Kosovo National Library

Top Things to Do in Pristina


Published on 28 June 2023

Pristina, the capital city of Europe’s youngest country, is an intriguing spot to add to your Balkan itinerary. It’s full of old Ottoman character, welcoming faces, and the ultimate macchiatos! Though it is heartbreaking, learning about the country’s history is an absolute must on a visit to Pristina: the bravery of the Kosovar people to fight for independence, the horrific war crimes, and the continuation of the heated tension between Kosovo and Serbia well into 2023. There aren’t as many attractions as you may find in other Balkan cities but Pristina, for me, was more about experiencing the city and its culture.

This guide will give you an overview of the best things to do in Pristina, recommendations on vegetarian food spots and coffee spots, plus a couple of easy side trips.

How to Get to Pristina

Pristina International Airport Adem Jashari (PNR) has direct connections within Europe.

Buses connect the city with other Kosovar cities as well as cities in Albania and North Macedonia.

Buses we took to and from Pristina:

Gjakova to Pristina: costs 3 EUR and takes about an hour, leaving every 30 minutes.

Pristina to Skopje: cost 8.5 EUR and took about two hours, leaving at 08:30.

One thing to note is that you cannot travel from Kosovo into or through Serbia. Serbia still recognises Kosovo as Serbian territory, therefore if you try to enter Serbia from Kosovo, you are seen as having already illegally entered the country. We were travelling from Pristina to Bucharest, and so instead of being able to travel through Serbia, which would have been much quicker, we had to go to North Macedonia, Bulgaria and then in to Bucharest. That really was a MAMMOTH journey.

Things to Do in Pristina

Take the Free Walking Tour

The absolute best way to learn about a city, its people and history, is to hear the personal stories from someone that has lived through it. This is exactly what you get on this free walking tour in Pristina. There is a strong focus on the war, the continued flare ups seen in the northern Mitrovica region that has a high Serbian community, the political situation, and the Ottoman historical influences in the architecture of the city. We learned so much on this tour. Definitely should be top of your list of things to do in Pristina.

Gaze in Confusion at the World’s Ugliest Building

Deemed by many as the world’s ugliest building, the National Library of Kosovo was opened as part of a university campus. The Brutalist building is made up of a collection of cubes and white domes covered in a metal hexagonal mesh. It really is a bizarre-looking building.

National Library, things to do in Pristina

Up close details of the Kosovo National Library

Get the Lift to the Viewpoint at Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa

Pay 1.5 EUR to get the lift up to the tower above the Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa for amazing city views. The cathedral is pretty close to the national library, so you get to see the structure from a different perspective, showcasing the white domes which aren’t so visible from the ground.

View from Saint Mother Teresa Cathedral, things to do in Pristina

Views over Pristina from Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa

See the Newborn Monument

This huge monument was unveiled on the day of Kosovo’s official announcement of independence from Serbia. On each anniversary of independence, the monument is repainted with a different theme. In 2022 when we visited, the monument was painted with many faces of women. In 2017, the B and O were replaced with the number 10 to represent ten years since independence. In 2013, flags of the countries that recognised Kosovo’s independence.

Newborn monument with 2022 design

Eat Falafel Wraps from Baba Ganoush Meze

Baba Ganoush Meze is a vegetarian Mediterranean restaurant serving falafel wraps, salads, soups, hummus. The food here is tasty with no frills. Make sure you bring enough cash as they don’t yet accept card payment.

Falafel wrap Pristina

Proper falafel

Sip on a Perfect Macchiato

Kosovo knows how to make a macchiato. You are guaranteed a great macchiato no matter where you order it. One of our favourites was from Gjakova bus station, and it was served in a plastic cup (which is diabolical), but it tasted great even still. We stopped for coffee at Dit e Nat Cafe and Half & Half Cafe, a couple of quirky coffee shops.

Look at these beauties

Keep an Eye Out for Street Art

Pristina is full of street art: large murals sit on the side of apartment buildings and underpass tunnels. Just wandering around the city, you are sure to find them. Keep an eye out for Dua Lipa and Monsieur Chat.

Street art Pristina

Book shop street art

Stop for Lunch at Soma Book Station

This place is always hip, hop and happening, full of locals. We tried the vegan burger and the mac and cheese and both were beautiful. Come here for lunch, for drinks, for dinner. There is a lovely outdoor seating area too, but try to come early as it gets busy.

Veggie burger

Mac and cheese

Understand the Backstory of the Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church

Next to the ugly library is an unfinished Serbian Orthodox Church. The construction of the church on Pristina university grounds is seen as symbolism of Serbian nationalism and Milosevic’s (Serbian ex-president) rule in predominantly Albanian and Muslim Kosovo. During the time of construction, Albanian students and professors were being expelled from the university. The church was never completed due to the growing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia which then resulted in war. It is a very controversial subject as, speaking to Kosovars, they see it as an attempt for Serbia to stamp their mark on Kosovo.

I think it is really important to speak to locals and understand the full back story of this church. I have seen some bloggers gushing about this building and how they hope it will be fully finished soon etc. without understanding the political difficulties surrounding it and what the building actually means to different groups of people.

Orthodox Church Pristina

The shell of the unfinished Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church

Day Trips to Take from Pristina


Gjakova really feels like an old and authentic city. It used to be an Ottoman trading centre along the route between Shkoder, Albania and Istanbul, Turkey; and you can really sense it. Wander the cobbled streets will the traditional shops, stop at the clock tower, maybe get your hair cut? (This is exactly what I did! The hairdresser spoke very very little English, so I used my hands to indicate the length and shaping that I wanted. He washed, cut, and styled my hair, as well as getting Chris and I a great macchiato each. He only charged 10 EUR for the hair cut and coffees and he was so so friendly regardless of the language barrier.)

Near the bridge connecting the old and newer parts of town, you’ll find some interesting harsh architecture and some street art. Finish off the day with a meal at Kulla Restaurant. Make sure you order the hot peppers with creamy cheesy sauce and a shopska salad. Perfect.

Gjakova, day trip from Pristina

Gjakova at night

Gjakova, day trip from Pristina

Gjakova’s traditional buildings

Getting to Gjakova

The buses leave Pristina to go to Gjakova every 30 mins (ish) so you shouldn’t have much problem going just for the day. The journey takes about and hour and half and should cost around 5 EUR.


Probably the most picturesque of the three cities we visited. Prizren river runs through the city under Ottoman stone bridges. See Sinan Pasha Mosque, Prizren Fortress and the Albanian League of Prizren museum. Stop for lunch at Noja Kuzhine which is a fully vegetarian restaurant.

Ottoman stone bridge Prizren: day trip from Prizren

Prizren’s Ottoman style bridge and mosque

Getting to Prizren

Buses from Pristina leave every 30 mins and take just under two hours. Buses from Gjakova leave every 30 mins, take about an hour and cost 3 EUR.

Have you been to Pristina? Is there anything else you would add?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.

Thanks for reading!

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