Serbia is ancient and contemporary; traditional and exotic; with mountainous scenery contrasting with lowland lying plains; mild and challenging. As Serbia’s territory has been changed and shifted, expanded and shrunk throughout its turbulent historical evolution, the quality of what Serbia offers today is of a rich and diverse nature.
Serbia extends over the territory of Southeast Europe, the Danube River basin and the Balkans. The country provides the shortest link connecting Europe, Asia, the Near East and the Mediterranean. Serbia is easy to reach by air, by boat and also overland.
According to the census of 2011, Serbia has a population of 7,120,666 citizens and stretches over a territory of 88,509 km². Although ranked only 100th on the list of countries by population and 115th by area, its scientists, artists and athletes have often put Serbia at the forefront of the world’s attention, making its contribution to history more significant than that measured by numbers.
Numerous settlements on Serbian territory existed in prehistory and in ancient times. In the 7th century, the Annals of the Kingdom of the Franks referred to the Sorbs, and later in the 10th century, Serbia was mentioned by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porfirogenit. The first Serbian kingdom was declared in 1217 under the crown of the descendants of the Nemanjić dynasty, one of whom was the Serbian enlightened statesman St. Sava (1174–1236).
In modern times, Serbia was internationally recognized at the Berlin Congress held in 1878. From the end of the First World War until 2006, Serbia was part of Yugoslavia. Today’s Republic of Serbia is an official candidate for acquiring the status of European Union membership.
It does not take long for foreign visitors to Serbia to discover the hospitality, kindness, openness and warmth of the country’s residents. Warm, welcoming and fun – everything you’ve heard about Serbia is true. It is not yet a mainstream European destination, but the ingredients are there:
Belgrade, one of the one of the most happening cities in Europe, the northern town of Novi Sad which hosts the rocking EXIT festival, the art nouveau town of Subotica, bohemian Niš and minaret-studded Novi Pazar which nudges some of the most sacred sites in Serbian Orthodoxy are also a must-visit. And even its hospitality is emphatic – expect to be greeted with rakija and a hearty three-kiss hello.
With five large national parks, more than 60 nature reserves, 15 nature parks, four mountain ranges, half a dozen raftable rivers, countless canyons and 280 natural monuments, it’s easy to go wild in Serbia. Whether you traipse, trek, mosey or mountaineer, you’ll find a country devoted to adventurous outdoor activities.
The Balkans, with roots firmly planted in European culture, is a region of interrupted memories. Though civilizations have perished, their traces have been preserved by geography, culture and language. With each new ruler, fragments of history were either protected, as embodied by beautifully conserved fortresses, destroyed, as evidenced by remnants of pagan temples, churches and monasteries, or left to crumble, as reflected by long vanished imperial palaces.
From the city centers of Belgrade and Novi Sad, to the gently sloping valleys of the central Šumadija region, to the banks of the mighty Danube, Serbia offers some of the very best cultural travel experiences in Central and Eastern Europe. Discover cultural remnants of the Roman era, explore the hideaways of long-ago Emperors, and wander through exquisite Serbian medieval monasteries on one of the three culture trails promoted by the National Tourist Organization of Serbia.
Serbian cuisine: Europe’s foodie secret
The great variety in Serbia’s cuisine originates from its geographical, national and cultural diversity, and the jigsaw of centuries of population changes. Influences on Serbian cuisine have been rich and varied – it first began as a mixture of Greek, Bulgarian, Turkish and Hungarian cooking. Beef prosciutto, kajmak, ajvar, cicvara (a type of polenta made from flour, eggs, butter and cheese), rose-petal slatko (a sweet preserve) and other specialties made with dried plums are considered native Serbian food.
Serbian cuisine is a mix of Mediterranean, Hungarian, Turkish and Austrian cuisine, accompanied by a large diversity of beverages. With over 3.000 restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs and “kafanas” Belgrade offers good value for money with a diverse cuisine which includes international and traditional national dishes. At least one meal with fish is a must down in one of the restaurants by the rivers, on the water. But when in town, use the opportunity to try out something typically Serbian, like ćevapčići (small rolls of mixed minced meat), all kinds of grilled meat, gibanica (pastry leaves mixed with eggs, cheese or spinach, or meat), karađorđeva šnicla (meat stake) etc. The famous local alcohol beverage is rakija – especially šljivovica (plum brandy) and lozovača (grappa). As for the wines, there is a wide range of it from Mediterranean and continental types. Probably the best place to try out the local cuisine is Skadarlija – the bohemian quarter.
BELGRADE - SERBIAN CAPITAL
Belgrade is the city of culture, inspiration, sports and festivals. Serbian capital develops and changes quickly, protecting its rich and diverse history within the mixture of culture, architecture and urban spirit.
With some of the most attractive locations, Belgrade Fortress – the oldest cultural and historical monument, Skadarlija – the bohemian quarter in the city centre, Knez Mihailova Street; Old and New Royal Court, Federal Parliament, Temple of St. Sava, Zemun and many others, Belgrade makes the cultural centre of Southeast Europe.
Belgrade Fortress is the oldest part and the core section of the city. It overlooks the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and that very spot next to the Pobednik statue (The Victor) is the most beautiful lookout in Belgrade. It was gradually built from the 1st to the 18th century as a fortified defense complex. Today the Fortress is a unique museum of Belgrade history.
Belgrade on the river banks - Sava and Danube, the confluence represents the most attractive point under the Belgrade fortress, and along with the Great War Island is a real natural oasis in the heart of a modern city. The river banks never sleep: on numerous boats, restaurants and cafes visitors can have a cup of coffee, eat a fish speciality, listen to music and have fun.
Skadarlija - the old bohemian quarter of Belgrade dates back to late 19th and early 20th century. At that time kafanas (taverns and restaurants) were meeting places for greatest figures of a cultural scene. It is often compared with the Montmartre in Paris, both for its appearance and the cheerful, vigorous artistic atmosphere.
Zemun - Once a separate city, Zemun is nowadays known as a romantic and poetic part of Belgrade. Zemunski kej, is a kilometres long promenade by the Danube, with barges-cafés, amusement park and Grand Casino while the Gardoš Tower is the most recognizable symbol of Zemun. This neighborhood preserved its old looks, with narrow, mostly cobblestoned streets and residential houses.
Congress and Business Centre of the Balkans
Belgrade hosts numerous international and national congresses and fairs. With a universal purpose, “Sava Centar” represents one of the most attractive congress and cultural complexes in this part of Europe. With continuous annual growth of international tourism arrivals by approximately 15%, Belgrade is establishing as the leading city break destination in the region. The national airline Air Serbia serves 43 destinations in 30 countries, with 73,000 seats on more than 670 flights a week.
Savamala is the new epicenter of urban culture, entertainment and lifestyle in Belgrade, with trendy restaurants, clubs, bars, galleries and a cultural center.
Belgrade City Break
Come and visit the archaeological site in Vinca dating back from the 5th century BC; enjoy the view from the Belgrade Fortress and take a walk around Kalemegdan; walk down Knez Mihailova street or Skadarska street – the street of bohemians; indulge your senses in one of our national restaurants with domestic wines and national music that will undoubtedly make you dance; visit some of the bars, night clubs and disco clubs where the entertainment lasts till dawn and just when you start feeling like you want to lie down, the smell of fresh coffee will invite you back to the streets of Belgrade, which never sleep. Visit Belgrade parks, enjoy the rivers, the museums, theatres…And then, try the national cuisine accompanied by the music and the rhythm of the city, whose spirit is always awake…