The Newborn monument in Pristina celebrating Kosovo independence

Six things to do in Pristina, Kosovo

Excellent food, interesting history and funny buildings and monuments should be enough to make you want to visit Pristina. Kosovo may not be on everyone's itinerary quite yet, but there's still plenty to stay entertained for a weekend.

We went for a bank holiday sized city break to Pristina, Kosovo, in combination with Skopje, Macedonia. There are sometimes very cheap flights available within Europe, and since these cities are very close to each other, we managed to get a very good deal for the combo. Be sure not to overpack when traveling with low-cost airlines though

We didn’t know what to expect, but there are plenty of things to do in Pristina for two days.

Look at the buildings and monuments

When I image googled Pristina before the trip to get an idea of what it would look like now, there were two things that appeared more than anything: the Newborn monument and the university library.

The Newborn monument was unveiled on the day that Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, and it is repainted every year. As this year is the 10th anniversary, it also has a temporary number 10 in the middle. I love typographic monuments when done well, and especially one that keeps changing! It would be fun to come back another year and see it again. This was also a major selfie spot, so if you’re into watching other people take selfies or awkward group photos, this is the place to hang out.

People taking selfies in front of Newborn monument in Pristina Kosovo

The university library, on the other hand, is no looker. It’s special alright, described as brutalist in style, with a metallic web around it and glass bulbs on top. I liked to stroll around the university grounds, where there’s also an unfinished and locked up Christian orthodox church next to it.

The university library in Pristina Kosovo

Another special piece in terms of architecture is the Palace of Youth and Sports. Built in the ‘70s, this multi-purpose sports hall has been partially destroyed by a fire, but is still mostly used for home games by the local professional basketball team Sigal Prishtina.

Palace of youth and sports in Pristina Kosovo

There’s also a statue of a 3 meters tall Bill Clinton on (guess where) Bill Clinton Boulevard, raised after the war as a little thank you. Don’t miss the Hillary bridal shop just next to him!

Statue of Bill Clinton in Pristina Kosovo

Visit a photo exhibition

We stumbled upon the Kosovo museum in the old part of town, and went in to check it out. It had no entrance fee, which was obviously awesome, and we were offered a guide which we turned down as we didn’t know how much we’d like the museum. Go with a guide, they seemed really enthusiastic about the collection!

The entrance floor had a small archeology exhibition with ancient pottery and jewelry. It was fine, but nothing really special. I suppose if you go with a guide they’ll give you some more context, because there are no signs. On the second floor, there was an exhibition of war memorabilia, such as uniforms and guns. I liked looking at the old newspapers, but most of this exhibition didn’t have signs either.

My favorite part of the museum, however, was the photo exhibition. One photographer had documented the escape from Pristina in 1999, and I found these photos along with the story really captivating. In the next room, there were portraits of regular people from the years just before and after the war.

Stroll along the pedestrian street

The weather was lovely when we were there, and it seemed as the whole city had come out to enjoy it. The pedestrian street, the Mother Teresa Boulevard, is an excellent spot for people-watching.

Pedestrian street Mother Teresa Boulevard in Pristina Kosovo

The street is lined with cafés and restaurants, little pop-up book shops, stands selling all kinds of snacks and also some street musicians.

We were there just as they were setting things up for a half marathon the following day, so if you’re a runner you might want to check that out. The finish line was just at the upper end of the pedestrian street.

Catch a sports event

When we were walking around Pristina, we saw posters advertising a game of basketball that was to take place in the arena later the same day. We didn’t have a plan for the evening anyway, so after some rest, we went down there to check it out.

We went to what we thought was the entrance, but no one was there, so we walked around the mall below the arena trying to ask people working in the sports shops how to get to the game. They had no clue there was a basketball game on. In the end, someone pointed us toward a sign for a gym, and we hesitantly climbed a staircase, and somehow entered the arena from the back. A janitor showed us to a court where some people were watching the last few minutes of a women’s handball game. Alright then, we thought, we’ll watch this instead. But immediately after it finished (Pristina lost) some tall guys entered and within minutes the basketball started.

Catching a game of basketball in Pristina Kosovo

Now, we’re no big fans of basketball. As a matter of fact, we weren’t even sure how long the quarters were or anything. But the seats filled with a cheering crowd, and there were some old dudes selling waters and spicy seeds that we chewed on forever while watching the game.

And it was really exciting! At first things really didn’t look so good for Pristina, but they turned it around and were in a huge lead at half time. Then the opponents started to catch up, slowly but surely, but in the end didn’t make it all the way.

Have excellent (and cheap) food and drink

Don’t you just love it when the food is top quality and still unbelievably cheap? This is particularly obvious when using euros, a currency I’m familiar with, just not with these low numbers. We had all of our meals out and they were all excellent. There seems to be quite a hipster community in this young capital, so being a vegetarian in Pristina is a breeze. Vegan, too, I would say.

I also really liked that most of the places we wanted to go to were located very close to each other, as the city center is so small, so we could walk around to see what we felt like before deciding.

Here are some places I would particularly recommend:

Green and protein

This was an excellent breakfast place, although a bit pricey for Kosovo, I thought it was good value. We had a huge egg sandwich and an avocado wrap, both of which were very tasty and filling, but still glanced over at the salad bowls and smoothies on the tables next to us. We could’ve returned, which we actually tried, but they were closed.

Breakfast egg sandwich at Green and Protein in Pristina Kosovo

Dit’ e nat’

This bookstore café is all vegetarian, and we tried the vegetarian burger and the ajvar pasta. While neither was outstanding, I particularly enjoyed the fusion of the local ajvar in a foreign dish. The place was also lively on a Friday night, and they serve very cheap beer which I guess was the reason.

Soma Book Station

We were seated outside, which was a bit dark but we didn’t want to move once we were seated, so I didn’t see any books. Maybe they had them, maybe they didn’t. This is a fancier place, sometimes with live music and sometimes with just an excellent playlist on. We had a risotto and a mushroom pasta, which were both excellent, and a white wine that was also very tasty. It was a bit more expensive, but our bill still ended up at like 20 euros for the food and wine for two people. Not bad.

Exterior of Soma Book Station restaurant in Pristina Kosovo

Stay in an old apartment building

We went with a hotel that had great reviews on Booking.com, called Mami’s hostel. It’s located in a regular apartment building, although it has a sign out front so there’s nothing sketchy about it, and the hostel itself is very new and clean. We almost felt like we were the first people to stay there, but I think it’s been around for about a year. And at only 35 euros a night for a double room with balcony and private bath, it was a bargain!

Interior of hotel room with balcony at Mami's hostel, Pristina Kosovo

They don’t have staff, or they do, but they’re not around much. When we booked, we got a code for the entrance, and they left an envelope for us in the reception area with the keycard to our room and some maps of the town. And when we left, we simply put our money in a box along with the card. For us this was not a problem, but I guess if you need more assistance it may not be the place for you.

Six things to do in Pristina, Kosovo Six things to do in Pristina Kosovo
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