Sokobanja, a royal spa retreat in central Serbia

Milena Mihajlovic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Spending ten days in a spa may sound boring, but not if you find yourself in Sokobanja, a picturesque place in central Serbia. Yes, it’s all about thermal waters, relaxing, and walking in nature. Although, Sokobanja was for good reasons the most popular spa destination for iconic people in Serbian history and even a king. Today, it makes for an enriching experience of meeting the country's culture, traditions, and enjoying a royal spa retreat in central Serbia.

Why visit Sokobanja

The central building in the town is Turkish Bath Amam from the 15th century. The facility is made of stone and still in use today. It offers designated bathing areas for women and men, where you can relax in the year-round hot mineral water.

Sokobanja has an ideal position that contributes to its popularity when it comes to recreational activities and restorative therapy. The benefits of a mild and pleasant continental climate, a high concentration of oxygen and negative ions in the air, clear air and waters, and a large number of sunny and warm days during the year make for a desirable holiday destination.

Turkish bath Amam in Sokobanja spa © Credits to undefined undefined

Famous people who visited

Written sources suggest that Sokobanja was popular throughout the history: Constantine the Philosopher, the Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi, the Turkish geographer Haji Khalifa, and Serbian writer and reformer Vuk Karadzic, all have mentioned its rehabilitative and healing properties. 

The old wooden cottage next to a stream in Sokobanja, Serbia © Credits to Zaklina Miljkovic

Sokobanja has welcomed many iconic people from Serbian art, culture, and politics. The renowned Ivo Andric, who won a Nobel Prize for literature in 1961, returned every summer to his favorite spa for holidays. Locals like to believe that he used to come here to enjoy the peace and write - especially since prior to publishing “The Bridge on the Drina”, he spent months living a modest life in Sokobanja. The room in hotel Moravica, where he always resided, is now a monument of significant importance - tourists can visit it and learn about the grand writer and his life. 

The most significant guest of this holiday destination in central Serbia was Serbian King Petar I Karadjordjevic. Not only that he liked to relax in Sokobanja, but he had a land, a hotel, and a residence in the town. He has made life-long friends in the area and used to exchange letters and gifts with them - as confirmed by the historians. 

One of the iconic "kafanas", traditional Serbian taverns, Evropa was located in the center of Sokobanja and used to welcome creme-de-la-creme of Serbian artistic world. Poets, actors, comedians, they all collided here, exchanging ideas, news, and drinks. One of the notable guests was Branislav Nusic, a famous writer and comedian, who came up with the precious two-liner, now a trademark of Sokobanja: “Sokobanja, Sokograd, you come old, and leave young”.

Natural scenery in Sokobanja © Credits to Vranilo

Things to do in the area

Sokobanja, the royal spa retreat lies between mountains Rtanj and Ozren in Central Serbia. A steep cliff of an ancient town Sokograd rises above the spa town, inspiring many tales of its origin. Within 25 km, you can reach a mysterious Rtanj mountain and try a healing plant from Rtanj tea.  A designated picnic area Lepterija will make for a nice morning walk while a visit to Mt. Ozren will make you enjoy every breath with full lungs and soul.

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