Safarnevesht

Kosovo: Pristina, A Capital That's Not Appealing

Pristina

Until 2 days ago I had no idea travelling to Kosovo would be this difficult. From Skopje in Macedonia to Pristina, capital of Kosovo it’s just 90 kilometers. But someone told me if I go to Kosovo then I would be denied entry to Serbia, and I was planning to visit Serbia next.

So what’s the story? Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence and considers Kosovo part of its territory. If you enter Kosovo from Macedonia, Albania or Montenegro, Serbia considers your entry to its territory illegal and there is a 90% chance that it won’t allow you enter Serbia after that. If you have an Iranian passport this possibility will be very close to 100%.

To remedy this problem I bought a ticket from Skopje’s bus terminal for €6 to Bujanovac in south of Serbia. My guess was that I could find a bus or train from Bujanovac to Pristina but I was wrong.

Skopje bus terminal, beginning of my difficult journey

Skopje bus terminal, beginning of my difficult journey

Taxi drivers that had surrounded me in Bujanovac were asking for €50 to get me to Pristina but when they realized I am an Iranian they all folded and went away 😅. They probably had never seen an Iranian tourist and thought all Iranians are illegal immigrants.

There remained only one guy named Rajab who still insisted to drive me. In the end we agreed on a €20 fare for him to take me to Gjilan city in Kosovo. Rajab didn’t know even one of English and with body language asked me many times if my papers are in order!

Upon arriving at the Serbia/Kosovo border the process of checking my passport and visa took longer than usual on both sides and even Kosovo police asked me to step out of the car and answer a few questions. Questions like why are you travelling to Kosovo, how many days are you planning to stay and how much money do you have. These questions were completely normal for and I’m used to them but Rajab was so scared and his face was already pale and was already regretting to had accepted to drive through the border. 😂😂😂

Mr. Rajab 😎

Mr. Rajab 😎

We passed the border after 15 minutes and until Gjilan in less than an hour Rajab finished one pack of cigarettes.

Scenery outside of Gjilan was very beautiful and green, like Gjilan in my country, Iran. It was 5pm that I arrived in Gjilan. I paid Rajab €20 as we had agreed and after having kebab got on a bus that took 2 hours to take me to Pristina. My journey from Bujanovac to Pristina was finished after 6 hours one that should have taken only 2 hours.

Scenery around Gjilan

Scenery around Gjilan

I saw this cute little car in Bujanovac, Serbia

I saw this cute little car in Bujanovac, Serbia

A mosque near Gjilan in Kosovo

A mosque near Gjilan in Kosovo

Bus terminal in Gjilan, Kosovo

Bus terminal in Gjilan, Kosovo

Nature outside of Gjilan

Nature outside of Gjilan

Later I learned that if I had gone straight from Skopje to Pristina, I definitely would have been denied entry to Serbia from Kosovo. They even check your passport in bus terminal and if you entered Kosovo from a country other than Serbia, they won’t sell you the bus ticket to Belgrade. So if someone enters Kosovo from Macedonia and wants to travel to Serbia after that, he/she has to go to a third country first, like Macedonia, and enter Serbia from there.

Serbian police on the Serbia/Kosovo border don’t even stamp your passport as they don’t recognize that border as an official border.

Clock tower of Pristina church

Clock tower of Pristina church

A park in Pristina capital of Kosovo

A park in Pristina capital of Kosovo

ODA Hostel is located in the center of Pristina and feels like a house. To enter you have to take out your shoes and there is a carpet in its lobby. A bed in a 6 bed room cost me €10.

Guests tonight are from all over the world: Spain, France, Albania, Chile, New Zealand and United States.

You can see this flag, which is Albania’s, all over Kosovo. Majority of people in Kosovo are from Albania.

The problem with ODA hostel was its internet which kept disconnecting all the time. 😑

A photo with guests and Albania's flag in ODA hostel

A photo with guests and Albania's flag in ODA hostel

Simple breakfast in ODA hostel

Simple breakfast in ODA hostel

At night I walked around Pristina for a couple of hours. Except a walking street there isn’t much else. If you have a limited time and a tight schedule for your travels, I suggest don’t spend any time for Pristina.

Mother Teresa Boulevard which is also Pristina's walking street

Mother Teresa Boulevard which is also Pristina's walking street

Next morning I visited the city park and an old cemetery which was on a hill. I could have a good view of city from cemetery.

Cemetery on the hill in Pristina

Cemetery on the hill in Pristina

View of Pristina from cemetery on the hill

View of Pristina from cemetery on the hill

Skanderbeg the most popular Albanian noble man at the end of Mother Teresa Blvd.

Skanderbeg the most popular Albanian noble man at the end of Mother Teresa Blvd.

Walking to Pristina bus terminal on a rainy Sunday

Walking to Pristina bus terminal on a rainy Sunday

Bill Clinton statue on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina

Bill Clinton statue on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina

Gracanica city is 30 minutes away from Pristina. The famous Gracanica Monastery which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List is located there.

There is no bus from city center to Gracanica on Sunday. I had to go to bus terminal, get on a bus to Gjilan and take off after 30 minutes. It was too much trouble and it would have taken all my day so I decided not to visit Gracanica Monastery and instead got on a bus to my next destination in Kosovo, Prizren.

If you ever got a chance to visit the monastery please share your experience with me and site visitors. 🌺

Iranians need a visa to visit Kosovo. However, if you have a Schengen visa which is multiple entry and have used to at least once before, you can visit Kosovo without any other visas. I used my Schengen visa to enter Kosovo.

Prizren

Prizren, unlike Pristina, is very beautiful.

A river which flows through the city with lovely bridges over it, beautiful mosques and lush mountains that surround the city. It is somehow like the cities in northern Iran.

It was Sunday and there were a lot of tourists from neighboring countries like Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.

Prizren in Kosovo on a rainy day

Prizren in Kosovo on a rainy day

Kofte and Ayran, €3

Kofte and Ayran, €3

Memorial monuments for Kosovo war are not hard to find in Prizren

Memorial monuments for Kosovo war are not hard to find in Prizren

Prizren souvenirs

Prizren souvenirs

Street cafes

Street cafes

Sinan Pasha Mosque

Sinan Pasha Mosque

Like many other cities in Balkans, city castle located on a hill is the best place to get a great view of city. With 20 minutes of walking from city center you can get to the castle and you don’t need a ticket to enter.

On the way to Prizren Fortress

On the way to Prizren Fortress

Prizren Fortress walls in the south of Kosovo

Prizren Fortress walls in the south of Kosovo

Prizren view from the city castle

Prizren view from the city castle

City view from Prizren Fortress

City view from Prizren Fortress

Mountains around Prizren are all green and beautiful

Mountains around Prizren are all green and beautiful

A church in the mountain and on the way to Prizren Fortress

A church in the mountain and on the way to Prizren Fortress

Kosovo is an interesting country. Almost all of its people are Albanian and their language is also Albanian. Most Serbs moved out after the 1998 war but there are still some in northern parts and around big churches.

A big majority of people in Kosovo are Muslim which is because of Ottomans 500 year presence there. Of course they have their own Islam. Women don’t wear hijab, they don’t do the mandatory pray for Muslims except on Fridays and they don’t fast in Ramadan. They also drink alcohol except in Ramadan during which even bars don’t serve alcohol.

I noticed that when Azan is being played by the mosques everyone puts down their beer bottles and resumed drinking once Azan was finished. Eating Halal food is also very important to Kosovar.

Gypsys in Shadervan square in Prizren

Gypsys in Shadervan square in Prizren

If you could last from 2 to 7 minutes you would win 5 to 50 euros. No one was able to last even 2 minutes

If you could last from 2 to 7 minutes you would win 5 to 50 euros. No one was able to last even 2 minutes

Drinking place in Shadervan square

Drinking place in Shadervan square

Dervish Tekke in Prizren

Dervish Tekke in Prizren

Prizren streets and its very old cars

Prizren streets and its very old cars

Church of Our Lady of Ljeviš. The church is controlled by Serbs and unfortunately visitation was not allowed 😞

Church of Our Lady of Ljeviš. The church is controlled by Serbs and unfortunately visitation was not allowed 😞

Here in Kosovo people like Bill Clinton for his role in ending the war with Serbs. They named a boulevard after him in Pristina. There is also a statue of him there.

And naturally Kosovars are not fund of Russia because they are on the Serbs side.

Bistrica river in Prizren

Bistrica river in Prizren

Stone bridge and Prizren Fortress

Stone bridge and Prizren Fortress

Bridge of love

Bridge of love

Sinan Pasha Mosque and Stone bridge

Sinan Pasha Mosque and Stone bridge

Prizren City

Prizren City

Many countries still don’t recognize Kosovo’s independence and Iran is one of them. Wherever I said I’m Iranian I was replied with smiles, not like Bosnia and Herzegovina though.

People here don’t like Europe and believe because they are Muslim, Europe has left them alone.

With a passport from Kosovo one needs visa for almost all countries. There are even some countries that won’t allow Kosovars to visit their country, they don’t recognize a passport issued in Kosovo.

Happy youth in Kosovo

Happy youth in Kosovo

Beef steak and chicken €4

Beef steak and chicken €4

Stone bridge at night

Stone bridge at night

Currency in Kosovo is euro and it is kind of a cheap place for a visitor. Its nature is mostly mountainous and very beautiful.

Peja City

This morning I came to Peja in western Kosovo. This city is called Peć in Serbian.

The bus took 2 hours from Prizren to Peja and cost €4. As I understood bus fares in Kosovo are calculated hourly. €2 per hour.

In Kosovo there is no need to buy a bus ticket, you just get on a bus and later someone will collect the fares. Peja is definitely more beautiful than Pristina but cannot compete with Prizren.

Peja countryside

Peja countryside

Lumbardh river in Peja

Lumbardh river in Peja

Lumbardh river

Lumbardh river

Main reason I decided to come to Peja is visiting two very especial monasteries which both are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The 700 year-old Patriarchate Monastery is only 2 kilometers from Peja city center. Seeing monastery’s garden and nuns while gardening was interesting.

Patriarchate Monastery walls

Patriarchate Monastery walls

Patriarchate Monastery

Patriarchate Monastery

Patriarchate Monastery

Patriarchate Monastery

Patriarchate Monastery

Patriarchate Monastery

700 year-old tree in Patriarchate Monastery's garden

700 year-old tree in Patriarchate Monastery's garden

Patriarchate Monastery

Patriarchate Monastery

Next was Visoki Decani Monastery. I got on a bus to Decani city 20 kilometers south of Peja. From there I walked for 2 kilometers till I arrived at Visoki Decani Monastery.

This monastery is also 700 years old and is for monks.

You need to have your passport with you to be able to visit both monasteries and must enter before 5:30pm.

Taking pictures from monasteries is forbidden and is enforced seriously. I was able to take a few pictures without them noticing. Visoki Decani Monastery has a guide who will answer your questions very patiently.

Nuns and monks live in monastery all their lives and pray. They are not allowed to get married.

Inside Visoki Decani church there is a coffin belonging to the monastery’s maker whom the guide said his body is still intact after 700 years!

If you ever decide to become a monk first you need to have 4-5 years of training then other monks will decide if you have what it takes to become a monk or not. 🙂

Bus terminal in Peja

Bus terminal in Peja

Visoki Decani Monastery

Visoki Decani Monastery

City of Decani countryside

City of Decani countryside

You won’t need more than 2 hours to visit Peja and its old city center. Its old market is mostly jewelry and clothing shops.

Mother Teresa statue in Peja city center

Mother Teresa statue in Peja city center

Kosovo and Albania flags side by side

Kosovo and Albania flags side by side

Cafes in Peja

Cafes in Peja

Old cars in western Kosovo

Old cars in western Kosovo

Peja's old market which is mostly jewelry shops

Peja's old market which is mostly jewelry shops

Hostel Sarac in Peja

Hostel Sarac in Peja

Hostel Sarac's yard

Hostel Sarac's yard

Hostel Sarac

Hostel Sarac

My last meal in Kosovo - Peja bus terminal

My last meal in Kosovo - Peja bus terminal

My stay in Peja was one night. There was no bus from Peja to Serbia, early in the morning I drove a bus from Peja to Pristina and bought the 11am ticket to Belgrade for €16. There was only one other bus to Belgrade that day at 10pm. I really hope after going through all this trouble to enter Kosovo from Serbia, I won’t have any problems entering Serbia again.

My whole stay in Kosovo was 3 days in Pristina, Prizren and Peja.

All my costs staying in Kosovo became €75 plus €26 for going from Macedonia to Serbia then Kosovo and €16 bus ticket from Pristina to Belgrade capital of Serbia.

Travel date: Spring 2017

احمد خانی

Ahmad Khani Iranian backpacker and travel lover

برای اطلاع از سفرنامه و ویزای کشور جدید، به روز رسانی مطالب قبلی و اطلاع از برنامه‌ سفرهای گروهی و تور عضو خبرنامه سفرنوشت بشوید

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l
labinot
حدود ۲ ماه قبل

Hello, i am kosovan i married with iranian woman , can you tell me how you got visa permission to Kosovo because i need a visa for my wife , currently i live in Kerman with her.

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ahmad
احمد MOD
حدود ۱ ماه قبل

Hello
I used my Schengen visa to enter Kosovo. with Schengen visa (multiple) Iranian can enter Kosovo.

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Z
Zainab
۴ ماه قبل

Hi! Was halal food easy to find in pristina?

And do you have any idea if halal food is easily available in skopje, macedonia? Thanks for the detailed review

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ahmad
احمد MOD
۳ ماه قبل

Hi
Yes Its easy to find Halal food in Kosovo and Macedonia

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