first arrived in Pristina, our driver did try to rip us off, so make sure to barter before getting into the taxi.
  • Walking: Pristina is a pedestrian-friendly city, and many of its attractions are within walking distance of each other, particularly in the city centre. I loved walking around Pristina as I could explore the city at my own pace and discover hidden gems along the way.
  • Car rental: if you’d like flexibility and convenience when exploring the city, renting a car is an option in Pristina. I always recommend using DiscoverCars – they offer affordable car hire in Pristina, allowing you to explore attractions outside the city centre at your own pace.

What to pack for Pristina, Kosovo

When packing for a trip to Pristina, it’s important to consider the season, as the climate can vary significantly throughout the year. Here are some essentials to include based on the time of your visit:

  • SPF 50 – it was pretty warm when I visited in early May, so I can’t recommend a good suncream enough! The sun can be deceptively strong, even when cloudy, and given the Mediterranean climate, you should make sure you take plenty of SPF with you.
  • Plug adaptor – if you’re UK based, you’ll need a plug converter. Like most of Europe, Kosovo uses type F and C plugs. This plug adaptor is amazing as you can use it in most other countries, no matter what the plug type. I don’t travel without one any more.
  • Multi device charger – I can’t travel without one of these any more, either. It’s so handy for charging a couple of iPhones at once (ideal when you’re travelling with someone and are limited on time or plugs for charging), as well as a couple of other devices.
  • Clear toiletries bags – these are an absolute lifesaver at airport security – no more flimsy sandwich bags for a starter! When I visited Kosovo, I’d travelled through the Balkans from Belgrade, and so it was super handy just to shove all my toiletries into one of these while moving about.
  • Rain gear – depending on the season you visit, I’d consider packing a waterproof jacket to stay dry during potential showers. I’d also recommend bringing an umbrella – this one is sturdy, perfect for packing away into a backpack, and I bring it everywhere with me.
  • A backpack – I’ve used this Trespass backpack for as long as I can remember. It’s lightweight, holds up to 30 litres, is really comfy, and comes in a range of colours. You’ll need this if you’re planning on getting in your steps while in Kosovo
  • Comfortable footwear – walking shoes or sturdy sneakers are ideal for exploring the city streets and beyond.
  • Reusable travel water bottle – I don’t go anywhere without one of these any more. It’s super cheap and is easy to just refill and shove into a backpack when you’re out exploring. I always like to have water on me, and don’t like buying single use plastics, so this is perfect.

Adjusting your packing list according to these suggestions will help ensure that you are well-prepared for your visit to Pristina, regardless of the time of year.

Is Pristina Worth Visiting? FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions I receive about visiting the Kosovan capital of Pristina.

How many days should I spend in Pristina?

I stayed in Pristina for 3 days, and it was plenty. I’d say 2 days is sufficient, but the ideal duration of your stay in Pristina depends on your interests and the pace at which you prefer to travel. 2 days in Pristina will allow you exploration of the city’s main attractions, including historical landmarks and cultural sites. You’ll be able to see key attractions such as the Newborn Monument, Kosovo Museum, and the vibrant Pristina Bazaar, as well as strolling through the city’s charming streets and enjoying authentic Kosovar cuisine. If you’d like to venture beyond Pristina and explore nearby attractions or off-the-beaten-path adventures, you might want to add on an extra day to your trip.

Is Pristina safe to visit?

I was admittedly a little nervous about this before visiting, but I felt super safe in Pristina. In fact, safer than many parts of the UK! Pristina is generally considered a safe city for visitors. While it’s always wise to exercise caution and remain vigilant, particularly in crowded areas, the city has a relatively low crime rate compared to other European capitals. The local authorities take measures to ensure the safety and security of residents and visitors alike. As with any destination, however, it’s advisable to stay informed about current events and heed any travel advisories issued by your government.

Is Kosovo good for a holiday?

Kosovo can be an excellent destination for a holiday, offering a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty to explore. The country’s diverse attractions range from ancient monasteries and Ottoman-era architecture to stunning mountain landscapes and vibrant city life. Pristina is a bustling hub of activity, with lively cafes, museums, and cultural events to enjoy. If you fancy a little luxury on your holiday in Kosovo, you might wish to stay in one of the high-end hotels with spa facilities. Outside the capital, you can discover UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Decani Monastery, explore charming towns and villages, or embark on outdoor adventures such as hiking, skiing, or rafting. Kosovo’s warm hospitality and delicious cuisine also make for a memorable holiday experience. While the country may still be developing its tourism infrastructure, adventurous travellers will find plenty to discover and enjoy in Kosovo.

What to avoid in Kosovo?

While Kosovo is generally a safe and welcoming destination, there are a few things to be mindful of to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit:

  • Political demonstrations: avoid participating in or getting caught up in political demonstrations or protests, as these events can sometimes escalate into violence or unrest. Stay informed about local developments and heed any travel advisories issued by your government.
  • Border disputes: Kosovo’s status as an independent country is not universally recognised, and there are ongoing border disputes with neighbouring countries. Avoid discussing sensitive political topics related to Kosovo’s status, particularly in areas close to the borders.
  • Landmines: while efforts have been made to clear landmines from areas affected by past conflicts, some areas may still contain unexploded ordnance. Exercise caution when exploring remote or rural areas, and stick to well-travelled paths. If you’re going off-piste, I’d always recommend travelling with a guide.
  • Ethnic tensions: Kosovo has a diverse population with ethnic Albanians making up the majority. While ethnic tensions are generally low, it’s essential to be respectful of different cultural and religious traditions and avoid sensitive topics related to ethnicity or religion.
  • Crime: petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft can occur, particularly in crowded tourist areas or on public transport. Keep your belongings secure and be mindful of your surroundings, especially in busy urban areas.

By staying informed, exercising common sense, and respecting local customs and laws, you can enjoy a safe and rewarding experience in Kosovo.

Is Kosovo cheap to visit?

Kosovo is generally an affordable destination for travellers. Compared to many other European countries, prices for accommodation, dining, transport, and attractions tend to be lower in Kosovo. Budget travellers can find cheap lodging options such as hostels and guesthouses, while mid-range and luxury accommodations are also available at relatively affordable rates. Dining out is also affordable, with plenty of budget-friendly restaurants serving delicious traditional cuisine at reasonable prices. Public transport, including buses and taxis, is very good value, making it easy to get around without breaking the bank. Many of Kosovo’s attractions, including historical sites, museums, and natural landmarks, also offer affordable or even free admission.

Do they speak English in Pristina?

English is widely spoken and understood in Pristina, particularly among younger generations, students, and those working in the tourism industry. Many people in Pristina, especially those involved in hospitality, restaurants, and shops, have a good level of English. Signs and menus in tourist areas are often available in English, and communication in English is generally sufficient for travellers to navigate the city and interact with locals. However, proficiency levels may vary, especially in more remote or less touristy areas, so it’s always helpful to learn a few basic phrases in Albanian, the official language of Kosovo, as a sign of respect and to facilitate communication. Here are a few that might help:

  • Hello – Përshëndetje (Pur-shen-DET-yeh)
  • Goodbye – Mirupafshim (Mee-roo-paf-SHEEM)
  • Please – Ju lutem (Yoo LOO-tem)
  • Thank you – Faleminderit (Fah-le-MEEN-deh-reet)
  • Yes – Po (poh)
  • No – Jo (yo)
  • Excuse me – Më falni (muh FAHL-nee)
  • Sorry – Më vjen keq (muh VYEN keck)
  • Where is…? – Ku është…? (koo uh-SHTUH…?)
  • How much is this? – Sa kushton kjo? (sah kooshton kyo?)

Is Kosovo a rich or poor country?

Kosovo is considered to be a lower-middle-income country with a developing economy. While it has made significant progress since gaining independence in 2008, Kosovo still faces economic challenges, including high unemployment rates, limited foreign investment, and a reliance on remittances from the diaspora. The country’s GDP per capita is lower than the European average, and it continues to rely on international aid and assistance for development projects. However, Kosovo has a young and dynamic population, a growing service sector, and potential for economic growth in sectors such as agriculture, tourism, and energy. Overall, while Kosovo faces economic challenges, it has plenty of potential for growth and development in the future.

That’s my guide to visiting Pristina! I hope you found it helpful, and now know ‘is Pristina worth visiting?’ Hopefully you’re feeling inspired to visit yourself now. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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