Prishtina is the capital and largest city of Kosovo with over 400.000 inhabitants, making it the administrative center. The majority of the population is ethnic Albanian. The minorities comprise of Serb, Turk, and Roman ethnicity.
Coming to Prishtina will be one experience for which you may have to leave first and then continue processing what you’ve been exposed to while on the road. There’s a great many ways to travel back in time… it’s that kind of a ride that you must try out at least once in your lifetime.
Not that there are no other similar places to exhibit or miss, but Prishtina will definitely provide you with another view and approach and new thoughts to think about.
This is an ancient land populated by ancestral predecessors that have undergone through various wars during the centuries. And the wars did not stop until just very recently, a phenomenon that is no longer as present in the western world.
There are old and ancient ruins left for the new generation – one that has had to adapt and grow quickly as the world is reaching the next leap towards the outer general transformation.
Manners and comprehension had to change rapidly just as the young immersed in a world of digitalization!
The city has grown in population and size after the war. It is now a very dynamic city with head-spinning offers and life exasperating from all sides. The city has changed a lot during the years, although there are constant trials of keeping the vibes – and the vibes do stand groovy. Yet, there is constant noise and life splurging at your face in every corner. It has become a modern city, but without a river! Prishtina used to have a nice river flowing right through the middle of the city. But now, it is covered in cement and only flows out in the suburbs towards the north and south. The water supply comes from two main reservoirs of Badovci and Batllava, two nice artificial lakes surrounded by lush nature making it a very nice spot for a casual picnic!
Living in Prishtina
The fact that it is quite a cheap country does not give the same pleasure to the locals as the internationals. Yet, you will find strong people still very patient, even in the worst-est circumstances. And that, makes you feel vulnerable yet faithful! Seeing hope at its liveliest..
One-way ticket transportation in Prishtina is cheap, about 0.40€ around the city, while a monthly pass will cost you about 8.00€. The taxi normal tariff is 1.50€.
Rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center is 150.00€ monthly, while in the city center 245.00€. A decent three-bedroom apartment outside the city center is 286.88€, whereas in the city center 445.83€. For monthly utilities as is electricity, heating, garbage, water for a normal 85m² apartment you must spare about 71.89€. Sports and fitness 11.81€ monthly, while grabbing a friend and a nice seat at the cinema for your new favorite movie, the ticket will cost you 3.00€.
As far as foodstuffs, you get a 1-liter pack of milk for 0.79€, bread for 0.29€, fruit and vegetables from 0.31€ up to 0.95€.
This gives a good possibility for internationals – as they will dwell in cheap delights.
Prishtina’s climate is a humid continental climate, with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. The area covering Prishtina and its surroundings like Graçanica, Ulpiana, and Matiçan has been inhabited for over 10,000 years in the then established Dardanian Kingdom, until the arrival of the Slav tribes in the 6th century, the time when the city fell into despair.
While Prishtina is not the most aesthetically appealing city you’ll ever come across, it exudes an infectious energy, offering an interesting mixture of the traditional and the modern, with the mixture of Balkan culture and world-class dining and partying.
Forget about the negative stereotypes you’ve heard and the never-ending associations with the war – this is one of the safest capitals in Europe.
Its greatest draw – is the possibility of sitting down and taking in all its beauty at various beautiful and cool spots spread around every corner of the city. Strolling along the NënaTereza Boulevard you will get a sense of the pace of life of its inhabitants.
Coffee is a huge pride source in Prishtina, which is accompanied by the thriving café culture worthy of exploration. Ask any local and the answer is that Prishtina has the best macchiato in the world – which is quite the case! To get a great fix for yourself around the center there is the top favorite spots: Dit’ e Nat’ and Half & Half.
Jump out to take some culture in over to the Old Prishtina for a glimpse at the historical side of the city. There rests the old Clock Tower, the recently renovated Kosovo Museum, and the Ethnographic Museum portrays the life in Kosovo between the 15th and 20th century during the Ottoman-era. Around this area, you also get to see the city’s oldest mosques and shop in its Ottoman-era bazaar.
Keep an eye out while on the way to Prishtina from the airport to catch the first glimpses of its kitsch Americana. You will have the contentment to see the Lady Liberty atop the Hotel Victory, driving further inwards the city there will be the 3m-tall bronze statue of Bill Clinton to greet, just in the corner of the Bill Clinton Boulevard. Check out the iconic National Library and its very rare and interesting design as well as the ‘Newborn’ monument sitting hugely outside the communist Palace of Youth and Sports.
Kosovo – a general
Since Serbia does not recognize Kosovo yet, you can only cross the border from Kosovo if that’s the way in which you entered. Visas are not required for citizens of the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA. Learn more about Visa restrictions and requirements here!
Anywhere in Kosovo you stand, you will feel the pull of the mountains – huge, dense, thrilling mountains. This country is surrounded by majestic peaks utilized as great sports destinations for even the most daring outdoors enthusiasts.
There are a number of in-country resources to approach Kosovo’s treks, like the Rugova Experience, which has been guiding the Peaks of the Balkans trails. Another one is the Balkan Outdoor Experience, offering outside-the-box packages, as is hiking and yoga to the top of the Hajla peak on the Montenegrin border, which is 2403m high.
The trip includes homemade meals and an overnight stay in a mountain lodge maintained by local mountain expert and environmental protection advocates.
Although it is becoming easier to find marked biking trails around Kosovo through the years, the best option would be to seek the guidance of local experts like Catun or Outdoor Kosovo to find your way in heart-pounding routes, especially around the western Kosovo.
Catun takes visitors through the heart of the Kosovo countryside, around newly restored 18th-century stone houses known in Albanian as kullas. Stopping by any of the kullas to experience the real Albanian hospitality, where you can also try delicious traditional food made with the freshest ingredients, is a warm feeling not to be missed.
Another great mountain adventure is to reach some of the most splendid views from the top of the Rugova Canyon, located outside the city of Peja. It has a great via ferrata, a new zipline, as well as rock climbing possibilities. Another extreme via ferrata is in the municipality of Zubin Potok.
Other must-visit cities are Prizren and Peja. Prizren is a beautiful town in the south of Kosovo, with a strong oriental and national culture flavor-mix. As the most multicultural city in Kosovo – you can visit there UNESCO listed old Mosque, the Catholic cathedral and the Orthodox church. The mountains, fortress, river, and other historical monuments make the experience exuberant. Even more so, if you pay a visit during the Dokufest film documentary festival, ranked as one of the top 20 world’s Documentary Festivals.
Peja is also known for the Rugova Canyon the Lumbardhi river and waterfalls as well as the Orthodox Patriarchate – the most important site for Orthodox Christians in Kosovo. About 12 km from Peja, you can enjoy the view of another beautiful Orthodox monastery, while the monks chant the Evensong at 19:00 on Thursday evenings.
For those drawn to horseback riding, the municipality of Gjilan in the east side of Kosovo is home to one of the best ranches, known for everyone as the Vali Ranch.Except for offering lessons and long rides in the neighboring wooded hills, it also provides three tasty restaurants, a petting zoo, a spa and a hotel.
Another great spot for horseback riding is located in the south, a mountain town Brod – close to the Macedonian border. This town is known for producing the freshest white cheese! Try it out!
Kosovo has good snowfall times, making it possible for snow lovers to enjoy it with a view on Kosovo’s ring mountains. Brezovica is the country’s best option for skiing and snowboarding admirers! You can explore the exceptional untouched terrain in this part of the Sharr Mountains through ski touring and other adventures.
Adventures in Rugova also offer Snowshoeing tours. You can always reward yourself with the rakija and a warm meal in the home of a local family, as is the case with the Shalaj family.
For lodging in, consider any of the guesthouses as Hotel Dukagjini in Peja, Arxhena Hotel in Brod, and the Woodland Hotel in Brezovica. Good choice for a study break!
Kosovars are friendly and attentive, particularly to internationals. With 50% of the population under 27 years old, Kosovars speak the English language fairly well. A great percentage of the population also speaks Serbian, Bosnian, Turkish, German, and the roman languages Italian and Spanish. Explore without a worry – this is one of the safest places to do so!