Serbia is considered off the beaten track, as far as major European travel destinations are concerned. The landlocked country hasn’t enjoyed as much tourism exposure as its neighbours, making for an abundance of crowd-free attractions, compared to the likes of say Greece, Italy, or France. It is therefore expected that you may not know where to start, what to visit, and which experiences to engage in during your Serbia trip. So, here’s a quick guide to help you get around the small nation of 7 million.
Start off in the big city
Most Serbia vacations begin in Belgrade, especially if you’re flying in. The country’s capital is home to some 1.65 million people and sits on the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. Former nightlife capital of the world, Serbia’s administrative capital is known for its vibrant party atmosphere, river barges aka “splavs”, and an abundance of historical sites dating back centuries.
Here, life is as fast as the traffic. The city boasts a buzzing atmosphere you can feel with every step you take along its busy central city streets. Though, it still allows for relative peace and quiet along the course of the promenades by its rivers. So, what should you visit in Belgrade? The Kalemegdan fortress for commanding views; the Temple of Saint Sava and the Nikola Tesla Museum for culture and history; and, the Danube via “Kej Oslobodjenja” (Freedom Quay) for a leisurely stroll taking you to the neighbourhood of Zemun.
Learn a few key phrases
There’s perhaps nothing that Serbians love more than hearing foreigners speak their language. So, in the spirit of making friends fast, here are a few phrases to help you get by.
1. Dobar dan – Good day (hello)
2. Dobro veche – Goodnight
3. Ja sam [your name] – I am [your name]
4. Kako ste? – How are you?
5. Ziveli – Cheers!
6. Prijatno – Serbian for bon appetit.
7. Govorite li engleski? – Do you speak English?
8. Volim Noleta – I love Novak (Djokovic) — everyone will immediately love you for this one.
Eat food. Lots of food
Serbs pride themselves on serving hearty portions, whether it comes in the form of street- or restaurant food. Most local cuisine consists of some form of meat and is traditionally accompanied by bread – something most Serbians somehow can’t live without. Here are three great picks:
Sarma – This is among the most common meals to be served in any Serbian household. The boiled dish is made of minced meat (either pork, beef, or lamb) wrapped in cabbage rolls and is especially enjoyed during winter, as well as for significant religious events i.e. patron saint days and Christmas.
Pljeskavice – These bad boys can be enjoyed on just about every street corner of most cities and towns. Keeping to Serbian tradition, this meat patty is both filling and budget-friendly, and not to mention delicious. They can be found in both street food kiosks and restaurants.
Burek – Though originating in Turkey, Burek for breakfast is a national tradition all across Serbia that was adopted centuries ago. The filled pastry is best enjoyed early in the morning, accompanied by Milk or Yogurt. Fillings often include meat, cheese, potato, pumpkin, or even cherries. If you’re in Belgrade, then head to the “Trpkovic” bakery located at 32 Nemanjina Street. You can’t go wrong ordering burek with meat.
Get inspired by nature
Serbia is abundant with out-of-this-world natural sites that you probably wouldn’t have ever thought were there. Whether its caves, mountains, or anything in between, there’s an abundance of choices to add to your tour of Serbia. Include these three natural sites to your Serbia trip and you won’t go wrong.
Tara National Park
Tara National Park is located in Western Serbia and is home to picturesque peaks, dense forests, and deep caves. Visible from the Banjska Stena lookout, the Drina River Gorge is one of the national park’s highlights, alongside the mountains local wildlife, waterfalls and rivers.
Resava Cave is located in Eastern Serbia and is widely considered one of the country’s most beautiful caves. One of the country’s largest cave systems, its corridors stretch for 4.8 km (2.98 mi) with roughly 800m (2,624 ft) being prepared for tourists.Here you have the opportunity to explore four halls featuring red, yellow and white ornaments.
Devil’s Town is the result of a specific erosive process that has occurred only in a few places around the world. Here you will witness over 200 rock formations that legendary tales tell us are petrified wedding guests. This attraction was also a nominee for the New 7 Wonders of Nature, adding more reason for you to visit.
About our guest blogger
Founder and editor of Serbia travel blog Avanturista, Dragan is a keen adventurer who has experienced the beauty of a dozen other countries too. To him, a day- or weekend trip provides the perfect break from the constant battle against the daily grind.