Capital of Kosovo
Europe > Balkans > Kosovo > Pristina
Prishtina (Albanian: Prishtinë, Serbian: Priština), the capital city of Kosovo, is not conventionally beautiful on sight: It is messy, with centuries-old Ottoman heritage competing with communist designs and post-communist architectural monstrosities. However, there is a powerful draw to this city, offering much to passing visitors.
As the youngest capital city in Europe, Pristina has the physical remnants of the periods of old and new. After a rapid modernization campaign in the mid-20th century, much of the historic centre was destroyed and, as a result, only a small portion remains. However amongst what's left are many hidden gems to be found, and the areas that were lost have been replaced by modern structures and monuments that speak more to Kosovo's fascinating recent history than to any other period of time. Whilst the concrete jungle of Pristina's centre can be quite overwhelming, there are plenty of opportunities to get out into the nature of the city's parks and its beautiful rolling outskirts, as well as an abundance of easy day trip possibilities all around the region. Along the main boulevard, Rr Nëne Terezë/Mother Teresa St., you can feel a palpable energy from the wide mix of amiable, welcoming locals and international residents enjoying the bustling street life and vibrant coffee culture that exists during the day.
Come the evening, restaurants, bars and nightclubs across the city fill with a variety of customers and music, offering many options, from a quiet local beer with friends to a heavy night of dancing that can last well into the next day. Pristina is a city that loves to almost constantly host events and festivals, so chances are high that you'll walk into a unique cultural experience that you hadn't anticipated.
Above all else, perhaps the greatest appeal of Pristina is the opportunity to witness the site of recent political turmoil as it transforms, under the watchful eye of the international community, into quite the cosmopolitan capital.
Newborn monument was unveiled on the day of independence in 2008 - its paint scheme is changed yearly
The main language you will hear in the street is Albanian. English is widely spoken in the 3-km² space in the centre of town where internationals and those working for international organizations predominate. The further you go from the centre, the less likely you will be to hear English spoken. However, most people from Pristina, especially young people, speak at least a little English, or will happily find a friend who does, so you are unlikely to have any difficulties getting by.
Navigating around the city is easy even if you don't speak or read Albanian. The city centre is small and walkable (watch out for crazy drivers who often hop sidewalks and plow through intersections), and people are generally receptive to efforts to communicate in broken Albanian and English. Serbian is Kosovo's other official language, but it is seldom heard on the streets in the capital. You should be able to speak Serbian in some government offices, but you should avoid speaking it in public, except in Serbian areas, where you should be avoid speaking in Albanian. German is easily the next most widely spoken language. Ties between the Kosovo Albanian diaspora in Germany and Switzerland and Kosovo are very strong, as many older Kosovo Albanians have lived and worked in Germany and Switzerland.
Get in
By plane
Pristina International Airport (PRN IATA, Pristina International Airport Adem Jashari, Albanian: Aeroporti Ndërkombëtar i Prishtinës "Adem Jashari"; Serbian: Međunarodni aerodrom Adem Jašari), Slatina village (15 km (9 mi) southwest.), ☏ +383 38 5015021214, ✉​information@limakkosovo.aero​. Works 24/7. Pristina International Airport is the only airport and it's roughly 15 km (9 mi) away from Pristina.
(updated Aug 2021)
Public line 1A bus to and from the airport costs €3 and leaves every hour. Branded taxis to/from Pristina cost €13.
Pristina International Airport works 24/7. It has free limited-time internet access, duty-free stores, special services in the waiting room for business class passengers, a restaurant, three bars for coffee and snack, and parking.
You can fly directly to Pristina from the following airports (some seasonal):
Antalya, Berlin, Brussels, Basel (Mulhouse), Cologne, Copenhagen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Friedrichshafen, Gothenburg, Geneva, Hannover, Hamburg, Helsinki, Istanbul (both airports), London, Malmo, Memmingen, Munich, Oslo, Stuttgart, Stockholm, Vienna, Zürich.
By bus
Coming in Kosovo from the surrounding countries is fairly easy, due to the amount of buses with a regular daily schedule.
Bus from Albania
Bus from Tirana: 05:30; 06:00; 07:00; 14:00; 14:30; 15:00; 16:00; 17:00; 17:30; 18:00; 20:00. The ticket price is €10 one way or €15 return and takes about 4 hours.
Bus from Shkodra is at: 17:40; 19:40; and 21:10. The bus actually starts in Ulcinj, Montenegro and stops in city's outskirts, stops to pick up people up in Shkodra before going onwards to Pristina. The ticket price is between €12-15.
Bus from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bus from Sarajevo runs daily, departing at 22:00, via Novi Pazar, Serbia. At the ticket office in Sarajevo, you have to buy a ticket to Novi Pazar. Don't worry: the same bus continues on to Pristina, so when you get to Novi Pazar, just stay on the bus and tell the ticket person that you want to buy a ticket to Pristina.
Bus from Sarajevo to Novi Pazar (trip takes about 7 and-a-half hours, €15 one-way or €22 with a return ticket - return has to be within a month). When the bus arrives in Novi Pazar at around 05:30, just stay on the same bus and buy the ticket to Pristina (€7 one-way, takes about 3 hours).
Alternatively, take the day bus from Sarajevo to Novi Pazar (Bus departs daily from Sarajevo at 15:00, takes about 7 hours, €15 one-way). Spend the night there and continue on to Pristina the next day (buses depart frequently through the day; buses from Novi Pazar to Skopje, North Macedonia also make stops in Mitrovica and Pristina. This bus stops on the road right outside of the main bus station in Pristina.
Bus from Montenegro
Bus from Podgorica runs daily, once a day, starts at 21:30. The ticket price is €16-18.
Bus from Ulcinj is at: 16:00; 18:00; 19:30. The ticket price is €15, one way.
Bus from North Macedonia
Bus from Skopje starts at 8:00 and its almost every 30 minutes until the last bus which is at 19:00. (€5, one-way)
Bus from Serbia
Bus from Belgrade: 12:00; 16:30; 21:30. The ticket is €15 one way.
Bus from Niš is at: 08:00; 13:45. The ticket is €8-10.
Bus from Novi Pazar (see the section on traveling by bus from Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Prishtina Bus Station (Stacioni i Autobusëve, Prishtinë), Lidhja e Pejës st, ☏+383 38 550 011, +383 38 541 517, +383 38 540 142, ✉ info@stacioniautobuseve-pr.com​. 04:00-00:00. The Bus Station is 15 minutes walk from the city centre if you take the Bill Clinton boulevard. There are few fast food shops at the bus station as well as kiosks where you can get your snacks and drinks from. It is very common to pay for your ticket once you are on the bus, which sometimes ends up being cheaper.
If you decide to take a taxi from the bus station, try to get the ones that are branded since they have taximeters which starts at €1.50, and overall are cheaper than private ones. A trip to the city center should cost no more than €3. Anything more than this is a ripoff. Some of the drivers will even quote you prices as high as €15.
You can negotiate the price with the private ones, and you should agree ahead about the price to your destination. (updated Jun 2017)
By train
There are trains which travel from North Macedonia and Serbia to Pristina. These take long to get there. See Kosovo#By train
Get around
Map of urban bus lines (some lines not featured)
Map of Pristina
The roads in Pristina (and in general throughout Kosovo) are pretty good, but improvements are still being made. Nevertheless, caution should be made about slow moving vehicles. Traffic is heavy during working hours in Prishtina and in the summer when diaspora comes. Sometimes you might get stuck in traffic due to road repairs/improvements. There is a free toll highway from the border with Albania (Morine border crossing) all the way to Pristina, which takes just more than an hour to get too, compared to 3 hours that it used to take.
Apart from the highway to Albania and the modern one to the border with Macedonia, the connection with other cities is fairly close but roads are not well maintained and traffic can be heavy at times.
Sacred Places
Mother Teresa Cathedral
Galleries, Museums
National Museum
Ethnographic Museum in Pristina
Sahat Kulla
Center of Youth and Sports
Palace of Youth & Sports (Pallati i Rinisë dhe i Sporteve), Rr. Luan Haradinaj, ☏+383 38 249424.
Germia Park
National Theatre
National Library
Cineplexx Kosovo (Cineplexx), Veterrnik, Albi Mall (You can get there with bus or taxi from the city center.), ✉ kinema-rks@cineplexx-ks.eu​. 15:00 - 23:00. "The first cinema in Kosovo with six halls with RealD 3D technology and the new Dolby Digital Surround System 7.1 sound technology, as well as about 900 seats. The cinema is located in the Albi Mall shopping center, 3rd floor.".2.80EUR.
(updated Jul 2021)
Kosovo's festival scene is on the rise throughout the Balkans. There are many festivals that take place throughout the year in Pristina. New festivals are also popping up all of the time. If you are planning to travel to Pristina it is a great idea to see if any of the major festivals are happening throughout your stay. The most popular festivals in Pristina are centered on music, art and alcohol. The most up-to-date information for festivals can be found on their Facebook page
There are a variety of restaurants with something for everyone's taste. Radio taxi drivers will know the location of most major restaurants frequented by internationals. Try a traditional qebabtore (you can find one anywhere), or a Turkish doner shop (best ones around the corner from Payton Place, near UNDP) for a real taste of the local food and great value. If you are a foreigner you may have to do a fair bit of pointing to order, but it should be worth it.
Traditional Dishes at Restaurant Tiffany in Pristina
Pristina is a destination known for the experience it provides. A massive part of that experience will be sightseeing the many cafés and bars that have diverse yet stylish interiors around town. The nightlife and festival scene in Pristina has improved rapidly in the past two years and is predominantly known for techno music. Whilst visiting Pristina you will not go thirsty, thanks to the variety of local, low cost delights. The water is clear and safe to drink in Pristina. As a foreigner, you will not have a problem drinking water from the tap, but if you prefer bottled water there are 13 local water brands for you to consume.
A unique quality of Pristina is the passion behind the coffee culture, and emphasis on the craft of making espresso-based coffee. Internationals have assisted in spreading the word about how delicious the macchiato are in cafés around town. Kosovo baristas and patrons have high expectations for how well coffee is made and care put into producing each cup for the city that loves to drink coffee. The Kosovo macchiato can be described as stronger, shorter latte (or a flat white to those from down under) and is served either small (similar to a piccolo) or large (a regular size).
Pristina's bars and cafés stock some of the best local spirits produced around the country. The most common local beer that you will find around town is Peja. Peja beer is an easy to drink lager made in the west of Kosovo. Other local beers you can find around town are Pristina, Greembeer and Sabaja. Sabaja is the only local craft brewery in Kosovo. Most wine produced in Kosovo comes from in and around Rahovec in the south west of Kosovo. Local wines have improved over time and you are often served a heavy pour for a fair price at most cafes and bars. Wine marketing is still up and coming in Kosovo, so when you order at a bar it is regular practice to order in a general fashion; red, white or rose. Don't let this discourage you from asking the waiter about the wine options they have at their establishment. Most establishments will stock a variety. Rajika (Raki), local homemade brandy, is served at most cafes and bars around town. Raki (singular form) is served in a shot glass and meant to be sipped and enjoyed. It can be made from various fruits and nuts, however the most popular varieties you can find in Pristina bars are grape, pear, apple and quince.
In addition to the wide variety of cafes and bars you can find around town, you also have constant events happening on the main boulevard, such as a Christmas market in November or December serving mulled wine and warm spiced rum every day and night. It is worth taking a wander throughout the boulevard during your stay as Pristina is famous in the region for the constant pop-up festivals that occur. These include fresh fruit and vegetable markets, coffee and tea festival, wine and local craft festivals and more, all taking place on the main boulevard throughout the year.
Most locals refer to Pristina's café/bar scene by splitting it up into four main areas/roads lined with bars and cafes open daily from 08:00-00:00. These four main streets are in the city center perpendicular to the main pedestrian boulevard. 
 Four areas
Cafes and bars
When you are strolling around town in Pristina you will see a variety of combination cafes/bars/restaurants. It is quite typical for most establishments to serve food although some only have drink menus. The majority of cafes/bars that you see are open daily (with the exception of Sundays for about half) from 08:00-00:00. The majority serves coffee, soda, juice, beer, wine, raki and basic spirits.  It is recommended to experience multiple cafes/bars during your stay in Pristina. You will find the wait staff to be friendly and almost always you can find someone that speaks English to help you out. The best way to find the location and events for each bar/café is to use their Facebook pages.
Clubs and festivals
Pristina's nightlife is on the rise and becoming one of Europe's leading capitals for techno music. Although Pristina is known for its techno music you can experience an array of talented artists from genres such as traditional, jazz, rock, popular, rap, new age and more. For live music Pristina offers constant cool jazz scenes for you to enjoy and jam sessions to delight! Throughout the region, Pristina has a reputation for the amount of festivals that take place and are created each year. If you are interested in experiencing some of the best electronic music offered in Pristina exhibited through pop up parties throughout the year follow the promotion company Hapesira. The employees at Hapesira are the front-runners of the electronic music scene in Pristina. Pristina's club scene varies from casual Berlin style parties to classy, well-dressed establishments. Although small, the city gives off the vibe that it has something for everyone if you just know where to go. For up-to-date information on events at each club please refer to their Facebook pages. 
Accommodation can be very expensive in Pristina, as everything is tailored for internationals on expense accounts and hefty per diems. If you look around you should be able to find fliers offering accommodation. If you can find these places, go there as the cost is usually €10-15 per night.
Stay safe
In the Dardania neighbourhood (the residential blocks between the bus station and the centre), be careful when the beggar children are around: they may follow you for a while, speaking (presumably in Albanian), and may just come too suspiciously close to your bag and pockets behind you in the meantime.
Pristina is rebuilding, and some of the city roads now are new, but if you are driving, you still must be on the lookout for large potholes.
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Last edited on 1 August 2021, at 09:05
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