Serbia’s capital Belgrade is located at the intersection between the Danube and the Sava rivers, and is an eclectic, if sometimes arresting, mix of old and new styles, from 19th century buildings to Art Nouveau structures.
There is a little bit of everything in Belgrade, including the dominating Kalemegdan Fortress, located in Kalemegdan Park, the remains of which stand today. The park is also home to the Military Museum that even features the remnants of a US Stealth Bomber for those keen to learn about the military history of the region.
Aside from the fortress there are Orthodox churches, colourful facades, and quaint squares aplenty, but for something more unexpected head over to the island of Ada Cinganlija or ‘Gypsy Island’ in the south of Belgrade to find yourself at something of a self styled beach resort. Here you will find beaches that stretch along the banks of the Sava, and you can enjoy swimming, water sports like waterskiing, and a large area of parkland for those who enjoy checking out the local plant and wildlife.
2. Fruška Gora Mountain and National Park
Located in the region of Syrmia, Fruška Gora Mountain is found on the border with neighbouring Croatia, and is affectionately known as the ‘Jewel of Serbia’. The mountain region includes a protected area known as Fruška Gora Park, and is studded with vineyards and wineries that are well worth a visit for grape enthusiasts. Rambling, hiking, climbing and picnicking are all popular pursuits in the region, but perhaps the biggest draw here are the Orthodox monasteries that are scattered all over the countryside, some of which are said to date back to the 12th century and are now protected. The scenery here is spectacular, and many visitors come to enjoy the stunning views and unhurried pace that allows you to explore the region at your leisure.
Serbia is well known for its spa towns, once the retreat of choice of Roman emperors, and none more so than the town of Sokobanja in the east of the country. Locals and celebrities flock here for the thermal waters that are said to have deeply healing properties, and there is a public ‘hamam’ or steam room that dates from the 17th century. As well as the hot springs, visitors also travel to Sokobanja for the crisp air said to be high in negative ions and free from air pollution due to the increased elevation, leading to the phrase ‘climatic spa’ to describe the treatment that breathing in the fresh air provides.
The region of Vinca, located outside of Belgrade, is one of the most important places in the history of Serbia, as it is home to the archaeological site Belo brdo, meaning ‘White Hill’. The area was made famous by the archaeological finds uncovered in Vinca, many made of stone or bone, including statues, ornaments, and drinking vessels, and visitors can tour the site as well as the museum that showcases these examples of Neolithic culture that are said to date from approximately 5,000 to 4,000 BC. Vinca is also known as a stop off point for river cruises along the Danube, and the local docks are famous for the fish restaurants that dot the neighbourhood for those who want to try some of the freshly caught fish on offer.
If you like winter sports and happen to be visiting Serbia during the winter season, from December to April, then come to the Kopaonik mountain range and get ready to hit the slopes, whatever your level of ability or previous experience. There are a whopping twenty four ski lifts that service the area, and categories of slopes of all levels to choose from, as well as skiing and snowboarding available at the Kopaonik Ski Resort. If you happen to be travelling out of ski season, then there is still plenty to enjoy in Kopaonik, as you can partake in mountain climbing, hiking, and bird watching. Also of interest for hikers or ramblers are the wooden buildings that are plentiful in the region and include timbre shrines and churches.
6. Lepenski Vir
A famous site in the central Balkan Peninsula, Lepenski Vir dates from approximately 9,000 to 6,000 BC and features important archaeological relics that budding archaeologists are sure to love. The site features displaced and preserved buildings and sculptures, many of which feature fish motifs, as well as shrines and river stones said to represent ancient gods. The site also displays figurines from 7,000 BC in the form of pre-historic men and women in expressionistic styles.
The third largest city in Serbia, located in the south of the country, Niš is known for being a university town as well as the birthplace of the Roman emperor Constantine. As such, there is a relaxed and fun-loving vibe to the city, as well as a number of attractions of historical importance, not least the Memorial of Constantine the Great, proudly on show in the centre of the city. Another place of historic note in Niš is the Niš Fotress, built in the 18th century, and it is here that the two sides of the city expertly meet, as the area in front of the fortress is home to rows of cafes that are much loved by the student population looking for some rest and relaxation.