I spent ten days in Kosovo, and I’m here to say it wasn’t enough. What initially got me to Kosovo was the statue of Bill Clinton and his big hands (no honestly, Kosovo has an issue with realistic hand size). After that, it was reading that you’ll fall in love with the country and people, which I did. Usually, I try to keep low expectations, but Kosovo – I had them high from the start, and it did not disappoint.at.all.
If you would like to know “How to fall in love with Kosovo.” click ‘read more’
In this article, you’ll find: (click to be taken there)
The Basics: How to get there.
Getting Around: Transport Options
My Top Choices: What you should see.
My Recommendations: Where to eat & drink, What to listen to & read.
Where to Stay: Where I stayed or where friends stayed.
What I did: My diary entry.
Other Recommendations: Things we missed.
All my posts have a key:
⏰ Opening Hours. 📍Location 🕒Distance
💰Cost 🎫Ticket 📝 To note. 🎒What to bring.
♿ Accessibility 🌱Vegan / Veg Options.
- NO ATM COST: BKT; Banka Kombetare Tregtare offers no cash withdrawal fee.
- History: The history of the Kosovo War (1998 – 1999) is still very raw, real and unless locals are happy to discuss with you, should be avoided.
- Recognisation: 105 countries have given Kosovo diplomatic regonisation. Read the wikipedia page here.
- You cannot travel from Kosovo into Serbia.
Getting to Prishtina.
Note: The main airport is Pristina International Airport Adem Jashari
Local: Kosovo Airlines – flies mostly to Germany and Switzerland/
Your best bet would be to fly via London, Munich or Zurich.
|EUR||Wizz Airlines, EasyJet, Pegasus Airlines, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Swiss Airlines.|
🚌 Bus from Skopje.
💰€3.50 EURO| $6.00 AUD| $3.95 USD | £3.00 GBP
Buses leave from the main bus station pretty frequently, with the last one being around 5pm.
⏰Apr – Oct: 9:00 – 18:00 | Nov – Mar: 10:00 – 19:00
📍Bear Sanctuary Prishtina, Novo Selo.
💰€2 EURO| $3.20 AUD| $ 2.24USD | £1.81 GBP
♿not really paved for those with strollers or wheelchairs.
Getting There: take a 30 minute bus ride to Gjilan and they will drop you off at a Gas Station. From there, it’s about a 20 minute walk following the signs.
You can also take a 20 minute taxi for around 10-12 Euros.
20kms from Prishtina, 10 hectares have been transformed into a near-natural habitat for nineteen bears. Since 2010, bears have been illegal to keep private, and the bears now live in conditions that based on animal welfare — saved from conditions unfit for them to live.
A 2km round trip, you will be able to see the bears up close enjoying themselves. The restaurant has pretty decent food too.
⏰ 10:00 – 17:00 | Closed Mondays
💰Free, donations accepted.
📝 the Prishtina walking tour takes you here.
Set in the old part of Prishtina, The Ethnological Museum is a complex built of two yards, holding separate buildings which at the time of visiting, one was under renovation. The museum gives some of the best examples of what urban homes looked like in the 19th century.
Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa
⏰10:00 – 18:00 (the lift to the top is closed from 12:00 – 16:00)
💰Free – although the tower for the views costs 2 – 3 euros.
📝 the Prishtina walking tour takes you here.
The Cathedral of Mother Teresa is the only cathedral dedicated to the Saint herself. I found particularly fascinating was the stained glass windows that depicted more of a modern scene rather than historic.
The view from the top of the church overlooks the library.
National Library of Kosovo
⏰07:00 – 20:00 | Sat: 07:00 – 14:00 | Sun: Closed
📝 the Prishtina walking tour takes you here.
Titled “One of the balkans ugliest buildings”, “a beehive” and a “brutalist style of architecture” this Library is eye-catching. It holds over 2 million items, is open for guests and had been a living quarters for refugees too.
At MoMa (Museum of Modern Art) the exhibition, “Towards a Concrete Utopia: Architecture of Yugoslavia, 1948-1980” took on “cultural manifestations – ethno-religious tradition and socialist modernity” which you can read an article about the exhibition here.
📍Luan Haradinaj, Prishtinë
📝the Prishtina walking tour takes you here.
At 10 x 79 feet, the Newborn statue is hard to miss along the busy main street. Getting repainted every year on the anniversary of its independence, Newborn has been covered with flags that represented recognising countries and having the ‘b’ changed into a ‘1’ for the 10th anniversary. The Newborn statue this year (2019) standed for the Environment; Nature, Environment, Water, Bio-Diversity, Oxygen, Recycling & Nature (again.)
Statue of Bill Clinton.
📍Bulevardi Bill Klinton
Bill Clinton had a heavy role in the independence of Kosovo in the 1990s. Due to his contributions, they have honoured him with this Statue.
⏰07:00 – 23:00 | Sat: 09:00 – 23:00 | Closed Sun
📍 rr. Rexhep Luci, no.56
🌱soy milk, vegan and vegetarian options.
I spent at least 7-8 breakfasts here because the smoothie bowls are incredibly tasty and they make an excellent soy coffee. The ingredients are fresh, the wifi is good, and it’s super close to the hostel.
⏰ 08:00 – 24:00 | Sundays: 10:00 – 20:00
📍 Fazli Grajqevci, Prishtinë
🌱vegetarian food options available.
They focus on the platform of coffee, music, literature and film. Having over 1000 titles in the cafe, you can grab a coffee, vegetarian food.
⏰ 07:00 – 22:00 | Closed Sunday
📍 19 Mitrovica
🌱vegan and vegetarian options
A secret garden, relaxed atmosphere and bookshelves filled, Sonder feels warm and inviting. It’s got real bagels, vegan and vegetarian options and the staff are lovely.
⏰ 08:00 – 24:00
📍 Bulevardi Nëna Terezë
📝it will come up as
Another book based cafe, it’s a very, dare I say “instagramable place.” This place is busy. During the nights it often has live music.
⏰ 08:00 – 24:00 |Fri – Sat: 08:00 – 24:30 | Sun: 12:00 – 24:00
📍 Tringë Smajli
MIQT pronounced like “Misht” means Friends. Didn’t stop me saying “Am I Cutey?” but. It’s a favourite bar amongst locals and tourists alike. Everyone is friendly and they’ve got cheap Peja.
I spent a whole day looking for either of these books in Melbourne bookstores (okay I just called them) but finally ended up finding My Cat Yugoslavia on, Scribd (affiliate – this will get you two months free) and what made me appreciate Statovic’s book was the descriptions of Kosovo, the people and how resilient they are.
Note: it’s very metaphorical, so it may not be your cuppa tea.
“In 1980s Yugoslavia, a young Muslim girl is married off to a man she hardly knows, but what was meant to be a happy match goes quickly wrong. Soon thereafter her country is torn apart by war and she and her family flee. Years later, her son, Bekim, grows up a social outcast in present-day Finland, not just an immigrant in a country suspicious of foreigners, but a gay man in an unaccepting society.”
“A magnificent blend of travel journal, cultural commentary, and historical insight, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon probes the troubled history of the Balkans, and the uneasy relationships amongst its ethnic groups. The landscape and the people of Yugoslavia are brilliantly observed as West untangles the tensions that rule the country’s history as well as its daily life.”
ARTICLES OF INTEREST:
- Pepper Co-Op Helps Kosovo’s War Widows Reclaim Their Lives
- Why are so many countries opposed to Kosovo gaining its Independence?
- Wartime rape is no longer kept under wraps in Kosovo
WHERE TO STAY
If you book by The Balkan Backpacker – you’ll receive 10% off.
⏰Check-in 13:00 – 12:00 Check-out 11:00 to 11:30
📍Boulevard Mother Theresa 18A/6, 10000 Prishtinë
📝 – Cash payments only.
♿You need to climb 4 flights of stairs.
The hostel is a bit hard to find at first but as long as you google it before you go – you’ll be fine… well apart from the 4 flights of stairs you’ll be fine.
|🍽Breakfast||Free breakfast from Kosovo, including Ajvar – a red pepper spread that’s their version of Jam.|
|🛁Bathrooms||Two private bathrooms, with great hot pressure showers.|
|🛏Rooms||bunk beds made of steel (bit squeaky) but comfy. Curtains and powerplugs for all.|
|🎲Facilities||Cards, Backgammon, Chess and Netflix,|
|🍺Bar||Ability to drink beers, smoking is on the outside balcony only.|
WHAT I DID
Taking the bus to the bear sanctuary was a real adventure in itself. Once we arrived at the bus stop, taking the road, we passed a tank street sign. The four of us also argued, for at least 10 minutes about which way the bear sanctuary was (I was really, really, wrong so luckily nobody listened to me for this particular instance, or well, ever..)
We spent a lot of time trying out new cafes (when coffees are a dollar you’re going to be hyped up and ready to try anything!) Macchiatos are very big in Kosovo – enough so they’ve placed a Macchiato Sculpture in the main street. (Macchiato Sculpture is by Parlote Muzlijaj and titled “IAMMACCHIATO” which is a symbol to represent Kosovo’s society.)
Taking the Prishtina Walking Tour (which can be organised through your hostel or you can look here on their facebook page.) My absolute favourite part of the walking tour was coming across the Heroinat Memorial. It is based on what women went through in contribution and pain during the Kosovo war. You can read an article here on how the concept was developed, and why.
I spent a day checking out the Kosovo Museum, which doesn’t have the greatest collection due to collectables being sent off before the war but the items they have are interesting. They also hold a 10-square-metre mosaic of Mother Teresa, made out of staples. It gained a Guinness Worlds Record for the amount.
⏰ 09:30 – 17:30 | Sunday: 11:00 – 17:30
📍Ibrahim Lutfiu, Pristina
Much of the countries collection was shipped off before 1998 and has yet to be returned. Currently it is a small museum full of archeological finds and ethnographic items.
⏰ 10:00 – 18:00 | Sat+ Sun: 17:00 | Closed Mondays
Behind the National Library, is the Art Gallery of Kosovo, situated within the University. A small gallery showing works from University Students and often having borrowed collections from countries nearby.
To experience Kosovo, you need to spend time at bars and cafes talking to locals. Getting out and about the city and experiencing the architecture, parks and general attractions. One of the most bizarre was the Abandoned Amusement Park. Called “Magic Park located at 1 tetori, Prishtina” is interesting to see but also surrounded by Taukbashçe Park.
One of the days in Kosovo, I was feeling a bit out of sorts. I had 6 days until Canada and I was a bit nervous about uprooting and living somewhere. I decided to do a ‘self-care’ day of sorts, sit in cafes, drink coffee, walk around town, read books and get my hair done at Menda Hair (which had a sign of Buzz Aldrin with the flag of Albania on the moon.)
Finally, I’m going to end this post with a couple of architectural photos.
- Gërmia Park. The biggest park in all of Prishtina. You can rent bikes, eat at cafes and there is also a public swimming pool.
- Monastery Gracanica. built in 1321 on the ruins of a 6th-century basilica, it was placed on the UNESCO list in 2006.
- Tomb of Sultan Murat: built in the 14th century it’s the first example of Ottoman architecture in Kosovo.
Have you been?
What did you see / eat / do?
Let me know below.
As always, stay cool.