Kosovo, the youngest country in Europe, had been on my bucket list for quite a while when I got there last summer. When I was backpacking through the Balkans (check my itinerary here), Kosovo was of course a destination I had to stop by.
When planning the trip, I knew I wouldn’t have time to visit both Pristina and Prizren, so I did a lot of research and soon realized that Prizren was the place to visit in Kosovo. Luckily, I had time to stop by Pristina for a few hours on my way from Serbia because of a bus change, so I got a brief moment to see the capital of Kosovo as well.
Prizren – a beautiful mountain city
Because I had read so much great stuff about Prizren, I had quite high expectations to the city. Surrounded by mountains and stunning nature, Prizren didn’t disappoint me. The architecture in the old town is beautiful. The narrow cobblestone streets meet at a square where you find the city’s famous mosque and the old stone bridge. It is just so picturesque! The major sight in Prizren is the fort. The climb up to the fort takes about 20 minutes. It looks quite hard as it is a bit steep, but walking up wasn’t a problem. From one side of the fort you see Prizren, and from the other side you see the mountains as far as they go.
A hidden gem, not known by many tourists, is a restaurant called Ristorante Natura. To get here you need to drive for about 15 minutes. The drive out to the restaurant is magnificent because of the steep mountains surrounding the road. We only had two days in Prizren, but there is no doubt that the nature here made the restaurant worth a visit. There are many hiking opportunities in the area as well, and I have a dream to go back for a camping trip in this area.
Pristina – an interesting capital
Pristina is… a very different city. We only spent a few hours here on our way to Prizren but got to see quite a lot (despite very heavy rain!).
Kosovo was earlier a part of Serbia, and the relationship between the countries is still very complicated. Serbia and several other countries haven’t recognized Kosovo as an independent state. The battle of becoming an independent country came very clear when walking around in Pristina. The first thing that met us when we walked from the bus station to the city center was a huge picture of Bill Clinton, as well as a statue of him, American flags and even a street called Bill Clinton Boulevard (or, Bill Klinton, as some of the signs said). The reason for this is that Bill Clinton and the US was big supporters of Kosovo during the war. Another monument showing signs of being a new country is the Newborn monument, which lately has been redesigned to say “No walls”. The national library is also worth checking out – such a weird building!
How to get to Pristina and Prizren?
For our backpacking trip in the Balkans, we flew into Skopje in Macedonia (which I also recommend to visit – read more about it here). There are bus connections between Skopje and Prizren/Pristina on a daily basis, and the ride takes about three hours (including crossing the border). You can purchase the ticket on the station upon departure. You can also fly directly to Pristina.
It is easy to travel between Pristina and Prizren. The bus is frequent and cheap, and the journey takes less than two hours. I strongly suggest a visit to Prizren instead of Pristina if you have to choose, as Prizren was a stunning city.
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