Is Kosovo safe to visit? I think it’s one of the questions most travellers ask themselves. In short, I would say Kosovo, including Pristina, are pretty safe. I travelled to Pristina as a solo female traveller, and except for some stares (pretty common in this part of Europe), everything went quite smooth.
If safety is something you really pay attention to when deciding where to travel next, I also recommend checking out: Stay safe in India and plan a good Golden Triangle Itinerary with these steps!
Safety is definitely one of the main aspects tourists consider when travelling to Kosovo. Kosovo is a relatively new country that declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. What it’s controversial is that not all the countries recognised Kosovo’s independence. Due to the animosities between Serbia and Kosovo, I would advise against travelling between the 2 countries. When I travelled in the Balkans and decided to include Kosovo in my itinerary, I did not go to Serbia afterwards. Instead, I opted to visit North Macedonia and Montenegro.
Official Information about visiting Kosovo:
The most recent advice posted on the UK Government website is:
The authorities in Serbia don’t consider the designated crossing points from Kosovo to be official ‘international’ border crossing points.
Foreign nationals have been denied entry to Serbia if they have Republic of Kosovo stamps in their passports and the Serbian authorities may not allow you to travel into Serbia if you hold these stamps. We are also aware of isolated incidents where Serbian authorities have cancelled Kosovo stamps in passports of foreign nationals.
One cannot travel directly from Kosovo into Serbia if you don’t have a valid entry stamp from either Belgrade airport or one of Serbia’s border crossings with Montenegro, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria or North Macedonia; you will be refused entry without an existing valid Serbian entry stamp. You should take a route which transits a third country. For more information please visit the website of the Serbian Ministry for Foreign Affairs.UK Government website
How to travel to Kosovo?
You can travel to Kosovo either by plane or by bus. Kosovo has one international airport: Pristina International Airport. You can also catch a bus to travel to Kosovo. As long as you have a valid passport and do not enter the country via Serbia, you should be allowed entry. As an EU passport holder, I travelled from North Macedonia into Kosovo and left the country to travel further to Montenegro. I did not have any issues, nor I was asked whether I intend to visit Serbia afterwards. In my case, I did not need a visa to travel to Kosovo. However, if you are unsure about your travel requirements to Kosovo, I recommend getting in touch with your embassy first.
In September 2019 when I visited Kosovo, you could still see US soldiers on the streets. However, their laid-back attitude didn’t give any clues of the 1999 Kosovo war which brought the NATO troops to Pristina. Even if nowadays, you can still see US troops on the street, they are mainly out for a walk or stopped to have a coffee. The country is not at war anymore. I travelled to Kosovo in early autumn when the weather was still hot. I saw young people having fun, children holding their mothers’ hands and the elderly walking their dogs in the park. After witnessing this, the animosities between the Albanian and Serbian minorities seemed a distant memory to me.
What to visit in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina?
Pristina is the capital city of Kosovo and the biggest and most important city in the country. You can travel from Skopje to Pristina by bus. The journey takes more or less 2 hours. I know there are train connections between Skopje and Pristina, however, I did not use the train at all during my trip. I found the bus system in the Balkans to be extremely reliable and sometimes even faster and cheaper than the train. So every time I travelled, it’s been by bus.
Pristina is relatively small and easy to visit. Plus, the city is safe, making it a good travel destination. Some of the tourist highlights I would recommend are:
The Newborn Monument
As the name suggests, the Newborn Monument is a reminder that Kosovo is now an independent nation. As one of the newest countries in the world, Kosovo has come a long way, and its citizens can now enjoy a peaceful life.
Germia Park is a national park, located on the outskirts of Pristina. The park is excellent for long walks, spending time in nature or walking the dog.
The National Library
The National Library is quite a peculiar building. That’s due to the unusual architecture, which contrasts with the rest of the other buildings in Pristina.
Bill Clinton’s statue & Boulevard
The locals’ appreciation of the USA and its involvement in the Kosovo war is everywhere. People here are big supporters of Bill Clinton. While walking in Pristina, I saw banners, Bill Clinton’s statue and even a boulevard named after the American president.
The Cathedral of Saint Mother Theresa
The Cathedral of Saint Mother Theresa is a catholic cathedral named after the famous Albanian nun. Similar to Macedonia, Kosovo also recognises the merits of Mother Theresa in its own way. This is not a surprise because Kosovo is home to a significant Albanian minority.
The National Theatre
The National Theatre is the biggest in the country and it’s publicly funded.
The city centre
Pristina does not have an old town as such. However, for for a nice promenade I would recommend the Nena Tereze area. It’s a long street full with restaurants and places you can grab a snack from. Alternatively, there is a regular market you can buy fresh veggies and fruits from.
Pristina City Park
Last but not least, Pristina City Park is an alternative to Germia Park. The advantage of this park is that it’s closer to the city centre.
What else can you visit in Pristina?
My time in Pristina was limited by a 18 days itinerary I had allocated to travel around Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro. However, if you have more time to visit Kosovo, I would also recommend looking into museums such as:
- The National Gallery of Kosovo
- The Ethnographic museum
- Kosovo Museum or
- The Illusions Museum
Kosovo is home to a significant Muslim population, therefore you might be interested in visiting some of the most famous mosques in Pristina, such as:
- Xhamia e Llapit Mosque
- Carshi Mosque
- Jashar Pasha Mosque
Kosovo was safe for me to visit back in 2019. I travelled all by myself and did not have issues anywhere I went. In conclusion, I hope this blog post managed to clarify the safety issue and what it’s like to travel solo in Kosovo. The itinerary on Pristina can be easily adjusted to include other places to visit in Kosovo. I will definitely return someday because I want to visit more of the countryside and some of the less touristy spots in Kosovo.
Have you visited Pristina? Or perhaps another place in Kosovo? How safe did you find the country?