Why are you going to Serbia? 14.11.21

Saint Sava Temple, 2021

I can’t count the amount of times I heard this question when I told my friends I was planning on spending a month in Serbia. Although, on the one hand, I feel that people should probably know me better by now to know that I’m open to visiting anywhere, I also understood that Serbia is a country that not many people (from the UK and Spain at least) visit or know much about. After being based for a month in Belgrade, I hope to convince people to consider Serbia as a travel option with my adventures here.

  1. Belgrade
Incredible Belgrade sunsets

Serbia has a population of around 7 million and 1.7 million of those live in the capital, Belgrade. I’d heard good things about Belgrade and how it’s a new up-and-coming place for remote workers in particular but, other than that, I didn’t know what else to expect. Belgrade is a city with tonnes of history- the city has been destroyed around 44 times. There’s a lot to do in Belgrade (which will be next week’s post!)- a huge fortress and park where you could spend all day, beautiful sunsets over the river, museums, churches and lively cobbled streets full of cool bars and restaurants. It’s very easy to navigate the city- I walked almost everywhere. Belgrade is a city not to be overlooked for future travels!

2. Mokra Gora and Drvengrad

I actually wouldn’t have known about this place if it weren’t a recommendation from a friend in Belgrade and I am so grateful I found out about it. A visit to Western Serbia and the mountains is a popular option for visitors to Serbia. I did an organised tour as it wasn’t possible on public transport. Although it was quite far from Belgrade to do in one day, it was a great trip. The bad weather didn’t ruin it either as the fog only added to the beauty of the mountains. A highlight was a visit to a village built for a famous Serbian film (Drvengrad), taking the famous tourist train on a two-hour trip around the mountains and the Drina river house.

The Drina river house, 2021

3. Nis

This city might not be on everyone’s list for a first trip to Serbia but I am glad I included it on mine. Birthplace of Constantine the Great, this city has seen as much conflict as Belgrade, which you can see. Travelling to the main cities in Serbia is really easy and affordable by bus, and comfortable. My three-hour weekend return bus trip cost around 11 euros. As it is in the south, I also enjoyed seeing the contrast between Belgrade and southern Serbia. It might not be for everyone but Nis has a very well preserved but unknown concentration camp from World War II. I was alone in the camp with nothing to distract my emotions. I read every word of the stories, looked at every photo and belonging- it was incredibly humbling and emotional and the most poignant memory of my trip.

One of the many statues in Nis, Serbia, 2021

4. Novi Sad

Novi Sad fortress, 2021.

Serbia’s second city being only an hour from Belgrade means it is incredibly accessible. There are several buses and trains that go every hour- the bus was the easiest for me- affordable and comfortable again. The city is overlooked by a fortress, where you get incredible views of the Danube. I was really lucky that the weather was great (although quite windy) and the city was lively with everybody out enjoying the last sunshine of October. The city itself is small but very charming, with a more “European” feel to the architecture than Belgrade.

5. Avala

Avala Tower, 2021

Avala tower is not too far from Belgrade itself and is accessible by bus (two buses and a walk to be exact). Due to time constraints, I went by car to visit the tallest tower in the Balkans. Bombed by NATO in the 90s, it was rebuilt and opened again in 2011. The views were great although it was very windy at the top! They told me that Avala is very busy in summer but when I went on a Friday morning in late October, it was quite deserted with cafes closed and more staff hanging around with nothing to do than actual visitors. It was nice to enjoy the tower without the crowds but I didn’t need a lot of time there.

After a month based in Serbia, I discovered that it really is a beautiful country with lots of interesting places to explore. What really stood out to me was the warmness of the people. From my incredibly welcoming friend who guided me around Belgrade, to my apartment host who frequently left me traditional Serbian pastries and fruit, I felt safe and at ease exploring. It’s a great place to start or end a trip to the Balkans and has a lot of good connections to other countries nearby. It was easy to get by speaking English (a little less in the south) but learning a few phrases didn’t hurt, and even got a few smiles out of the locals!

Zemun, 2021.

Published by tefltraveler

British citizen living in Spain (nearly 6 years now!) I completed my Celta qualification in 2015 and haven't looked back! Over the years I've worked in a few countries teaching English and undertaken countless travels. The pandemic may have put this on pause, but there are plenty more to come so watch this space...!

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