Transportation within Kosovo

I thought it would be helpful to give a summary of how to get in/out and around Kosovo for future travelers and potential Peace Corps Volunteers.

Prishtina International Airport (PRN)

This airport is located outside of Kosovo’s capital, Prishtina. It is small.

Flight prices tend to be the highest in July and August, because that is when the Kosovar Diaspora (those living abroad) return to Kosovo for about a month to see their families. In the winter prices are the cheapest, but this is not the best time weather-wise to visit Kosovo.

As an example, my round-trip flight from Chicago to Prishtina in late September was $580 and in March it was $530. I’ve seen prices as low as $450 in the winter. July and August prices triple, costing about $1,500 from Chicago.

My favorite months in Kosovo are September-October and April-June. These months have mild weather and people are out and about without things being overly crowded.

Getting to the city center is simple, but expensive compared to most transportation costs in Kosovo. A taxi ride from the airport to anywhere in Prishtina should cost 15€, but the taxi drivers frequently try to charge up to 30€. If you hold your ground and insist on paying 15€, they will eventually relent. Tipping is not necessary, but a tip of 2-4 Euros is definitely appreciated, especially if you have bags. The trip takes approximately 20 minutes.

Most taxi drivers do not speak English, so make sure you have the address of where you are going to give to them.

Apparently there is a bus to/from the airport, but I’ve never used it. It only goes to the airport at 10:30 AM and 2:35 PM, so those times never lined up for me.

Buses

14523125_318042468555432_8824404030102293907_n (2)You can get almost everywhere in Kosovo by bus. The buses are also quite comfortable, except on hot summer days.

Buses are timely and pretty easy to figure out, even if you do not speak Albanian. The name of the destination and time of departure will be posted on a sign in the front window of the bus. This is the Prishtina bus station’s website: Stacioni i Autobuseve.

I also used this website to figure out bus times while living in Kosovo: Balkan Viator. It is pretty accurate for western cities in Kosovo, but less accurate for eastern cities. Many PCVs, especially those in the east, found this site the most reliable: Gjirafa.

Here is a map of the bus costs from Prishtina to most major cities:

Bus prices in Kosovo

How to Buy Tickets/Pay:

You do not need to purchase bus tickets in advance or make reservations. Simply hop on the bus, find a seat, and wait for the driver’s assistant to walk around and collect money. This typically happens ∼10 minutes into the drive.

When the driver’s assistant comes around, simply say the name of the city you are traveling to and hand him the money. If you are under 30 and say “student” when you pay, you will likely get a discount of 50 cents or a Euro. No need to show a student ID.

You must pay in cash. Smaller bills are preferred. If you try to pay with a bill larger than a 20, they will give you a glare and may not have change. The assistant will probably give you a receipt. This is your ticket, but there is no need to display it anywhere. Sometimes they will not even give you a ticket, because they can just remember who has paid.

In the summer months buses get PACKED, so be sure to hop the bus early enough to get a seat. After the seats are gone people will cram into the aisles and stand. Almost all of the buses do not have air-conditioning, so be warned that traveling by bus in the summer is miserable. It also gets quite stinky. If you must travel by bus in the summer, try to take the buses early in the morning or after dark.

If you are traveling outside of Kosovo, like to a city in Albania, you usually need to make reservations in advance. Most cities have small travel agencies near their bus station where you can buy tickets. A round-trip ticket to many cities along the beach in Albania only costs 8-10€.

Directions from the Bus Station to the City Center:

The Prishtina bus station is outside of the city center, so it can be difficult to find your way on foot the first time. There are plenty of taxis waiting at the bus station and a trip to the center should only cost about 3 or 4€. Me and Bill (2).jpg

Walking to the center takes 20-30 minutes and takes you past the beloved Bill Clinton statue, so I recommend saving your Euros for macchiatos and going on foot! There are no signs to direct you, but you can easily follow the people walking into the city.

Here are basic walking directions from the bus station into the city: Pass under the small bridge and go up the stairs leading toward the apartment buildings. Follow the curving road that passes between the apartment buildings. This will take you to the main road that leads into the city.

Be sure to wave at Bill as you pass!

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