Kosovo travel guide
Depending on your global perspective, Kosovo is either Europe’s youngest nation or not a nation at all. Since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008 it has received only partial recognition as a sovereign state by members of the United Nations. Its fragile footing and wretched modern history might make Kosovo an unlikely travel destination, but the country can be extremely rewarding for those keen to find out what lies beyond the headlines.
Cultures and religions have been clashing in modern day Kosovo for centuries, but between the periods of unrest, this small, landlocked country has pioneered peaceful coexistence and mutual enrichment of cultures. While Muslim Albanians dominate the population today, followed by Orthodox Christian Serbs, there are many other groups with their own unique cultures and ways of life.
Granted, roadside memorials and the occasional khaki-clad NATO soldier can make its cruel past somewhat hard to forget, but historic spots such as Janjevo and the UNESCO-listed Dečani Monastery showcase a distinguished Kosovan history that has been overshadowed by the recent catalogue of horrors.
Europe’s youngest capital, Pristina, is an increasingly eclectic city with a vibrant café culture, but pretty Prizren is the city that has most visitors smitten. Cobbled streets, ancient walls, Ottoman mosques and Orthodox churches lend a romantic air to this riverside town, while the popular Dokufest Film Festival and Hasi Jehon folklore festival give credence to its status as a cultural capital.
Much of the Kosovan countryside is uncharted territory for tourists, but dramatic mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls and limpid lakes are tailor made for adventure travellers. Combine all this with decidedly un-European prices and it’s not hard to see why visitor numbers are rising.
Whether you’re sipping coffee in cosmopolitan cafés, hiking through the hinterland or visiting crumbling historic sites, in Kosovo, when you look beyond yesterday’s headlines, you’ll find an affable land of surprising beauty.
10,887 sq km (4,203 sq miles).
1,883,018 (CIA estimate 2016).
171.9 per sq km.
President Hashim Thaçi since 2016.
Prime Minister Isa Mustafa since 2014.
230 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two round pins are used.
Last updated: 09 September 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Foreign travel advice
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to the municipalities of Zvečan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic, and to the northern part of the city of Mitrovica.
The frequency of protests in central Pristina has subsided of late but more are possible in the coming weeks. Protests have the potential to turn violent, you should take care if you see large crowds gathering during heightened political tensions in the city. Check local media, consult hotel receptions for advice and regularly review information on this site for updates.
There have been violent clashes in the north of Kosovo and incidents involving grenades and vehicle explosions in northern Mitrovica. Be cautious and avoid public gatherings, particularly around the Austerlitz Bridge area which separates Mitrovica north and south.
It’s possible to travel from Serbia into Kosovo, and back again. You’ll probably encounter problems entering Serbia from Kosovo if your passport shows you entered Kosovo directly from anywhere else other than Serbia. If tensions rise in the north it’s better to avoid border crossing Gates 1 and 31 (Leposavic and Zubin Potok).
Residual landmines and other unexploded ordnance remain in Kosovo, although all roads and tracks have been cleared.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Kosovo.
Most visits to Kosovo are trouble-free.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.
Safety and security
Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from street crime. Watch out for pick-pockets particularly in airports and on public transport. As a foreigner, you may be a target for criminals who may assume you are carrying large amounts of cash. Four wheel drive and luxury vehicles are also popular targets. Report all incidents of crime to the local police and get a report.
Isolated incidents of armed violence and vehicle explosions in major cities are usually linked to organised crime and not directed against foreigners.
Check local developments before and during your journey. In the event of civil disorder, stay at home and restrict your movements as much as possible, especially after dark. Avoid public gatherings, political rallies and protests
There is still some danger from residual mines and other unexploded ordnance left over from the 1999 conflict. The main areas of risk are on the border with Albania, in the Dulje Pass area (in central Kosovo), in the west and south of the country and in the mountainous region between South Serbia’s Presevo Valley and Kosovo.
Take care when travelling in all these areas, and keep to the main roads. Most of the remaining dangerous areas are in high mountainous regions covered with dense vegetation. If you see anything suspicious, don’t touch it, but report it immediately to the police or the nearest KFOR patrol.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the municipalities of Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic, and to the northern part of the city of Mitrovica due to occasional violence and security incidents there. Avoid travelling between Kosovo and Serbia via Gate 1 (Leposavic) or Gate 31 (Zubin Potok). You should find alternative routes for travel between Kosovo and Serbia where possible.
The standard of roads varies from fair to poor. Roads are particularly bad in rural areas and after bad weather. There is a risk of landslides and flooding. You should avoid travelling at night if possible.
You can drive using a UK driving licence. You must have vehicle registration and ownership documents and a locally valid insurance policy. European Green Card vehicle insurance isn’t valid. You should buy local third party insurance at the border or from the nearest town at the earliest opportunity. Make sure you have enough cash in Euros to pay for insurance and fuel. The quality of fuel varies. There are sometimes delays at the border crossings between Kosovo and Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania, and Kosovo and Serbia. These are common around festive periods and during the summer months.
Many Serbian car hire firms will not allow their vehicles to be driven in Kosovo, and vice-versa, due to concerns about the security situation. There have been some incidents where Serbian registered cars have been targeted in more isolated areas of Kosovo.
Taxis are readily available in Pristina, but the condition of the vehicle and standard of driving vary. You should use authorised taxi firms where possible.
Buses connecting Pristina with other major cities are frequent, standards may vary, but reputable companies can be found.
Trainkos operate regular services from Skopje to Pristina (via Hani i Elezit) and also from Pristina to Peja/Pec. Trains are slow, but generally reliable.
The political situation is generally calm, but in recent months there have been anti-government protests mainly in Pristina and other towns like Gjakova. Protests in Pristina can turn violent.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Kosovo. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Terrorists may target religious sites, including churches.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws and customs
Drug laws are similar to those in the UK. Possession or trafficking of drugs usually attract a lengthy prison sentence.
There are no laws against homosexual activity or same-sex couples in Kosovo. However, Kosovo is a conservative society and homosexual activity is not generally tolerated.
Taking photographs of military/police installations, personnel or vehicles may lead to difficulties with the authorities.
Carry your passport with you for identification purposes and keep a copy separately in a safe place.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
British nationals don’t need a visa to enter Kosovo. You may be asked to provide documentary evidence giving a reason for your stay. A 90-day entry stamp will be issued which is renewable for longer stays. Since 8 May 2013 citizens of EU member states can enter Kosovo on a photo ID card. A photo ID driving licence does not constitute a valid ID card for cross-border travel and British nationals still need to enter Kosovo with a valid passport. With effect from 1 July, Kosovo introduced a visa regime for the nationalities listed on the Kosovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
The authorities in Serbia don’t consider the designated crossing points from Kosovo to be official ‘international’ border crossing points.
Foreign nationals have been denied entry to Serbia if they have Republic of Kosovo stamps in their passports and the Serbian authorities may not allow you to travel into Serbia if you hold these stamps. We are also aware of isolated incidents where Serbian authorities have cancelled Kosovo stamps in passports of foreign nationals.
You cannot travel directly from Kosovo into Serbia if you don’t have a valid entry stamp from either Belgrade airport or one of the Serbia’s border crossings with Montenegro, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria or Macedonia; you will be refused entry without an existing valid Serbian entry stamp. You should take a route which transits a third country. For more information please visit the website of the Serbian Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Your passport must be undamaged and valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Kosovo.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
The health system in Kosovo is poorly funded. Hospitals lack specialist equipment and there is a widespread shortage of medicines and other essentials. Many doctors and nurses lack training in modern techniques and practices. A small payment in cash (currently €4) is required for treatment but you should make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever is endemic in Kosovo. Most cases occur in the region around Malishevë/o (central Kosovo), but during the summer months other rural areas of Kosovo can be affected.
Mosquito-borne diseases are present, including West Nile virus.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 94 from a landline or 194 from a mobile and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
During especially hot and dry periods there is a danger of forest fires. Take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas. Make sure cigarettes are properly extinguished, and don’t light barbecues.
Kosovo lies in a seismically active zone, and earth tremors are common. The last significant earthquake, of magnitude 4.5, happened in 2010 around 90km north of Pristina.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after and earthquake.
The Euro is the official currency in Kosovo. The Serbian Dinar is sometimes accepted in Serb-majority areas. Most transactions are in cash. Credit cards are more widely accepted and there are some ATMs in Pristina and other major cities.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.