From national museums, theatres and art galleries, to rakia fuelled nights out and Burek breakfasts; here are the best things to do in Pristina, Kosovo.
“Pristina has over 4000 years of history,” said Astrid Sahiti, as we sheltered under the concrete entrance to the National Theatre of Kosovo, on an uncharacteristically rainy day in summer. “The Via Egnatia, connecting Rome to Constantinople, used to run through here. The Byzantines ruled for centuries, the Serbians built monasteries and the Ottomans raised mosques.”
Sahiti is a Pristina local, and as a guide for Pristina Free Walking Tours, he knows just how ancient the roots of Kosovo’s capital city are. “Until Pristina became the capital city, though,” he added as his tour kicked off in Skanderbeg Square. “It was mostly just wooden, Ottoman-style houses. Then came the brutalist Yugoslav architecture, and now, the modern.”
Pristina is both old and new. The historic buildings that survived the Kosovo Conflict in 1999 are a testament to Pristina’s heritage, but modern sights like the Newborn Monument speak of youthful energy at the heart of Europe’s newest nation. There are national museums and theatres to visit, a buzzing nightlife (who can argue with 1 Euro beers?) and curious monuments to politicians like Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright. This is Kosovo’s capital, and here are the best things to do in Pristina.
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The best things to do in Pristina
Pristina is the compact yet intriguing capital of Kosovo, a Balkan nation which only declared its independence from Serbia in 2008; and even now, that independence is only partially recognised (only 101 out of 193 UN member states recognise Kosovo’s sovereignty).
A visit to Pristina can comfortably be covered in two to three days, given its compact size. This timeframe allows for the exploration of major attractions like the National Library, the Ethnographic Museum, the Newborn Monument and the Mother Teresa Cathedral.
It also provides an opportunity to sample local cuisine (try the bureks!), shop at the bazaar, drink on Rakia Street and soak up the city’s coffee culture. However, if you’re keen to enjoy a slower pace, dig deeper into the local culture, or take day trips to nearby attractions like the beautiful Gračanica Monastery or the Bear Sanctuary, consider extending your stay to four or five days, just like I did on my last trip to Kosovo in June 2023.
1. Join a free walking tour of Pristina
Pristina Free Walking Tours offers daily tours of the city, with Astrid Sahiti, or one of his fellow guides, as your escort through the capital. At the end of the tour, you simply pay however much you feel the tour was worth (I gave 10 Euros).
A free walking tour in Pristina typically covers key attractions like the Ethnographic Museum, the Newborn Monument, the National Library, the Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque and the Skanderbeg Statue.
The guides will also provide insightful commentary on life in Pristina today, and what it was like growing up or living through the Kosovo Conflict in 1999. The tours start in the city centre, outside the National Theatre of Kosovo, and generally last around 2 hours.
Related: 14 Places to Visit in Kosovo
2. Stroll down Mother Theresa Boulevard
Mother Theresa Boulevard, named after the famous Albanian-Indian humanitarian, is the central pedestrian promenade in Pristina. This tree-lined boulevard is the heart of the city, and it’s always buzzing with energy and filled with locals and tourists alike drinking and eating at alfresco bars and cafes.
The wide pedestrian zone is lined with a variety of shops, cafés, and restaurants, making it a perfect place to enjoy a leisurely stroll, stop for a coffee, or indulge in some retail therapy. Street performers often add to the lively atmosphere, and the boulevard is a hub for cultural events and festivals.
Notable landmarks along the boulevard include the National Theatre, the Government of Kosovo building, and the Skanderbeg Statue. Near the southern end of the boulevard, you’ll find Pristina’s Catholic Cathedral, dedicated to Mother Theresa herself.
3. Take a selfie at the Newborn monument
The Newborn Monument is an iconic symbol of Kosovo’s declaration of independence and one of the most iconic sights in Pristina. Unveiled on February 17, 2008, the day Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, this typographic sculpture originally spelt out the English word ‘NEWBORN in capital letters, embodying the spirit of a new beginning for Kosovo.
The monument is not just an emblem of independence but also serves as a public forum of sorts. It’s repainted annually on the anniversary of independence, and throughout the year, locals and visitors cover the monument in graffiti, expressing their feelings, hopes, and reflections on Kosovo’s past and future.
While the monument has evoked mixed emotions and varying opinions since its inception, it remains a symbol of the enduring aspiration for peace and progress in a newly independent nation. For tourists, it’s a great spot for a selfie.
4. Explore Pristina’s many mosques
Pristina is home to several historic mosques that reflect the city’s rich Islamic heritage, a heritage which has seen a resurgence since the fall of communism. These sacred places offer visitors not only spiritual insight but also an appreciation for historical architecture and cultural tradition.
The Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque, also known as the Imperial Mosque, is a must-visit. Located in the Old Town, this Ottoman-era mosque was built in the 15th century by Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Constantinople. The mosque’s grandeur and historical significance make it a landmark in Pristina.
Not far from the Imperial Mosque is the Jashar Pasha Mosque. Built in the 19th century, this mosque stands out with its ornate interior and beautifully carved minaret. Its peaceful courtyard is an inviting space for contemplation.
Carshi Mosque, nestled in the bustling city centre, is another notable site. Despite its smaller size, this 15th-century mosque exudes charm and is known for its stunning frescoes and woodwork.
When visiting mosques in Pristina, remember to dress modestly out of respect for Islamic customs.
Read more: 18 Things to Do in Prizren, Kosovo
5. Admire the view from the top of the Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa
Pristina is home to the magnificent Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa, which was completed in 2007. Dedicated to Mother Theresa, who was of Albanian descent, this impressive place of worship holds significant cultural and religious importance for the city’s Catholic minority.
The cathedral’s striking architecture combines modern design elements with traditional Catholic symbolism. The exterior of the cathedral features a blend of white stone and glass, with a tall bell tower that stands as a beacon of faith.
Inside, the spacious sanctuary is adorned with intricate stained glass windows depicting biblical scenes and religious motifs. The altar, adorned with beautiful artwork and sculptures, serves as the focal point of devotion.
Pristina Cathedral serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pristina, and it holds regular Masses, religious ceremonies, and events. It also serves as a gathering place for the Catholic community, providing a serene and sacred space for prayer and reflection. Climb the steps to the top of the belfry, for superb views over Pristina.
6. Decide if you love or hate the National Library of Kosovo
The National Library of Kosovo is a marmite kind of building; you either love it, or you hate it. Designed by Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjaković, the library’s unique design features a futuristic exterior adorned with a pattern of perforated metal panels and distinctive domes that combine Ottoman and Yugoslav architectural elements.
Locals love it, but foreign commentators typically list the building as one of the ugliest in Europe! Either way, it’s certainly a talking point.
Opened in 1982, the library serves as a cultural and educational hub, housing a vast collection of books, manuscripts, periodicals, and digital resources. The interior of the library is equally impressive, with a spacious atrium adorned with modern artwork and sculptures.
Beyond its role as a repository of knowledge, the library is a symbol of the nation’s cultural identity and resilience. During the Kosovo War, the library suffered significant damage, but it was rebuilt and reopened in 2004, serving as a testament to the importance of preserving and celebrating Kosovo’s cultural heritage.
7. Explore Ottoman history in the Ethnographic Museum
The Ethnographic Museum in Pristina offers a captivating glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Kosovo, particularly when you’re guided around by Pristina local and museum curator Bekim Xhemili, who is a fount of knowledge.
Housed in an Ottoman-era building, I was told that the family that built the house in the 19th century were forced to depart for Turkey when the Ottoman Empire collapsed.
Today, the museum showcases the traditions, customs and way of life of the Kosovar people during the Ottoman era. The museum displays a diverse collection of artefacts, including traditional clothing, household items, tools and agricultural implements. Each exhibit tells a story of the region’s history, craftsmanship and daily life in a bygone time.
Related: Places to Visit in Turkey
8. Learn about the Battle of Kosovo at the Gazimestan Monument
Gazimestan holds significant historical and symbolic importance in the heart of Kosovo. Located just outside of Pristina, it is a monument and memorial site that commemorates the Battle of Kosovo, a pivotal event in Balkan history.
The centrepiece of Gazimestan is the 14-meter-high tower. The monument serves as a tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of warriors who fought during the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, a battle which was fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Serbia.
The battle resulted in defeat for Serbia, who were forced to retreat from Kosovo and accept Ottoman dominance over the Balkans for the next 500 years. The roots of the Kosovo Conflict in 1999, and continuing disputes between Serbia and Kosovo, can be traced all the way back to the Battle of Kosovo.
At the Gazimestan Monument, you can learn more about this long and bloody history, making this one of the most important sights to visit when you’re in Pristina.
9. Visit the Tomb of Sultan Murad I
The Tomb of Sultan Murad I is another significant historical site near Pristina. It’s the resting place of Ottoman Sultan Murad I, who met his end in the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, a pivotal moment in the history of the Balkans.
The tomb was built on the spot where Murad I was said to have been assassinated, making it an important site of cultural and historical reverence, not only for Kosovo but for the whole Islamic world. This simple yet profound monument is crowned by a dome and enclosed by a small garden, providing a tranquil environment amidst the surrounding plains.
The site also hosts an annual commemoration ceremony attracting visitors and pilgrims, especially during the Battle of Kosovo anniversary. Visiting the Sultan Murad Tomb offers a unique insight into the region’s complex history and the enduring impact of the Ottoman period in the Balkans.
10. Meet rescued bears at the Bear Sanctuary
The Bear Sanctuary, located just outside the capital, is a haven for rescued brown bears. These bears were previously held in inadequate conditions as restaurant mascots, a practice made illegal in 2010. The sanctuary, which opened in 2013 and is run by Four Paws, now provides a natural and secure home for animals that were once forced to dance or fight.
Sprawled over 16 hectares, the sanctuary offers a forested area with ponds and dens for the bears to roam freely and safely. You can observe the bears from viewing platforms, gaining an understanding of their natural behaviour and the importance of their protection.
The sanctuary also features an education center, where visitors learn about the bears’ past and the importance of wildlife conservation. This space plays a crucial role in raising awareness about the welfare of bears and other wildlife in Kosovo and beyond.
Read more: A Tale of Bears and Lakes in Shkoder
11. Discover ancient and modern history at the Kosovo Museum
The Kosovo Museum, located in Pristina, stands as a testament to the rich historical and cultural heritage of the country. Housed in an old Austro-Hungarian-style building dating back to the 19th century, the museum hosts an extensive collection spanning thousands of years, from prehistoric times to the present day.
The museum’s archaeological collection is particularly noteworthy, featuring a wide range of artefacts, from ancient Illyrian jewellery to Roman-era statues and tools. One of the most significant items is the ‘Goddess on the Throne,’ a terracotta figurine from the Neolithic era that has become a symbol of Pristina.
Move to the top floor, and you’ll find more modern artefacts in the form of weapons and uniforms from the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought the Serbians for independence. You’ll even find a copy of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, made in 2008, and flags of all the countries which recognised that independence.
12. Watch a game of football or basketball in Pristina
In Pristina, the most popular sport is football, which you can watch at the Fadil Vokrri Stadium, the home of FC Prishtina, one of the most successful and popular football clubs in Kosovo.
Located next to the Newborn Monument, this is the same stadium where you can catch the Kosovo national football playing home games. The team regularly play in both European and World Cup qualifying matches, so there’s every chance you could catch them playing a game against a big national team!
Basketball is also popular, and you can catch games at the Palace of Youth and Sports (Pallati i Rinise dhe Sporteve), the home venue for KB Prishtina, a top basketball team in the Kosovo Basketball Superleague. The ‘Palace’ is one of Pristina’s classic brutalist buildings, and you’ll love the look of it if you’re into communist architecture.
13. Admire art at The National Gallery of Kosovo
The National Gallery of Kosovo is the highest institution of visual arts in the country, and of course, it’s one of the best things to do in Pristina. Since its establishment in 1979, it’s been pivotal in preserving, interpreting and promoting modern and contemporary art, contributing significantly to the cultural landscape of Kosovo.
The gallery’s collection includes over 500 works of art, showcasing the richness and diversity of Kosovo’s art scene. From paintings and sculptures to installations and prints, the exhibits offer a comprehensive overview of the country’s artistic development in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Regular temporary exhibitions feature both local and international artists, allowing the gallery to maintain a dynamic and engaging program. The gallery also organises lectures, artist talks, and educational workshops, fostering interaction between artists, audiences, and the broader community.
14. Shop at the Green Market
The Green Market, located in the heart of Pristina, is a bustling hub of activity where locals come to purchase fresh produce and regional delicacies.
It’s an explosion of colours, scents and sounds, offering a myriad of fruits, vegetables, spices, cheeses, and other local products. The market, while not extravagant in design, offers an authentic glimpse into the daily life of Pristina’s inhabitants.
It’s an ideal place to sample local flavours, interact with friendly vendors, and maybe even pick up a few words of Albanian or a Burek or two!
15. Visit the Bill Clinton statue
The Bill Clinton Statue is a symbol of gratitude from the people of Kosovo to the former U.S. President for his role in the 1999 NATO intervention during the Kosovo War.
The 3-meter bronze statue was unveiled in 2009 on Bill Clinton Boulevard, a main thoroughfare also named in his honour. The statue depicts Clinton waving, with a plaque bearing a quote from his speech given in Pristina in 2003.
While it may seem unusual to find a statue of an American president in the Balkans, it stands as a testament to the strong bond between Kosovo and the United States.
16. Visit the Madeleine Albright bust
The Madeleine Albright bust is a tribute to the former U.S. Secretary of State for her instrumental role in supporting Kosovo during the 1999 conflict.
Unveiled in 2020, the 2.2-meter bronze bust depicts is located near the city centre, close to the Newborn Monument. The bust is an expression of gratitude from Kosovars for Albright’s steadfast advocacy for their cause.
The statue, along with other markers of U.S. support in the city, underscores the enduring bond between Kosovo and the United States.
17. Devour all the bureks for breakfast
Burek, a savoury pastry filled with various ingredients, is a staple food in the Balkans and a must-try when visiting Pristina. This delectable dish is made by layering thin sheets of dough with fillings like cheese, meat, or spinach, which are then baked to golden perfection.
In Pristina, you’ll find bureks sold in local bakeries, called ‘pekara’, and fast food outlets. For a traditional experience, try a cheese or meat burek from one of the city’s older bakeries, such as Pekara Moni or Pekara Irishi. These places often serve burek with a side of yoghurt, a customary way to enjoy this dish.
Burek isn’t just a breakfast dish; it can be enjoyed any time of the day as a quick snack or a filling meal. Tasting this flaky, flavorful pastry provides a delicious insight into Pristina’s food culture. Just remember, burek is best enjoyed hot, right out of the oven, for maximum enjoyment.
18. Enjoy a fine dining meal at low, low prices
Pristina offers a variety of fine dining experiences, blending traditional Kosovar cuisine with international influences. The city’s burgeoning food scene boasts restaurants where you can indulge in a culinary journey while enjoying an upscale ambience, all with low, low prices when compared to other Western European countries.
Renaissance Restaurant is renowned for its innovative fusion cuisine that brings together local ingredients with international cooking techniques. Housed in a charming stone building, the interior offers an elegant dining experience.
Pishat is another highly recommended restaurant. It is set in a beautifully restored villa and features a diverse menu showcasing the best of Kosovar and Mediterranean cuisines. The garden seating area is particularly inviting during the warmer months.
Soma Book Station, although primarily a bookshop and a cultural venue, is also known for its sophisticated menu, which ranges from enticing pasta to sumptuous meat dishes. The modern and artistic interior, combined with an outdoor terrace, offers an enticing setting for dining.
If you’re looking for fine dining with a view, Restaurant Panorama offers exactly that. Situated on a hill overlooking Pristina, this restaurant serves a selection of international dishes accompanied by an extensive wine list.
19. Hike to Germia Park
Germia Park in Pristina is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, offering a green oasis amidst the urban landscape.
Covering over 1,000 hectares, this vast park provides the perfect environment for outdoor activities like hiking, jogging, biking, and picnicking.
It’s renowned for its rich biodiversity, boasting a variety of plant and animal species. The park also features a large swimming pool, several playgrounds, and numerous barbecue spots.
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a vigorous hike, Germia Park offers a refreshing escape from the city life of Pristina.
Read more: Crazy Sh*t to Do in the Balkans
20. Visit the Ibrahim Rugova Statue
The Ibrahim Rugova statue in Pristina stands as a tribute to the former president of Kosovo, who is often regarded as the symbol of peaceful resistance during the Yugoslav period. The statue is located near the National Theatre, fittingly placed in Ibrahim Rugova Square.
Inaugurated in 2016, this striking monument depicts Rugova in a characteristic pose, wearing his signature scarf and glasses. The statue, cast in bronze, is over 3 meters tall and stands atop a 2.7-meter pedestal, making it a prominent landmark in the city.
Rugova led the peaceful opposition to Slobodan Milošević’s regime in the 1990s and was the first President of Kosovo, serving two terms until his death in 2006. His legacy is one of striving for independence through peaceful means, which greatly contrasts with the violent conflict that later engulfed the region.
21. See a socialist legacy at the Monument of Brotherhood and Unity
The Monument of Brotherhood and Unity is a legacy of the socialist period, symbolizing the unity of all ethnicities in Yugoslavia. Erected in the 1950s, the monument features three fists, each representing one of the three main ethnic groups in Kosovo at the time – Albanians, Serbs, and Montenegrins.
These fists are intertwined, conveying a message of brotherhood and unity. However, the monument’s meaning has evolved over time, particularly in the context of the ethnic conflicts of the 1990s. Today, while it remains a significant historical landmark, it also serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges of achieving lasting unity.
22. See the abandoned Orthodox cathedral
The Christ the Saviour Orthodox Cathedral in Pristina is an unfinished Serbian Orthodox church that stands as a symbol of the city’s complex history.
Construction began in the 1990s during the rule of Slobodan Milošević, but was halted due to the outbreak of the Kosovo War in 1999.
The cathedral’s incomplete state and the controversy surrounding its existence represent the lingering tensions between the Kosovar Albanian majority and the Serbian minority. Its prominent location near the University of Pristina and its distinctive architecture make it a notable sight. However, its future remains uncertain due to ongoing political debates.
23. Learn about Balkan complexities on Albanian National Day
Albanian Independence Day, celebrated on November 28, is a significant national holiday in Albania. But its importance extends to the city of Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, given that a majority of Kosovo’s population is of Albanian ethnicity.
The day is marked by a variety of activities, including parades, concerts, traditional dances and speeches. The streets are filled with the red and black colours of the Albanian flag, and the energy and excitement are palpable; so much so that the riot police are out in force. Monuments and important buildings, including the Newborn Monument, are often decorated, and the celebrations sometimes extend into the night.
This celebration serves as a reminder of the shared cultural and historical ties between Albanians in Kosovo and Albania. For visitors, Albanian Independence Day provides a unique opportunity to experience the complexities of local culture and understand the deep sense of national pride and unity among Kosovo’s Albanian community.
24. Celebrate Kosovo’s Independence Day
Kosovo Independence Day, celebrated on February 17th, is one of the most significant holidays in the country. It marks the declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, a pivotal moment in Kosovo’s history following years of conflict and international administration.
In the capital city of Pristina, the day is filled with jubilant celebrations. The festivities often begin with a ceremonial raising of the Kosovo flag and speeches by the country’s leaders. Music concerts, parades, and cultural performances take place throughout the day in various public spaces, including central Mother Teresa Boulevard.
The Newborn Monument, an iconic symbol of the country’s birth, is freshly painted each year on Independence Day with messages and designs reflecting current events and sentiments. Firework displays typically cap off the celebrations.
25. Get cultural at the Kosovo National Theatre
The Kosovo National Theatre, located in Pristina, is the highest-ranked theatre and one of the most important cultural institutions in the country. Established in 1946, the theatre has been at the heart of the country’s performing arts scene, providing a platform for local artists and international collaborations.
The theatre hosts a wide range of performances, including plays, musicals, ballets, and operas, with a repertoire that spans from classical to contemporary works. It has played a significant role in preserving and promoting the country’s cultural heritage while also exploring universal themes and stories.
The Kosovo National Theatre building itself, situated on the bustling Mother Teresa Boulevard, is a notable landmark with its distinctive yellow facade. With its rich history and vibrant schedule of performances, a visit to the Kosovo National Theatre offers insight into the creativity and cultural dynamism of Pristina and Kosovo at large.
26. Discover Serbian history at the Gracanica Monastery
Gracanica Monastery, located just a few kilometres southeast of Pristina in the town of Gracanica, is an enduring example of medieval Serbian Orthodox architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built in the early 14th century by Serbian king Stefan Milutin, the monastery stands as a symbol of the complex cultural heritage of Kosovo.
The monastery’s architecture is a remarkable fusion of Byzantine and Romanesque styles. Its centrepiece is the Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin, adorned with well-preserved frescoes that depict biblical scenes and saints, and are considered among the finest examples of Byzantine art.
The tranquil grounds of the monastery provide a stark contrast to the bustling streets of nearby Pristina. Enclosed by high walls, the complex includes a church, a refectory, and living quarters for the resident nuns.
27. Gorge on traditional Kosovar food
Sampling traditional Kosovar cuisine is an essential part of experiencing Pristina, and there are many restaurants and eateries in the city that offer authentic local dishes.
For a casual dining experience, Liburnia Restaurant is a popular choice among locals. Its menu features a variety of traditional dishes such as ‘flija’ (layered pancake), ‘tavë kosi’ (baked lamb with yoghurt), and a wide selection of grilled meats. The restaurant’s charming garden setting adds to its appeal.
Tiffany Restaurant is another local favourite, offering a mix of traditional and Mediterranean cuisine. The ‘sac kavurma’ (braised beef) and the homemade bread are highly recommended here.
For those with a sweet tooth, a visit to one of Pristina’s many patisseries is a must. Try ‘baklava’ or ‘trileçe’ (milk cake) for a sweet finish to your meal.
28. Try Pristina’s take on international cuisine
In addition to its local cuisine, Pristina also offers an array of international dining options for those who want to explore global flavours.
Himalaya Gurkha Restaurant is a standout option for Nepalese and Indian cuisine. Its warm, inviting decor evokes the Himalayas, and the menu features dishes like dal bhat (lentil soup with rice), momo (Nepalese dumplings), and various curries, all prepared with authentic spices. Their chai tea is a popular choice to complement the meal.
Mexican cuisine has also made its way to Pristina, with Mexicana, a charming restaurant offering dishes like enchiladas, burritos, and tacos, as well as margaritas and other Mexican beverages. Its vibrant atmosphere, with colourful decor and lively Latin music, adds to the dining experience.
Another notable option is Babaghanoush, which serves delicious Middle Eastern cuisine. The menu includes falafel, hummus, shawarma, and a variety of salads, making it a great choice for vegetarians.
29. Discover a shared Albanian history in Skanderbeg Square
Skanderbeg Square, situated in the heart of Pristina, is named after the national hero of Albania, Gjergj Kastrioti, better known as Skanderbeg.
Dominated by a large equestrian statue of Skanderbeg, the square serves as a central gathering point for locals and a popular meeting spot.
The square hosts various public events, including cultural performances and political rallies. Around the square, you can find several significant buildings, such as the Kosovo Museum and the National Theatre.
Read more: Traffic Terror in Tirana
30. Have a drink on Rakia Street
Rakia Street, officially known as Korriku Street, is a popular drinking street in Pristina. The street has been informally dubbed “Rakia Street” by locals and tourists for its high concentration of bars and restaurants.
The street is best known for its energetic nightlife and the wide variety of rakia, a traditional Balkan brandy, served in the establishments lining the street. From classic plum or grape rakia to more unique flavours like honey or quince, there’s a type of rakia to satisfy every palate.
In addition to offering a taste of this traditional spirit, Rakia Street is also a great place to enjoy live music, meet locals, and sample other local beverages and dishes. Whether you’re a fan of rakia or just looking for a lively spot to spend an evening, Rakia Street in Pristina is a must-visit.
31. Endure the caffeine-fulled coffee culture
Pristina boasts a thriving coffee culture, stemming from both Turkish influence and a strong communal tradition. The act of drinking coffee is not merely about enjoying the beverage, but also about socializing and taking a break from the day’s activities. Coffee shops in Pristina are not just places to grab a quick caffeine fix; they are social hubs where people meet, chat, and relax.
For coffee lovers, there are several notable cafés in Pristina worth a visit. Soma Book Station is a charming bookstore-cum-café, offering a serene atmosphere, perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book. Its hip, artsy vibe draws a mixed crowd of students, artists, and professionals.
Dit’ e Nat’, meaning ‘day and night’, is another unique spot. As a café and bookstore, it serves up quality coffee in a cosy, intellectual environment. They often host live music and poetry readings, adding to the ambience.
Prince Coffee House, with its comfortable seating and vast coffee selection, is one of the most popular coffee chains among locals. Its modern design and professional service make it a great spot for business meetings or studying.
32. Enjoy a ‘Xhiro’, or an evening stroll
‘Xhiro’, derived from the Italian word ‘giro’, meaning ‘stroll’ or ’round’, is a unique cultural phenomenon prevalent in Pristina and other cities in Albania and Kosovo.
Traditionally, it refers to an evening promenade where people walk up and down the main streets, often dressed in their best clothes, to see and be seen, to socialize, and to enjoy the city.
In Pristina, Mother Teresa Boulevard, the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, becomes the venue for the ‘xhiro’. Every evening, especially on weekends, the boulevard is abuzz with activity as people of all ages come out for their leisurely walk, to meet friends, enjoy a coffee, or simply to people-watch.
While ‘xhiro’ has modernized over time, with many now preferring to sit in cafes rather than walk, the essence of the tradition – socialising and spending time in the public sphere – remains the same, making it a distinctive aspect of life in Pristina.
33. Take a day trip from Pristina
Pristina also serves as an excellent base for day trips to explore the nearby regions of Kosovo. Here are some notable day trip options:
- Prizren: About a 1.5-hour drive from Pristina, Prizren is the country’s cultural capital. Known for its Ottoman-era architecture and stunning riverside setting, Prizren hosts the annual Dokufest, an international documentary and short film festival. Key sights include the Prizren Fortress, the Stone Bridge, and the Sinan Pasha Mosque.
- Gadime Marble Cave: Located about 20 km south of Pristina, this natural wonder is a labyrinth of stalagmites and stalactites, with parts of the cave still actively growing. Tours guide visitors through the illuminated passageways of this underground marvel.
- Peja: Nestled at the foot of the Rugova Mountains, Peja offers a blend of natural beauty and historical significance. Visit the Patriarchate of Peć, another UNESCO site, and explore the Rugova Gorge, which offers excellent hiking and adventure sports opportunities.
- Novo Brdo Fortress: Once a significant mining and trading centre, the fortress offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. The nearby town has an interesting mix of Serbian Orthodox and Ottoman structures.
- Ulpiana: An archaeological site located around 10 km southeast of Pristina, Ulpiana was a prominent Roman city. Excavations have revealed city walls, basilicas, and baths, offering a glimpse into the area’s ancient past.
- Visoki Dečani Monastery: About a 2-hour drive from Pristina, this UNESCO-listed site in Deçan features medieval frescoes and is one of the most important Serbian Orthodox monasteries.
- Mitrovica: Around an hour’s drive north of Pristina, the city of Mitrovica is divided in two, with Serbians living on the north side and Albanians on the south. It’s the best place in Kosovo to learn more about the tensions between the two ethnicities, but I recommend booking a tour with a local guide to visit.
Read more: Kosovo: Finding Freedom in Prizren
Map of the best things to do in Pristina
Here’s a map of the best things to do in Pristina:
How to travel to Pristina
Air travel is the most convenient for international visitors. Pristina International Airport Adem Jashari is the largest airport in Kosovo, hosting a number of European airlines with frequent flights from various European cities, including budget flights from London Luton (I flew with Whizz Air).
It’s located approximately 15 km southwest of Pristina city centre, and you can find a taxi on arrival (25 Euro flat rate) or jump on the bus (3 Euros) to get from the airport to the city.
For travellers already in the region, bus travel is an economical choice. Regular services connect Pristina with major cities in neighbouring countries like Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. Buses are generally comfortable and reliable.
Getting around Pristina
Navigating Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, is relatively easy thanks to its compact size and variety of transport options. The city centre is quite walkable, allowing visitors to absorb the city’s atmosphere at their own pace. This provides a great opportunity to explore the many historical sites, trendy cafes, bustling bazaars, and iconic structures like the Newborn Monument or the National Library.
For longer distances, public transportation is widely available. City buses are frequent, reliable, and inexpensive, with routes covering the majority of the city. Buses also travel to other cities in Kosovo, and even neighbouring countries.
Taxis are abundant in Pristina and are relatively cheap by European standards. I recommend downloading the ‘E-taxi’ app. You can order taxis like you would order an Uber, but all of the vehicles are 100 per cent electric!
The best time to visit Pristina
The city offers unique experiences throughout the year; however, the best time to visit Pristina would be during the spring months of April and May, or the autumn period of September and October.
Spring in Pristina is beautiful, with temperatures ranging from 15 to 20 degrees Celsius, ideal for exploring outdoor attractions like Germina Park or the Newborn Monument. Spring is also the time when the city buzzes with energy, hosting a variety of cultural events such as the Prishtina Jazz Festival, bringing together local and international musicians.
The autumn period offers a different kind of charm. As the leaves begin to change colour, the city’s architecture, including the National Library and Ottoman-era mosques, are framed against vibrant hues of oranges and reds, creating stunning photographic opportunities. Temperatures are comfortably cool, perfect for leisurely strolls around Pristina’s bustling bazaars and cafes.
Visiting during these periods allows you to avoid the intense heat of the summer and the cold winter months. The city is less crowded with tourists, and you can comfortably explore the rich history, diverse culture, and eclectic gastronomy Pristina has to offer.
Is Kosovo a country?
The status of Kosovo as a country is a complex and politically charged issue. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008, after a long and turbulent history marked by ethnic conflict. It has its own government, constitution, flag, and anthem, with Pristina as its capital.
Kosovo is recognized as an independent nation by 101 United Nations (UN) member states, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France. It is also a member of several international organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
However, some countries, including Serbia, Russia and China, do not recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty. They view it as an autonomous province of Serbia. Notably, Kosovo is not a member of the United Nations, largely due to opposition from countries like Russia and China, who have veto power in the UN Security Council.
This varying recognition worldwide has resulted in a peculiar situation where Kosovo is considered a sovereign state by some nations and territories, while others regard it as a part of Serbia. Therefore, the question of whether Kosovo is a country can depend largely on who you ask and their political stance.
FAQ on the Best things to do in Pristina
Here’s an FAQ on the best things to do in Pristina, Kosovo:
Q1. What are the must-see landmarks in Pristina?
A: The most iconic landmarks include the National Library, the Newborn Monument, the Mother Teresa Cathedral, and the Bill Clinton and Ibrahim Rugova statues.
Q2. Where can I experience Pristina’s history?
The Kosovo Museum and the Ethnographic Museum (part of the Kosovo Museum) house exhibits detailing the region’s history and culture.
Q3. Are there any unique cultural experiences in Pristina?
A: Yes, the tradition of ‘xhiro’, or evening promenade, is a unique cultural experience. Also, consider visiting during Kosovo Independence Day (February 17) for a vibrant display of national pride.
Q4. What outdoor activities are available?
A: Germia Park is a popular spot for hiking and picnicking. The city is also close to the Sharr Mountains, which offer opportunities for skiing in winter and hiking in summer.
Q5. Are there any notable art galleries in Pristina?
A: Yes, the National Gallery of Kosovo hosts exhibitions of local and international artists.
Q6. Where can I enjoy traditional Kosovar cuisine?
A: There are many restaurants serving local dishes. Liburnia Restaurant, Tiffany, and Restaurant Pishat are well-regarded.
Q7. Can I watch live performances in Pristina?
A: Yes, the National Theatre of Kosovo and Dodona Theatre regularly stage plays and concerts.
Q8. What local markets should I visit in Pristina?
A: The Green Market, or ‘Pazari i Ri’, is the city’s main farmer’s market where you can buy fresh local produce.
Q9. What day trips can I take from Pristina?
A: Prizren, the Gračanica Monastery, Gadime Marble Cave, and the Bear Sanctuary are popular day trip destinations.
Q10. What nightlife options are there in Pristina?
A: Pristina has a vibrant nightlife with many bars and clubs, particularly on Rakia Street. The city’s coffee culture also extends into the night, with cafes serving as popular socialising spots.
There we have it, the best things to do in Pristina, Kosovo! What’s on your Kosovo bucket list?