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 Vjosa Osmani since 2021.
Prime Minister Albin Kurti since March 2021.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Areas where FCDO advises against travel
Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice. Consular support is also severely limited where FCDO advises against travel.
Zvečan, Zupin Potok and Leposavic, and the northern part of the city of Mitrovica
FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the municipalities of Zvečan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic, and the northern part of the city of Mitrovica.
Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and see support for British nationals abroad for information about specific travel topics.
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Kosovo set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Embassy of the Republic of Kosovo in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Kosovo.
Passport validity requirements
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet requirements.
Your passport must be undamaged and valid for the duration of your stay. You do not need an additional period of validity beyond this.
Checks at border control
Make sure you get your passport stamped.
The authorities in Serbia do not consider the designated crossing points with Kosovo to be official international border crossing points.
However, it is possible to travel from Serbia to Kosovo, and back again.
You cannot travel from Kosovo to Serbia without a Serbian entry stamp from Belgrade, Niš or Kraljevo airports, or one of Serbia’s other border crossings with:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
You are likely to be refused entry without a valid Serbian entry stamp. You should take a route through a third country.
Border guards have denied foreign nationals entry to Serbia if they have Republic of Kosovo stamps in their passports.
We are also aware of isolated incidents where Serbian authorities have cancelled Kosovo stamps in passports of foreign nationals.
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo can cause difficulties at border crossings with Kosovo.
You do not need a visa to enter or travel through Kosovo as a visitor.
You may be asked to provide documentary evidence giving a reason for your stay or showing you have sufficient finances. Officials will issue 90-day entry stamp, which is renewable for longer stays. Citizens of EU member states can enter Kosovo on a photo ID card.
If you plan to stay in Kosovo for longer than 90 days, you will need to register with the Ministry of Internal Affairs for a residence permit.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro Kosovo guide.
There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Kosovo. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Kosovo
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Kosovo.
Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners, large public gatherings and cultural events. Terrorists may target religious sites, including churches.
The political situation is generally stable, but in recent months there have been a number of protests in the northern municipalities of Zvečan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic, and the northern part of the city of Mitrovica, some of which have been violent.
Find out more about the regions where FCDO advises against travel.
There are also occasional protests in Pristina. These are usually peaceful, but can lead to some disruption, including to traffic and public transport. Keep up to date with local developments and avoid any large crowds or demonstrations.
Protecting your belongings
Pickpockets operate in airports and on public transport. Criminals target people or vehicles they think may be carrying large amounts of cash. Four-wheel drive and luxury vehicles are common targets. Take precautions to protect yourself from street crime and report incidents of crime to the local police.
Isolated incidents of armed violence and vehicle explosions in major cities are usually linked to organised crime and do not target foreigners, but can take place in areas visited by foreigners.
Old landmines and unexploded bombs
Residual landmines and other unexploded bombs and weapons remain in Kosovo from the 1999 conflict. Roads and tracks have been cleared.
The main areas of risk are:
- along the border with Albania
- the Dulje Pass area in central Kosovo
- the mountainous region between Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro
Keep to the main roads when travelling in these areas. Most of the remaining dangerous areas are in high mountainous regions covered with dense vegetation. If you see something made of metal or anything suspicious, do not touch it, and report it immediately to the police or the nearest Kosovo Force (KFOR) patrol.
Laws and cultural differences
You should carry your passport with you for identification purposes and keep a copy separately in a safe place.
Illegal drugs and prison sentences
Possession or trafficking of drugs usually carries a long prison sentence.
Using cameras in secure areas
Taking photographs of military or police installations, personnel or vehicles may lead to difficulties with the authorities.
There are no laws against same-sex relations in Kosovo. However, Kosovo is still a conservative society and the LGBT+ scene is more tolerated than accepted.
Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.
Licences and permits
You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Kosovo. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get a 1969 international driving permit (IDP) as well.
You must carry vehicle registration and ownership documents and a locally valid insurance policy. European Green Card vehicle insurance is not 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.
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. Avoid travelling at night if possible. The quality of fuel varies.
There are sometimes delays at the border crossings between Kosovo and North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania, and Kosovo and Serbia. These are common around festive periods and during the summer months. Ensure you have food and water with you in case of delays.
Many Serbian car hire firms will not allow you to drive their vehicles 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.
The condition of taxis and standard of driving vary. Taxis are readily available in Pristina. Registered taxi firms are the safest option and fares are regulated – these usually need to be ordered via phone, although some are introducing apps. Operators usually speak a reasonable level of English. Taxis that approach you for a fare are often unofficial and can overcharge. International ride-hailing apps are not available. Use established taxi companies instead of a personally owned vehicle converted to a taxi.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
During especially hot and dry periods, there is a danger of forest fires.
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.
Flooding and landslides
Flooding and poor road conditions can be a problem after wet weather. There is a risk of landslides, particularly in hilly and mountainous regions.
Check local news reports as flooding or landslides may cause road blockages.
This section has safety advice for regions of Kosovo. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.
FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the municipalities of Zubin Potok, Leposavic, Zvecan, and northern part of the city of Mitrovica due to violent incidents and heightened tensions in these areas.
Since December 2022 there have been violent clashes and incidents involving grenades and vehicle explosions. Be cautious and avoid public gatherings, particularly around the Austerlitz Bridge area which separates Mitrovica north and south.
Protests have the potential to turn violent. You should:
- avoid public gatherings, political rallies and protests
- check local media
- consult hotel receptions for advice
- sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated
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.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Dial 94 from a landline or 194 from a mobile and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Kosovo guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
High levels of air pollution can occur in Kosovo, particularly in Pristina. You can find further information and advice on air quality on the World Health Organization (WHO) website and check air quality levels on the World Air Quality Index Website.
Other health risks
Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever is endemic in Kosovo. Most cases occur in the region around Malisheva (central Kosovo), but during the summer months other rural areas of Kosovo can be affected. You should take precautions against tick-bites when in rural areas.
Mosquito-borne diseases are present, including West Nile virus.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Kosovo
The public 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. Treatment is also available at private medical clinics, which are of better quality than the public health system and are relatively affordable. A small payment in cash is required for treatment in the public health system 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.
FCDO has a list of English speaking doctors in Kosovo.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Kosovo
All emergencies: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)
- 192 from a mobile
- 92 from a landline
- 193 from a mobile
- 93 from a landline
- 194 from a mobile
- 94 from a landline
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Kosovo
- dealing with a death in Kosovo
- being arrested in Kosovo
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
You can also contact FCDO online.
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Pristina.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)