July 12, 2024
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The Best Natural and Cultural Attractions in Serbia

Serbia, like its close neighbours, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was once part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After the civil war in the 90s, when more than 100,000 people died, the federation was left with just Serbia and Montenegro. In 2006, Montenegro became independent, so now the Republic of Serbia is also independent. Present-day Serbia has fought hard to bury the ghosts of the past. Belgrade was bombed by NATO during the Kosovo war in 1999, but today it is a vibrant city known for its cool nightlife and culture. The country warmly welcomes visitors, and while it isn’t a popular holiday destination – yet – there are many great attractions in Serbia to visit.

Many visitors never explore beyond Belgrade’s underground bars and clubs, but that’s a huge mistake. While Belgrade does make an excellent destination for a fun weekend break, the rest of Serbia has a lot to offer, too. Here are some of the top attractions in Serbia.

Belgrade

Belgrade is the capital city, so it makes sense to start with the various attractions you will find there. The city of Belgrade has existed for 7,000 years and was an important prehistoric centre of culture in the 6th millennium BC. The city evolved around an ancient fortress, and there is evidence of Stone Age settlement in the area.

Belgrade’s impressive fortress, Kaleegdan, has been sacked many times over the centuries, but most of the current structure dates back to the 18th century. Today, the fortress is a popular tourist attraction, with cafes, a gift shop, and fun fairs. It’s hard to imagine all the bloody events that must have taken place in and around the walls, but if you’d like to learn more about the fortress’s history, there are audio guides available in six different languages.

Republic Square is an important landmark. Here, you’ll find the National Museum and the Serbian National Theatre.

Skadarlija is the Serbian version of Montmartre, with iron gaslights, foliage-strewn terraces, and pavement cafes. It’s a lovely place during the day, but when the street performers appear at night, this bohemian area comes to life.

Gardoš Tower, built in 1896, dates back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There are amazing views from the top of the tower, and inside, a small exhibition detailing the tower’s history.

The Nikola Tesla Museum is a shrine to the life and work of Serbia’s national hero, and one of the most popular attractions in Serbia. Tesla was an inventor, physicist, and electrical engineer. He invented many important things, including electric oscillators and a Tesla coil. His inventions greatly impacted the electricity supply system we use today. There are two exhibitions to explore, one of which is interactive.

The Residence of Princess Ljubica dates back to the 1830s and was once a palace of the Serbian court. Inside the palace is a permanent exhibition with lots of period items on display.

A short walk from the Residence of Princess Ljubica you’ll find St Micheal’s Cathedral. This magnificent Neoclassical cathedral contains relics dating back to the 14th century. Inside you can admire exquisite icons and murals.

Be careful when exploring Belgrade. Unlike many other cities, there is no underground Metro system connecting key areas, so you’ll need to walk everywhere. While this is a cheap way of getting around, bear in mind there are a lot of cars on the roads at any given time. Be careful when crossing busy roads!

Petrovaradin Fortress

The Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad is Europe’s second largest fortress. It is also very well preserved. Building work on the fortress began in 1692, using slave labour, and it wasn’t completed until 1780. The clock tower is iconic and the underground catacombs stretch out for 16km. There is an on-site museum that delves into the history of the fortress, and guided tours are available.

The rest of Novi Sad is also interesting. The city is a lot more chilled out than Belgrade, with outdoor bars, trendy boutique shops, and lovely Danube Park. If you’re lucky, you may catch a live performance in Svetozar Miletic Square.

Fruška Gora National Park

Fruška Gora National Park is not far from Novi Sad and the Petrovaradin Fortress. It can be visited on the same day, but that would be a massive rush and this amazing National Park deserves a lot more of your time than that.

The Park stretches over 80km of green hills, with scenic hiking and off-road cycling trails. Fruška Gora is the location of 16 monasteries built between the 15th and 18th centuries. There were originally 35 monasteries, but only 16 are left. The good news is they are all open to visitors looking for a taste of what cloistered life is like. The area is also famous for its vineyards. There are several small wineries, including the Kovacevic which produces the excellent dry red, Aurelius made from cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes.

Sremski Karlovci

Sremski Karlovci, a famously pretty town, lies at the gateway to the Fruška Gora National Park. It is the birthplace of Serbian poet, Branko Radičević, and is where he produced a lot of his best work. There are lovely churches and the Gugelhupf cake is divine.

Ovcar-Kablar Gorge

The Ovcar-Kablar Gorge lies to the west of Serbia. As natural attractions go, this one is a beauty. The best way to enjoy the gorge at its best is to hike up Kablar or Ovcar mountain. The views are stunning.

The Niš Skull Tower

The Skull Tower in Niš is one of the more macabre attractions in Serbia. It was built in the 1800s as a warning to the people of Serbia, reminding them of the cost of an uprising against the Ottomans. The tower contains more than 900 skulls embedded in the walls.

Niš Fortress is also an important monument. It is the birthplace of Constantine the Great and was built in the 18th century, on the foundations of earlier defensive forts. Some of the original protective moat from an earlier age is still there.

Tara National Park

Tara National Park in West Serbia is home to brown bears. Many people visit the park to try and catch a glimpse of the bears, and there are dedicated feeding stations and bear tours, where you can stay in the park overnight, in one of the purpose-built bear hides.

Vinca

The Vinca region is an important archeological site. There have been many important discoveries at Belo Brdo – visit the museum to see examples of neolithic statues, drinking vessels, and more.

Kopaonik Mountains

The Kopaonik Mountains are famous for skiing in the winter. There are 24 ski lifts around the mountains and all categories of slopes to choose from. If skiing or snowboarding is not your thing, why not visit the mountains during the spring or summer? It is a great place to go hiking and bird watching.

This is just a small selection of the main amazing attractions in Serbia. Try to plan a visit that lasts at least 4-5 days, and travel beyond Belgrade. That way you’ll have a more authentic experience.

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