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Kosovo

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Hotel Prima Pristina
Hotel Prima Pristina - dream vacation

LIdhja e prizrenit nr 24, Pristina

Hotel City Pristina
Hotel City Pristina - dream vacation

Rr. Ardian Krasniqi nr.3, Pristina

Kosovo (Albanian: Kosova, Serbian: Kосово и Метохија, Kosovo i Metohija) is a country in South Eastern Europe. After a lengthy and often violent dispute with Serbia, Kosovo declared independence in February 2008 and is recognised by about half of the countries around the world, despite heavy opposition from Serbia, which continues to consider Kosovo an illegitimately separated province of Serbia. Kosovo's far north and two small regions elsewhere are under the control of local Serbian authorities, indicating a Serb majority in these parts. Kosovo is largely an Albanian-speaking and Muslim area (though secular), but there are also significant numbers of minorities living within its borders, especially Serbs.

Albania lies to the west, Montenegro to the northwest, Macedonia to the south, and Serbia to the northeast; the Serb frontier is viewed by Serbia as an internal boundary separating Kosovo as an internal province of Serbia.

Cities

  • Pristina – the capital; many parks and a lively downtown are to be found here
  • Brod – one of the most spectacular villages in the Balkans
  • Ferizaj – local church and mosque are literally side by side
  • Gjakova – although heavily damaged in the war, this city features the best nightlife in Kosovo by far, and trips to nearby lakes; the Qarshia (market) has been renovated and is well worth several hours
  • Gračanica – a historic Serbian Orthodox monastery dating to the 14th-16th centuries; inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
  • Kaçanik – a peaceful and quiet town, with an ancient fortress
  • Mitrovica – town divided into southern (Albanian) and northern (Serb) sides, with a wealth of ruined communist industrial architecture; the bridge dividing the city is the political and ethnic dividing line of the country
  • Peja – town with much Ottoman and Orthodox (Serb) heritage. A hub for outdoor sports in the spectacular surrounding mountains: the nearby Rugova Canyon is one of the outstanding areas of the country and a ski site in the winter
  • Prizren – the best preserved Ottoman old town in the country, watched over by a stately hilltop castle

Other destinations

  • Brezovica – a ski resort with old infrastructure but great slopes, located in Sharr Mountains in southern Kosovo.
  • Rugova Canyon – Located in the northwest of Peja, has extremely steep walls possibly up to 300 meters. Has a length of 25 km (16mi) and a depth up to 1,000 metres, making it one of the longest and deepest canyons in Europe.
  • Sharr National Park – proclaimed in 1993 within the temporary boundaries of 39,000 hectare in South Western Kosovo. The Shar Mountains are a mountain range that border the Republic of Macedonia. The Shar Mountains are the home of many animal species, such as bears, wolves, deer, and foxes.

Understand

The population of Kosovo is about 92% Albanian, who use the name Kosova in their Albanian tongue. Although the official name in English Republic of Kosovo is approved by Kosovo's Albanian-speaking authorities, the word Kosova finds its way into the English vernacular of locals.

If you are interested in more than just seeing beautiful mountains and ancient ruins on your vacation to the region, Kosovo strongly recommends itself.

  • Seeing the UN and the international community in action (or lack thereof) is quite interesting.
  • Speaking to people in a post conflict environment is an eye-opener that tends to cause a person to stop thinking of people in countries of civil conflict as simply nuts.
  • You'll get a first hand view of more than 6 different cultures (Albanian, Serb, Roma, Ashkalia, Bosniak, and Turkish)
  • You'll gain an understanding of what happens when governments allow industry to function when both environmental regulations and solid, defensible property rights are scarce.
  • You'll come to enjoy a lot of coffee-shops around Pristina.
  • The Kosovars tend to be very friendly towards the USA for its support of their independence (i.e., they have "Bill Clinton Boulevard" in Pristina, and a large mural of him on the side of a building). They also are very friendly to Western European and Middle Eastern countries.

Climate

The climate is continental, with very warm summers and cold and snowy winters.

Get in

Citizens of countries such as Albania, Australia, Canada, the European Union, CIS, Lebanon, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and Turkey do not need a visa, but if you are planning to stay in Kosovo for more than 90 days you should, as in any other Balkan country, register at the Police Department for the Registration of Foreigners. This is next to the central police station in Pristina. Citizens of other countries that have significantly contributed to the rebuilding of the Kosovo probably also do not need visas either, although Kosovo is starting to implement a stricter visa regime. The 90-day rule for the registration of foreigners applies to everybody [1].

You can enter Kosovo through the northern border with Serbia through Kosovska Mitrovica or near Pristina. There are bus connections from Belgrade and Nis to Pristina and Prizren and from all the major towns in Serbia to the northern parts. Most used transport route is through the Republic of Macedonia and Pristina airport. Skopje is only one and a half hour from the capital city of Kosovo, Pristina. Travelling from Pristina to any other city of Kosovo does not take longer than an hour and a half. For instance, from Pristina to Prizren takes 45 minutes. Travelling to Peć takes a hour and a half.

By plane

Several European airlines have started to offer direct flights from their hubs to the Prishtina International Airport. Examples are easyJet, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Eurowings, Jetairfly, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, SWISS, Edelweiss Air, Croatia Airlines, Air Berlin and Austrian Airlines. Adria Airways has a regional hub in Pristina. During the summer, several additional charter flights are available for travellers.

By bus

From Montenegro, you can enter through Rozaje to Peja/Pec (approximately 2.0 hours).

From Macedonia (Skopje), you can take a bus to Pristina (less than 1.5 h)

There is a border crossing in the Presevo Valley in Serbia.

There are a couple companies offering buses from Istanbul via Skopje.

From Albania, you can enter through Prizren on a nice new road; gone are the days of the "nightmare" 10-hour mountain ride. The trip from Tirane costs 10€ and takes less than 4 hours, with two stops.

By train

There are also trains crossing the Kosovo border. Two daily services connects Kraljevo in Serbia with all towns on the Leshak, Fushë Kosovë (Kosovo Polje). Connections from Beograd are possible but includes a long stay between train at Kraljevo, thus bringing the journey to more than 12 hours for 399 km. This service has vanished from Kosovo Railways' timetable but it is reported that Serbian Railways run a twice daily service from Zvecan (just after Mitrovica) all the way to Kraljevo. Check their homepage for details. No passenger trains run between Fushe Kovove/Kosovo Polje – Mitrovica – Zvecan.

Since March 1, 2006, an identical service, twice daily, has run from Skopje in Macedonia to Pristina in Kosovo. It is hard to gets timings for these trains. Trains are very slow and convey second class only, but they give the opportunity to see a lot of the country and are a good value at approximately €4 each way.

This service has been reduced to once daily, leaving Pristina at 7.10, arriving in Skopje at 09.52 (return leaving Skopje at 16:35). The timetable is available at the Kosovo Railways website.

By car

To enter Kosovo, the validity and acceptance of the International Motor Insurance Card is in doubt. At the border you will need to pay €30 for an insurance extra which will cover you throughout Kosovo for two weeks. Ensure also that you have your vehicle registration and a power of attorney from the owner if the car is not yours. During the summer holidays in Germany and Switzerland expect long queues at the border crossing in Merdare (up to 3 hours).

Get around

By bus

The best way to travel intercity in Kosovo is by bus. The buses are relatively cheap (Pristina to Peja, €4).

By train

in 2006, Kosovan Railways (Kosovske Zeleznice – Hekurudhat e Kosovës) [2] were running the following passenger train services: from Fushë Kosovë (Serbian: Kosovo Polje; a city near Pristina) to Leshak (a town North at the Serb frontier) three trains a day. From Fushë Kosovë at 07.35, 11.18 and 14.15 and from Leshak at 09.55, 13.19 and 16.50. The train passes through most of the Serbian enclaves that are strung up through the northern part of Kosovo. The system is seen as a way of helping to make the lives of the Serbs in the enclaves easier but also as a way to help integration. The service is free of charge to local people. Another service runs twice a day from Fushë Kosovë at 04.17 and 19.00 to Hani i Elezit (former General Jankovic) on the border to Macedonia, return journeys from Hani i Elezit starts at 05.53 and 20.44. A local suburban services runs from Fushë Kosovë to Grazhanica with departures from F. Kosovë at 05.40 and 19.17, returning from Grazhanica at 06.30 and 20.05.

There are two daily trains from Pristina to Peja/Pec which are a comfortable way to make this journey (€3). The service to Gracanica has been suspended, and the service Fushe Kosovo to Leshak seems to have been taken over by Serbian Railways between Zvecan and Lesak (no trains between Fushë Kosovë – Mitrovica – Zvecan)

By car

In addition to the traffic jams on the highways leading to Pristina, and narrow roads full of turns through the craggy mountains elsewhere, Kosovo has furious and careless drivers who like to use their horns constantly—it's best to park your car somewhere safe and pick up public transportation or settle with a taxi driver for a price for the day.

Should you find yourself still wanting to drive around no matter what, you can get a superb atlas of Kosovo from the OSCE that has detailed ethnic maps (before and after the war), vital statistics, along with navigational maps. To get the map, ask for the NGO Information office near the OSCE building in Pristina.

In the supposedly bilingual country, all highway directional signs show the names of the towns in Albanian and Serbian (the Kosovar government prefers the Roman alphabet for all official use of Serbian); sometimes a third language joins in the fun as well, such as Turkish in Prizren. However, as a matter of national pride, in many locations, either one of the languages (read: "Serbian" for the most of the cases) has been crossed out by the locals, which is kind of convenient so you know the wrong language to avoid, and won't meet with angered locals by trying a smattering of it on them.

Talk

Most people in Kosovo speak Albanian. Although almost everyone understands Serbian, it may result in hostile reactions from the mostly Albanian population. Many people in northern Kosovo are ethnic Serbs, so Serbian will come in handy there.

English and German are the most commonly spoken foreign languages. Italian is also spoken to a lesser extent. Russian may be spoken by some, particularly older, people.

The Turkish minority speaks Turkish and Albanian.

See

  • Pristina is the capital city of Kosovo. Places that should be visited in Pristina is the quarter near the National Museum of Kosova. In addition to visiting the museum where a lot of archaeological artifacts are presented, in both ways when you exit, you see the old mosques from the Ottoman Empire era.
  • Waterfall of the Drini River – Located north of Peja behind the Berdynaj village. During the summer, this place is fantastic, and the road to the river is an amazing, narrow road with wires on one side and the river on the other; this is a great part of Kosovo.
  • The Peć Patriarchy. The Peć patriarchy lies 2 km to the north west of the Peja (Pec) city center. This location was the seat of the Patriarchy of the Serbian Orthodox Church starting in 1302 and for many Serbs is considered to be of extreme national importance. All of the Serbs who lived in Peja have either left or been forced to do so by Albanian nationalists leaving the Patriarchy to be heavily guarded by NATO troops, with a few remaining clergy. It is a beautiful monastery with many spectacular paintings. If you go, dress conservatively.
  • The Rugova Gorge. The Rugova gorge is also to the north west of Peja and can be found by following the same road that leads to the Pec Patriarchy. Just drive further. The canyon has extremely steep walls reaching possibly up to 300 meters.
  • The Gjakova Old Bazaar. A very beautiful old "shopping center" from 17th century. It was burned down during the war in 1999 and reconstructed recently. Also in the center of the bazaar is located an old mosque that was built in the 15th century.
  • The Mitrovica Bridge. An interesting symbol of the division of the population in Kosovo. This bridge is the dividing line between Serbs and Albanians in Mitrovice/Mitrovica. It will almost always be safe to approach the bridge and look at it, although the French soldiers who guard it may not let you cross if the political situation is worse than average (average not being so good).
  • Prizren. The most historical city in Kosovo. It has plenty of examples of beautiful Islamic architecture.
  • The Roma quarter (mahalla) in Gjilan. Gjilan is located to the South East of Pristina.
  • Brezovica Ski Centre – Old infrastructure but great slopes, located in Southern Kosova.
  • Novo Brdo (in Latin documents written as Novaberd, Novus Mons or Novamonte; and in Saxon miners' documents as Nyeuberghe) was mentioned in the historical documents as early as 1326. Novo Brdo was a metropolis at the time, with a huge medieval fortress built on the top of an extinct volcano cone, the remains of which can be visited today, and residential sections sprawling all around. In the outer wall of the fortress, a large cross is visible, built into the stones. The castle, or fortress, was thought at one point to have dated back to the Byzantine Empire.
  • Ulpiana, one of the oldest cities in the Balkan peninsula, is just 20–30 minutes away from Pristina towards Gjilan and that is the city that is known to have been re-constructed by Justinian I emperior.

Medieval Monuments in Kosovo

A UNESCO World Heritage listing consisting of four religious edifices:

  • Decani Monastery – One of the most important monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo. It is famous for its elegant and peculiar architecture. As an orthodox monastery from the 13th century, it successfully mixes western and eastern church building elements to form a particular hybrid style only known on the territory of old Serbia. This monastery is particularly noted for some of the world's finest medieval frescoes adorning its walls.
  • Gračanica (Kosovo) Monastery – One of the most beautiful examples of Serbian medieval (14th c.) ecclesiastical architecture. This monastery was built by the Serbian king Milutin in the Serbo-Byzantine style, reportedly its shape being inspired by a cloud. It is noted for its frescoes, and being the only medieval Serbian monastery found in an urban setting complete with an old school and archives.
  • Our Lady of Ljeviš – in Prizren, southern Kosovo
  • Monastery of the Patriarchate of Peć

Do

Visit a coffee shop in Pristina, and have a macchiato.

Buy

Money

Kosovo uses the euro. It is one of several European countries that uses this common currency. All euro banknotes and coins are legal tender within all the countries.

One euro is divided into 100 cents.

The official symbol for the euro is €, and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.

  • Banknotes: Euro banknotes have the same design in all the countries.
  • Normal coins: All eurozone countries have coins issued with a distinctive national design on one side, and a standard common design on the other side. Coins can be used in any eurozone country, regardless of the design used (e.g. a one-euro coin from Finland can be used in Portugal).
  • Commemorative two euro coins: These differ from normal two euro coins only in their "national" side and circulate freely as legal tender. Each country may produce a certain amount of them as part of their normal coin production and sometimes "Europe-wide" two euro coins are produced to commemorate special events (e.g. the anniversary of important treaties).
  • Other commemorative coins: Commemorative coins of other amounts (e.g. ten euros or more) are much rarer, and have entirely special designs and often contain non-negligible amounts of gold, silver or platinum. While they are technically legal tender at face value, their material or collector value is usually much higher and, as such, you will most likely not find them in actual circulation.

In Serbian municipalities

The Serbian dinar is the official currency in the Serbian-ruled four northern municipalities and in larger enclaves with Serbian majority such as Gracanica and Strpce. Exchange offices are found almost everywhere. Note that while euros are accepted generally, all prices are listed in dinar.

Tipping

In Kosovo generally tipping is not expected by anyone. In Albanian parts, tipping is generally not recommended at all.

Eat

Best restaurants to eat at are those that are located in the villages near by big cities; they tend to have the best meat dishes and the best sea food. Trout, seabass and salmon fish are very common and popular and are kept fresh in their pools and are nearly always fried when you order. Prices are pretty average and, for some European countries consider, cheap.

Lots of great burek (baked pastry stuffed with cheese, meat or spinach). Try the drinkable yogurt (Ayran)—it's superb. Lots of kebabs and other Ottoman Turkish style food.

As far as you are in an Albanian territory, you could try Albanian food as well. Fli, a very good pastry, can be found in different traditional restaurants.

At the bakery, you can buy a fantastic loaf of bread for under €1.

The grocery stores have a plentiful supply of Western food.

Drink

Alcoholic:

Beer at Peja is a pretty good brew. It is brewed in Peja (Pec). Peja Premium is a slightly stronger beer from the same brewery but less widely available. Sabaja is the second beer in Kosova. It is a home brew beer and it's ale (not pilsner). It is mostly found in Pristina but maybe also in different cities.

Kosova was very known for wine production. There are a lot of plantations on the south side of Kosova. The price is ridiculously cheap and the taste is good enough. Even though the Albanians are predominantly of Muslim heritage, drinking is quite liberal.

Raki is also another alcoholic beverage in Kosova. It is made from local fruits (the most common one is from grape) and can be best described as a hard liquor similar to vodka. It can be quite strong so if you have a weak stomach or do not often drink liquor, avoid this beverage.

Non-Alcoholic:

Yogurt/Ayran is common local drink and is consumed with pastry foods.

Boza is also another common sweet drink drank with cakes and pastries.

Frutomania and Ask produce 100% natural juices and they're quite common in Kosovo.

Sleep

Accommodation in Kosovo can be expensive in hotels, but in Pristina and Prizren cheap accommodation (hostels or apartments) is very easy to find.

Basically you can find:

  • Apartments
  • Hostels
  • Small hotels (motels)
  • Two and three star hotels (more common)
  • At least two five star hotels in Pristina

Stay safe

Avoid getting too much into politics in Kosovo, although ask as many questions (within reason) as you like. They are very open about their hatred of each other and more than willing to tell you about it.

Don’t let the politics stop you from visiting; tensions have risen in a few moments in the past decade, but nearly all have been in the divided city of Mitrovica in the north of the country and with a more than 10,000-person NATO peacekeeping force and a large international police force, you are very safe from pretty much everything and the chance of a full out conflict is very low with such international supervision and even if one is to occur, all foreigners would be evacuated within 48 hours. You will most likely find peacekeeping soldiers from your own country to help you if you need it.

There is pretty much no physical or criminal dangers you need to worry about people in general—both Albanians and Serbs—are extremely friendly and hospitable to tourists. Kosovo is a country that is used to having a vast amount of foreigners from all over the world. Since the end of the war, there were more than 200,000 international workers from over the world came to aid the rebuilding and peace effort in the country and the locals are very used to people from outside and very friendly.

The corruption level is extremely low and the Kosovo police corruption is again very low thanks to the supervision of the EULEX international police, which means it is one of the only countries in Eastern Europe where bribery is pretty much unheard of unless you have committed a major crime and are offering tends of thousands, but that is a different story between the police and organised crime and has nothing to do with regular people and tourists.

Use only registered taxis as they have fixed fares and you will not get scammed with unlicensed taxis; they are safe, but they will always scam you if you use the meter, so if you have to use an unlicensed taxi, make sure you come to a deal before hand so he does not use the meter.

Homophobia is some what of an issue and people don’t take kindly to homosexuals, but again, physical harm is not an issue unless you openly display affection or manners.

Land mines

Like much of the Balkans, land mines were heavily used during the Yugoslav civil wars. Though this was a major problem in the country in the first four years after the war, now it’s a very rare that you encounter them, most suspicious areas are listed in local tour guide books, most of the mined areas are places where conflict took place (Central Kosovo countryside and Kosovo–Albania border region).

It's very safe to go hiking and camping—just ask before you do so to make sure it's not a suspicious area and most hiking and camping takes place in areas where war did not occur, like the Sharr mountains where there is a ski and camping resort.

Open manholes

Manholes are sometimes stolen to sell as scrap metal. Therefore, one should be aware of uncovered manholes. Whilst not an issue on busy city streets, walking even a few kilometers outside downtown Pristina can be dangerous—particularly when walking in tall grass beside roads or sidewalks. Local residents have been known to use a small pile of sticks and stones to cover an open sewer pit and care should be taken not to step on these either.

Stay healthy

It is possible for foreigners to obtain treatment at the public hospital in Pristina (staff from your accommodation may come in handy as translators). However, the state of the hospital is far from ideal: The toilets have no soap, infusions are hanging from improvised stands. Kosovo has no public health insurance system and you will be required to pay your bill in cash. A visit to the doctor and a few pills from the pharmacy will cost you around 20 €. If you know what you need you may visit the pharmacy directly as no prescription is needed.

Rabies

Don't try to pet any dogs you may come across, stay away from them!

Whilst most dogs are not aggressive when they are in packs, they can very well be, so make sure you stay away and don’t run away from them either as dogs chase you when you run; some times, the best defense is an attack so charging at them a little usually scares them away. But again, this is only a problem in the outskirts of the cities and at night, as during the day, you will hardly encounter them and they will stay away from humans.

Go next

There are flights from Pristina International Airport to London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Hannover, Bremen, Munich, Stuttgart, Geneva, Zurich, Vienna, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Rome, Milan-Bergamo, Verona, Budapest, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Podgorica, Tirana, Istanbul and Antalya. Soon, there will be direct flights to Sarajevo and other destinations.

There are direct bus links to most cities in Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Albania, Turkey, Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Note that if you plan to go to Russia after Kosovo, you may encounter a bit of trouble entering the country as Russia still considers the declaration of independence of Kosovo to be illegal.

Hear about hiking the Peaks of the Balkans trail in Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro as the Amateur Traveler talks to Dan and Audrey from uncorneredmarket.com about this off the beaten track route in Europe.

Kosovo: The Bradt Travel Guide

Verena Knaus

Kosovo is ringed by high mountains, ravaged by ethnic tensions, yet its renaissance is just a breath away. Rebuilding is all but complete, domestic tensions have eased and with the help of welcoming Kosovars, the country is emerging as one of the most exciting tourist destinations in southeastern Europe. Written by two Kosovo experts, who lived in the newly independent state for many years, Bradt's Kosovo explores gorges and mountains, mosques and kullas, and soaks up the café culture with a macchiato or a glass of fiery raki. From hip urban hotspots to remote monasteries, Kosovo offers up many delights to the adventurous traveller who steps off the beaten path. With revised and detailed descriptions of the growing number of restaurants, bars and shops, plus accommodation to suit all budgets, this second edition to a groundbreaking guide is a vital tool for tourists, NGOs and long-term visitors.

‘A book that educates and stimulates.' Real Travel

KOSOVO Country Studies: A brief, comprehensive study of Kosovo

CIA

A brief yet detailed report on the country of Kosovo with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.

Kosovo Map (English, French, Italian, German and Russian Edition)

GiziMap

Folded, detailed road map of Kosovo with hypsometric color shading depicting elevation. Map shows distances in kilometers, road numbers, administrative boundaries, railways, parks, historical sites, points of interest and natural features. Includes index of placenames. Scale is 1:250,000.

City Maps Pristina Kosovo

James McFee

City Maps Pristina Kosovo is an easy to use small pocket book filled with all you need for your stay in the big city. Attractions, pubs, bars, restaurants, museums, convenience stores, clothing stores, shopping centers, marketplaces, police, emergency facilities and the list goes on and on. This collection of maps is up to date with the latest developments of the city. This city map is a must if you wish to enjoy the city without internet connection.

City Maps Prizren Kosovo

James McFee

City Maps Prizren Kosovo is an easy to use small pocket book filled with all you need for your stay in the big city. Attractions, pubs, bars, restaurants, museums, convenience stores, clothing stores, shopping centers, marketplaces, police, emergency facilities are only some of the places you will find in this map. This collection of maps is up to date with the latest developments of the city as of 2017. We hope you let this map be part of yet another fun Prizren adventure :)

Kosovo: Kosovo- New born state in ten pages.

Fatih Sylka

This is a ten page ebook for all people around the world who want to know better Kosovo- the new born state. It includes everything what you need to know about Kosovo, described with pictures and text. From "Kosovo in a few words" to Sports in Kosovo, described in every detail, in a single ebook.

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Northern Kosovo (see Advisory)

The level of tension remains elevated in the municipalities of Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic and the northern part of the city of Mitrovica. Protests, as well as political and inter-ethnic violence, may occur at any time. 

There is limited freedom of movement at the border crossings of Brnjak and Jarinje (also known as Gate 1 and Gate 31). Avoid travelling in these areas until the security situation improves. If required to travel in these areas, be vigilant, avoid crowds and demonstrations, and follow the advice of local authorities.

Political tension

Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008, and Canada recognized Kosovo on March 18, 2008. However, the Serbian government has not recognized Kosovo and continues to challenge the legality of its unilateral declaration of independence. Direct bilateral talks between Serbia and Kosovo began in March 2011 in Brussels, Belgium, under European Union mediation.

The United Nations (UN) agreed to the reconfiguration of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and the European Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) started its mandate on December 9, 2008. The Kosovo Force (KFOR) led by NATO remains in Kosovo and continues to contribute toward maintaining a safe and secure environment.

Crime

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and purse snatching is prevalent. Foreigners could be targeted by thieves, especially in crowded public areas such as markets and public transportation facilities, particularly in Pristina. Carjacking and car theft also occur.

Should you see an unattended bag, suspicious device or anything out of the ordinary, you are advised to immediately report to the appropriate local authorities. The UN has advised its staff to check under and around their vehicles before they are driven.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Landmines and unexploded ordnance

International explosive ordnance disposal teams have cleared all major routes and population centres. They have marked remaining sites known to contain mines or other unexploded ordnance (UXO). However, unexploded landmines may remain along the Albania-Kosovo border. UXO, particularly cluster bombs, is a problem throughout rural areas, and can also be found in urban areas. Off-road travel and hiking in wooded areas can be dangerous. Exercise vigilance and avoid taking risks.

Road travel

Secondary roads are often narrow and poorly maintained.

Travel to Mitrovica North may be restricted and requires approval from UNMIK.

There have been incidents where police target vehicles with foreign plates, often demanding immediate cash payment for alleged traffic violations. If stopped, you should request a full explanation and, if an explanation is not forthcoming, request permission to speak to the Embassy of Canada to Croatia in Zagreb.

Public transportation

Public transportation is old and overcrowded. Periodic disruptions of bus service may occur. Rail services are generally poor. Use only officially marked taxis and negotiate fares in advance if a meter is not in use.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash.

Emergency services

Dial 92 for police, 93 for fire fighters, 94 for an ambulance and 987 for roadside assistance.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • This territory has not stated its yellow fever vaccination certificate requirements.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Southern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Southern Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Southern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical care is not up to Western standards. Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of a serious illness or injury. Physicians and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

A serious violation of law may lead to a jail sentence, which will be served in local prisons.

Illegal activities

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Photography of military or police installations, vehicles and personnel is prohibited.

Homosexuality

Homosexuality is not widely accepted in Kosovo.

Driving laws

An International Driving Permit is recommended. Always carry identification and vehicle registration papers. Third-party automobile insurance is mandatory and can be purchased upon entry into Kosovo.

Drivers of vehicles bearing foreign licence plates must pay for compulsory third-party Green Card insurance.

Road tolls must be paid in local currency. Posted speed limits are strictly enforced.

Money

The currency used throughout Kosovo is the euro (EUR). The economy is largely cash-based. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are available in urban centres.

Climate

Kosovo is located in an active seismic zone.

Bush and forest fires are common between June and September, particularly in northern Kosovo. In case of a major fire, stay away from the affected area, follow the advice of local emergency services personnel, and monitor local media for up-to-date information. The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke and could affect travellers with respiratory ailments. For assistance, contact the Embassy of Canada to Croatia in Zagreb.