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Prizren
City in Kosovo
Europe > Balkans > Kosovo > Prizren
Prizren, in Kosovo, is a charming city of mosques and monasteries dating back to the 14th century. Happily spared (mostly) from both the "destroy the old, build the new" drive of the communists during the early years of their rule in Yugoslavia, as well as the ethnic and religious atrocities that plagued the Western Balkans in the last decade of the 20th century, Prizren has the best-preserved old town in the country by far, and is often referred to as the cultural capital of Kosovo.
Understand
Old town of Prizren
Clinging to the slopes of the lush Sharr Mountains, and divided by the river Lumbardh, Prizren, including its modern suburbs, is home to about 180,000 people, making it the second largest city in the country, after Pristina, the capital. The majority of the population is ethnic Albanian. Kosovo's Turkish, Bosniak and Gorani community is focused in Prizren as well. As such, the standard bi-lingual street signs in Albanian and Serbian are complemented here by Turkish, which can be freely used particularly in the old town, and with other Albanians. The local Serbs vacated the city in the aftermath of the Kosovo War of 1998–99, when Kosovo was de facto detached from Serbia, with their charred houses standing vacant on the upper streets leading to the fortress.
Prizren is also where the Albanian national awakening began, as the League of Prizren, a political organization for defending the rights of the Albanians, was founded here in 1878.
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Tourist Information Office (Off the Old Bridge head toward the Tekke), ☏ +383 49605954, ✉ sharrioutdoor@gmail.com​. M-W F Sa 09:00-21:00; Su 17:00-21:00; Th off; lunch break 13:00-15:00. Buy printed guides and book guided tours here. (updated Aug 2017)
Get in
By bus
The best way to get to Prizren is by bus from Pristina (€4, less than 2 hours). You can also take buses from Peja (€3) where the famous Serb Orthodocs monasteries are located.
You can also catch a bus from Tirana or Skopje. Most bus companies that run from Istanbul to Pristina continue onward and terminate in Prizren. There are several direct buses from Belgrade (7 hours, 1 day bus & 2 night buses, cost approximately €10, and stops depending on the route in Nis or Kruševac, Pristina and other towns on the road, information dates from February 2005).
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Main Bus Station (Stacioni i Autobusëve), Rruga Zara (To get to the main bus station take the road along the river and turn right at the traffic circle. The bus station is on the left. There are a couple of travel agents in the area.). Buses are available to almost anywhere in Kosovo, usually via Pristina or Gjakova, Macedonia and Albania. 
By car
From Albania, there are two good ways
The main event in the city is Dokufest, an annual international documentary and short film festival held in August.
Daytripping from Skopje (to Prizren)
With direct buses from Skopje arriving in the evening, and making their return in the morning, a day-trip from Skopje may not seem possible, but if you put some thought and effort into it, you will realize that it is entirely feasible. Read on:
Take the 06:00 bus from Skopje to Pristina. If the bus is not very crowded (particularly the case on weekdays), you won't lose much time at the border crossing, and arrive in the bus station of Pristina just in time for the 08:20 bus to Prizren. (You could have got off in Ferizaj on the way at 07:30, but you will need a lot of creativity to pass the time there until the departure of the next bus to Prizren at 09:15.) This bus will arrive in Prizren at about 10:15.
Upon returning, the last bus to Skopje leaves Pristina at 17:00, making a stop at Ferizaj bus station at about 18:00. This means that you will have to catch the 13:45 bus to Pristina from Prizren (which will let you stroll around Pristina for a little more than an hour—to spare more time for Pristina, take the 13:00 bus from Prizren), or the 17:00 bus to Ferizaj (and hope it arrives at its scheduled time of 18:00, and doesn't miss the last bus to Skopje—the 14:30 bus, which arrives in Ferizaj at 16:10, is probably a better bet). Note that the evening bus to Skopje is often almost completely full by the time it arrives in Ferizaj, which means that, should you decide to take it there, you may have to travel standing for part of the route, and then take a taxi in a village near the border for the rest of the route to Skopje, perhaps because of a rule regulating border crossings.
Get around
Map of Prizren
From the bus station everything is within walking distance.
See
Shadervan Square
Our Lady of Ljevis
Around Prizren
Do
Gazi Mehmet Pasha Hamam
Riverside walk up to the fortress (circular walk, distance about 4.5 km - follow the river east out of town "Maresh" district). Through the attractive river valley, past the site of the Dokufest camp. At one point the path seems to come to a dead-end, retrace your steps and cross the bridge. Eventually the path leaves the river and turns right, uphill through woods where there is abundant wildlife (butterflies, woodpeckers, lizards, salamanders and tortoises have been sighted!). The path eventually leads to the fortress, from where you can make your way back down past the Orthodox Cathedral. (updated Jun 2017)
Events
Dokufest
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Dokufest. It is the largest film festival in Kosovo. In addition to the main theater spaces, improvised screening venues are also installed, including atop the Prizen fortress. During the Festival, the town is full of people and various parties go late at night in the bars. Documentary photo exhibitions, debates, master classes and lively music events are also part of the 9-day festival.
(updated Jun 2017)
Buy
There are few traditional crafts that are still practiced in Prizren and the surrounding area. In Prishtina, there are some women's cooperatives selling carpets and embroideries, and there may be one or two in Prizren as well. Ask around and someone will be able to direct you. The most traditional craft for Prizren has always been filigree. Very ornate pieces are made for traditional local wedding feasts, but more simple pieces are available in any of the shops that line the road leading into town. Poke around and ask to see the older pieces.
Market. Market day is Wednesday. The town fills up with merchants from all of the surrounding villages. In addition to crafts such as wordworks, there are also cheap mass produced tchotckas and knick-knacks. 
Eat
The center of the town is full of barbecue restaurants (qebaptore). Prizren is well known in Kosovo for its barbecues as they make everything in front of your eyes. In the downtown or in Shadervan you can get plenty of these restaurants.
Drink
There are plenty of coffee shops, bars, and pubs located in the downtown Shadervan. Also, various bakeries exist in the area with the most outstanding pastries and fresh daily specials. There is a nice coffeebar "La Linea" just behind the Sinan Pasha Mosque. Also Destill in the Rexhai Surroi Street, a nice, friendly bar with a private backyard where DJs occasionally play selected tunes of various genres.
Sleep
There are a number of places to stay in Prizren. The Prizreni is on the road toward Albania, and getting there is another option due the new highway of Albania. It had been used as a collective center for internally displaced after the 1999 conflict and does not seem to have recovered.
Room availability may be rather limited in August for the Dokufest film festival.
Go next
This city travel guide to Prizren is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.

Last edited on 26 September 2021, at 18:02
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