A Quick Guide to
Visiting Kosovo

Guest post by: Joan Shock

 

Kosovo is the newest European country and is also one of the smallest. Comparatively, it’s about the size of Delaware. When I first moved here in June of 2018, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never heard about it before and there wasn’t much available, especially since most of what I found was related to politics! (If you are an American visiting Kosovo, be prepared for lots of love and political talk. The Albanians here love America because of our part in helping with the war.)

Kosovo is often overlooked by many travelers. On the surface, it doesn’t seem to offer much, but if you look a little closer, it’s a beautiful country with lots to offer! The beautiful views, the kind people and the vibrant culture are just a few reasons to visit! But since there isn’t much out there, I figured I’d post about a few things that will make your visit easier!

 

Guide to visiting Kosovo

Getting Here

It can be expensive getting to Kosovo. Flights to Prishtine are pretty high – the lowest I’ve found is 700 RT with Turkish Airlines from Washington DC. Budget Airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air do fly here from some major airports in Europe, like London, Lutton & Budapest.

However, if you are already in the Balkans area, getting here is an easy, cheap bus ride! It’s less than 30 euros from most places. Using Balkan Viator or RometoRio can help you find the bus times.

Spring and fall are the best time to get here. In the summer, the Diaspora from Germany and other European countries come to visit so prices sky rocket!

Getting Around In Country

 

Kosovo doesn’t have Uber or Lyft, so it’s taxi’s or buses in this country.

Kosovo taxi experience

by taxi 

For Taxi’s, always negotiate the prices before you get in the car! They will try to rip you off, especially in the summer. I speak a bit of the local language and this still can happen to me. For most distances it shouldn’t be more than 10 euro (and that’s from the airport to Prishtina!) If you think you can go lower, keep on moving down the line and asking. You can usually shave off a euro or two!

I’d only use this in the major cities, like Prishtina or if you are wanting to visit a small town on a sunday. Otherwise, go….

by bus

The bus system here is pretty amazing. You can get between most major cities from early to really late within 2 hours and for around 6 euro roundtrip. To find out the schedule, I would use Gjirafa.com. They have a section for “Linja te Autouseve” that works pretty well for most major cities. It’s not always trustworthy so I would never try for the last available bus. The bus schedules change from season to season. There are usually more when school is in and less when it is out.  Gjirafa does not reflect this or tell you this!

You also buy your ticket on the buses. You go to the station and find the bus with the name of the city you want to go and then find a seat, after the bus gets going a guy comes by to collect payment (in cash). Gjirafa will tell you about how much to expect.

If you have bags, try not to put them under the bus. Bring your backpack with you and hold it in your lap. Things can get swiped and then it’s almost impossible to get back! If you have a rolling bag, try to get a window seat to be able to watch it at stops.

Pro-tip: If you look young you will be able to pay the “student rate” listed on Gjirafa. Also, try to have exact change, it makes life way easier.

Kosovo bus experience

Photo Credit: Business Insider

WHERE TO GO 

 

There are 3 major cities in Kosovo: Prishtina, Prizren and Peja. Honestly, I still haven’t been to Peja so I can’t talk to much about it. But I have been to the other two. I’ll also highlight a couple other little towns worth check out!

Kosovo guide city

Prishtina 

The capital city of Kosovo! It’s worth spending a day or two here to eat some traditional food, do the free walking tour and also swing into the bear sanctuary!

Prizren

It’s worth spending another day or two here. Take in the beautiful views this city has to offer by hiking up the historic “castle” or fortress, visiting one of the oldest mosques and visiting one of the many coffee shops along the river!

Kosovo blog

Peja 

Peja is a beautiful city nestled in the mountains. It’s got beautiful views and good hiking, though I would recommend going with a local or a group as many of the hikes are hard to get to on your own!

 

 Gjakova

A small little city in between Peja and Prizren. It’s a good day trip with lots of coffee shops and a fun riverwalk area.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING

Kosovo is a cash economy. It uses the Euro, unlike any other Balkan country. Many places do not take cards. The taxi’s don’t, the buses don’t and lots of small bodega’s and stores don’t.  There is no “cash back” in the supermarkets, but there are tons of ATM’s around so you can always pull out cash. They aren’t western branches though so watch out for those surcharges!

 

 

 It’s also super cheap. A macchiato cost between 0.50-1 euro, a beer or glass of wine 1 euro, and you can easily do dinner for under 5 euro!

Traveling in Kosovo Guide

HELPFUL PHRASES

It’s always good to know a few words when wandering around a new country and Albanian is a hard one to find resources on! So here are a few basics to help you out.

Miremengjes (meer-men-jess) Good morning

Miredita (meer-deet-ah) Good afternoon

Faleminderit! (fall-em-in-dare-it) Thank you!

Skaperse! (ska-per-say) You’re Welcome!

Sa Kushton? (Saw Koosh-tahn): How much?

Ku eshte banjo? (ku ersht bahn-yo): Where is the bathroom?

           -Switch out “banjo” for any place you are looking for. 

 

 

 These few phrases will help you get around. But even if you don’t remember these, lots of people in Kosovo speak some basic English, especially in the big cities!

I hope that this guide helps you learn a little more about Kosovo and how to navigate this beautiful country! I’ll also be posting more in-depth city guides later on!  Be sure to comment below if you’ve been to Kosovo and what you’ve loved about the country!

You can find Joan here:

Blog: https://justwanderingjoan.blog/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/justwanderingjoan/   

Joan Shock

Joan Shock

Guest Blogger

Joan is a lifelong traveler. From a young age her parents were instilling the love of travelling in her with endless road trips and tales of far away places.

Now, Joan is fulfilling a lifelong dream by living in Kosovo teaching English.

When not teaching, Joan is reading and planning what new place to explore on those glorious school breaks. Currently, her goal is to see all of the Balkans by the end of 2019.

You can follow her adventures at her blog, justwanderingjoan.blog and on Instagram @justwanderingjoan. 

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