Pristina Warnings and Dangers
Pristina is worth a visit as the capital of Kosovo, with a thriving nightlife and strong cultural significance.
Soccer games between Albania and Serbia lead to great excitement, in case you favor Serbia keep quiet about it! Every cafe or restaurant will be completely packed and probably with next to no service, as the waiter is also busy watching the game.
Crossing the Street
I’m used to chaos on the roads. After living in the Middle East, crossing a busy road can often seem a life-threatening experience, but at least you know the drivers will swerve to avoid you. In the Balkans, matters are confused by the addition of crossing points. Green man or no green man, always look both ways before stepping out into the road! Forget what flashing green man may mean in your country!
Take a torch (flashlight)! Prishtina is a city of potholes and frequent electricity cuts, and the two combined make for exciting escapades if walking around at night. The main cafes, restaurants, bars, shops and hotels all have generators (noisy ones, often), but some streets can be pitch black. It didn’t feel particularly menacing or edgy whenever the power cut out and all went dark, but the chances of falling down a hole were raised up a notch or two.
Prishtina has a number of ATMs (cash points for us Brits) dotted around, most claiming to accept Maestro, Visa and MasterCard. In practice, only a few of them actually do, and nine times out of ten your card will be refused. Once you learn which ATMs accept your card, remember them! Changing cash is more tricky than it needs to be. After being used to the sight of hundreds of exchange offices in Sofia and Skopje, I naively thought Prishtina would be the same. It isn’t. Close to the market, where the market spills into the main road, a huddle of moneychangers stand touting for business. I’m not sure how legal it is to change money with them, but they do stand outside proper exchange offices which will convert most currencies, including Macedonian and Bulgarian, and give you a receipt. However, this does seem to be the only location in the whole city where you can change cash. Bring Euros. The Euro has been adopted as the local currency in Kosovo.
When traveling outside of Pristina, be aware of the numerous Serbian enclaves scattered throughout the province. Though Kosovo is very safe, these enclaves can prove to be the exception to the rule, as they tend to be high profile and the targets of isolated attacks. Often ethnic Albanians are not allowed to enter the Serbian enclaves. To help protect the minority Serbs, Kosovo’s Serbian enclaves are protected by NATO’s KFOR forces.
Be Respectful of Women in Bars
Numerous people have informed me that western men often get themselves into trouble when flirting with Kosovar Albanian women at bars in Pristina. While the Kosovars have a deep appreciation for the efforts of western governments in developing their country/province, they can also be quite traditional when it comes to male-female relationships. My suggestion would be to not approach women in Kosovo before they approach you first.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about possible dangers in Pristina.