Householders in the villages of western Serbia were the first to invite tourists into their homes as guests. From Šabac and Tršić to the Mionica and Užice areas, from Povlen and Zlatibor to Tara and Šargan, from Zlatar and Ivanjica to Kamena Gora and Jabuka and mountains rich in coniferous forests and streams, many a village household catering to tourists can be found. This region is also home to special ethnic parks such as Sirogojno and Drvengrad.
Houses are built from classic materials, most commonly wood, on stone foundations, and the architecture is interesting and striking. The interior exudes warmth, sometimes from the fireplace, sometimes from its simplicity or from its woollen or ceramic handicrafts. That is why you feel as if someone close to you has invited you into their home for a while so you can freshen up, recharge your batteries and strengthen yourself to take on life.
Here people greet each other by saying “svako dobro” (“best wishes”), and the traditional cuisine offers a never-ending range of interesting dishes. You will try proja (cornbread) and projarica (cup-cake-shaped cornbread) made from local whole-grain flour; brown bread with a spread made from cheese and mushrooms; pita sa domaćim korama (pie with homemade filo pastry); čorba od povrća or kopriva (vegetable or nettle broth, đuveć (casserole) and stuffed peppers, užička lepinja (Užice-style flatbread), kačamak (a type of polenta) with cottage cheese) or domaće kiselo mleko (homemade fermented milk), vanilice (vanilla cookies with jam), various kinds of travarica (herbal brandy) with yarrow, willow root and St John’s wort, blackberry wine and blueberry juice. Užička lepinja, a time-honoured local speciality, is prepared by cutting open a piece of flatbread, placing a spoonful of kajmak and an egg inside, mixing them together and then roasting it in a heated oven for around 10 minutes.
The famous Drina Regatta, held at the end of July, is a special gathering of over 5,000 people who float down the river on wooden rafts to the sound of brass bands. Every January the village of Mačkat, located halfway between Užice and Zlatibor, holds the Pršutijada – a festival dedicated to smoked-ham products, which have been prepared the same traditional way for centuries. The Zlakusa International Colony of Fine Arts Ceramics, which is held every summer at the end of August in the little village of Zlakusa, near Užice, attracts artists from around the world.
The mediaeval Mileševa monastery, located near Prijepolje, is known the world over for its fresco of the White Angel and riding a train on the Šargan Eight (Šarganska Osmica), an old, winding narrow gauge railway in Mokra Gora, is not to be missed by tourists.
Potpećka Pećina cave, protected by law and located near Užice, is unique for its horseshoe-shaped entrance. The Serbian or Pančić spruce (Picea omorika), a natural rarity, occupies place-of-honour on the list of over 1,000 other plant species in the Tara National Park. Observing Griffon Vultures in their natural habitat, the canyons of the Uvac river, is something which should not be missed.