There is some dispute about which countries are actually Balkan. What this travel guide aims to do is not only clarify what ‘the Balkans’ refers to, but also highlight the beauty behind this behemoth. Because this collection of complex and culturally rich countries is packed with national parks, lakes, mountains and coastal gems that few tourists have heard of. Read more in our Balkans travel guide.
Serbia travel guide
People tend to throw all of ‘The Balkans’ together into a box, sweeping over this European peninsula swiftly without stopping to savour all the fine ingredients. Serbia is one of those ingredients, but one that is often listed in very small print, in comparison with the heady flavours of neighbouring Croatia, Hungary or Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, it is slowly creeping higher up the list of go to places, as travellers realise that Serbia is not to be sniffed at. Most tourists are beckoned by Belgrade and then give a tertiary nod to the Danube, ignoring the Dinaric Alps, the Ottoman influences in Novi Sad or the rural architecture and traditional foods of areas like Mokra Gora.
Serbia was traditionally a place where people came to take healing waters, with over 30 thermal spas or ‘banja’. Indeed, the power of healing is tangible all over Serbia now.
Yes, Serbia’s history is turbulent, but tourism is tranquil. Get out onto it ancient mountain trails, take moments of sanctuary in a riverside monastery, or sip a local white wine with local salamis and cheese. Before people start to read the small print.
Read our Serbia travel guide for more details.
Read our Serbia travel guide for more details.
Our Serbia Holidays
totally off the tourist trail, except Belgrade which can get packed. The national parks, canyons and gorges are just sitting pretty.
just place to stop en route to Bucharest. It’s a place to head to the mountains, take a book, and rest.
Our top Serbia Holiday
A 2 week adventure through Eastern Europe's hidden gems!
From £999 14 days ex flights
Small group travel:
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Serbia map & highlights
Tennis is the number one sport in Serbia, thanks to world champion Novak Djokovic. What many people don’t know is that he is also a member of the Champions for Peace club, in which elite athletes promote peace through sports. Thankfully Serbia is not only living through more peaceful times, something that we believe tourism also plays an important role in, but it is also an extremely peaceful place to visit. Because, unlike Djokovic, Serbian travel hasn’t hit the world stage yet. Visit the Derdap Gorge, where the Danube separates the Carpathian Mountains from the Balkan Mountains. Ancient monasteries, from Ottoman to Orthodox. Or the devastatingly beautiful Dinaric Alps. Because this is Serbia. Game, set and match.
Once capital of Communist Yugoslavia, and now capital of Serbia, it is positioned at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers, inviting air bombardments during WW2 and by NATO in 1999. Many of its ancient heritage gems remain, however, such as the Kalemegdan Fort which has been occupied by Celts, Romans, Byzantines, you name it. Explore other historical gems in the Old City, known as of Stari Grad.
Derdap National Park
2. Derdap National Park
It doesn’t get more gorg-eous than Derdap, a 640km2 national park carved by the River Danube into four spectacular gorges. The largest is Derdap Gorge (aka Iron Gates), stretching for 100km. Forming a natural border with Romania, it’s where the Danube separates the Carpathian from the Balkan Mountains. The park’s riverfront Golubac Fortress is a magnificent sight, especially on a Danube boat trip.
Mokra Gora Nature Park
3. Mokra Gora Nature Park
A mountainous region peppered with beyond pretty,,traditional wooden cabins in valleys squeezed between Mt. Tara and Mt. Zlatibor. The most popular way to navigate it is on the restored, narrow gauge Šargan Eight train that chugs over gorges of the Rzav and Kamiška Rivers between Mokra Gora village and Šargan. Bring binoculars; these untouched hills are home to the likes of bears, eagles and capercaillie grouse.
4. Novi Pazar
As with many Serbian towns, it may be growing but the mountains are never far. Novi Pazar is no exception, surrounded by the Golija and Rogozna mountains. Founded in the Ottoman era, it is steward of several # ancient monuments, from the Roman Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul to 13th century Sopo?ani Serb Orthodox monastery, a UNESCO site. The latter is in Stari Ras, the ancient regional capital.
5. Novi Sad
The second largest city, with a pretty location on the Danube River, is a popular spot with cyclists journeying along the EuroVelo 6 that connects Belgrade with Bucharest via the river. Churches fill the town, from Serbian Orthodox to Roman Catholic to a synagogue, but it’s the Petrovaradin fortress that dominates, thought to date back to the Bronze Age. Check out summer river beach ‘Štrand’.
A Dinaric Alps region, the highest peak is Tornik (1,496m) which has a ski resort with a fair amount of snow cannons. Leave a more eco-friendly footprint by hiking here at other times. The main town is Kraljeve Vode (aka Zlatibor) but villages are scattered throughout. Walk to traditional wooden churches, dip in waterfalls such as at Gostilje and picnic on foodie treats including Zlatibor ham and artisan cheeses.