Serbia

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General Information (currency, climate, population, religion, history, etc.)

Serbia is an emerging destination, attracting visitors with its world-famous nightlife, delicious food, untouched and diverse nature, stunning mountain ranges, dramatic canyons, and picturesque rolling hills of Vojvodina.

The country offers countless exciting outdoor activities for adventurous tourists, vibrant festivals for partygoers, relaxing spas, and tranquil monasteries for people looking for a retreat from daily life.

The Capital

The capital city of Serbia is Belgrade, which is also the largest city in the country. Located at the meeting point of the Sava and Danube rivers, Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Belgrad, with a population of 1.374 million, is home to approximately 13% of the total population of the country.

Visitors from neighboring countries like Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina throng to this destination for its clubs, bars, restaurants, and excellent party-scene.

But, Belgrad is also a place with interesting historic areas, ancient buildings, and a lot of opportunities for outdoor recreational spots.

Demographics

Serbia is a homogenous eastern orthodox nation with catholic and Islamic minorities, where 85% of the country practices Christianity.

The 2019 population, excluding the disputed area of Kosovo, stands at 8.77 million people.

The population majority (83%) are Serbs, followed by 3.5% of Hungarians, and the rest consists of Romanis, Bosniaks, Croats, Slovaks, Albanians, and Bulgarians.

The current population density in the country stands at approximately 80 people per square kilometer.

Climate and Weather in Serbia

The Serbian climate is a mix of two climatic conditions — continental and Mediterranean.

Northern Serbia experiences a typical continental climate, which means that the winters are cold and summers are hot, while the rainfall is distributed evenly throughout the year.

In the mountain regions, summers are rainier, and the winters experience heavy snowfall.

History

Serbs came to the Balkan area sometime during the 6th and 7th centuries. They settled in the regions of West Serbia, east and central Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on the banks of the River Lima.

During the rule of the Nemanjić dynasty (1166 up to 1371), Serbia flourished and experienced the heights of its power. In 1346. Tsar Stefan Dušan proclaimed the Serbian Empire and proclaimed is as the successor of the Byzantine Empire. During his rule, Serbia was the strongest Balkan state of the time.

Unfortunately, the dynasty fell apart in the 14th century, and the Ottoman Empire conquered Serbia. Until the end of the 17th century, Serbia was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

At the end of the 17th century, the northern part of Today’s Serbia was attacked and conquered by the Habsburg Monarchy, who expanded their control to a large portion of Serbia. The country was now divided between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs.

In 1804, Serbs started an uprising against the Turks, and in 1815 Serbia became an autonomous principality in the Ottoman empire. In 1867, a military rebellion led to the Ottoman Empire’s defeat. In 1878, Serbia became an independent country.

During the early 20th century, after the Balkan wars, Serbia joined other South Slavic countries to form the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918. The 1980s saw a rise in nationalism in Yugoslavia and a call for a separate state. Civil wars broke out near the borders of Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. In 2006, Montenegrins voted to move out of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. From there, Serbia started its existence as an independent country.

Currency and Payment Options

The Serbian Dinar is the official currency of the country, and $1 is equivalent to 106 Serbian Dinar, and €1 is about 117 Serbian Dinar. There are plenty of ATMs in major cities, and the commonly accepted cards are Visa, Visa Electron, Plus, MasterCard, Eurocard, Maestro, Cirrus. Major credit cards are generally accepted in shops (Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard, Eurocard, Maestro, Diners Club). However, if traveling to smaller towns or villages, make sure you have some cash on you.

Electricity

In Serbia, the power plugs and sockets are of type F. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

Water

Tap water and spring water found in monasteries are safe for consumption in Serbia. Bottled water is readily available all across the country.

Airport sand connections with EU and USA

The main airport in Serbia is the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (IATA: BEG), the largest and busiest airport in the country. Of the five international airports in the country, only Belgrade Airport, along with Nis airport, handles international traffic.

The Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport is located 20 kilometers away from the city center and is the base for Air Serbia. The busiest routes from Belgrade include Tivat, Zurich, Moscow, Vienna, Paris, Istanbul, Frankfurt, London, and Amsterdam. As of now, there is a non stop service with air Serbia to New York.

Niš Constantine, the Great Airport, is 4 kilometers from the city of Nis. Airlines like Air Serbia, Ryanair, Swiss airlines, and Wizz Air operate flights here. It is connected to international destinations like Zurich, Vienna, Dortmund, Berlin, Bratislava, Malta, Hannover, etc.

Must see sights

Serbia’s culture is an interesting blend of Roman, Ottoman, and Habsburg influences, intertwined with an authentic Slavic heritage. Ancient buildings, heritage sites, dense forests, and lively cities attract people from all over the world.

Niš is a university town and the 3rd largest city in the country. Dating back to 279 BC, it is also one of the oldest cities in Europe. It was the birthplace of Roman emperors, Constantine the Great (AD 280–337), Constantius III, and Justin I.

In Niš, you can visit a terrifying Ottoman Skull Tower, Skull Tower, a stone structure embedded with skulls of the Serbian rebellions. Niš Fortress is one of the most significant and best-preserved fortifications in Serbia and mid-Balkans.

Ottoman bath Hammam and Bali-Beg mosque represent the best of Ottoman architecture in Niš.

Nišville International Jazz Festival, held in Niš fortress, is considered as one of the top European jazz festivals. It attracts big-name jazz, R&B, soul, funk, and reggae musicians from around the world every August.

The gastronomy scene in Niš is extraordinarily vibrant and unexpectedly affordable.

Belgrade has plenty to offer, starting with Kalemegdan Fortress, build on a ridge above the Sava and Danube confluence. Knez Mihajlova street is the central place of the social life of Belgrade, full of charming cafés, and delicious restaurants.
Orthodox Church of St Sava dominates the city skyline. It is one of the biggest orthodox churches in the world, and one of the biggest church building in the world.
Skadarlija, Belgrade’s ‘Bohemian Quarter,’ is a cobblestoned street, home of the town’s best and oldest restaurants. Cetinjska street is the city’s nightlife spot.
In the summertime, people enjoy lovely Ada Ciganlija beach at the coast of the artificial lake.

Sokobanja is a famous spa town and pretty popular with local celebrities. The waters here are said to have healing properties, and there is a public hammy that dates to the 17th century.

Kopaonik town is famous for its luxurious Ski Resort. With 24 ski lifts, you can hit the ski slopes anytime in the winter and also engage in snowboarding in the hills. The area is also a popular destination for climbing, hiking, biking, and bird watching.

Leskovac is a city in Southern Serbia famous for its meat. The city attracts thousands of people from all over the world for its annual Roštiljijada (Barbecue Week) held in September. The festival celebrates grilled meat for five days with music events, cooking competitions, and other live performances.

Located in Western Serbia is Oplenac, which is an important cultural and historical site due to the St George Church and the Oplenac Mausoleum. They are home to some of the most beautiful structures in Serbia with stunning mosaics inside.

Novi Sad is the 2nd largest city in the country and an excellent destination for those looking to indulge in the history and culture of Serbia. City, dotted with churches, museums, cafes, art galleries, bars, etc. hosts the EXIT music festival every July. Its citadel, Petrovaradin, is Europe’s second-biggest fortress – and one of the best-preserved.

Mokra Gora is a tiny hamlet in the Mokra Gora Valley. Lush greenery, rolling mountains, and the idyllic countryside attract many tourists for a short break from a city clamor.

Serbia’s 5th largest city, Subotica, is famous for it’s of art nouveau buildings. Along with historic buildings, Subotica is home to Buvljak, one of the largest flea markets in Europe.

Gourmet scene (must try and about it)

The Serbian gastronomy is a mix of Hungarian, Turkish, and Mediterranean cuisines. The hearty and tasty food of Serbia includes lots of meat, pastry, local vegetables, and rich and creamy dairy products. For foodies, Serbia is the ideal destination.


Sarma is originally a Turkish dish, but it spread all over the Balkan, becoming a favorite meal in every Balkan cuisine – and Serbia is not an exception. Sarma is made of minced meat and rice wrapped in pickled cabbage leaves. Sarmica is a variation of Sarma, made with a vine leaves wrap. Sarma is served with mashed potatoes.

Another traditional meal to taste in Serbia is Ćevapi, grilled finger-shaped ground meat. They are served with a side of onions in almost every street restaurant.

Burek is a baked pastry made with a flaky thin dough that is either phyllo or yufka and meat or cheese filling. Burek is widespread street food, easily available all around Serbia. It goes well with yogurt.

Karađorđeva šnicla or the Devojački San translates to ‘A young woman’s dreams.’ It is made with pork or beef filed with Kajmak, coated with flour, dipped into eggs, rolled with bread crumbs, and then deep-fried. It is served with tartar sauce.

Prebranac is a simple dish made of beans, generally consumed during the winters. The beans can be served on their own or with sausages or bacon.

Gibanica is a cheese pie eaten as a snack or sometimes for breakfast and dinner, as well. It is a traditional pastry made of cottage cheese and eggs.

Punjena Paprika (stuffed peppers) is a dish that is served all over the world, and the Serbs love it too. The fillings are similar to those found in the Sarma – ground meat and rice.

Čvarci is a dish found in Eastern Europe, similar to pork fat crisps.

Kajmak is a creamy dairy product, a side dish made of milk. It looks like cheese, and it usually is eaten as a side dish to any grilled meat.

Slatko is a thin fruit preserve made of fruit or rose petals in Serbian cuisine. But the most common variety here is the one made with white cherries. This traditional dish is generally used to greet guests – a spoon of slatko and a glass of water is a traditional welcome in Serbian homes.

Best wineries in Serbia

Winery Aleksandrovich is located in the village of Vinca, Topola, and regularly conducts wine tours. With sunny slopes, fertile soil, and a favorable climate, it is known to produce some of the best wines in the country. Their popular brands include Trijumf, Trijumf Barrique, Oplen, Harizma and Varijanta, Trijumf Noir, Vizija, and Regent wines.

Winery Zvonko Bogdan, located in Subotica, uses the highest potential grapes growing in the region. The winery is located inside a beautiful Art Nouveau building. It produces classic varieties such as Rose, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay.

Jović Winery in the village of Ravna grows grape varieties such as the Vranac, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat Hamburg, Chardonnay, Rain Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. Winemaking in this area has a long history of winemaking that can be traced back to ancient times.

Winery Kiš is one of the most popular ones in the country. It was founded in 1830. They produce high-quality wines; Portugizer, Chardonnay, white and black Beret, Grašac, and Mistery.

Located on the sunny slopes around the village if Krnjevo is the Podrum Radovanović Winery. Established in the 1990s, this winery produces more than 420,000 bottles of wine per year, Some of the varieties Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Rajnski Rizling, Pinots and Rose.

National parks to visit

Serbia has four national parks. With beautiful landscapes, historical and cultural monuments, these parks showcase the best of Serbia.

The Fruška Gora National Park was the first national park in Serbia. It is spread across the region located between the Danube and Sava rivers. Studded with quaint little villages, charming meadows and gorgeous lakes, the park’s dense forest is home to several animal species like the deer, wild boar, and many bird species. It is also an excellent place for those looking to engage in hiking and cycling around the park’s developed trails.

The Đerdap, the largest national park of Serbia, is situated on the shore of the Danube. Majestic Đerdap gorge, the park’s main draw, is one of the largest canyons in Europe. Its cliffs rise to 500 m high, embracing the beautiful Danube.

The famous attractions of the national park include stunning Golubac fortress, Trajan’s board, Lepenski Vir (fascinating archeological site of a Mesolithic Iron Gates culture), and numerous canyons, river basins, and the Mount Miroč with over 1000 caves.

Kopaonik is the most prominent mountain range in Serbia. Romans, Turks, and Venetians used to call it “Silver Mountain” because of its abundance in mineral resources, Today, it is referred to as a “The Sunny Mountain” due to the 200 sunny days. Mount Kopaonik is a popular tourist destination that houses a developed tourist center, modern hotels, ski-lifts, and over 70 kilometers of ski slopes.

Tara National Park is covered with dense forests, picture-perfect meadows, and towering mountains. The park has five important lookouts-Crnješkovo, Bilješka Stena, Osluša, Sjenic and the most popular one — the Banjska Stena from which you can see the emerald Perućac lake and stunning Drina River canyon.

Šar Mountains National Park is rich in historical and cultural heritage that contains medieval fortifications, settlements, bridges, Orthodox churches, and monasteries. And along with these, it boasts of over 1500 plant species, 147 species of butterflies, and over 200 bird species.

Getting around (public transportation, rent a car, good to know)

By Rail – The railways in the country are operated by Serbian Railways and link Belgrade, Novi Sad, Subotica, Nis, and Uzice. Trains often are not very reliable and can be painstakingly slow. But it’s an excellent way to see the countryside and meet some locals.

Car – Driving around Serbia can be a fun experience as the local traffic is quite disciplined, and the roads are generally good. Before you drive here, familiarise yourself with the local laws and carry all the required paperwork.

By Bus – Compared to railways, traveling in Serbia is a better option since they are faster and more comfortable. Belgrade has a well-organized bus terminal.

By Boat – Serbia is a landlocked country, and the only water traffic you will see is in its Danube and Drina rivers.

Car Rentals – Rental cars are available all over the country, and this is one of the best ways to explore the terrain and enjoy the landscapes.

By Bicycle – In the larger cities, infrastructure for bicycling is improving, but outside of them, there are many dedicated cycling trails. Mountain biking is a popular summer activity in places like Tara National Park, and Zlatibor and the international Euro Velo 6 runs through parts of the country.

UNESCO sites

Serbia has 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Studenica Monastery is a 12th-century Serbian Orthodox monastery located in central Serbia. One of the largest monasteries in the region has two principal monuments — the Church of Virgin and the Church of King, and both were constructed using white marble.

A monastery dedicated to the Holy Virgin is considered a mother church for all Serbian temples.

Gamzigrad-Romuliana, Palace of Galerius located near the city of Zajecar, South of the River Danube, is an archaeological site from Roman age (3rd and early 4th century) that covers a total area of 10 acres. The site consists of fortifications, the palace in the north-western part of the complex, basilicas, temples, hot baths, memorial complex, and a tetrapylon. It is a part of Serbia’s Roman Emperor Route, connecting 17 birthplaces of Roman Emperors.

Stećci – Medieval Tombstones Graveyards is an interesting site, spread across Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. The tombstones are believed to have been built around the 12th or 13th century, and about 2,100 of them can be found in Serbia. The epitaphs on these tombstones are written in an extinct Bosnian Cyrillic dialect. The tombstones reached their peak around the 15th century but then suddenly disappeared during the Ottoman occupation in the early 16th century. Building these tombstones was a common tradition followed by Bosnian, Catholic, and Orthodox Churchgoers. In Serbia, these tombstones can be found in Bajina Bašta and Prijepolje.

Stari Ras and Sopoćani is a serial property consisting of four separate components located in the Raška region of southern Serbia: Sopoćani Monastery, Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery, Holy Apostles St Peter and St Paul Church (St Peter’s Church), and the archaeological site of the Medieval Town of Ras. The frescoes in the Sopoćani Monastery church, dating from about 1270-1276, are among the finest in Byzantine and Serbian medieval art.

Safety

Serbia is a safe country for tourists. There are stray incidents of pickpocketing, but other than this, there are no major acts of violence in the county towards tourists.

Who is it for

Travel to Serbia is great for foodies and people looking to experience the vibrant nightlife. With its numerous hiking and biking routes, attractive rivers, and national parks, it will attract people who love active vacations. Heritage aficionados will enjoy amazing archeological sites and beautiful Ottoman, orthodox, and Roman architecture.