Difference between revisions of "Serbia"
Revision as of 11:18, 26 August 2014
Serbia (Serbian: Србија, Srbija)  is a country located in the Balkans, in Southern Europe. It was a founder and one of the six republics forming the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It is surrounded by Montenegro to the south, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the west, Bulgaria to the southeast, Croatia to the northwest, Hungary to the north, Macedonia and Albania (through Kosovo) to the south, and Romania to the northeast. It is situated on one of the major land routes from Central Europe to Turkey and further on to the Near East.
During the summer tourists love spending their time in Belgrade and enjoy the nature of many national parks throughout the country. In winter, they are warmly welcomed to mountain resorts (one of the most popular being Kopaonik, featured on BBC as one of the best ski destinations in Europe). There are also many spa resorts such as Sokobanja, Niška Banja and Vrnjačka Banja.
Serbs are warm people, especially towards foreigners. They are very welcoming towards tourists, of which there are not many as the country's full potential has yet to be reached! Most Serbs speak some English and are eager to practise it (seniors, however, are more likely to speak German and/or French), so you will be able to find your way around by asking directions. Most tourists come to Serbia in the summer and you can often hear German, Italian, French and English in the streets of Belgrade, while Slovenian, German, Austrian, Bosnian, and Hungarian tourists pour for New Year holidays.
Yugoslavia was such a beautiful country with so many different attractive places that somehow, Serbia was neglected and it is still to be rediscovered not only by visitors, but by many Serbs, too. It is also a varied and beautiful place notwithstanding the fact that it is landlocked. From the plains of Vojvodina, which in winter, remind of the scenes from the film of Dr. Zhivago, to many mountains and lakes or reservoirs and ski resorts of outstanding beauty.
There were seventeen Roman emperors born in the territory of today's Serbia, and it is well-known that they all left monuments and built palaces in or close to their birthplaces. It may well be that the oldest ever found human settlements in Europe, if not in the world, can be found in country of Serbia. The longest stretch of the river Danube, longer than in any other European country is in Serbia. The giant hydroelectric dam of Djerdap has created a lake stretching for many miles out of the Canyon Djerdap with its famous Roman road to the East build by the Emperor Trajan.
Serbia is on the crossroads of European history and as such, it is a mix of cultures, ethnicity and religions. Its people, contrary to a recent stigma, are one of the most hospitable and welcoming and recently, Belgrade was voted as one of the up and coming capitals of Europe. It hosted the recent Eurovison song contest and it is the home town of world names like Djokovic, Jankovic and Ivanovic; the ambassadors of New Serbia. There may be more attractive locations elsewhere, but Serbia has a spirit and a soul that is rare to find coupled with melange of different cultures and a gusto for good living.
In the north: continental climate (cold winters and hot, humid summers with well distributed rainfall); central portion: moderate continental climate; and to the south: hot, dry summers and autumns and relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall.
Extremely varied: to the north, rich fertile plains; to the east, limestone ranges and basins; to the southeast, ancient mountains and hills. Although the region around the town of Mionica has been known for some earthquakes in recent years, these were by no means destructive. The highest point is Đeravica at 2656 m.
The first Serbian state was formed in the mid 9th century, expanding by the mid 14th century to an empire comprising most of the Balkans. In 1389, the Serbs lost a decisive battle in the Kosovo field against the Ottoman empire. Serbia managed to preserve its freedom for another seventy years, only to be finally overwhelmed by the Turks in 1459. An uprising in the early 1800s that grew in the full scale war (War of Restoration) led to the restoration of Serbian independence in 1815.
The 1914 Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by an ethnic Serb high school student precipitated the first World War. In its aftermath in 1918, victorious Serbia gathered all south Slav lands (Croatia, Slovenia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia and Herzegowina, and Montenegro)into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes; The country's name was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929. Invasion and occupation by Germany and Italy in 1941 was resisted by Yugoslav Army in fatherland (Chetniks), commanded by Lt.-Gen Dragoljub Mihajlović and communist led guerilla (partisans) who eventually started fighting each other as well as the invaders. The partisans, commanded by Field-Marshal Josip Broz Tito emerged victorious and formed a provisional government that abolished the monarchy and proclaimed a republic in 1946 after a dubious referendum. At the end of the war, nearly all ethnic Germans left the country. Although pro-Communist, J.B. Tito's new government successfully steered its own delicate path between the Warsaw Pact nations and the West for the next four and a half decades.
In the early 1990s, post-Tito Yugoslavia began to unravel along ethnic lines: Slovenia, Croatia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia all split from the Yugoslav Union in 1991; and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. All of efforts to preserve Yugoslavia were ultimately unsuccessful and bloody civil wars broke out in Croatia and in Bosnia. The remaining republics of Serbia and Montenegro declared a new "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" (FRY) in 1992. Slobodan Milosevic was elected the first president of Serbia.
In the late 1990s, the conflict with the Albanian separatist movement in Kosovo led to a NATO bombing campaign and direct intervention, which left the placement of Kosovo under a UN administration. Slobodan Milosevic, by this time elected for the president of the federation, lost in the Federal elections in the fall of 2000 to Vojislav Kostunica. The country reestablished its membership in the UN and started preparations to join the EU.
In 2002, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro began negotiations to forge a looser relationship, which led first to the name change of the nation to "Serbia and Montenegro", then culminated in Montenegro declaring independence in June 2006. More recently, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence; however, this act remains unrecognised by Serbia and some other countries.
Independence came on 4 February 2003 (when it changed from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro) or on 5 June 2006 (from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro to Serbia).
January 1-2 (New Year's Day), January 7 (Eastern Orthodox Christmas), January 14 (National Holiday (Orthodox New Year), January 27 (Saint Sava's feast Day), February 15 (Sretenje / Groundhog Day (Candlemas) / Serbian National Day), May 1-2 (Labour Day), May 9 (Victory Day) and June 28 (Vidovdan / St Vitus Day) are designated as state holidays. Major retail establishments such as supermarkets and shopping malls remain open on all of these days except January 1 and January 7. There are also several officially designated days on which only the members of certain religious minorities have the right not to work. In practice this means that in the northernmost areas of the country, including Subotica, where there is a sizeable Catholic population, many shops close on December 25 - Christmas Day according to the Gregorian calendar.
Serbia's official currency is the Serbian dinar (RSD). The Serbian dinar can be exchanged in most of the banks throughout the Europe. You can convert your currency into RSD at the airport, nearly all banks, or in the numerous and visibly marked authorized exchange offices (Menjačnica/Мењачница). Official exchange offices show the seal of the National bank of Serbia but have worse rates than the numerous smaller unofficial exchange offices.
The Euro is occasionally accepted, but prices are often overestimated when directly compared to the Dinar. Belgrade is typically on par with many European cities prices; however, outside the capital, prices of almost any item are lot lower than in the capital. Typically, 150 dinars for a coke in a Belgrade bar, and 220 dinars for 3 cokes in a bar outside the capital. Supermarket prices stay constant, throughout Belgrade with Coke at approx 120 dinars for 2 liters and a loaf of white bread at 40-60 dinars at Feb 2014. In February 2014, the dinar exchange rate stood at 85 Serbian Dinars for 1 US Dollar, 115.9 Serbian Dinars for €1 and 139 Serbian Dinars to 1 GBP.
Money changers may refuse worn-out or damaged foreign banknotes, especially US dollars, therefore it is recommended to bring notes only in good condition. Banks usually accept slightly damaged notes, sometimes with a commission.
Gas stations close to borders sometimes accept foreign currencies.
Serbia uses the Metric system.
Serbia can be divided into five regions and one de facto independent republic:
Most European nationals need no visa for entering Serbia. Citizens of United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Israel, Singapore, Japan, Australia and some other nations have visa-free access for a maximum stay of 90 days within 180 days. Citizens of the EU, Bosnia, FYR Macedonia and Montenegro need only an ID card. Check with your nearest Serbian embassy for current and detailed information.
Serbia announced that visitors with Kosovan visas or passport stamps will not be allowed into the country. Currently, however, this is not the case, but the visas and stamps will be overstamped with a "cancelled" stamp. Be warned that entering Serbia through Kosovo without a Serbian entry stamp is considered as an illegal entry and can be met with stiff penalties; likewise, leaving Serbia via Kosovo is not considered legally leaving the country, so you run the risk of being charged with overstaying your entry permit if you leave Serbia via Kosovo.
Customs controls are fairly straightforward, but a notable regulation is that you are allowed to move only 120,000 Serbian dinars into and out of the country, and notes larger than 1000 dinars are not allowed to move across the border.
Belgrade - The main airport of Serbia is the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG), located 18km from downtown Belgrade. Major European airlines fly to Belgrade. Serbian national airline was previously called Jat Airways but, after agreeing a partnership with Etihad Airways in 2013, changed its name to Air Serbia. It flies to all major cities in Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East. These are the following airlines that fly to Belgrade:
For the actualized list of airlines and destinations, consult: http://www.beg.aero/passengers/flights/seasonal_timetable.84.html
From the airport, you can easily reach the center of Belgrade with bus 72, which stops on the departures level. As at February 2014 the ticket prices are: RSD 73 (if bought in kiosk), RSD 101 (time-limited ticket), RSD 150 (if bought in the bus).
There are also express mini buses (line A1) connecting airport with Slavija square. Ticket price is at February 2014 RSD 300 (€2,65). It takes approximately 30 minutes.
Licensed taxi service fares from the airport and are prepaid with a voucher that must be purchased from the counter. The price varies depending on which Belgrade city zone you are traveling to. Prices range from RSD 1800 (€15) to RSD 8,200 (€72). Travel time to the city centre is approximately 20-30 min., depending on traffic.
Incoming taxis have radio communication with airport authorities. This ensures passengers a better alternative.
All licensed taxi drivers have a badge, an oval blue license plate with a serial number, and the Belgrade Coat of Arms displayed on the roof. Using unofficial taxis can mean high prices.
Make sure that the taximeter is switched on unless you have haggled for a set price. Tariff 1 is the correct one Monday to Saturday from morning till 10PM. On Tarif 1, the meter should not move more than one dinar per click - moving three or four dinars per click is a sure sign that the driver is attempting to rip you off. Tarif 3 is the 'trick' fare used to scam out of obscene amounts of money, moving 50 or 60 dinars per click. Or better, take one of the several bus lines, check the Belgrade section.
Niš - Serbia's second international airport is in Niš - Niš Constantine the Great International Airport (INI). The following airlines operate to and from the airport:
Several international trains (day and night) connect Belgrade with Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria. See Belgrade#By_train to detailed info and prices. Trains to Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia tend to be often quite late (about an hour) and they are allegedly reported to oftenly consist of old, not very comfortable, cars. Trains usually are very safe. Consider that many overnight trains cross country border in the middle of the night and custom officers won't have scruple to wake you up.
There's no train connection from Greece, as in Jan 2011 Greek Railways suspended all international trains. The former trains from Greece now depart from Skopje, Macedonia.
For timetables and all other infos check website of national carrier Serbian Railways 
A cheap way of traveling to or from Serbia might be the Balkan Flexipass.
For railway fans
The Beograd-Bar line is one of the most scenic railways in Europe, with plenty of tunnels and bridges (including Mala Rijeka, the highest railway bridge in the world) and magnificient views of Dinar mountains. It's definitively worth to ride here on a daytime train.
If your vehicle is registered and insured in an EU country you do not need a green card. Otherwise, make sure that your Green Card has an uncancelled "SRB" box. Coming in from Hungary, the Szeged/Horgoš border crossing is notorious for its congestion. If crossing the border from Hungary, try the Tompa/Kelebija crossing point, about 20km west, or the newly opened Backi vinogradi/Asotthalom crossing point. Similarly, when coming from Croatia, you may want to cross the border at Tovarnik/Šid instead of Bajakovo/Batrovci, and from Macedonia at Pelince/Prohor Pčinjski instead of Tabanovce/Preševo.
Please note that cars overtaking on undivided highways will often use the unofficial "middle lane". Exercise caution and pull over to the hard shoulder on the right to let them through safely.
Police are generally stationed at major junctions or at underpasses to control traffic and speed. Drivers commonly warn others of a police presence by flicking the high-beams on two or three times. Police interceptors patrol all major highways. Drivers speeding and/or driving aggressively are stopped. Speeds of up to 140 km/h in 120 km/h zones are usually, but not always, tolerated.
Note that the traffic law is strict. No person under age of 14 must not ride in the front seat, seat belts are obligatory for those who sit in the front, blood alcohol content is limited to 0.03% and fines are from €30 for smaller violations up to 60 days in prison and €5000 for causing a larger traffic accident (both locals and foreigners). IMPORTANT! If you are driving on country and local roads, pay attention to the bicycle riders, tractors and other heavy agricultural machines, especially at night! They can be without proper light signalization and hard to see, so slow down at night.
Highway tolls cost on average 0.03€/km and can be paid in Serbian dinars, Euros or by Mastercard/Visa. They are charged by road section, so it's possible to pay more if only part of a section is used.
Fuel (gasoline/petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas) is plentiful and of EU quality, unlike 20 years ago. Prices are similar to those in neighbouring countries, i.e. slightly cheaper than Western Europe, but very expensive compared to North America.
Vienna - Buses leave from Vienna International Busterminal (Erdberg) almost every day. For destinations south of Belgrade, Zoran Reisen coaches leave at 3PM on Friday, and charge around €45 for a one-way trip.
Hungary - When you take an international bus from Belgrade towards Germany, a collection is often held inside the bus for paying the Hungarian border guards a fee to let the bus go faster over the border. This is a bribe. On your way into Serbia, it seems cheaper, though the Hungarian border guards will demand all passengers sign a form declaring they offered no gift, cash or otherwise, to Hungarian border police whether they paid a bribe or not.
Sofia (Bulgaria) - There are daily to buses to Niš and Belgrade going from the central bus station next to the central railway station. The buses leave at 7:30am and 4pm. The buses are operated by Nis-Ekspres, but booked through Matpu, and cost 24 lev to Nis and 54 lev to Belgrade. Student discount saves 2 lev. (accurate as of 5 Aug 2013)
For more information, see the timetable (arrivals/departures) of the Belgrade bus station (in English): http://www.bas.rs/basweb_eng/RedVoznje.aspx?lng=en
There are boat tours, which pass through Belgrade. These are Trafalgar Tours in English, which cruise along the Danube and have a two day stopover in Belgrade.
Hitchhiking across Serbia is still acceptable and most drivers will treat you like a friend. However, necessary precautions should still be taken. Generally, it is easy to hitchhike through Vojvodina and much more difficult to hitch a ride from Belgrade to the south, to Kosovo, or Macedonia and Montenegro. The Hitchhiker's Guide to Serbia  offers a collection of hitchhiking tips for a number of cities and towns in Serbia. It was made by the members of the Serbia Travel Club, an association of independent travelers from Serbia, and is available in English and Serbian.
The cycling route EuroVelo 6  which runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, crosses Serbia by following the Danube river. Most of the advised itinerary follows minor paved roads, and directions are clearly indicated by a specific EuroVelo 6 signage.
Although too few cities offer appropriate cyclist-friendly infrastructures, cycling is slowly gaining interest among the population as an economic and sustainable alternative way of touring and commuting.
The most common and convenient way of getting around Serbia is by bus. See Bus travel in the former Yugoslavia for more information. For information about Serbian bus traffic and detailed search of schedules see "Polazak.com Timetable".
Trains within Serbia do exist but are slow, often old and uncomfortable, and prone to delays. There is an English-language website for train schedules .
See the Get in by car section for information on driving in Serbia with your own vehicle.
Renting a car is also possible; it might be convenient if you arrive by air and wish to visit non-urban areas not frequently served by buses. See Belgrade Airport Car Rental  for the latest prices.
The official Serbian language is similar to Croatian and Bosnian. Before the era of nationalist linguistic policies and the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, all of those dialects were all known as Serbo-Croatian. Today, people in the former Yugoslavia no longer use this general term for what remains as a common language.
If you speak Russian, it can prove to be occasionally helpful for you, as the two languages have some similarities. This also includes all other Slavic languages, especially Bulgarian and Macedonian.
English is commonly spoken throughout Serbia and the younger people tend to have excellent command. They are also quite willing to practice it with foreigners. Also, you can try with young people talking German, French, Russian, Spanish or Italian which are taught in Serbian schools.
In Vojvodina, most people speak Serbian, but other languages are also used. In some towns near the Hungarian border, you are more likely to hear Hungarian. There are many smaller minorities, like the Slovaks, the Romanians, Romani people and the Russians, who often speak their native languages.
Serbia's many sights include stunning castles, Medieval monasteries, lovely traditional villages and bustling cities with baroque parks and art-deco architecture.
Cities and villages
Its capital, Belgrade, is a lively and upcoming European city with the Sava and Danube rivers running right trough it. It's a nice place to spend time. Stroll through Prince Michael Street, the cities main pedestrian street, or have a drink on Skadarlija, a vintage street in the spirit of old Belgrade, filled with restaurants and cafés. There are a lot of old buildings on all four banks, including the huge Kalemegdan Fortress, that has been built, modelled and remodelled by Celts, Romans, Byzantins, Serbs, Austrians and Turks over more than 2,000 years. Once an important military fortification, it now serves as central park of Belgrade with beautiful views, especially during sunset. Within the fort is a zoo, a military museum, famous churches, galleries, parks, sports fields, etc. It has a multitude of various towers and ports, and two long walking/biking paths along both rivers. Other Belgrade sights include the modern Temple of Saint Sava, the National Museum and the Old Castle. The river island Ada Ciganlija has an artificial lake and an 8 km long gravel beach, which is visited by thousands of bathers during the summer. It's a lively place with lots of entertainment, cafes and restaurants, some of which are opened the whole year round. Zemun, now part of the Belgrade urban area, developed independently for most of its history and is a pleasant area with a distinct identity.
Novi Sad is another delightful city, with the Petrovaradin Fortress (one of the greatest and best preserved XVIII century fortresses in Europe) as it's main sight. The city also has a number of lovely parks that just ask for a long afternoon stroll or picnic. Sremski Karlovci near Novi Sad has a rich history, numerous monuments, museums, churches, galleries and famous wine cellars. Novi Pazar, your last stop before Kosovo, has a distinct Turkish heritage and a bunch of great monasteries in the surrounding area.
Aranđelovac is well known for the springs of remedial mineral water, which was said to be of great help in 1811 to Dositej Obradović, a leader of the Serbian Enlightenment movement. By personal request of Duke Miloš Obrenović, this Bukovik water was transported and used in his court. Hand-bottling of the mineral water for commercial use began at the beginning of the 20th century, and through the decades to come it received the highest international grades for quality. Also, the beautiful park of Bukovička Banja Spa shares the popularity with Aranđelovac mineral water. It encompasses the area of 21.5 ha with the permanent exhibition of marble figures of the most eminent domestic (ex-Yugoslavian) and foreign authors, a product of the 30-year tradition of the festival Mermer i zvuci. All the events take place in the summer open scene in the park, or in the Sala Kneževa, in the Staro Zdanje hotel. This 150 year old hotel is situated in the park itself, and its original purpose was the summer residence for the Obrenović dynasty. The pavilion of Duke Miloš and several mineral water springs are also situated in the park. The mineral water is used in the Spa together with clay from the local area in curing diseases of gastrointestinal and hepatolibiar organs, respiratory diseases, and locomotor organs. The flag-bearer of the tourism in the town, the luxurious hotel and spa resort Izvor is located adjacent to the park. In addition to accommodation for its guests, the hotel offers congress, SPA & wellness services.The Aranđelovac municipality area also bears historical importance. First Serbian Uprising against the Turks in 1804 started in the village of Orašac (6 km (3.73 mi) from the town). A complex in Marićevića Jaruga in Orašac memorizes the location where the rebellion started. February 15, the day of uprising, is celebrated as the day the modern Serbian state is founded.
10 km (6.21 mi) away from Aranđelovac is the accumulation Lake Garaši, Aranđelovac’s supply of water. The lake encompasses 65 ha, its deepest point is at 22 m, it is rich in fish and it is the town’s favorite holiday place. Aranđelovac Museum has a permanent exhibition of various items from the Neolith Risovačka Cave, which is located at the very entrance of the town. Mokra Gora is a traditionally reconstructed village in the popular mountain region of Zlatibor. The village of Sirogojno is in the same region, with a nice open air museum and lots of traditional crafts on display. Very nearby is the traditional village of Drvengrad, also known as Mećavnik, which the Serbian film director Emir Kusturica built for his film Life Is a Miracle. If you've seen the villages, Zlatibor offers some great ski-resorts, hiking trails and landscapes. Or, hop on the The Šargan Eight, a narrow-gauge heritage railway running from Mokra Gora to Šargan Vitasi station (Zlatibor and Tara mountains). When it comes to the number of bridges and tunnels, and the rise of 18 per thousand, Sargan Eight is unique in Europe and a ride on the 8-shaped track is a popular pass time for tourists.
Serbia is home to a great number of Medieval orthodox monasteries, many with excellent fresco masterpieces inside. The 12th century monastery of Studenica (near Kraljevo) is one of the finest examples and recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Its two churches are built in white marble and boast some stunning 13th and 14th century Byzantine paintings. Žiča, also near Kraljevo, was founded around 1207 and painted red as a symbol of the blood of the martyrs of the early Christian church. The frescos at Sopoćani (near Novi Pazar) are considered some of the finest examples of their time, and the monastery is on the World Heritage list together with ruins of ancient Stari Ras, once the capital of the Serbian state of Raška but deserted in the 13th century. The fortified Manasija monastery near Despotovac is protected by massive walls and towers, and although much of its original frescos were damaged beyond repair during the Ottoman rule, it's still well worth a visit. Located in the beautiful Kučaj mountains, Ravanica near Ćuprija was assaulted, damaged and rebuilt time and again during history. It is the burial place of Lazar of Serbia, who is a saint of the orthodox Serbian church and a hero in Serbian epic poetry. Other fine monasteries include the Mileševa monastery near Prijepolje, with its world famous "White Angel" fresco, and Krušedol near Srem.The famous medieval monasteries were protected by UNESCO are: The Pec Patriarchate(monastery), Gracanica monastery, the monastery of Visoki Decani, ...
Of the several national parks and natural areas in the country, Fruška Gora is undoubtedly one of the best. Dotted with ancient monasteries and wineries, it combines orchards and vineyards on its vast plains with tight forests on its plains. The Tara National Park covers some 20.000 hectares in the west of the country. There, the steep gorges of the Drina river and the high mountain peaks provide some stunning views that make a long hike well worth your effort. The mountainous landscape of Kopaonik, in the south, offers some great ski and snowboard opportunities as well as great views and a rich flora. Largest and perhaps most breathtaking national park is Djerdap, located in the northeast of the country, bordering Romania. It consist of the steep gorge thru which river Danube runs and its almost untouched nature and wildlife rich banks. Djerdap is also filled with many archaeological sites, most famous of them is Lepenski Vir, considered to be a first human habitat on European soil.
Spas and resorts
Vrnjačka Banja is the largest and most popular spa resort in Serbia and traditionally very attractive tourist resort for rest and recreation. It's the only mineral spa with a water temperature to match that of the human body, 36.5 degrees Celcius. Soko Banja is another famous spa and tourist place in Serbia for its moderate continental climate and immense surfaces of woods, fresh air and a lot of thermo-mineral sources. Palić is a lovely city in the north. Its baroque parks, monuments of art nouveau architecture and a long tradition in catering made it a fashionable summer resort and spa for the 19th and 20th century elite.
Viminacium near the village of Stari Kostolac is an important archaeological site and was Serbia's first excavation project in the 1880's. It was once the provincial capital of the Roman province of Moesia (today's Serbia) and dates back to the 1st century. At the site you'll find archaeological remains of temples, streets, squares, a large amphitheatre, palaces, hippodromes and Roman baths. Another major archaeological site (and doubling as a spa) is that of Gamzigrad. It hosts the remnants of an ancient Roman complex of palaces and temples called Felix Romuliana, and is considered one of the most prominent and best preserved late-Roman sites.
Ada Ciganlija is also an excellent place to kick back and relax during summer. It is as locals call it the sea of Belgrade. A lot of sport fields and courts (soccer, basketball, golf, volleyball, etc.). Cafes serving ice cream and beer abound on the banks of this lake-beach park.
Favorite leisure activity in Belgrade is drinking coffee in numerous bars, bistros and cafés (especially in Strahinjića Bana street, which is known locally as Silicon Valley). It is very strange, but most of places are occupied all day long - ie, within working hours. You should check: Downtown café, Buka bar, Movie bar, Iron café, Biblioteka café, Monza café-boat, Bibis café-boat, and many more; People who are not in the folk and MTV music, and don't like to drink overpriced coffee, should avoid this street. There are coffee bars on almost every corner in Belgrade, which offer more relaxed atmosphere and are designed with more taste that those in Strahinjića Bana street.
Smederevo is a town about 50 km from Belgrade. There are direct bus lines almost every half an hour and it takes about one hour to get there from Belgrade. It is considered as the unofficial rock 'n' roll capitol of Serbia because of its many rock musicians and bands who live there or were born there. See the largest lowland medieval fortress in Europe (especially at night when its lights give a special romantic and mystical atmosphere) or go to a rock concert at "Moto Club Street Fighter" which is located at the very bank of the Danube. At the end of September, the town hosts a traditional festival called "Smederevska Jesen" (Smederevo Autumn) which is a festival of vine and Serbian culture with many concerts and other happenings. During the festival, there is a carnival located at the end of the town. Just stay in the town center. The Museum of Smederevo holds a lot of Roman and medieval items and collections, so for history lovers, it's a must-see.
Festivals and nightlife
EXIT festival – Biggest music festival in SE Europe, that is happening in the beginning of July, in Novi Sad, on Petrovaradin fortress .
Festival of traditional brass bands, "Trumpet Festival" in Guca village is held every year at the beginning of August.Festival of traditional brass bands, "Trumpet Festival" in Guca village located 20 km from the town of Cacak.During the festival in this small town a few days to go over half a million visitors.The festival in Guca is perhaps the biggest festival of this type, including a lot of visitors from abroad.
Belgrade Beer Fest, which takes place at Ušće every August .
Foam Fest originated in 2009 and more than 60,000 people have visited it since then. LED screens arranged all over the Arena, with hundreds of light guns, lasers, robo heads and other light and sound equipment, numerous foamfalls and foam guns will classify this event again as a manifestation that sets new production standards in Serbia and the region Belgrade Foam Fest.
Belgrade is very famous for its whole-night-party clubs. If you are looking for a place to feel the local atmosphere and good vibes, visit bohemian street “Skadarlija”. Please have a look at the Belgrade article for further options.
New Year's Eve
Restaurants, clubs, cafe's and hotels are usually full-booked and organize New Years celebrations with food and live music.
However, Serbian New Year's celebrations are most known for the outdoors festivities in Belgrade, and several other major cities such as Novi Sad, Niš and Jagodina. As of mid-December, cities are extensively decorated and lit. The decorations remain until way into January due to the persistent influence of the old Julian calendar. Throughout the region, especially amongst former Yugoslav republics, Belgrade is known as the place to be for major parties, concerts and happenings. It has become common for large groups of Slovenes to visit their former capital and celebrate the beginning of a new year. Especially since the mid-1990s, street celebrations grew into mass gatherings with hundreds of thousands of people, celebrating New Year on one of several locations throughout Belgrade.
Also, on January 14, Serbians celebrate the so called Serbian New Year, which is actually New Year's Eve by Eastern Church calender. In the night between January 13 and 14, you can actually re-live New Year's Eve.
Serbia uses the dinar (RSD, динар, pl. dinari/динари). Coins come in values of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 dinars, and banknotes are found in values of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 dinars. The banknotes, at least in Belgrade, tend to be more common than the coins, so be prepared to carry around a large number of banknotes in varying conditions.
Downtown Belgrade is populated with many high-end as well as midrange shops. "Knez Mihailova" is the biggest shopping street, but there are also quite a few shopping malls, such as Delta City and Ušće Shopping Center. Imported western food is available in many supermarkets, especially in the Croatian-owned "Idea". In nearly all Serbian pharmacies (apoteka), you can buy prescription drugs without prescription.
Prices tend to be on par with the rest of the Balkans.
When ordering a burger, ask for 'pljeskavica' (pronounced approximately: PYES-ka-vitsa) and ask for kajmak (like mildly sour cream) (pronounced: KAI-mak); it tastes way better than it sounds. Stepin Vajat(Степин Вајат) and Duff at Autokomanda, Mara in downtown area and Iva in Žarkovo are the best grill fast food restaurants in town. Also, try ćevapi or ćevapčići (pronounced: chay-VAH-pee, chay-VAP-chitchee); they are small parcels of minced meat, grilled with hot spices. It is considered a local fast food delicacy.
Burek (pronounced BOO-rek), sometimes decribed as the Balkan equivalent of McDonalds due to its being sold everywhere, is considered a national dish. It is made with a range of fillings including meat, cheese, spinach, apple or cherry. Due to the high fat content it is not for dieters. it is often eaten in the morning and can be sold out by the evening.
Tap water is perfectly safe to drink, and mainly of a good quality, too. If the water looks cloudy, it's because of air bubbles in the water. It's safe to drink, but you can also let it sit for a few seconds and watch the air bubbles clear up.
There are also many springs and fountains with excellent-quality drinking water - the most popular ones being the fountain on Knez Mihailova in Belgrade, and the many fountains in the city of Nis.
One must pay attention when it comes to water in Vojvodina. Some regions (like Kikinda and Zrenjanin) have heavily polluted water that is not even used for cooking, only as technical water.
Serbia is generally a safe place to visit. The locals are incredibly polite and helpful in case you require any assistance. (If you need any help finding/reaching a place, it's best to ask a younger person for help, as they are more likely to speak English.) However, you should always be aware of pickpockets, mainly in crowded tourist places and on public transportation. Street robberies, murders, or attacks are highly unusual, even in dark or remote parts of the city. Organized crime is common, but doesn't target tourists or the general population. One should always watch out for drivers, who can be very rude to pedestrians or cyclists. There is also widespread intolerance against homosexuals.
Following the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, reports of UXO's (unexploded ordinances) have occurred outside the major cities. Keep an eye out for markings which may note a potential UXO zone when outside the cities and always stick to well-trod paths. If you find a suspicious object resembling a bomb/mortar/landmine, DON'T touch it. Report it to the nearest police station immediately. Although most or UXO's have been cleared, it is also very unlikely that you will find any of those, even in the least visited parcels of Serbia.
Serbs are a very friendly, polite and hospitable people, especially in the southern parts of the country.
When you are invited into a Serbian home, make sure to bring them a gift if you are coming for the first time. Anything is fine from flowers to chocolate or alcoholic drinks and indeed something representative from your country. If you are bringing flowers, make sure you bring an odd number of them, as an even number is usually brought to funerals. When inside the house, don't ask for anything for they will surely offer it. If you are thirsty it is polite to ask for a glass of water. The host probably forgot to offer you a drink and will do so.
In public transportation it is considered polite to offer an elderly person or a pregnant woman a place to sit. Make sure to wait for everyone to exit the vehicle before you enter, as to avoid dirty looks.
Since many Serbs feel nationally frustrated by the recent historical events in the Balkans, it is best to avoid discussion of the 1990s Yugoslavian Wars, the NATO bombing of Serbia. If someone brings the topic up, try to avoid giving any strong opinions until you can assess your acquaintance's views. Do not mention support for Kosovo independence. The US's vocal support of Kosovar independence, in addition to the 1999 air strikes caused some ill-will directed towards the West, particularly towards the US (though unlikely on a personal level). However if you share the views of most Serbs some may be willing to discuss the subject and many will be happy speaking to a Westerner who shares their views.
On the other hand, talking about Socialist Yugoslavia and Tito will not raise as many eyebrows; as most will not hesitate in talking about it and some may even approach it with a strong degree of affection towards that more stable and peaceful era. But it is possible to approach strong anti-communist and nationalist attitude, especially among young people and some rural aereas, where old communist/nationalist divide from WWII is considered still alive. Remember, Serbia does not recognize the independence of Kosovo but maintains relations with Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Serbia is a predominantly Christian Orthodox country, though secular, it is extremely rude to insult or mock some of its traditions, and ensure that you do not speak badly of the Christian religion. Similar to other ex-Yugoslavia countries, Serbs do not like their country to be described as part of "Eastern Europe". Another common misconception is that Serbia was part of the Soviet Bloc (in fact, it was part of Yugoslavia that notoriously split with the Eastern bloc back in 1948). While in other nations of Eastern Europe Russia remains unpopular due to its influence over those nations during the Cold War, in Serbia Russians were always seen as friendly brotherly people. People have no problems talking about the communist period or Tito and often become even nostalgic over it.
When toasting in Serbia, as in the most of European countries, make sure you make eye contact. You may be invited to drink gallons but are expected to be able to hold your drink. Being obviously drunk is a sign of bad taste, lack of character, and worse. Be careful, "rakija", a plum spirit (usually about 53% alcohol content), is stronger than expected, and will make you drunk fast! It is always nice to toast in your companion's native tongue. Cheers is živeli in Serbian, egészségedre in Hungarian. Don't point with your finger at someone. This is considered rude.
Socially, displays of affection among the younger generation are the same as Western European standards, but the older generation (over 65) still are quite conservative.
The word molim (please) is key to polite conversation in Serbian. It basically means please, but also you're welcome, an appropriate response when somebody thanks you (and says hvala). It also means I beg your pardon?. Just saying Šta? (What?) can sound rude. It may be said that the use of the word molim is similar to the use of bitte in German.
Like most European languages, has the formal and informal way of saying you (Vi and ti). Use the formal Vi version when addressing older people. People are normally not addressed or referred to by their first names, unless among friends or relatives.
Parts of Russia#Respect also apply here (in particular Home Etiquette and Dining Etiquette).
А а(Aa), Б б(Bb), В в(Vv), Г г(Gg), Д д(Dd), Е е(Ee), Ж ж(Žž), З з(Zz), И и(Ii), К к(Kk), Л л(Ll), М м(Mm), Н н(Nn), О о(Oo), П п(Pp), Р р(Rr), С с(Ss), Т т(Tt), У у(Uu), Ф ф(Ff), Х х(Hh), Ц ц(Cc), Ч ч(Čč, or ch), Ш ш(Šš, or sh), and Ј ј(j or Y), and Љ љ(Lj lj), Њ њ(Nj nj), Ћ (Ćć or ch-soft), Ђ ђ(Đđ), Џ џ(DŽ dž, or dz), -example:Београд(Beograd), Врњачка бања(Vrnjačka banja), Слободан(Slobodan), Михаило(Mihailo), Црква(Crkva), Улица(Ulica),Пијаца(Pijaca),Трг(Trg),Кафана(Kafana), Град(Grad),Центар(Centar)...
Serbian greetings are the following:
There are three GSM/UMTS mobile phone networks in Serbia: MTS, Telenor and Vip. Prepaid SIM cards usually cost 200 dinars and there is no need for identification when buying them.
In some stores you can buy a simple mobile phone packaged with prepaid SIM card for 2000-3000 dinars.