Serbia

For travellers who want to explore more
Explore the map
Meet SerbiaItinerariesStoriesFurther Reading

Meet Serbia

The unique guide

Serbia, a secret gem that is just waiting to be discovered, is tucked away in the centre of Southeast Europe. This nation has something for everyone, from the busy city of Belgrade to the serene countryside. The capital city of Belgrade, with its centuries-old history and breath-taking modern skyline, is where old and new collide. The Belgrade Fortress, which provides gorgeous views of the city and the meeting point of the Sava and Danube rivers, is definitely worth a visit. But Serbia's greatest beauty is found outside of the city. The nation is home to a wide variety of scenery, including raging rivers, towering mountains, and lush valleys. The adventure activities Serbia has to offer, such as skiing, hiking, and water sports, will be to your taste if you're an adrenaline junkie. Serbia is also renowned for its vibrant music scene, which features traditional folk dance and music that will have your toes tapping. For an amazing experience, check out the Nisville Jazz Festival or the Guca Trumpet Festival. Don't forget about the cuisine either! With delicacies like cevapi, pljeskavica, and sarma that will satiate any appetite, Serbian cuisine is filling and delectable.

The Road to Independence

Back in the day, the Balkans were a popular destination for all sorts of ancient peoples, including the Illyrians, Thracians, Celts, and Romans. But the Serbs didn't arrive and decide to stay until the seventh century. A few centuries later, in the 9th century, the Serbs founded the Principality of Serbia, which would become their first state. Under Stefan Nemanja's authority in the 12th century, Serbia was like the cool kid on the block, exercising its power throughout the area. But then, everything started to go south. Serbia fell under Ottoman control in the 14th century, and for the next 400 years it struggled to preserve its cultural identity and religious convictions while living under the watchful eye of the Ottoman government. Not a good time to be a Serb right now. Eventually, in the 19th century, the Serbians battled for and succeeded in gaining their freedom. ‘See you later, Ottoman Empire!’ they yelled. ‘It's time for us to go our separate ways!’ And they did, benefiting from the Obrenovic dynasty's time of modernization and reform. But then came World War I, in which Serbia played a significant role. Serbia was like, ‘Really? Why can't we have a break?’ The country endured terrible losses during the conflict, but at least it joined the newly created Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918. The occupation of Serbia by Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II was another trying time. In response to the Serbian resistance movement's fight against the occupation, the Soviet Red Army freed Serbia in 1944. Following the war, Serbia was included into the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a republic under the leadership of Marshal Tito. However, Yugoslavia started to disintegrate after Tito's death in 1980, and the individual republics within the federation began to declare their independence. My, what a lot of drama! With hostilities erupting left and right, the 1990s were a particularly turbulent decade. In 1999, NATO even started a bombing campaign against Serbia in response to the Kosovo conflict. Talk about a tug-of-war with huge stakes! Serbia at last achieved independence in 2006 after Montenegro decided to leave the federation. Serbia has since made great strides towards becoming a parliamentary democracy with a varied economy and a strong cultural history.

A Land of Contrasts

Serbia is southeastern Europe's middle child, nestled between a slew of siblings. Being landlocked prevents it from offering beach vacations, but its stunning scenery more than makes up for this. To the north, there is the Pannonian Plain, which is flat as a pancake and ideal for crop cultivation. They're all like, ‘Wheat, corn and sunflowers, oh my!’ The Balkan Mountains, which are in the south, are like the untamed older sister who enjoys extreme sports. Up to 2,000 metres above sea level, the mountains give the impression that you are on top of the world, or at the very least, Serbia. Additionally, there are incredible vistas as well as national parks and natural preserves. Several significant rivers, including the Danube, Sava, and Drina, are located in Serbia. The Danube River is comparable to the hip, an experienced uncle who is always up for an adventure. The second-longest river in Europe, it serves as a vital route for transit throughout the area. On the other side, the Sava River is like a relaxed, easygoing relative who just wants to hang out. It is a significant contributor to the flow of the Danube and passes through Belgrade. Not to be overlooked is Serbia's rich cultural legacy. With its ancient monasteries, ancient cities, and traditional villages, this nation is like a time capsule that will take you back in history. Additionally, Serbia is the location of multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as if that weren't enough. The Stari Ras and Sopocani Monasteries resemble fashionable, artistic siblings, while the Studenica Monastery is like the patriarch of them all.

Rhythm is Gonna Get You

Serbia knows how to party, and its festivals provide the ideal setting for getting down and having a great time. There's a festival for every taste and musical preference, from trumpets to beer. First up comes the Exit Festival, the pinnacle of summertime music festivals. The Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad is the setting for this event, which brings together top international and regional musicians for four days of nonstop beats. The Guca Trumpet Festival is the place to go if you want a more traditional-style festival. This festival of Serbian trumpet music, which takes place in August in Guca, is a wild time. Get ready for some incredibly catchy and loud music. Foodies will like the Belgrade Beer Fest, where you can sample more than 500 different beers and delectable regional fare. Quick tip: pace yourself or you may find yourself dancing on the tables before the evening is done. But there's still more! The Nisville Jazz Festival is a jazzy spectacle, the Serbian Film Festival is a must-see for film buffs, and the Belgrade Dance Festival is ideal for people who enjoy getting their feet moving. Serbia has everything you could possibly want, whether you want to rock out, get traditional, or just enjoy some beer and food. Prepare yourself to party like a local and create lifelong memories.

READ MORE  

Wander and wonder

Ready-made itineraries for your Serbian adventure

Get inspired with these travel stories

Read up on the best Serbia has to offer

Explore the Map

Meet Serbia

The people of Serbia are kind, friendly, and always ready to have a good time. They are like a huge, warm hug. With a population of nearly 7 million, they act like a large family, watching out for one another (and perhaps engaging in some friendly rivalry amongst their favourite football clubs). Serbia's religious landscape is akin to a box of chocolates: you never know what you'll get! Okay, so maybe that's not totally true, but Serbia is a fusion of several cultures and beliefs. Orthodox Christians make up the bulk of the Serb population, but sizable Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant populations also exist. It's like a feast of different religions!

Serbia is like a veritable gold mine of attractions. Considering there are mosques from the Ottoman era, mediaeval strongholds, and ancient Roman cities to explore, history buffs will be in their element. And with national parks chock full of breathtaking mountains, forests, and waterfalls, if nature is your thing, you'll feel like a bird in the sky. You must sample the local cuisine to get a feeling of Serbian culture; it will be like a party in your mouth!

Serbian food and drink will make you feel like a happy camper, from succulent cevapi and gooey burek to sweet rakija and robust kafana coffee. And now for some interesting Serbian facts! With both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets in use, did you realise that the Serbian language is like a love letter to linguists? Or that Belgrade is home to the biggest subterranean candy factory in the world and that Serbia is like a sweets lover's paradise? Not to mention, music festivals are like a magnet for party animals; each year, the Gua Trumpet Festival and the EXIT Festival draw thousands of fans of music.

Last but not least, if you're a sports lover, Serbia is like a treasure mine of talent, especially in basketball. Serbia is like a nursery for basketball excellence, with athletes like Nikola Jokic and Bogdan Bogdanovic carving out successful careers in the NBA. So, whether you enjoy nature, sports, food, music, or history, Serbia is like a Swiss army knife of greatness – it has a little bit of everything to keep you amused and motivated.

Serbia is made up of 5 administrative regions:

1

Belgrade

2

Vojvodina

3

Šumadija and Western Serbia

4

Southern and Eastern Serbia

5

Kosovo and Metohija

Cultural Catch-Up

Although Serbia might not be the first place that comes to mind when considering a vacation destination, it is a jewel just waiting to be found! First of all, Serbia's past is older than a CVS receipt. Serbia has a more than two thousand year history, and you can experience a sense of time travel by visiting its ancient ruins, mediaeval fortifications, and other historical sites. Serbia is a nation that has proudly embraced its diversity. Serbia is a melting pot of various cultures and religions that live in peace together, from the Serbian Orthodox monasteries to the mosques built during the Ottoman era and everything in between. The scenery in Serbia is so spectacular that it will make your jaw drop like a cartoon character. Serbia is a heaven for environment lovers, with its national parks, mountains, and rivers. The Devil's Town rock formations in Tara National Park are a natural wonder, and the park provides breathtaking views of the Drina River Canyon. It would be a sin not to sample Serbian cuisine given how excellent it is. Serbian cuisine will tantalise your taste senses like nothing else, from the juicy cevapi to the substantial sarma. Not to mention the delicious foods that will satisfy your sweet craving, such baklava and kremna rezina. Serbians are as welcoming and hospitable as a warm blanket. The people of Serbia are incredibly proud of their cultural history and enjoy showing it to outsiders. As they treat you to traditional music, dance, and food, you'll feel like a member of the family. Last but not least, Serbia is a gem that few people have yet found. Serbia is the place to go if you want an uncommon travel encounter that is off the beaten path.

Let the Music Move You

Traditional and contemporary rhythms are mingled together in Serbia's music and dance scenes. Imagine it as a fusion of your cousin's electric guitar solos and grandma's traditional songs. You'll soon be tapping your feet and swinging your hips to this funky mix. Narodna muzika, or ‘folk music’, is one of Serbia's most well-liked musical subgenres. It is comparable to the localised form of country music, minus the cowboy hats and with more dancing. If that's not your cup of tea, try out 'turbofolk', which is like the disobedient teenage son of folk music who consumes excessive amounts of pop and dance music. However, the story doesn't end with the music. Serbian folk dances are equally as vivacious and enjoyable as the music. Imagine yourself spinning in circles with your loved ones while donning an elaborate costume and pounding your feet to the music. Similar to a game of musical chairs, except with people instead of chairs, and a celebration rather than elimination. Serbia has also given the world some extraordinarily gifted musicians and performers, including the renowned pianist and composer Stevan Hristic and the musician and director Emir Kusturica, who can rock a moustache and a guitar like nobody's business. So, if you're in the mood for some great music and dancing, travel to Serbia and get ready to get your groove on. Everyone may find something they enjoy in this vivacious and alive music environment, whether they prefer the traditional folk style or the contemporary pop and dance fusion.

When to go

The summer is the ideal time to attend festivals if you enjoy dancing the night away with new people that you meet there. The music is banging, the sun is bright, and the beer is pouring. But because it can get hot and packed, be ready to sweat like a sumo wrestler. The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are perfect if you like mild weather, less tourists, and cheaper costs. Without having to be concerned about suffering from a heat stroke or frostbite, you can hike, ride and explore. Additionally, there are mouthwatering food and wine events, as well as stunning views. Winter is the ideal time of year if you enjoy winter sports and want to wow the locals with your snowboarding prowess. Skiing in Serbia's resorts is of the highest calibre, and the surroundings are picture-perfect. Additionally, the winter celebrations and Christmas markets provide the ideal justification for indulging in some mulled wine and gingerbread pastries. However, if you're a rebel who enjoys going against the flow, feel free to visit Serbia off-peak. You'll be the only person in the country, so you can travel at your own leisure without fearing that you'll step on anyone's toes. Additionally, you'll have an opportunity to view the nation from a new perspective. Who knows, you might even come across some undiscovered treasures.

icon
Tourist Season: June - September
icon
Best Weather: April - June

Essentials

icon
Time-Zone: Central European Time (CET)
icon
Currency: Serbian dinar (RSD)
icon
Cost/Expense: $
icon
Languages: Serbian
Dates for your Calendar
Jan - New Year’s Day, Julian Orthodox Christmas, St Sava’s Day
Feb - Serbian Statehood Day
Apr - Easter, Holocaust Memorial Day
May - May Day
Jun - St Vitus’ Day
Oct - World War II Serbian Victims Remembrance Day
Nov - Armistice Day

Languages 101

The official language of Serbia is Serbian, a South Slavic language written in the Cyrillic script. It's an adventure as well as a language! Learning Serbian will take you back in time to a time when princes fought for dominance and knights roamed the countryside due to its rich history and cultural legacy. Okay, maybe not that far back, but you get the idea. Another language you'll hear in Serbia is Hungarian, especially in the region of Vojvodina in the north. For your linguistic palate, it's similar to a fiery paprika seasoning. And if you go further east, you might smell Romanian, which will take you to the Transylvanian region and the home of Dracula. But there's still more! Serbian minorities speak Slovakian, Albanian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Romani, and Rusyn. It's like a language buffet, really! And if you feel up for it, why not try learning a few words and phrases in these languages? You'll make a good impression on the locals and spice up your conversations. English, the international language of travel, should also not be overlooked. English is a common language among Serbians, so getting about shouldn't be a problem. Additionally, it's a fantastic chance to practise your English and pick up some local slang in Serbia.

Transport

Getting There

By Plane

Serbia has an efficient transportation system, making travel there simple. Taking a plane is the fastest and most practical way to go to Serbia. Serbia has two international airports: Nis Constantine the Great Airport in the southern city of Nis and Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport in the country's capital city of Belgrade. Major airlines from all over the world provide frequent service to and from both airports, with direct flights to and from Europe, North America, and Asia.

By Train

Serbia has a robust public transit system that includes trains, buses, and trams, which you'll discover once you're there. The major towns and cities of Serbia are connected by a railway network, making train travel between them simple. It's a terrific way to see the nation because the trains are reasonably priced and the scenery is stunning.

By Bus

In Serbia, there are numerous local and regional bus companies that operate all over the nation, making buses another well-liked method of transportation. Buses may carry you to more isolated locations than trains can, and they are frequently faster than trains. Additionally, they're a wonderful way to interact with locals and enjoy Serbian hospitality.

Getting Around

By Car

Serbia offers a good network of motorways and roads if you prefer to drive. It's simple and economical to rent a car, and you may go at your own pace while doing so. Just be aware that traffic may be chaotic in cities like Belgrade, so be ready for some gridlock and aggressive drivers.

By Public Transport

Public transit is a wonderful choice for individuals on a tight budget. Belgrade has a comprehensive tram, bus, and trolleybus network that encircles the entire city. Tickets can be purchased in advance or on board, and prices are relatively affordable. Buses are the primary form of public transit outside of Belgrade, and they are regular, dependable, and reasonably priced.

On Foot

Finally, if you have the energy, you may always walk around Serbia. Particularly in the mountains and national parks, the nation boasts several excellent hiking trails. Just be sure to pack lots of water, wear sturdy hiking boots, and be ready for some challenging ascents and spectacular vistas.

Share this find!

arrow up