You may have heard many negative things about Serbia in the past, but Lonely Planet recently listed Serbia as one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2015. Having spent the summer there myself, I have decided to write my top 15 reasons to visit Serbia in 2015. And no I am not talking about Siberia…not even close.
1. It is affordable
For Western standards, Serbia is a very affordable country to visit. Even in popular tourist cities such as Belgrade and Novi Sad, you can find affordable lodging. If you plan on traveling around the country, you will be able to find lots of lodging for approximately 1000 dinars, or $12CAD ($10.70USD), per night. No reservations required. Most of these places have plenty of rooms, or as they call them in Serbian, “Sobe”.
2. Delicious Food
As I previously wrote in my blog post, Serbia – The Land of Great Hospitality, Serbia has a great cuisine. Most of the dishes do contain meat, but, vegetarians do not fear, you will be able to find delicious vegetarian meals as well. The food is also very affordable, both at restaurants and in grocery stores. The desserts are to die for! Don’t be shy, indulge!
3. Great Hospitality
Serbians are among the most hospitable people that I have ever come across. I am not saying this out of bias since I am of Serbian descent, but because I have been to many other countries, and the Serbian people in my opinion will make you feel the most welcome in their homes.
4. The People
Although Serbians sound like they are yelling at each other when they talk, they actually are not (unlike what Lonely Planet has lead you to believe in their recent post). This is just how they talk. They can get excited over things, but overall, they are just very loud talkers. Serbians can come off as unfriendly on first impression, but they are not. They are very friendly, and most of them know how to have a good time. Not to mention, they are also very beautiful people. Walking down the streets of Belgrade, you might have the feeling that you have just stepped onto a runway, with model like people walking all around you.
5. Beautiful Nature
|(Morava River, Western Serbia. View from the top of Kablar)|
The nature in Serbia is vast and breathtaking. Because there are not many tourists in a lot of the natural areas, you will find that the land appears to be untouched. Some of my favourite places include the southern region around the popular ski town, Kopaonik, and the western region around the city of Cacak. Although I have never been to Devil’s Town, I have heard that it is a sight to see.
6. The History
|(My cousin Nevena doing the walking tour through Kalemegdan)|
There is a lot of history in Serbia. In Belgrade, the popular Belgrade fortress called Kalemegdan, offers you the opportunity to borrow a headset that you can take with you as you walk around and explore the grounds, and learn about the fortress and Serbian history. In the western region of Serbia, around the cities of Kraljevo and Cacak, you can find some of the most beautiful monasteries in the country. I am not a religious person at all and I would still say that these monasteries are worth the visit.
7. The Nightlife
It seems that any night of the week you will be able to find bars filled with people, especially in the summer months. Serbians love to socialize and hang out in “Kafanas”. It does not matter what day of the week you wish to go out, you will find somewhere to have some fun.
8. The Music Festivals
Two of the biggest music festivals are Exit which takes place in July in the city of Novi Sad, and Guca, which takes places in August in the village of Guca. Although I have never been to the Exit Festival, I have heard that it is among the best in Europe, with popular musicians headlining each year. Guca is a trumpet and brass festival, and it is one where you can experience the true Serbian music scene. I attended Guca this summer and it was a lot of fun. It seems that the party lasts 24 hours, where you can drink in beer tents until the early hours of the morning.
|(Crvena Zvezda Stadium in Belgrade)|
Serbians love their sports. If you enter the home of a Serbian family you will see that they either have their TV on to the music channel or the sports channel. And they seem to follow every sport. If you are in Belgrade, be sure to attend a soccer (football) game between Crvena Zvezda and Partizan. These two are both soccer clubs from Belgrade, and there is a long history of rivalry. The game will surely be intense.
10. Serbians Usually Speak More Than One Language
Although Serbian is the main language in Serbia, you will find that a lot of people speak English, or another language such as German or Italian. This is especially true among young people, and in large cities. Perhaps this is because of their love for talking 😉
11. The Music
|(Trubaci at a wedding I attended in Cacak)|
Although you might not know what the musicians are singing about, you will find yourself dancing to the upbeat songs that are played on the radio and TV stations. So if you are afraid of going out at night and not knowing any of the songs, after a few shots of rakija, you will be dancing along with the locals.
Despite what Lonely Planet writes, you do not have to fear: rakija will never run out in Serbia. It is a drink that is very popular with everyone, and it seems that almost every family in Serbia makes their own, or knows someone who will make it for them. One of my favourite rakijas to try is the one made out of quince, or “dunja” (pronounced dunya) in Serbian.
Serbia is located next to Montenegro, so if you are in need of a beach getaway, just hop the boarder and head to one of the beautiful beach towns in Montenegro. It also boarders Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia, making it easy to get to and from any of these countries. In the past year, the Serbian airline company JAT got bought out by Etihad Airways, creating Air Serbia. Their goal is to make Serbia one of the main hubs between Europe and the East, so check them out if you plan on connecting anywhere else from Belgrade.
In the summer months it can get very hot, so be prepared for the heat. Although the situation seems to improve each year, a lot of public transportation does not have air conditioning, so if you can’t stand the heat, consider going in the spring or autumn months when the temperatures are still mild. Also, by visiting in the spring or autumn, you will be able to save on your flight.
15. Not Many Tourists
|(One of the most popular tourist attractions in Serbia, the Belgrade Fortress, yet not many tourists)|
In my opinion, one of the most unappealing things to me while traveling are all the annoying tourists. You know. The ones that are rude, loud, and obnoxious, and the sight of them makes you embarrassed to be from the same country as them, or part of the world. So be sure to visit Serbia before the crowds start to come back, and you can roam the streets in peace.
If you end up going, or have been in the past, please share your thoughts with me. If you have any other reasons to add, please do so below. For more photos from my trip to Serbia this summer, you can check out my blog post, Serbia in Photos, and my Instagram page.
Happy Travels Everyone!