Pristina is one of the youngest cities in Europe, nearly half its population is under the age of 30, and this is reflected in its vibrant bar and cafe scene. It’s also one of the friendliest cities in Europe; you’ll find it hard not to make friends just walking down its pedestrian Mother Theresa Boulevard, where events from beer festivals to concerts are held all year round.
But while Kosovo’s capital radiates youth, it is also infused with history. The city’s large international population of foreign diplomatic staff, NGO employees and curious students are as much a testament to the ongoing nation-building project as the Bill Clinton statue (the only of its kind in the world), sitting on the street that shares the American president’s name.
Pristina’s multi-layered architecture starts with an Ottoman street plan including three central mosques making way for Yugoslavian Communist municipal public buildings and topped with post war fast built residential and business spaces. Particularly iconic to Pristina’s architecture is the National Library– in 2009 it was voted one of the most ugly buildings in the world.
Take a walk up to the partisan’s memorial commemorating resistance fighters who perished during World War Two, and not only are you treated to a slice of the past, but also one of the best views of the city. Or travel a little further back in time to one of the many grand mosques erected during the 500 year Ottoman occupation. Nearby, you can visit the National Museum of Kosovo, which was built according to Austro-Hungarian style architecture in 1889.Of course, if you like your history a little more alive, take a stroll to the old town and sit in one of the many ‘cajtore’ to sip endless cups of Turkish tea with the old men who seem to spend all day there. If you’re a fan of theatre, you’re in luck, because Pristina has three. It’s national theatre, as well as hosting productions from both Kosovar and foreign companies, is also the hub for many of Kosovo’s international film festivals.
As well as being a fascinating and enchanting (be careful, many find Pristina a hard place to leave) city, Kosovo’s capital is a great hub for exploring all the country has to offer. And it really does have a lot to offer: Hiking in the Rrugova Mountains, visiting the divided city of Mitrovica, rubbing shoulders with international filmmakers at Prizren’s annual ‘DokuFest’ film festival, taking a summer swim in the cascading Mirusha waterfalls, skiing in Brezrovica, or taking a rakia tasting tour in the countryside.
For nature lovers looking for a great day hike or picnic spot you can check out Germia Park in Pristina. The 62-km2 park is a portion of the Rhodope Mountains. During the summertime you can cool off and drink beer at the refreshing lake size swimming pool. There are both hiking and mountain biking trails throughout the park. Year round you can rent bikes at the entrance or go for a stroll and stop for a bite to eat at one of the restaurants.
Stroll down the main boulevard and you will see a variety of café’s to stop and enjoy a delicious macchiato, a coffee perfected in Pristina. You can stop by a local tavern on Raki Street and drink raki (homemade brandy) all day with natives while treating your taste buds to mouth-watering local cuisine for cheap! After eating, check out Pristina’s great nightlife where locals favor the electronic scene and there are several bars/clubs hosting great parties every night of the week. Pristina has something to offer everyone from its developing infrastructure and state building to cheap drinks, fantastic parties and beautiful sites! Visit Pristina and experience Europe’s youngest country!