Serbia

Serbia is still difficult to be called a “promoted” destination, but in one type of tourism, it already easily gives a head start to many countries.

We are talking about recovery tours: local resorts are rightfully considered one of the best in Europe in terms of the number and combination of therapeutic factors.

At the same time, they have quite up-to-date equipment and offer extremely reasonable prices for their services by “average European” standards.

Other advantages of Serbia tourist: nice nature, mild climate, good opportunities for hunting and fishing and a good historical “sightseeing”.

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Humbly looking over the shoulder of more “promoted” in the ski sense neighbors in Europe, winter Serbia lures today’s discriminating tourist with its low prices, close flight and Slavic soul.

The condition of the slopes can not be determined unequivocally – rather an optimistic phrase comes to mind – “it will try. And the country really tries its best: new slopes appear every year, as well as “adult chips” like night skiing.

Regions and resorts of Serbia

Clock Tower on the Petrovaradin fortress, Novi Sad, Serbia at sunset

The capital of Serbia is Belgrade, which has survived many wars, but has retained its hospitality and love of life. The city, whose walls still bear the marks of fresh bullets, today blooms and pleases tourists with ancient sights and a cozy atmosphere.

The most interesting neighborhoods are Stari Grad and Zemun, with the Belgrade Fortress, small alleys with colorful restaurants and equipped beaches. Most hotels are in Novi Beograd district with modern buildings.

The second largest after the capital is Novi Sad, founded in the late 17th century, almost completely destroyed by the revolution, and then rebuilt.
Its main treasures are the numerous museums and galleries, temples of all confessions, the Austrian fortress Petrovaradin and the ancient Dunjer Castle in the neighborhood.

Nis is the birthplace of Emperor Constantine, the founder of the legendary Constantinople. His residence Mediana still impresses with its size and luxury.

Another major Serbian city is Subotica, the heart of which is the pedestrian street Korzo with its neo-gothic and modernist buildings.
First-class restaurants in Korvin Street, noteworthy souvenirs – in the shop at the City Museum and at the flea market “Buvlak”.

Serbia is famous for its balneology centers: in Vrnjacka Banja they treat diabetes and digestive disorders, in Niska Banja – heart, in Soko Banja – lungs.

The Koviljaca spa is famous for its healing baths, which help rheumatic diseases. There is a unique microclimate in Zlatibor, and Bujanovacka spa is among the best European resorts.

There is also a ski center in the country – Kopaonik with 60 km of modern slopes.

Climate

danube, river, serbia
Photo by falco on Pixabay

The northern parts of Serbia are influenced by the moderate continental climate: summers are hot (average temperature of +23 … +25 °C, at times the air temperature ranges from +35 … +40 °C), winter is not cold (most often the thermometer ranges from +5 to -2 °C). The climate in the south is Mediterranean, in the mountainous areas – respectively.

The best time to travel to Serbia is late spring, early fall and summer months.

The season at ski resorts officially lasts from December 8 (in fact, one can conquer the slopes in November) to mid-March.

The warmest month is July, the coldest is January. The largest amount of precipitation falls in May and June.

The main weather peculiarity of Serbia are permanent winds: in winter the bone-chilling Koshava and dry north wind blow in the north, cold Moravac and warm south wind blow in the Morava River valley and humid southwest wind blow from the Adriatic in the western regions.

Visa and Customs

View of Belgrade city center - Serbia

Visiting Serbia for up to 30 days does not require a visa. But medical insurance for your own peace of mind is worth making in advance.

Import and export of foreign currency is not limited and declaring is not obligatory, but free export of foreign currency is possible up to the amount of 10000 EUR. Above this amount, you may export only what was previously imported and declared.

People over 18 can bring into Serbia up to 2l of wine and up to 1l of spirits, up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, up to 250ml of cologne or 100ml of perfume.

Importation of drugs, poisons, psychotropic and explosive substances, raw gold and coins, weapons (only hunting samples at the request of the Serbian Hunters’ Association), and ammunition and pesticides is prohibited.

Export of items of cultural, historical and artistic value is possible only with the permission of the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations of Serbia.
The prices are in March 2021.

Tax-free
In Serbia, you can get back 10-20% VAT on purchases over 6 000 RSD.

To do this you need to ask for a special form with a list of purchased goods and passport data of the buyer and then submit it at the customs office at the airport, along with unpacked items.

Cash is usually issued upon return to the country, in the same stores where purchases were made.

If you do not plan a second trip, you can send the documents by mail and wait for a transfer to a bank card.

Transport

The main railroad line runs from Subotica through Novi Sad, Belgrade, Nis, and on through Kosovo to Macedonia. Another one leads from the capital to the Adriatic coast.

There are four types of trains: “ekspresni” (express), “poslovic” (fast), “brzi” (high-speed) and “putnicki” (passenger).

Tickets are generally inexpensive: a trip from Belgrade to Novi Sad will cost from RSD 290 in 2nd class to RSD 430 in 1st class, to Subotica 830/1250 RSD and to Nis 785/1180 RSD respectively.

Timetables and fares are available on the Serbian Railways website.

By bus you can travel from Bara to Budva and Ulcinj, to Kosovo (although it is better not to do so) and the monasteries of southern Serbia.

The largest carriers are Lasta Belgrade and Nis Express, and tickets are sold at train stations and by drivers. Average price – from 1000 RSD depending on the destination, timetable available online.

Public transport in cities

Public transport in Serbian cities includes buses, trolleybuses, streetcars and cabs, while the capital city also has electric trains with two underground stations.

Bus Plus fare cards are sold at any newsstand – you have to put them to the validator when you enter the salon. You can also buy tickets directly from the driver, but if you do that you will have to pay twice as much. The price of a single ride in Belgrade is RSD 150, and 89 RSD for a BusPlus pass.

Cabs are a convenient and inexpensive way to get around any city in Serbia. Another thing is that local drivers have a habit of cheating tourists, taking advantage of their lack of knowledge of the area.

Therefore it is always a good idea to have a map of the city and at least some idea of the distance and route to your destination.

The average cost of landing – RSD 160-170, for each kilometer will have to pay an additional 65-85 RSD. A cab ordered by phone will cost 10-20% cheaper than a random car caught on the street.

Communications and Wi-Fi

Belgrade

The top 3 Serbian mobile operators are Telekom Srbija, Vip Mobile and Telenor.
You can buy a SIM card at company offices, press stalls, post offices and some stores, where you can get it activated in a couple of minutes and where express cards are sold, which are the most convenient way to refill your balance.

The Telekom Srbija operator has a Super Tourist SIM for tourists at a price of RSD 1,800, with 30 prepaid minutes for international calls.
There is also a premium tariff “VIP Mobile” at 300 RSD with unlimited Internet for social networks, 1 GB of surf and 100 minutes of domestic calls.
From the pay phones installed in the streets of major cities, it is possible to call within Serbia, as well as to other countries in the world.
Pay phones accept “Halo Kartica” cards for RSD 300, with local calls at RSD 1.20 per minute and to Russia at RSD 24.50 per minute.

Free Wi-Fi is available in many hotels, restaurants, libraries and other public places.
There are also internet cafes in all major cities, and you will find benches in Belgrade’s parks marked with blue flowers that provide free internet access.

Hotels in Serbia

Aerial view of Belgrade Slavia Square, St Sava Temple, Avala Mountain by night panorama with city lights and fountain

Serbian hotel chain is rapidly developing: there appear both budget hostels and prestigious establishments of international chains. Most hotels in Belgrade are based in the area of Novi Beograd, you can also find beds in the Old Town and Zemun.

Numerous health resorts and spa hotels have been opened in balneal resorts. In Nis, Novi Sad and other cities you can even not book accommodation in advance: there are boards with advertisements for private houses and apartments for rent near the railway stations.

Voltage in Serbian mains is 220 V, European sockets are used in big cities, in the countryside you can still find plugs of old type.

Accommodation in Belgrade costs from RSD 1800 per night in hostels up to RSD 26 600 in luxurious 5*. In Nis, rooms in the Treks cost from 2,500 RSD per day, and in the Foursomes from 3,700 RSD. For a night in a hostel in Novi Sad, you pay from 2000 RSD, in the luxury hotel of the highest category – only 6000-7000 RSD.

Local currency

The monetary unit of the country is the Dinar (RSD). 1 dinar contains 100 pairs. Current exchange rate: 1 RSD = 0,75 RUB (1 USD = 96,66 RSD, 1 EUR = 117,57 RSD).

It’s better to exchange your currency (dollars or euros) right at the airport – despite the common stereotypes the exchange rate is quite favorable. Numerous bank branches, official exchange offices and licensed exchangers are open in the cities.

There are even special machines at the airports and train stations, which dispense local currency. The main thing is to watch the scoreboard carefully: the rates in different places vary greatly. In Serbian hotels and stores only dinars are accepted, in Kosovo it is possible to pay only euros.

It is customary to leave a tip of up to 10% of the check in public catering establishments. In a cab it is better to agree upon the cost of travel in advance; if you wish the driver can leave 10-20 RSD on top of the tax.
Branches of the state People’s Bank are open on weekdays from 7:00-8:00 to 15:00-16:00, some with breaks for lunch. The working hours of commercial banks are 9:00-18:00 from Monday to Friday. Financial institutions usually do not work on weekends.

Safety

The security situation in the country is mixed. Despite the fact that the police crack down on any manifestation of deception of foreign tourists, at the domestic level cases of petty fraud are not uncommon.

Vacationers should beware of swindlers, especially active in the foreign exchange market, as well as pickpockets, often “working” at the airport, public institutions and crowded places.

You should not carry valuables, documents and large sums of money with you, nor should you show your wallet in crowded places or leave things in the front seat of your car during stopovers. Isolated areas, including remote parts of cities, should be avoided after dark.

UN peacekeepers cannot prevent ethnic clashes in Kosovo. And, of course, tourists from Russia should not expect a friendly welcome from Kosovo Albanians.
Since November 2010 in Serbia came into force a law banning smoking in public places: offices, theaters, cinemas and concert halls. Almost all cafes can smoke, but there are also non-smoking areas.

Beaches of Serbia

The swimming season in Serbia begins in mid June, when the water in the rivers warms up to +20°C. It is possible to sunbathe and swim until early October. The most popular beaches are located right in the capital.

Ada Ciganlija peninsula attracts both adherents of a quiet family vacation and fans of water activities. The water here, by the way, is cleanest: filter dams connected to the right bank of the Sava form an artificial lake surrounded by sand and pebble beaches.

Admission is free, all facilities on site. There are special shallow areas for children, sports fields, cafes and bars, equipment rental stations for adults.

Guarantee of cleanliness and safety of the coast of Ada Ciganlija is the Blue Flag.
The beach “Lido” in the area of Zemun is not so crowded: it is not recommended to swim here, but you can sunbathe, play volleyball and relax in the coastal bars.

Another great place for a summer vacation is Novi Sad on the banks of the Danube. It is a resort with a rich history, which became fashionable among the European bohemians at the beginning of the last century.

Today the Strand beach has a luxurious shady garden and well-developed infrastructure (from showers and toilets to Balkan cuisine restaurants). To diversify the cultural program you can have fun at the numerous festivals, which are regularly held in the city.

Diving

Serbia has no access to the sea, but if desired, it is possible to dive in the waters of the Danube or large lakes. There are practically all European species of fish: bream, gudgeon, carp, catfish, all kinds of sturgeon.

At the bottom of the Danube rest wrecks from World War II, but to dive to them can only be under the guidance of certified instructors who know the area. Underwater caves are even more dangerous: they are practically unexplored, and even experienced divers still do not venture there.

In Belgrade and other Serbian cities, there are several diving schools where you can rent equipment, have a diving guide and receive recommendations.

Treatment in Serbia

Monastery Manasija near Despotovac in Serbia

The health of the guests of Serbian resorts is taken care of not only by doctors, but also by nature itself.
About a thousand mineral springs, healing mud, clean air and mild climate – everything you need for harmony of body and spirit. Of course, doctors also work on the “excellent”: in numerous hotels and spas offer effective physical therapy and spa techniques designed for patients with any diagnosis.
And what is especially pleasant is that the prices for treatment in Serbia are more than moderate compared to average European prices.

The secret of Zlatibor’s popularity is in its unique microclimate created by the special combination of sea and mountain air masses. Here they heal respiratory diseases, metabolic disorders, anemia and exhaustion, get rid of excess weight, and help restore youth and beauty.

The riches of Bujanovacka Spa are thermal mineral waters, volcanic mud and carbon dioxide, effective against rheumatism, psoriasis, ischemia and infertility.

A 5-day stay in a comfortable hotel with treatment costs from 35,000-37,000 RSD.
Specialties of VrnjaÄŤka Banja Spa with its 7 mineral springs include diabetes, stomach ulcers, gallbladder, liver and kidney diseases.

In Koviljaca spa patients are prescribed thermal baths, massages, mud, laser and magnetic therapy, which help cure hernia, osteochondrosis, muscle diseases and other ailments. In Niska Banya there are all conditions to cure cardiovascular and rheumatic diseases, in Soko Banya – nonspecific lung diseases.

Downhill skiing

Belgrade from river Sava

There is only one big ski resort in Serbia, but what a ski resort it is: Kopaonik – a majestic mountain range over 100 km long, partly transformed into a national park.

The scenery here is truly impressive: snow-white slopes, thick forests, springs – a perfect backdrop for winter activities. The season lasts from November to March, snow-covered peaks are almost always flooded with sunshine.

Hotels and cottages of different price categories are built in the town, and if you want you can get privacy in separate apartments.

The resort has a ski school with enthusiastic instructors, not bad speaking Russian.
Kopaonik is comfortable for athletes with any training: 60 km of tracks have easy, standard and difficult sections, as well as more than 20 elevators for adults and children.

The list of popular spots on the local map includes a special zone for night skiing, a paragliding club, fitness centers and swimming pools, restaurants, bars and discos.

For the most restless we recommend excursions to iconic Serbian sanctuaries, the Žić Monastery and the Studenica Church, which is included in the UNESCO list. For your daily promenade you can take the numerous mountain trails that wind through the very picturesque surroundings.

The cost of a one-day ski pass in Kopaonik is 3900 RSD for adults and 2970 RSD for children.
Stara Planina is a much less popular resort, located near the Bulgarian border.

It attracts fans of solitude and extreme sports of all kinds, as it offers excellent conditions for freeriding and other adventurous sports.

The first gondola elevator in Serbia was built in the resort. It also has thermal pools and children’s recreation areas. The total length of slopes is more than 13 km, the daily ski pass costs 2,200 RSD.

What to bring

From Serbia, it is better to bring handicrafts – if you try hard enough, you can find really unique items in local shops.

Ceramic vases, pots and whistles, scarves and shawls woven on looms, dolls in national costumes, patterned flasks for brandy, knitted sweaters and socks – Balkan craftsmen know how to surprise tourists.

For a joke, you can buy elements of traditional costume: laptops “opantsi” with curved noses or hats-pilotsi “shaikaci”. Handmade leather shoes and accessories are much more practical – quality and design are beyond praise.

Hospitable Serbia is full of gifts: fruit vodka raki, sage liquor “Pelinkovac”, herbal tea, vegetable caviar “aivar” and plum jam.
The best selection of souvenirs is on Knez Mihailova Street in Belgrade and numerous flea markets (the most famous is Kalenic).

The largest shopping malls are in Novi Beograd, the most popular outlet is in the town of Ingia, about 30 minutes from Belgrade.

Most of the stores and malls are open from 10:00 to 22:00, the private grocery stores are open till 20:00 (14:00 to 18:00 on weekends).

Markets are open from dawn to dusk, and there are 24-hour supermarkets in large cities.

Sales begin in January and July, last about a month and provide an opportunity to save up to 60-80%. Read more: shopping in Serbia.

Cuisine and restaurants of Serbia

Serbian Cuisine

Used to being in the center of European events, the Serbs boldly mix gastronomic traditions of different cultures: Slavic and German, Turkish and Mediterranean.

All treats are simple and incredibly delicious, with the addition of fragrant spices and milk “kaimak” – specially fermented and lightly salted.

Traditional first courses are the soup (liquid broth) and rich “chorba”. Try the pork and beef sausages “chevapchici”, the chopped meatballs “pleskavitsy”, the chops “veshalitsy” and the pork on a spit “cookie” (not to be confused with flour products!) for the main course. Ideal combinations of meat and vegetables are stew “juvec” with tomatoes and the analog of stuffed cabbage rolls “sarma” with minced meat and rice.

The most original dishes are dried meat “prshut”, lamb stew “kapama” with lettuce and yogurt and the finest roll of veal or pork stuffed with kajmak “karajordjeva schnitzla”.

Fish is served in “ribla chorba” (fish soup), trout with prunes and carp in cream. Instead of fast food, there are all kinds of pastries: puff pastries with fillings, thin pies “pita” and donuts “priganice”.

Serbs have a particular passion for spicy dishes, so pepperoni is often used as a garnish to almost every dish.
Authentic Serbian cuisine is best experienced at traditional cafes, places with live music, simple interiors and laid-back atmosphere.

In small towns there are many family restaurants offering regional treats based on ancient recipes.

Experimental meals are becoming more common in Belgrade, and this is where the imagination of chefs has a chance to run wild. A lunch for two in a standard café costs from RSD 1200-1300, a snack in a fast food restaurant from RSD 450-550, a dinner with alcohol in a good restaurant from RSD 2000-3000.

Entertainments and attractions

Canyon of Uvac river, Serbia, Europe

The ancient history reminds us of itself from everywhere: its echo can be heard in the walls of mighty fortresses, its reflections shine through the sunlit domes of monasteries and cathedrals. The sights of Serbia are the magnificent nature (national parks, mountains and rivers), museums, and just cozy streets of old towns.

At the top of their list is Belgrade, a welcoming city whose construction began with a fortress at the confluence of the Danube and the Sava. The main pedestrian street bears the name of Prince Michael: here is a mix of Art Nouveau, Romanticism, Renaissance and academism, in beautiful mansions settled cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops.

The most spectacular royal residences are the snow-white complex on Dedinje, strict Old and New Palaces. Tito’s Mausoleum “House of Flowers” and interactive Nikola Tesla Museum are a must visit.

The most creative place in Belgrade is Skadarlija artists’ quarter, the best panoramic views are from the Danube embankment and Gardoš Hill.

The ethnic village of Drwengrad embodies idyllic memories of Serbia before the Balkan conflict. It belongs to Emir Kusturica, the “Balkan Fellini,” whose every film is an apotheosis of love for his native land.

The wooden houses and churches were originally built as sets for the film “Life as a Miracle”, but today they have become a popular tourist complex, where you can stay overnight, feel the atmosphere and, if you are lucky, even meet the master who lives there.

One of the most monumental fortresses, which belonged to the Brankovic dynasty, is in Smederevo, not far from the capital.

There are also powerful fortifications in Novi Sad, the citadel of Petrovaradin, which defended the Habsburg Empire, dates back to the 17th century.

The list of interesting museums includes the City Museum that follows all the milestones of Novi Sad development, the Vojvodina Museum with 150 year history, the Museum of Modern Art and the Gallery of Matica Srpska, the oldest cultural institution in the country.
The main attraction of Nis is the eerie skull tower Chele Kula, made of human remains after the battle with the Turks in 1809.

The residence of Emperor Constantine Median has survived from the late Roman period, and the Nis fortress was erected in the 18th century on the site of ancient fortifications.

From Nis it is worth a trip to the ancient village of Gornji MateĹľevac and the Red Cross concentration camp, a sad reminder of the times of fascism.

National Parks of Serbia

There are several national parks in Serbia: “Mount Kopaonik”, “Shar-Planina”, “Tara”, “Fruska Gora” and the only one of its kind in the Danube Gorge – Djerdap. The latter is located in the eastern part of the country, on the border with Romania, and is remarkable for its incredible views, the site of Mesolithic hunters Lepenski Vir, the ancient bridge of Trajan and the medieval fortress Golubac.

Local wildlife – bears, lynxes, wolves, black storks and many others.

The national park “Kopaonik” in the southwestern part of Central Serbia is home to wolves, wild pigs, roe deer, foxes, hares, ermines and wolverines, while the birds are of 148 species.

The western reserve “Tara” is home to brown bear, chamois, roe deer, lynx, otter and more than 100 species of birds, including golden eagle, Griffon vulture, peregrine falcon, Eurasian eagle owl and black grouse.

In the Fruska Gora National Park, under the canopy of broad-leaved forests, deer and roe deer frolic and many birds nest, including white and black storks, Imperial Eagle, Balaban and black kite.

Holidays and events

  • January 1 – Novaya godyna (New Year): the Serbian Santa Claus Bozic Bata puts gifts for children in a special stocking stuffer, hidden under the Christmas tree.
  • January 5 is the Tucindan folk festival, when lambs and piglets are slaughtered for the Christmas table. The next day, on Christmas Eve Badnidan, men go to the woods to buy badnyak – an oak log, an obligatory attribute of the main family celebration, and women cook “pechenitsa”, pies and other goodies.
  • On January 7, Christmas Day, it’s all eaten with gusto.
  • January 9 – Republic Day, February 15 – Statehood Day in honor of the country’s first uprising in 1804.
  • March 22 – Babies: time for cleaning up, burning trash, jumping over campfires, and exchanging honey pies. The main festivals of spring are the Annunciation and Easter: in the morning there are church services, eggs and wine on the tables, in the evening there are mass festivals with round dances “kolo”.
  • May 1, like here, is Labor Day,
  • May 9 is Victory Day. May 6 – Dzhurdzhevdan, honoring St. George and symbolizing the boundary between winter and summer.
  • June 28 – Vidovdan in memory of the great martyr Lazarus.
  • August 2 – Elijah’s Day: eating corn, melons, fresh honey and boiled nettles can provide health for a year ahead.

Autumn is the time for national holidays:

  • October 20 is Liberation Day in Belgrade,
  • October 29 is Constitution Day,
  • November 11 is Armistice Day in World War I.

What kind of country is Serbia?

Location: Serbia is a landlocked country in South East Europe which covers part of the Pannonian Plain and Central and Western Balkan Peninsula. It borders Hungary to the north, Romania and Bulgaria to the east, North Macedonia and Kosovo to the south, and Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro to the west.

Is Serbia the same as Yugoslavia?

Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia all declared independence in 1991 or 1992 and broke away from the 1929 federation. The name Yugoslavia means “land of the southern Slavs.” … Yugoslavia Officially Becomes Serbia and Montenegro.

Is Serbia dangerous for tourists?

Serbia is generally very safe. It is ranked 31st of 162 on the list of the safest and most dangerous countries. Its people are very kind and happy to help, and tourists especially shouldn’t encounter any bigger problems in Serbia.

Serbia

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Serbia is a country that is not a center of tourism. But despite this, there are interesting locations to visit in this country.

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