Pristina

A main thoroughfare of Prishtina in Winter

People seldom go out of their way to visit Pristina (Albanian: Prishtinë), the capital city of Kosovo: Communist rulers destroyed large chunks of Pristina to build a model city for the new man during the early years of their rule in Yugoslavia, leaving few major sights in the city.

Yet the city has an edge to it—it holds the physical remnants of the different periods of history that are so densely packed into such a short time frame. An odd Ottoman clock tower that escaped the destruction overlooks the fairly ambiguous post-independence 'Newborn' monument, and the unfinished (and probably never-to-be-finished) Serbian Orthodox cathedral that would mark the Serbian hegemony unto the city is face-to-face with the quite avantgarde Yugoslav-era mass of the cubes and the domes of the library. On the streets neatly extending between these buildings are the chic residents enjoying the bustling street life and the nightlife scene of their city that was war-torn only a little more than a decade ago. And even if the architecture and drinking aren't your things, it's just plain interesting to witness what was once a socialist backwater transforming, under the watchful eye of the international community, into the glitzy capital of a prosperous nation that lives up to its name.

Talk

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 square kilometre 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 find English widely spoken. However, most people from Pristina, especially young people speak at least a little English so can more than likely get by. Navigating around the city is easy - 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 should be cautious about how you speak it in public, except in Serbian areas, where you should be careful of 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; many older Kosovo Albanians have worked there as guest workers in the past.

Get in

By plane

If you arrive at Pristina airport - small, haphazard but recently modernized and efficient in a Balkan kind of way - you should get from the plane to the outside world within 15 minutes. The city itself is about 25 minutes away by car. The many taxi drivers outside the airport will quote you €25-30 for the trip but will happily be haggled down to €20. If you call a local taxi dispatch agency beforehand, a driver can be waiting for you for €15 (plus the price of the phone call). If you pretend to be waiting for a lift from someone else they'll compete with each other down as far as €5, but it hardly seems fair.

By bus

From Albania, there are several daily direct bus connections to Pristina, from Tirana (€ 15), and Durres (€ 16). In Tirana the bus office and stop is right behind the Hotel International. As of Dec 2011, there are two buses daily, at 06:00 and 15:00, and a ride takes approximately 6 hrs. There is no formal bus station in Tirana.

There are also direct bus links from most cities in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Turkey, Macedonia, Bosnia, and Montenegro.

(As of 15 July 2012) From Podgorica in Montenegro there is a daily night bus at 9:30PM that runs via Peja and arrives in Pristina at 5AM - €16.

There is one bus every night that runs from Pristina to Ulcinj, Montenegro with stops in Peja, Podgorica and Bari. The buses leave at 7PM from both Pristina and Ulcinj. The trip is €20 round trip and take 9 hours.

From Skopje in Macedonia there are 8 buses per day at 10 past the hour. It is supposed to take 1.5 hours, but we took 3 hours due to traffic! It costs only 320 MKD (just over €5)

From Serbia, there are several direct buses from Belgrade (6 hours, 1 day bus & 2 night buses), run by Kosovo Albanian companies, cost less than €20, stops depending on the route in Niš or Kruševac. There are twice daily mini-buses from Niš, they cost 600 dinars and the guys at Niš Hostel (http://www.hostelnis.rs/) will help you get in contact with organizers, even if you aren't sleeping there, as it is necessary to book in advance (information dates from October 2009). If entering direct from Serbia, be aware that you need to leave by the same way that you came in so that you get Serbian entry/exit stamps (see note under Kosovo).

There is also a bus service from the Bosnian-Herzegovinian capital of Sarajevo (via Novi Pazar; Buy ticket to Novi Pazar on 10PM bus, the bus continues to Prishtina, tickets available on board,i.e. the ticket Novi Pazar-Prishtina have to be bought on the bus, but after Novi Pazar; it is not possible to buy the ticket Novi Pazar-Prishtina on the bus Sarajevo-Novi Pazar, although it is the same bus that then continues to Prishtina); so from Sarajevo to Novi Pazar you buy the ticket for that trip (15 euro one way and 22 euros return - return has to be within a month)and after Novi Pazar you buy the ticket to Kosovo (7euros to Prishtina one way). You arrive in Novi Pazar at around 5.30. At 5.45 there is one bus that heads towards Skopje (Macedonia)with stops in Mitrovica and Prishtina as well as sometimes along the road (€7-8 is the ticket to Prishtina - the bus will stop on the road outside of the main bus station). It passes at the EULEX patrolled border post in North Kosovo, which might be quicker and more preferable. At 6.am there is a bus from Benko tours that leaves Novi Pazar direction Kosovo (final destination is Prizren). The bus used to pass through North Kosovo (only Serbian border post) - there are no security issues,even after July 25, 2011, but when there is heavy snow the bus will not be able to the trip. In that case, you have to do the alternative route (if the weather permits) over Rozaje pass in Montenegro and Pec/Peja - bus to Rozaje from Novi Pazar at 9.30AM (4,50€) and then with taxi to Peja/Pec bus station (taxi will cost around €30), in Peja/Pec every 20 minutes buses to Pristina (4€). Overall the trip Sarajevo-Novi Pazar-Prishtina over Mitrovica lasts around 11 hours and costs around €22 (one way - return is a bit cheaper.) The bus should be in Prishtina around 9AM and continues to Prizren. Advantage of passing through North Kosovo (non Eulex border) is that you enter Kosovo via Serbia, which might save you trouble if you exit Kosovo via Serbia. Whether this is important very much depends on the political climate and on the agreements between Belgrade and Prishtina. Alternatively,if you pass through Montenegro, you can ask Kosovo police not to stamp the Kosovo entry stamp in the passport as you have to exit via Serbia. Even better,though,is if you use your passport for Kosovo (which is necessary), and your ID card for exiting Kosovo through Serbia (for instance, Italian ID is sufficient to enter Serbia)

By train

There are trains which travel from Macedonia and Serbia to Pristina. These take long to get there. See Kosovo#By train

Get around

The roads in Pristina (and in general throughout Kosovo) are pretty bad, but the government is doing a lot in improving that. A lot of times you will be stuck in traffic due to road repairs. This is a result of a number of factors such as: they were never especially good, Yugoslav tank treads and UCK mortars fired at those tanks did nothing to help the situation, and NATO sealed the deal in '99 with its stealth bombings and armoured convoys. Since then, UNMIK and the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG, Kosovo's nascent government) have simply not had the money to invest in infrastructure.

Two or three of the main roads that make up the major road network have been repaved. Some roads have disintegrated to the point that they are pretty much just dirt and gravel.

See

Sacred Places

Mother Teresa Cathedral

Galleries, Museums

Ethnographic Museum in Prishtina

Monuments

Parks

Walking Tour

Do

National Theatre
National Library

Buy

Eat

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.

Drink

Cafes and bars are especially crowded on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Clubs open up and close down on an almost seasonal basis, but there are some reliable standouts, and neighborhoods where something good is bound to present itself. In cafes, a good cup of coffee can be bought for under €1.

Clubs

Sleep

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 place(s), go there as the cost is usually €10-15 per night.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

In Dardania neighbourhood (the residential blocks between the bus station and the centre), be careful when the beggar kids 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.

Cope

Embassies

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, February 20, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.