Serbia has got a lot of bad press in the last few decades. Following the news you would think it is a nation of die-hard nationalists and intolerant bigots. An unfair stereotype. In fact the Serbians are warm, welcoming, and yes, also proud and stubborn. Intolerant? Judge for yourself, minarets and orthodox churches go hand in hand, Hungarian and Roma minorities are well represented, and tourists are greeted with three kisses and a glass of brandy. Traditional? If the EXIT festival in Novi Sad doesn’t convince you of the opposite, the, ehhmm, rather boisterous party scene in Belgrade might.
In short, Serbia and the Serbians don’t at all live up to their portrayal in the media. And that is a good thing. Once you have recovered from the shock, you can start discovering what there is to see and do. And there is plenty. Apart from the night club scene in Belgrade, there is also a fortress you can visit in-between hangovers. The EXIT festival in Novi Sad is held at the Petrovaradin Citadel, so you can kill two birds with one stone. Cycle along the Danube River, or go south and visit some of the monasteries that are located there. Hike in the numerous national parks or go skiing in winter. Taste wine and brandy as you get invited by all and sundry.
Once you are finished you will wonder how you could ever have been so wrong about a country. Best to shake of the ignorance right away and get a ticket to Belgrade. You know you want to!
Highlights from Serbia
- Stroll around Belgrade (aka Beograd, or Београд) during the day, visiting huge Kalemegdan Fortress, eating and drinking in bohemian Skadarlija , and getting inspired at the Nikola Tesla Museum, then let your hair hang loose during the night as you immerse yourself in Europe’s most lively party scene
- Sing along at Novi Sad’s EXIT festival (aka Нови Сад) together with 200000 other young hipsters from around the world
- Head back in time at the Sirmium Imperial Palace Complex, ancient Roman ruins, birthplace of six Roman Emperors
- Hike around Frǔska Gora (aka Фрушка Гора), referred to as the Jewel of Serbia, with its vineyards and picturesque villages, and beautiful scenery
- Drop by Niš (aka Ниш), with its grizzly Tower of Skulls, its fortress, its Roman ruins of Mediana and much more
- Peruse the many mosques and monasteries in and near Novi Pazar (aka Нови Пазар)
- More monasteries await your eyes around Kraljevo (aka Краљево), including World Heritage listed Studenica (aka Студеница)
- Ski at Kopaonik (aka Копаоник)and rub shoulders with Serbia’s well-to-do’s
- Take a boat trip down the Danube, or cycle its shores
- Enjoy the Serbian/Hungarian mix at Subotica (aka Суботица, or Szabadka), with its art-nouveau architecture
Hints and Tips for Serbia
- Easy to reach by rail, road or air, and on the whole, no visa’s required, so there is no reason to skip this country!
- The younger generation is better at English than the older, who might understand German better. A phrasebook might come in handy either way.
- Internal public transport is ubiquitous and cheap, make use of it. It’s also a good way to meet the locals.