Myths and Facts About Kosovo: Is Kosovo Dangerous?

Urban sunset at Pristina, Kosovo
Urban sunset at Pristina, Kosovo

In the Southern Balkans you shall find Kosovo, a place that has literally divided the nations of the world into two opposing camps: those who recognize it as a country and those who don’t.

Regardless of which side of the equation are you on, there is a growing fear for safety in the minds of many Western travelers who venture to Kosovo.

Urban sunset at Pristina, Kosovo
Urban sunset at Pristina, Kosovo

“Is it safe to travel to Kosovo? Isn’t Kosovo dangerous?” a friend of mine asked me after I told her of my plans to travel to Kosovo for a couple of days.

Here is an article meant to dispel some of the myths and facts about Kosovo but before we start, let’s make a brief pause to explain what’s the deal with Kosovo.

I mean, why is this small piece of land such a polarizing issue?

The vibe of Prizren
The bohemian vibe of Prizren

Travel to Kosovo: A Newborn Nation

A wise man once said that in war there can never be winners and I fully agree with that statement.

In the years before the conflict, Kosovo used to be a province of Serbia with an Albanian majority and after the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 90’s there was a strong call for self-determination which culminated in the armed conflict known as the Kosovo War of Independence (1998-1999).

The Bill Clinton statue in Kosovo
The Bill Clinton statue in Kosovo

I won’t go into details about the atrocities committed during the war by all sides involved but you are free to Google them if you don’t want to sleep tonight. Long story short, the NATO forces led by the United States of America decided to intervene in favor of Kosovo and bombed Serbia and Montenegro.

Today, you can find a huge monument to Bill Clinton in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo and you will be glad to know that Kosovo is one of the few European nations that REALLY loves American visitors.

Isn’t this monument a sight for sore eyes?

Epic sunset at Kosovo
Epic sunset at Kosovo

After the war, Kosovo became part of an overly complicated political situation when it was under the protection of the United Nations (read more about it here) and so it remained for almost a decade until the year 2008.

In 2008, Kosovo was officially recognized as an independent nation by 108 countries in the world (read here the complete list).

Of course, Serbia hasn’t recognized it yet (and let’s be honest, it probably never will).

The friendly people of Kosovo
The friendly people of Kosovo

In the same year, the Newborn monument was erected in Pristina, a symbol of the national identity of Kosovo and a tribute to those who died in the long struggle for independence and self-determination.

Each day, young Kosovans pose in front of it to take a photo and they smile for a brighter future.

If you ever visit Kosovo, I encourage you to do the same.

Street art in Prizren, Kosovo
Street art in Prizren, Kosovo

My experience visiting Kosovo

Without fully agreeing with the political position of neither Serbia nor Kosovo, I can fully understand and empathise with both points of views. However, my role as a world traveler is not to judge or to get myself involved in political issues of the countries I visit. After all, I visit places and people, not governments.

And talking about people, Kosovans are among the kindest ones I have ever met during my travels. “Your money is no good here. Only locals pay. For you it’s free my friend” the restaurant owner told me after I tried to pay my bill.  I guess it’s true that the less you have, the more you are open to give.

Art in Pristina, Kosovo
Art in Pristina, Kosovo

Is Kosovo dangerous? No. At least not more dangerous than any other Western European country. This is a country of young people who love the captivating magic of Kosovo’s capital Pristina: quirky architecture, bohemian cultural venues, amazing nightlife and yes, the best Macchiato outside of Italy. What are you waiting for?

Kosovo is a country that is in constant change and even though I had only planned to stay there for a couple of days, I ended up staying one entire week.

To visit Kosovo is to visit the hidden wonders of one of the least explored places of Europe and I’m sure you’ll love it too.

The religious architecture of Kosovo
The religious architecture of Kosovo

Practical information about Kosovo

Travel to Kosovo can be easily done from Macedonia and Albania by bus at a very low price (the journey from Pristina to Skopje takes about 3 hours and is priced at 7 Euros).

Kosovo uses Euros despite not being part of the Eurozone (similar to the cases of Montenegro and the micro-states of San Marino, Andorra, Vatican City and Monaco) .

If you’re coming from Serbia, you will have no problems crossing to Kosovo, however, travel from Kosovo to Serbia is simply not possible and you will get turned back at the border since from the Serbian point of view, you have illegally entered to their country by using any of Kosovo’s borders.

Confusing, isn’t it?

Murals in Pristina, Kosovo
Murals in Pristina, Kosovo

Once you’re inside Kosovo, travel by bus is one of the best ways to explore the country. What I did was to base myself at Pristina and do day trips to Prizren from there. Here’s some more suggestions about awesome things to do in Kosovo.

Pristina is a bohemian hub for backpackers and you won’t have trouble finding an hostel there, in this case I stayed at the White Tree Hostel where the staff is kind enough to always prepare some of the best Macchiatos for you.

You can make a booking for this and more properties via our Booking.com Affiliate Link of Wonders!

Same price for you and a small pocket money commission for this website of yours.

Sweet deal, uh?

The architecture of Pristina, Kosovo
The architecture of Pristina, Kosovo

Have you ever been to Kosovo? Would you like to? What was your experience in Kosovo like? Share your thoughts and let me know that you think!

Until next time, my friends!

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50 Comments

  • We need to put Kosovo on our travel list. We have heard nothing but positive things from other travelers, who say the same things as you about the friendliness of the people. It is also such a young country (meaning average age of citizens) that adds a lot of excitement to the bohemian vibe I have read so much about. It is a shame that so many countries don’t recognize its existence. I think it’s time to give Kosovo a little more love.

  • This makes me super excited to visit Kosovo in a few weeks! And in two days I’m heading to Romania, so I’m going to go ahead and stalk your Facebook page now for tips :)

  • The last time I was in the area, it was still Yugoslavia. Yes, it was that long ago. It is a region I want to return to, however. Especially as I studied at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. And even more so after reading this excellent overview of the current climate.

  • When I worked in the human rights field, I saw many jobs being advertised for Kosovo. I have several friends who live or have lived there. And I was about to go too, but then decided to do something else. I remember my professor saying that Pristina was perhaps the ugliest city he had ever visited, but from your picture it doesn’t seem like to me!

  • Like Matthew, I was in Kosovo when it was Yugoslavia. My husband and I drove from Austria to Greece, but unfortunately only stopped in Zagreb. One day I may get there; I enjoyed your article.

  • I’m chuckling from the comment at the restaurant that only locals had to pay there! That’s a heck of a lot different from the usual standard that there’s one price for locals and one (much higher) price for tourists. It sounds like there is a lot of warmth and good humor waiting visitors.

  • This sums it up for me, “To visit Kosovo is to visit the hidden wonders of one of the least explored places of Europe”. I would love to visit Kosovo. Thanks for clearing that up.

  • I had to chuckle at that statue of Bill Clinton! I’ve been wanting to visit the Balkans and Kosovo is one of the places I’d like to explore, especially after reading your post. I always love going to places with friendly and good – hearted people.

  • I would love to go to Kosovo and it’s great that now even budget airlines fly there. Hopefully more and more people will visit in the future.

  • Hadn’t heard of this place until now and it looks beautiful! Love your site btw…added to the bookmarks! It’s fantastic!

    Jess

  • Looks like a nice place to me! I loved all the surrounding countries that I’ve been to and places like Sarajevo, the only reason I didn’t visit Kosovo was because I wasn’t in the area long enough. Definitely on the list to go back for though.

  • To be truthful, it has never crossed my mind to visit Kosovo. And not for any particular reason. But after reading this article I’m thinking that maybe I should start to consider it! :)

  • Guys,

    You cannot be serious. Kosovo is nothing but hateful, criminogenic, nothing to see bumfuck. I recently made a short trip there, and I could not believe the level of corruption, from local shop owners to border police officers. Do not event think about driving into this failed country with out-of-state tags. You will get pulled over by police asking for bribe without hesitation.

    Bob

    • Bob Fox I am very sorry to hear this from you for Kosovo and all I can think is that you are a Serbian and you are writing this from hatred for Albanians that are the majority in Kosovo and they have always been.
      and about nothing to see just check to remind you about the mountains probably the best and for sure the last wilderness still in Europe combined with many archaeological sites from Roman empire, monasteries, mosques and churches from 3 religions living together and much more.
      please if you don`t have infos don`t make such an ugly comments.
      actually I agree that the corruption is high but not like you`r saying and especially the Kosovo Police is the most non corrupted police force in the Balkans.

  • Why not take a largely hispanic section of America’s Southwest and declare it an independent country by fiat and then bomb the rest of America into accepting this. Same deal. Kosovo was flooded with Muslim immigrants before ‘independence’ and is an ANCIENT and venerable part of Serbia, the very birthplace of Serbian monasticism and identity.

  • Hi. I’m happy to read such a great article about my conuntry. I’m an Albanian girl (Kosovar) who experienced the war,I was 10 years old,and yes it was terrible,we suffered to much pain from Serbians,they did masacres,killed people and did the genocide over Kosovars. That wasn’t a war,it was an ethnic genocide!!! Now we are free thanks to USA,NATO and UÇK army of Kosovo during war. I’ts time to see the truth,we never make war,me just love being free,indipendent and in peace like the other conuntries. We deserve it. We are old nation,but they never let us grow up. We are magnificient. You said it in your article. We are growing up,with tiny small steps…working hard and learning to much to make a way for Europe. I hope we will do it. With love,from Kosovo the girl from the war. Kind regards

  • Woooow am planning to visit Kosovo on December this year….. Last two years I heard a lot of negative from the country and I was afraid to go…. Is save to go now with no facing any problem

    • Kosovo is a safe country, don’t be afraid. I was born and raised in here and never faced any problems. It may be a bit difficult with the language but you can talk to people even using your hands and signs. If you go around Pristina you may run into a lot of internationals who come to visit or those you live in here.

  • as a citizen of Kosovo, I would like to share some positive and negative things there:

    All people of Kosovo Loves USA and american peoples,
    We Love and respect American culture ( every single man that you ask about the dream country the would say America).
    It’s free to say that this place gives you whatever you want, the things are so cheap,
    there are a beautiful places, such as DRINI I BARDH in Radac, a beautiful city of Prizren, UJVARA E MIRUSHES in Malisheva and others.
    If you ever wanted to have an peaceful life then you are welcome, it’s all what you ever wanted to be or to live, and there’s no danger 100%.
    there are no racism, we are like Universal peoples. so it’s very safe, you won’t be dissapointed

    the only bad thing is that
    You can find a random job, but the salary is pretty cheap.
    Love from Kosovo

  • how does people of kosovo react to black tourist? i am black thinking of visiting a girl i met online. she is from prishtina

    please advise how the locals will feel about seeing a black dude with their local girl.

    • honestly we don’t care much, some people will stare maybe but they won’t say anything because i have seen many black people who have either come here to visit or live here.

  • I am from Kosovo myself, and I haven’t been there in over 5 years as I was busy traveling around the world, however, there are beautiful places to go. I am not a fan of the cities in Kosovo as much as I am a fan of the mountains, rivers and high rocky places. I do skiing every year around the Balkans and it’s great.

    However, I do want all of you to know that Kosovo has/is historically province of Albania but it was annexed by Yugoslavia in 1943. Not all of us support Independence. If the republic must remain, then it can only be under Federation of Albania. As for serbs, they came in the Balkans in 6th century and will soon go back to Russia.

  • My native counrty is kosovo, so we go every year topristina and peja. I recommend you to go to peja because it has a fantastic mountain landscape called rugova.
    Ps: sorry for my bad english

  • Welcome to Sefa Wine, one of the few family estates in Kosovo. Dating back to 1917, three generations of winegrowers were able to pass on their valuable know-how to produce quality wines.

    Mr Labinot Shulina, owner and winemaker, set up his estate in the heights of the town of Rahovec, next to the family house. The ocassion to taste some samples taken from tanks. Red wines from Vranac are fresh, crisp and full of black fruits.

    After this nice tasting, we ended the day with a walk in the 5 hectares of vineyards, located in the surrounding mountains. Under a gentle breeze, this soft spring atmosphere marvelously emphasized the beauty of the place.
    Kosovo is definitely full of (beautiful) surprises!

  • Hello all,

    I have visited Kosovo this summer, and I would like to share my experience.

    Let’s first introduce the framework : I am full native Belgian guy. This means that, my actual holiday destinations are Spain, Turkey or some France, inside tour-operators all-ins resort. Nothing to do in the balkans so far !
    I got the chance, some years ago, to become friend of a family, which is also Belgian native, but with Kosovar origins. In addition, they have a family house there + many family members.
    In addition again, there was a wedding (one of my friend’s cousin) which took place.
    I was invited to spend august there this year, yeehay !

    First, I would like to confirm what Raphael explaines about the restaurant : “Only locals pay. For you it’s free my friend”
    This is definitely true !
    People there are the kindest I’ve ever seen. I would say, they are happy to see we come to visit their country.

    I would add this :
    One afternoon in Ferizaj (shopping city in the south), I was suddenly alone as my friends called into a shop.
    You won’t believe (maybe), but a man stopped, as he probably seen I was stranger, and asked if “i got no problems” and “if everything was fine”. Yes ! He was inquiring about the fact I am OK. Unbelievable.

    For the main question, about the dangerousity of the country, I would say generally that it don’t seem to be more risk than any other place. And my personal feeling is that I feel more secure there, than in Brussels !!
    I would advise, if you go to Kosovo, to just observe usual security measures, nothing more.

    Finally, the quality of food and the price.
    Also unbelievable ! It is true some restaurants serves more traditional food. However, in most cases, the quality is really at the top, and the price is veeeery low. (Around 5-6 € per person, wine included)

    I would also add that the family where I was were more than lovely. I felt myself a member of this family !
    I attend the wedding (300 persons even so), and there was the same feeling. All people open, warm, very respectful and polite. I even felt a member of this big family, despite the fact most people there did ever not know my existence !

    I assume you wouldn’t see this part of my visit (the family), unless you make some kosovar friends, which I naturally highly hope for you ! However, even as a pure tourist, I would advise that you buy a guide, and have a flight to Pristina or Skopje. Believe me, you will not regret. You will have the feeling that you discovered something different, something unknown until then, in brief, you will be happy to have made something else.

    Now, I’m back in Brussels, and crying everyday for Kosovo LOL
    That’s the way life goes !
    All the best,
    Vince

  • I served in Kosovo KFOR in 1999 through 2000. I’m looking to go back as a civilian to see what has changed and determine if my service as peacekeeper really made a difference. I loved the country, loved the people…but like others I am haunted by its history.

    The best and worst parts of my life happened in Kosovo. I would love to go back, have coffee again and visit the schools we helped to reopen after the war.

    I would love to see life, peace and a secure future for the people of Kosovo.

    • You must be aware of radiation or maybe you are not since there was lot of cover up regarding that. when you occupied Kosovo as you know lots of soldiers died few years later and now from leukemia and cancers Italians,Spanish,British after serving there for 6 months just… And you know that NATO is not formed to attack any country only to defend countries in NATO. But because big war machine America insisted to bomb that what your orders were and you got involved. American soldiers knew of DU ammunition being used during bombing of Serbia(Kosovo) and had protective clothing and didnt drink water etc other countries soldiers didnt know it now paying price and yes Du ammunition(depleted uranium) is forbidden to be used but yes for america there is no laws.

  • Some true most not whats written by few Albanians here. Kosovo is and was beautiful also there were more Monasteries build by Serbians before long time ago but got destroyed by Kosovo Albanians, Kosovo is suffering from radiation which NATO brought with bombing Serbian people who lived there on Kosovo for centuries. Bill Clinton statue is there because he helped Uck (ovk) to get power same people who killed Serbs and Albanians on Kosovo are now country leaders (uck was on recognized as terrorist group by British 1996). Same people will go to trial for crimes they committed and they have to because Serbians are always accused but as we know there is always 2 sides to coin. As we know is America used Kosovar people to gain army base and to drop bit of nuclear waste people are dying a lot from cancers . Dont drink water or go to Prizren and Pec mostly affected by radiation. Sorry to write this but Kosovo was majority Serbs before Turks came and that made big difference now lots of Serbian turned to Muslim and lots of them died now Kosovo is what it is but it dosent belong to Albanians only which is case now.

  • We currently live in New Zealand and are planning a few years trip to visit Europe from Westest to East and North to South… Kosovo just made it’s place on our itinerary, thanks to your good words! We like to visit some remote and less known regions and it sounds like we might find just that in Kosovo!

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