Everything you Need to Know About Visiting Serbia, Europe’s Secret Gem

A guide with the most important sights, landmarks and experiences Serbia has to offer.

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This image shows the dome of Belgrade's government building, an important place while visiting Serbia.
Dome of Belgrade's government building, an important place while visiting Serbia. "Beograd, zgrada Zeleznice", Flickr photo by George Groutas (CC BY 2.0).

Serbia is a land of contrasts located in Southeast Europe, where it’s often said that the East kisses the West. Its people is warm and welcoming, polite and friendly, but not very much into political correctness. Serbia’s an extraordinary mix of traditional and modern, modest and extravagant, a melting pot of cultures with a turbulent history. With more than 7 million inhabitants, Serbia’s proud of its tradition and history, natural wonders, food and everything that makes it unique.

However, it still remains an undiscovered jewel to the world, with a raw beauty untouched by the hoards of tourists. But it’s not too late for you to discover and fall in love with it! So get ready to pack your bags and discover why Serbian people are so proud. Because here we’ve brought you a guide, a small, tasteful bite of what you’ll find while visiting Serbia.

Visiting Serbia: The basics

The Republic of Serbia is a landlocked country in the heart of the Balkans. Its capital, Belgrade, with over 1.5 million inhabitants, is the center of the economy, but also the epicenter of fun. Its insanely good nightlife is well-known among nationals and neighbouring countries, and we’ll break it down later in this article. Now, although Belgrade might seem like a party mecca that doesn’t care about religion, in most of the country it’s quite the opposite. Most Serbs are fervent Orthodox Christians, which is evident by the many impressive churches and monasteries found all over the country.

Currency

This image shows a 100 bill with in honor to Nikola Tesla. Getting to know the Serbian Dinar is critical when visiting Serbia.
A 100 bill with in honor to Nikola Tesla. Getting to know the Serbian Dinar is critical when visiting Serbia. By People’s Bank of Yugoslavia (S.R.J., Serbia-Montenegro)// Народный банк Югославии – scan [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6239313
Serbia’s currency is the dinar, which is equivalent to around 0.009 of one US dollar and 0.008 of one Euro. Which means that visiting Serbia is very affordable and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, we’re talking about one of the most inexpensive countries in Europe. For example, a street-food takeaway will cost you no more than $3 US dollars, and that includes huge portions. A dinner for 2 in a mid-range restaurant, including drinks, goes around $20 US dollars. Just make sure you exchange your money to dinars before paying for anything, because other currencies are rarely accepted in supermarkets or restaurants.

Public Transportation

This image shows a tram in the streets of Belgrade, one of the most common ways to move around the city while visiting Serbia.
A tram in the streets of Belgrade, one of the most common ways to move around the city while visiting Serbia.

Public transportion in major cities, such as Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis, is quite excellent! Novi Sad and Nis have buses operating every couple of minutes, while Belgrade is even easier to navigate with its buses and trams. So getting to any part of these cities is pretty easy and simple, and locals will always be glad to help you. There’s also a good bus connection between different cities, including smaller towns. Besides that, taxis are available almost everywhere, but only the “traditional” cabs, since Uber isn’t available in Serbia.

Navigating through Serbia

Most of the country is connected through an old and rusty railway system. Although trains are late sometimes, the system works and will eventually get you where you’re headed. Now, navigating the country isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to the rural parts such as the south. Since tourism in Serbia isn’t quite in its zenith yet, there’s no public transportation to many of the most beautiful sights worthy of your attention. However, many tourist agencies offer tours to these spots, with or without accommodation, depending on your preferences and the length of your stay.

Another great option with far more freedom is renting a car, an inexpensive choice perfect for when there’s more than two travelers. You can rent a car for as low as $10 US dollars per day if you catch a good deal. Some of the major rent-a-car companies, such as Avis, Hertz and Enterprise have their offices in Belgrade, so renting a car isn’t a hassle at all. All right, now that you know some of the basics of visiting Serbia, let’s get you on the road!

Natural Wonders of Serbia

Uvac River

This image shows the Uvac River, a natural must-see landmark you should enjoy while visiting Serbia.
Uvac River, a natural must-see landmark you should enjoy while visiting Serbia. Guided tours are highly recommended. By Anja Ignjatovic – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49149030

Serbia is a land of natural wonders, with beautiful mountains and breathtaking views, still relatively unspoiled when it comes to tourism. One of the most impressive spectacles is definitively the Special Nature Reserve Uvac in southwestern Serbia. It houses different rare animal species, including the Golden eagle and the Griffon vulture. The curving meanders of the Uvac River sparkle with magical emerald and turquoise shades of green is just unforgettable. And don’t forget to wear a jacket for the really strong winds up there.

The Devil’s Town

This image shows a part of The Devil's Town, a formation of rock spikes. Experience it while visiting Serbia.
Make sure you experience The Devil’s Town while visiting Serbia. By Dejanidis – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48972650

Another must-see when visiting Serbia is Davolja Varos or The Devil’s Town, an unusual stone formation in southern Serbia that was nominated for the New Seven Wonders of Nature. Similar stone shapes can be found all around the world, but nowhere in such a large number, and with no such springs of extremely acid water like they can be found in this place. What makes Devil’s Town so unique, besides attractive stone formations, is the mysterious atmosphere surrounding the place. Many chilling legends are spreading about this place, so it’s surely a fantastic opportunity for a memorable adventure.

Krupaj Springs

This image shows Krupaj Springs, a natural wonder you must experience while visiting Serbia.
Krupaj Springs is a natural wonder you must experience while visiting Serbia. By D00shan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60531142

While we’re mentioning legends, one attraction that definitely looks like it came out of a fairytale is the famous Krupaj Springs in Eastern Serbia. This is like a natural monument to beauty and you shouldn’t miss it while visiting Serbia. Many locals will tell you that the waters in Krupaj Springs have healing abilities and it’s up to you to verify that. Just remember that it’s not a swimming pool, because the temperature rarely goes above 12 °C.

You can find pleasant, warm water to treat yourself in some of the numerous spas across the country. The most famous ones are Prolom Banja, Niska Banja, Vrnjacka Banja, Sokobanja, Banja Koviljaca, among others. All of them offer high-quality service and various health treatments. So sit back, relax and forget about everything for a moment.

Mountains and Valleys

This image shows a church on top on the snowy Zlatibor. This area is a big ski spot for locals and tourists that you should see while visiting Serbia.
Small church on Zlatibor. This mountain is a big ski spot for locals and tourists that you should see while visiting Serbia. By M.vladimir – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24063294

Some of the most popular mountains come alive in wintertime, when the ski season starts. For example, there’s Zlatibor —the most popular tourist area for its hiking trails, fresh air, developed infrastructure and lively nightlife. There’s also Tara (a peaceful oasis) and Kopaonik, which is the tallest mountain in Serbia and the main ski resort. These two are also declared national parks, which adds more to the experience.

If hiking isn’t your thing, there’s Vojvodina, a region in the northern part of the country, which is flat as a pancake. Its endless rye fields and colorful planes against the clear blue sky are truly a picture for the ages. The Austro-Hungarian architecture is everywhere and it gives kind of an aristocratic charm to this whole area. If you’re a wine lover, visit the little town Sremski Karlovci, famous for the local production of high-quality wine and bursting with history. Vojvodina’s capital, Novi Sad, is the second largest city in the country and it’s the epitome of culture. Compared to Belgrade, it’s a lot more calm, slow-paced, but still fun and worth a visit.

Festivals

The EXIT Festival is one of the largest music festivals in Europe, taking place every summer on Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad. Although Petrovaradin Fortress is an attraction on its own, the festival turns it into a party hub for young people all around the world. Various genres are played by world famous artists on more than 40 different stages. For more information about the festival, its lineups and tickets, visit EXIT’s official website.

However, if you’re not into electronic music and prefer something more traditional, then Guca Brass Festival is for you. There you have good music and numerous ethnic exhibitions, all followed with great national cuisine. For more information about this festival with more than half a million visitors each year, visit their official website. Besides that, the Nisville Jazz Festival and Belgrade’s Beer Fest are also worthy of your time. As you can see, Serbian people love to find a reason to celebrate, so there are many festivals around the country all year round.

Nightlife

When it comes to nightlife, there’s nothing like Belgrade because it’s a special place on its own. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Serbia only to feel the vibrant ambiance of Belgrade. Although it has so much history and culture to offer, many come exclusively for its nightlife. But that’s totally understandable since the Serbian capital is a haven for wild clubbing and bar-hopping.

Belgrade’s clubbing scene is on par with Ibiza’s and Berlin’s, even when it comes to prices. The best place to be in the Summer nights are Belgrade’s famous floating clubs on the Sava river. These places are called “splavs” and became the real attraction that takes the concept of clubbing to a whole new level. At the clubs, expect to pay from $3 to $6 US dollars for a beer, between $6 and $10 for a cocktail and no less than $100 for a bottle of whiskey or vodka. Add a taxi ride back home, which can be anywhere between $5 and $30, and you’ll see it quickly adds up.

But if “party hard or go home” isn’t your cup of tea when it comes to nightlife, the city is filled with other options. There are plenty of bars and pubs with more tamed atmospheres and moderate prices. Whatever you feel like, know that Belgrade offers plenty of options for you.

Other places to visit

This image shows the facade of the Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade, Serbia.
Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade, Serbia.

We mentioned at the beginning of the article that Serbs respect their religion and their ancestors. That’s why there are so many monasteries and churches all over the country, and these are breathtakingly impressive monuments. At the heart of Belgrade, for example, there’s the Church of Saint Sava, one of the world’s biggest Orthodox churches. On the other hand, Fruska Gora, a small mountain in Vojvodina, is famous for its great number of monasteries and churches. Among them, Zica and Manasija stand out for their magnificence and peaceful atmosphere.

Some of the most impressive monasteries outside of Fruska Gora are Studenica and Ravanica, both located in central Serbia, and Mileseva, in the southwest. Whichever you pick, you’ll experience a peacefulness and spirituality hard to find somewhere else. Take it all in, because it’s one of the many valuable gifts Serbia will give you during your visit. Finally, there’s no doubt that Serbia is an intriguing country, a secret gem waiting to be discovered. Would you like to be one of the few people that has experienced its glow? Would you like to have a lifetime experience visiting Serbia? Then go ahead, you’ll love it! And Serbia will love you back.

Have you ever visited Serbia? Did you go to one of the spots we mentioned above? Tell us about your adventures there, we’d love to know! Or ask any questions you might have about this intriguing country in the comments section below!

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