Begin your travels through Serbia in Belgrade, the capital city, at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. Belgrade offers many great places to visit, with Ada Ciganlija – or the Belgrade Sea as it is known to the locals – Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park coming highly recommended. After an action-packed day, next up is a lively night out on the town, something for which Belgrade is well known.
Now make your way to Fruška Gora mountain, known as Serbia’s Mount Athos, which has 17 monasteries dating from the 15thto 18thcenturies nestling on its slopes. And with that you have begun your journey through Vojvodina, known for its numerous farmsteads (salaši), stables, wine cellars, food and, of course, the EXIT music festival. This festival is held annually in the Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad and attracts over half a million young people from all around the world.
As you sail along the Danube in Serbia, you will discover on its banks traces of prehistoric civilisations, such as Vinča near Belgrade and Lepenski Vir near Donji Milanovac. You will also come across Roman-era Viminacium, formerly one of the most important military camps on the Danube. Combine culture with adventure by using the many marked cycling paths to explore the banks of the Danube.
And in the south there is Niš, the birthplace of Constantine the Great, in whose time Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Southern Serbia is known for its energetic music, flavoursome food, Pirot carpets, peppers andkačkavalj(caciocavallo) cheese. In Leskovac, do not miss out on tasting the best grilled meat in the whole of Serbia. After the rich food, you will appreciate the sharp mountain air of Stara Planina, eastern Serbia’s most beautiful mountain, where you will enjoy skiing or hiking in the midst of unspoilt nature. A little further south Vlasinsko Jezero lake and its floating peat islands await you.
Western Serbia offers an entirely different landscape and experience. Your first stop should be Oplenac, a cultural and historical site, home to the very important St George Church (Crkva Svetog Đorđa) which is also the mausoleum of the Serbian Karađorđević family dynasty. Continue your journey through the “Valley of the Kings“, from the 13th-century Žica monastery to the 12th-century Studenica monastery which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. In this region you will also see the 13th-century Gradac monastery, the endowment of French princess Helen of Anjou, the wife of King Uroš I Nemanjić.
Now it is time for sport and adventure. Western Serbia, with its numerous mountains, rivers and lakes, is the perfect place for sports in the great outdoors. The Drina, Uvac, Lim and Ibar are rivers on which you can seek out an adrenaline rush, but remember, you need a good team for white water rafting.
Don’t miss out on taking a train ride on the 1925 Šargan Eight (Šarganska Osmica) railway, whose tracks cut through the mountain landscape of Mokra Gora in the shape of a figure of eight. Not far from here is theSirogojnoethnic village and there are also opportunities for village tourism in hospitable Serbian households, with healthy, traditional food and, of course, localrakija(Serbian brandy), as well as traditional trades and handicrafts. You should also visit Drvengrad, a modern ethnic village built by famous Serbian film director Emir Kusturica.
The multitude of spas, which were once frequented by Roman emperors and now frequented by business people and top sportsmen and women, are ideal places for rest and relaxation. The best known spas are Vrnjačka Banja, Sokobanja, Banja Kanjiža, Banja Koviljača and Palić. Or maybe a mountain health resort, such as Zlatibor, Zlatar or Divčibare, would be more to your taste. Nature has been generous to Serbia, so close to the spas there are many reserves, natural monuments and protected plant and animal habitats.
And winter sports lovers will enjoy the range of facilities on Kopaonik mountain, where the skiing season starts at the beginning of December and ends as late as April. During rest of the year you can partake in mountain walking, flying, orienteering or bird watching.
Regardless of where in Serbia you begin your journey, you will feel the tradition and spirit of the people conveyed through the wide range of events – whether tourist, cultural, sport or entertainment– which are held all year round. The Dragačevo Brass Bands Festival in Guča, the Homolj Motifs in Kučevo, the Rajac Mow, the Shepherd Days of Kosjerić, Vrnjci Carnival and the Days of Grape Picking in Vršac are just a few of them.
See you in Serbia! Welcome!