Pristina is a very young and vibrant city in what is now the 2nd youngest country in the world. Pristina has a very strong café culture and the streets of central Pristina seem to be constantly buzzing with young people sipping macchiatos and chatting in between university lectures. The walk from the bus station into the centre of town will have you walking down Bill Clinton Boulevard and George W. Bush Street, an homage to the role these two US presidents had in helping the young country achieve independence.
It is not uncommon for young kids to try to chat to backpackers coming into town. I think they find it quite curious that people choose to come to visit, when so many in Kosovo have tried to do the opposite. Kosovo sees it’s future as being within the European Union and since English is very much the lingua franca of Europe these days, it seems everyone in Kosovo is learning English.
Crossing the Serbian Border
At the moment, it is not possible to enter Serbia from Kosovo unless you previously entered Kosovo from Serbia. In other words, you need to already have obtained a Serbian passport stamp. In order to visit Serbia from Kosovo without a prior Serbian stamp, you will need to backtrack to Macedonia first and then cross the Macedonian-Serbian border to receive you Serbian passport stamp. Its a small inconvenience that will add a few hours onto your trip into Serbia from Kosovo. For up date information I recommend the UK Government Travel Advice as the best source.
This hostel is run by a Texan American woman and her partner, a Kosovan from Pristina. They make a very good team when combined with the group of 3-4 backpackers they have working for them to help run the hostel at any one time. A very friendly hostel with a fantastic laid back vibe. You might find slightly better facilities at other hostels, but it is worth staying here for the friendly atmosphere.
Another great option in Pristina, this hostel has a terrace area serving beer, juice coffee and tea that has a decidedly beachy feel to it making for one of the best chill out areas to be found in a hostel. They also have a cocktail bar/nightclub located behind the hostel which might give you a good opportunity to meet some locals on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays when it is open.
The newest addition to the Pristina Hostel market, they seem to have really hit the ground running. Dido, the manager, is a very welcoming and friendly host and the hostel is right in the centre of town as the name suggests. All of the usual amenities are available; lockers, reading lamps, 2 electric sockets, curtains and 2 bathrooms with hot showers and clean towels.
Sights and Highlights
Located inside a beautifully and traditional house only 5 minutes walk from the centre of town, this is a lovely place to visit to learn more about the way that people lived in Kosovo over the years. The items on display are primarily from during the Ottoman Kosovo period, which is also the period that the house is from. If you have an interest in the ottoman empire than this museum is not to be missed.
Eating like a local can be a very rewarding experience in a lot places around the world and in Pristina as well. The food is cheap, tasty and you will be rubbing shoulders with locals from all walks of life. A qebatore is essentially a Balkan barbecue restaurant. The food will be very familiar to those that have travelled through the region, a qebap is the Albanian version of the ćevapi. Qebaptore Gjelltore is a very good option but any of the others you pass as you walk the streets will provide similar quality and price.
There are many option in Pristina to get your Burek fix. City Bakery is a pretty good option, but any will suffice when you need some burek. Another good option is a small chain of places named Sarajeva for both good quality burek and qebap.
Kosovo is famous for its macchiato coffee. The largest and best congregation of coffee bars is along Rexhep Luci and then also across the other side of Mother Theresa Blvd where the road becomes Qamil Hoxha. The macchiato here is similar to a flat white or a strong latte in other parts of the world, the baristas of Kosovo do it extremely well. Some people regard Kosovo as being the coffee capital of Europe and having spent a bit of time in the coffee shops here, it is hard to disagree. If chatting away in a coffee shop is something you enjoy, then Pristina is the city for you, the coffee shops are absolutely everywhere in the center of town.
Lovely decor and atmosphere. You feel like you could be in any European capital when you are inside. An example of the style of sophisticated bar making its name in Kosovo. The food is a little more expensive here, but the drinks prices are not too bad.
Hamam is a jazz bar located in the heart of Pristina and plays live music every night of the week. Great music, nice drinks and food and cool interior. The spacious bar was a cellar before it went through the transformation to become what it is now. The rugged concrete walls still give away a raw vibe, but the sophisticated interior design and furbishing reaffirm the bar’s classiness. The place has a maitre d, coat check, great and friendly service and pricy menu of drinks and food.
Pristina is small enough to walk around on foot, however there is a comprehensive bus service available as well. A map showing all bus routes and stops can be at prishtinabuses.info.
Getting In and Out
Most backpackers will travel to Pristina from Skopje via one of the many buses that make this trip. No pre-booking is required, just turn up to the bus station and grab the next bus available. Regular buses also run to and from Prizren. There are two buses a day from Tirana, one in the morning and one in the evening. From Serbia there are buses that run from Belgrade and Niš however it is not advisable to try and travel direct to Serbia from Kosovo unless you already have a Serbian entry stamp in your passport, ie you already crossed the border once to get in to Kosovo from Serbia and now you are going back to Serbia. The best online tool to search for bus going to or from Pristina is balkanviator.com