12 Reasons to Travel To Serbia

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Serbia or Srbija was the heart and soul of the former Yugoslavia. India was a strategic ally of Yugoslavia and the historical ties between the two countries were very strong. Yugoslavia went through a tumultuous time in the 1990s. It disintegrated into Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Kosovo. There were NATO bombings on Belgrade and several wars fought on ethnic lines.

As the Balkan region started to come to terms and revive in the 2010s, one of the most interesting events that strengthened the bilateral ties between India and Serbia (the heart of former Yugoslavia) was the ”Visa Free” entry to Indians for 30 days for the purpose of tourism starting from 2017. Then the famous Bollywood movie ”Uri” was shot in Serbia. In fact, Serbia became the first European country to grant ”Visa-free” entry to Indian citizens. Yes, you can visit Europe without a visa with just an Indian passport.

In April 2022, I visited Serbia for 2 weeks. In this blog post, I am going to share 10 reasons why Serbia should be on your bucket list.

1. Food

Serbian Breakfast in Jedno Mesto, Belgrade

Delicious and cheap food. Serbia has a lot to offer when it comes to food. I went to Jedno Mesto in Belgrade for breakfast. I order a Serbian Breakfast and Coffee. It was a massive platter with Fried Omelette, 1 large Garlic bread, Ajvar (it’s like chutney made from chilies, bell peppers, and brinjal/eggplant), bacon, sour cream, sausage, salads, and fried Salami (Sremska Salama).

The photo above is of the breakfast I had at Jedno Mesto. The entire breakfast cost me less than €3 or INR 240. This is a nice restaurant in Belgrade, not any street food stall. A cup of coffee in Ireland would cost me more than €3. Getting such a cheap but delicious breakfast in Europe feels like heaven.

I forgot to talk about the portion size of the meals in Serbia.

The portion size of this breakfast in Jedno Mesto was so huge that I couldn’t have lunch that day. Serbians believe that if a guest can eat everything you put on the plate, maybe you aren’t a good host. You didn’t cook enough for your guest.

There are takeaways or street food stalls where I had Ćevapi (Grilled Meat) or Döner Kebab for less than €2.50 or INR 200. Yes, you can have lunch or dinner in Serbia for just INR 200.

Even the fancy fine dining restaurants in Serbia are affordable for an average Indian Middle-Class. In a fine dining restaurant (Pizza Bar) near St. Sava in Belgrade, a large Pizza cost me €11 (INR 900) and I had to share it with Guru (my friend). The pizza was larger than your average Domino’s Pizza and was sufficient for the two of us.

2. Serbian Hospitality

Hospitality is a key thing if you are traveling abroad. If you visit countries in Western Europe like Germany, France, Spain, or Italy, you are unlikely to be treated or served in the same sense as they serve a white person. The racism aspect in Western Europe is not loud as in the USA or institutional as in Zimbabwe. It’s subtle and you would feel it as you live in a place for more than a month.

However, in Serbia (and even in Montenegro), the people were really hospitable. I didn’t feel discriminated against at any place, be it bars, restaurants, pubs, museums, public transport, or malls. People were open and welcoming. I observed that an average person in Belgrade knows more about India (both good and bad) than an average person in a city in Ireland, Germany, or France.

There are anecdotes that if your car breaks down in Germany, there wouldn’t be anyone who would stop there to help you. Not in the Balkans. Someone would stop by and try his best to help you out.

Balkans know how to treat their guests well. This sounds so much similar to the philosophy behind hospitality in India: ”Athithi Devo Bhava”, which means Guests are like gods.

3. No Language Barrier

Almost everyone I met on the streets of Belgrade knew English. The restaurant menus have both Serbian and English. A lot of sign boards or names in public transport have both Serbian and English.

If you can speak English, you are fine. Google maps work perfectly fine in Belgrade and other larger cities like Novi Sad and Nis showing you the bus route numbers and travel options.

You can find it more challenging on the streets of Marseille, France, or Dresden, Germany to communicate with someone if you don’t know the local language. However, it’s not the case in Serbia.

The Serbian language doesn’t have articles like ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’. So when some Serbs speak English, they can say things like “I am *driver”, “* US is not * good friend”. However, they do speak enough English to help you get by. What more do you want as a tourist?

Here is a video of a chat I had with a local on the streets of Skaderlija, Belgrade.

4. Nature

Serbia is blessed with beautiful mountains like Tara mountains and Fruška Gora. The Danube river flows through the hearts of Belgrade and Novi Sad. If you are nature lover, you would absolutely love a visit to Derdap Lake, the largest lake in Serbia.

Derdap Lake view, Serbia

Another interesting place is the Drina River House in Bajina Bašta town of Serbia. It is a very instagrammable location. This house was built by some swimmers in 1986 but it got eventually destroyed by the water.

The train journey from Belgrade to Bar (Montenegro) is one of the most scenic train journeys in Europe. Here is a glimpse of the train journey.

5. Architecture and Monuments

St. Sava Temple with Byzantine Revival Architecture

Do you know that St. Sava Temple in Belgrade has the largest gold mosaic in the world?

The interior of the St. Sava church has 130,000 sq. feet of gold mosaics. St. Sava Temple is an Eastern Orthodox church that features domes like in the Hagia Sophia mosque. This kind of architecture is called Byzantine Revival Architecture.

Bohemian-style buildings in Zemun

Belgrade has so diverse architecture. In the New Belgrade area, you can find a slightly dull Brutalist architecture. While in the Zemun area you will find Bohemian architecture. A stroll along the banls of River Danube in Zemun is quite refreshing. Again, of you go to the Kalemagden area of Belgrade, you can find Baroque and Oriental architecture. So, much diversity in architecture in a single city.

6. Nightlife

7. Music Festivals

Exit Festival Serbia
Exit Festival, Novi Sad

Serbian music is famous in Europe. Exit Music Festival held every year in the summer (July) in Novi Sad is one of the best Music Festivals in Europe. In fact, it won the award for the best major festival in Europe twice, one in 2013 and the other in 2017.

The Exit Music Festival has an interesting history. It was founded as a student movement in 2000. In 2006, The Observer magazine listed the Exit festival as one of the top 25 Travel Experiences in the world.

The lineup for the 4-day Exit Festival in 2022 included the likes of Calvin Harris, Iggy Azalea, Afrojack, and Alok.

Other than the EXIT festival, some other popular music festivals in Serbia are:

  • Nisville Internation Jazz Festival (Nis, Serbia)
  • Love Fest (Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia )

8. Rakia and Wines

Rakija in Belgrade Airport

Rakia is a brandy made from fruits like plums, apricots and grapes. The alcohol content in Rakija can be anywhere from 40% to 50%. So, it’s fairly strong.

This brandy is so famous and close to the hearts of the people in the Balkans that they can even use it as medicine. You are coughing, ”Have a glass of Rakia.” This may be a stereotype, but it’s still followed by people in many areas.

9. History and Museums

10. Spa, Massage Parlours and Wellness Centres

11. Serbia is Safe

Is Serbia safe to travel
Serbia vs US: Crime Rate Comparison (Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)

I get irritated when people ask me ”Is Serbia safe?” or ”Why is Serbia such a dangerous country?”.

People who ask these questions are either misinformed or ignorant about this Balkan country. Maybe the media is supposed to be blamed for portraying some countries in a bad light.

Serbia is a very safe country. Serbia is safer than the UK and the USA. In the world crime rate index, Serbia ranks 93 while the countries like France, US, UK and Italy rank anywhere between 45-70. I found Belgrade and Novi Sad safer than streets of Paris and London.

That being said, Serbia does have several organized crime groups that operate like a ‘mafia’. The Serbian mafia mostly deals with cocaine, drugs and arms trafficking, just like the Italian mafia. So, tourists are quite safe.

In their blog post, Stephanie and Allison have stated that Serbia is a very safe country for solo female travellers. Do check out their post for a female perspective about traveling to Serbia.

12. Budget Friendly

Airbnbs in Belgrade Serbia
Flats on Airbnb in Belgrade

A flat with 2 beds in Belgrade near St. Sava Temple cost me €30 in April 2022. I booked this flat through AirBnb and it was a fairly easy check-in and check-out process. I also stayed in a flat in the New Belgrade area and it cost €23/night for two people.

People in Belgrade pay a monthly rent of €200-€250 for one month in a 2-bedroom flat. The average monthly income of the people in Belgrade is nearly €600, which is not very high for a European country. Airbnbs are cheaper than in other European countries. You can easily find a 2-bed flat in Serbia for €25-€35/night (INR 2000-2500).

Hostels can cost somewhere from €10/night to €20/night in a 4/6 bed shared room for one person.

AirBnbs are cheaper in Novi Sad and Nis than in Belgrade.

Keywords: Why is Serbia so dangerous, Is Serbia Cheap to Visit, Why Visit Serbia,

About Post Author

SurajPanigrahi

I started this blog for my love of writing and disseminating my views on things that excited me. I don't have a clear direction with this blog. However, you can find content mostly related to higher education, career development, MedTech, finance, and budget travel hacks. Background: After graduating in Mechanical Engineering from IIT (BHU) Varanasi, India, I pursued a dual degree Master's program in Europe (MS in Biomedical Engineering at RWTH Aachen, Germany and MS in Bioengineering at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland). I am currently working as a 'Manufacturing Engineer' in a MedTech company in Ireland.
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