Tourism in Serbia
Serbia stretches across two geographic and cultural regions of Europe: Central Europe and Southeast Europe. This boundary splits Serbia roughly in a ratio of 1:2 alongside the Danube and Sava rivers. The northern parts of the country are Central-European lowlands while the southern and central parts are mostly mountainous. There are more than 15 mountain peaks rising to over 2,000 metres above sea level. The navigable rivers are the Danube, Sava and Tisa. A moderate continental climate predominates, with a more Mediterranean climate in the south.
The variety of scenery and cultural and historical monuments, curative spas, hunting grounds and fishing areas give the basis for Serbia's tourism. International roads and railway lines link Western/Central Europe with Greece, Turkey, the Near East, Asia and Africa. The main air transport routes between West and East and North and South cross the country, too.
Geography of Serbia
The Serbian lands were the crossroads of various civilizations in the past, with different spiritual, architectural, artistic and cultural influences. Serbian culture and its historical heritage is diverse because of mixture of various influences. Numerous prehistoric and classical monuments represent some unique examples of the changing times (Vinca culture, Starcevo culture, Lepenski Vir, etc.) Serbia is a land of natural, historic, cultural and ethnic contrasts. The northern lowlands (the province of Vojvodina) form the Central European part of the country. The Fruška Gora hills are the only mountains in that part of Central Europe. Central Serbia is characterised by fields, hedges, orchards and meadows. Southern Serbia has bigger mountain ranges with wide river valleys and hollows.
Eastern Serbia is covered with mountains which belong to the Carpathian mountains but also to the Balkan mountain system. Here, the Danube river cuts the Kazan, the longest and narrowest part of the Djerdap Gorge. Western Serbia is another mountainous region, with many picturesque canyons, forests and great natural and climatic advantages. Waters in Serbia—rivers, lakes, artificial lakes and mineral springs, represent an important natural resource for tourism. The Danube, the largest and the most important waterway in Europe flows through Serbia, covering some 591 km inside its borders. The river Sava was formerly the largest national river in Yugoslavia, connecting Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in length of about 900 km; the river's mouth is located north of Ljubljana and the river's end is in Belgrade, where it flows into the Danube by an ancient fortress of Kalemegdan.
Flora and fauna are especially attractive. Throughout Serbia there are numerous animal species and game stock, which is a very favourable precondition for the hunting tourism. Many tourist resorts have sprung up with accommodation facilities, ideal for rest and recreation, situated in this diverse combination of natural and human mightiness. As a tourist area, Serbia has a very long tradition. For more than 150 years, guests have been coming to Serbian spas--Palic and Vrnjacka Banja being the best-known among tourists. The current receptive basis of tourism and catering industry consists of 125,000 beds in basic and supplementary accommodation facilities. There are nearly 40,000 hotel beds in various classes.
Belgrade, the capital of modern Serbia, is situated at the confluence of the Sava and the Danube rivers. In the course of its long history it has been captured 60 times, and razed to the ground at least 38 times; however every time it got levelled to the ground the city arose from its ashes, like a phoenix- which is a legend connected to the city. Today, it is a modern city of about 2 million inhabitants. To visitors, Belgrade offers a rich programme of cultural, artistic and sports events, many museums, and cultural and historic monuments. With the Sava Congress Centre and numerous hotels, Belgrade has become one of the major congress and convention centres in Europe.
Convention facilities are available in other large towns: Niš, Kragujevac, Leskovac, Kruševac, Užice, Valjevo, Zaječar, Vršac, Sombor, Pristina, and Sremska Mitrovica, as well as the mountain centres: Kopaonik, Tara, Zlatibor, Divčibare, and Brezovica, and the spas: Vrnjačka Banja, Niška Banja, Bukovička Banja, Soko Banja, and many other tourist resorts.
The historic areas and buildings of Belgrade are among the city's premier attractions. They include Skadarlija, the National Museum and adjacent National Theatre, Zemun, Nikola Pašić Square, Terazije, Students' Square, the Kalemegdan Fortress, Knez Mihailova Street, the Parliament, the Temple of Saint Sava, and the Old Palace. On top of this, there are many parks, monuments, museums, cafés, restaurants and shops on both sides of the river. The hilltop Avala Monument offers views over the city. Josip Broz Tito's mausoleum, called Kuća Cveća (The House of Flowers), and the nearby Topčider and Košutnjak parks are also popular, especially among visitors from the former Yugoslavia.
National Museum of Serbia is currently under reconstruction.The National Museum building was declared a Monument of Culture of Great Importance in 1979.Museum houses over 400.000 objects including numerous art masters such as Titian, El Greco, Paolo Veronese, Diego Velázquez, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Amedeo Modigliani, Paja Jovanović, Ivan Meštrović and many others...
Beli dvor or 'White Palace', house of royal family Karađorđević, is open for visitors. The palace has many valuable works from Rembrandt, Nicolas Poussin, Sébastien Bourdon, Paolo Veronese, Antonio Canaletto, Biagio d'Antonio, Giuseppe Crespi, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Ivan Meštrović, and others.
Ada Ciganlija is a former island on the Sava river, and Belgrade's biggest sports and recreational complex. Today it is connected with the shore, creating an artificial lake on the river. It is the most popular destination for Belgraders during the city's hot summers. There are 7 kilometres of long beaches and sports facilities for various sports including golf, football, basketball, volleyball, rugby union, baseball, and tennis. During summer there are between 200,000 and 300,000 bathers daily. Clubs work 24 hours a day, organising live music and overnight beach parties. Extreme sports are available, such as bungee jumping, water skiing and paintballing. There are numerous tracks on the island, where it is possible to ride a bike, go for a walk or go jogging. Apart from Ada, Belgrade has total of 16 islands on the rivers, many still unused. Among them, the Great War Island at the confluence of Sava, stands out as an oasis of unshattered wildlife (especially birds). These areas, along with nearby Small War Island, are protected by the city's government as a nature preserve.
Belgrade has a reputation for offering a vibrant nightlife, and many clubs that are open until dawn can be found throughout the city. The most recognizable nightlife features of Belgrade are the barges (сплавови, splavovi) spread along the banks of the Sava and Danube Rivers.
Many weekend visitors—particularly from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia—prefer Belgrade nightlife to that of their own capitals, due to a perceived friendly atmosphere, great clubs and bars, cheap drinks, the lack of language difficulties, and the lack of restrictive night life regulation.
Famous alternative clubs include Akademija and the famed KST (Klub Studenata Tehnike) located in the basement of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Electrical Engineering. One of the most famous sites for alternative cultural happenings in the city is the SKC (Student Cultural Centre), located right across from Belgrade's highrise landmark, the Beograđanka. Concerts featuring famous local and foreign bands are often held at the centre. SKC is also the site of various art exhibitions, as well as public debates and discussions.
A more traditional Serbian nightlife experience, accompanied by traditional music known as Starogradska (roughly translated as Old Town Music), typical of northern Serbia's urban environments, is most prominent in Skadarlija, the city's old bohemian neighbourhood where the poets and artists of Belgrade gathered in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Skadar Street (the centre of Skadarlija) and the surrounding neighbourhood are lined with some of Belgrade's best and oldest traditional restaurants (called kafanas in Serbian), which date back to that period. At one end of the neighbourhood stands Belgrade's oldest beer brewery, founded in the first half of the nineteenth century. One of the city's oldest kafanas is the Znak pitanja, Serbian term for "?".
The respected Times newspaper in the UK reported that Europe's best nightlife can be found in buzzing Belgrade. In the Lonely Planet "1000 Ultimate Experiences", Belgrade was placed at the 1st spot among the top 10 party cities in the world.
Niš is third largest city in Serbia. With 255,295 inhabitants, it is sixth largest city in Balkans. Niš is birthplace to the Constantine the Great, father of Byzantium, Constantinople and first Christian emperor of Rome. There are many hotels in Niš. If you want to visit this city do not forget to see the city centre and Niš town spa. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and has from ancient times been considered a gateway between the East and the West. The Paleo-Balkan Thracians were formed in the Iron Age, the Triballi tribe would dwell here prior to the Celtic invasion in 279 BC which established the Scordisci as masters of the region. Naissus was among the cities taken in the Roman conquest in 75 BC. The Romans built the Via Militaris in the 1st century, with Naissus being one of the key towns. Niš is also notable as the birthplace of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman Emperor and the founder of Constantinople, as well as two other Roman emperors, Constantius III and Justin I. It is home to one of Serbia's oldest Christian churches dating to the 4th century in the suburb of Mediana.
There are about 30,000 students at the University of Niš, which comprises 13 faculties. Niš is also one of the most important industrial centres in Serbia, a centre of electronics industry (see Elektronska Industrija Niš), industry of mechanical engineering, textile- and tobacco industry. Constantine the Great Airport is its international airport. In 2013 the city will host the Ecumenical Assembly of Christian Churches, to mark 1700 years of Constantine's Edict of Milan.
- Skull Tower (Serbian: Ћеле Кула, Ćele Kula) - A monument to 19th century Serbian rebels. It is situated on Zoran Đinđić Boulevard, on the old Constantinople road leading to Sofia.
- Čegar - The place where Battle on Čegar Hill had happened on May 19, 1809.
- Concentration camp - One rare saved German Nazis prisoner camps in Europe. It is situated on 12.February Boulevard.
- Bubanj - A place where 10,000 civilian hostages from Niš and south Serbia were brutally murdered by German Nazis during World War II. The monument is in the shape of three clenched fists.
- Memorial Chapel in the memory of NATO bombing victims - The chapel was built by City government of Niš (led by DS/SPO, two democratic parties) while monument was built by the State government (led by conservative SPS/SRS parties) in 1999. They are situated in Sumatovacka street near Nis Fortress.
- Niš Fortress - The extant fortification of Turkish origin, dating from the first decades of the 18th century (1719–1723). It is situated in the city centre. The fortress-cafes - They are situated near Stambol gate (main gate of fortress).
- Mediana - Archeological site from the late Roman period located on the road leading to Sofia near EI Nis.
- Tinkers Alley - An old urban downtown in today Kopitareva Street, built in the first half of 18th century. It was a street full of tinkers but today it is full with cafes and restaurants.
- Kalča, City passage and Gorča - Trade centers situated in Milana Obrenovića Street.
- Niška Banja - It is a very popular spa in the summer season. It is located at 10 km from city centre on the road leading to Sofia, in the bottom of Suva Planina Mountain.
- Spa of Topilo
Serbia belongs to the Danubian countries. The surviving monuments testify about its rich history (Lepenski Vir, the oldest archaeological site, Trajan's bridge and Tablet dating from the period when the Danube was the northern boundary of the Roman Empire). Roman rule has left many monuments of culture: Romuliana/Gamzigrad with its famous mosaics and an imperial palace; Viminacium or (Kostolac) offering the remnants of an ancient city; Sirmium- one of the imperial capitals of Roman Empire- largest Roman ruin in the region; Naissus and Mediana- birthplace to the Constantine the Great, father of Byzantium, Constantinople and first Christian emperor of Rome. Medieval times have blessed Serbia with medieval fortresses at Smederevo, former Serbian capital; Golubac; Ram; Fetislam and many others. The Djerdap Dam, built jointly in 1964-72 by Yugoslavia and Romania, is one of the most impressive pieces of civil engineering in Europe. The waters of the Danube represent the largest fishing grounds, where fishing and other water sports are practised.
There are two national parks including the Danube gravitational area: Đerdap and Fruška Gora. From Golubac to Tekija, on a stretch 100 km long and covering an area of about 620 square kilometres lies the Đerdap National Park. In this section the Danube is the deepest, widest and narrowest. Two lakes, the Đerdap and the Silver Lake are the pearls of the Serbian Danube. Fruška Gora, situated between the Sava and Danube rivers, represents the wooded hill in lowland province Vojvodina. The total area exceeds 220 km². Fruška Gora is also attractive due to numerous old Serbian monasteries. This region has a long tradition in the production of excellent wines and is known for its hunting facilities.
Many mineral spring and a large number of well-appointed spas with a long tradition of use going as far back as Roman times, are an important feature of Serbia's tourism. In terms of the number of springs and the quality of the waters these spas are famous in Europe. The combination of natural factors and medical methods in Serbia's modern and specialized centres yields remarkable results in treatment and rehabilitation. Almost all of the spas are situated at the foot of mountains surrounded by wooded hills, and have a mild climate.
According to indications for treatment, rest, excursions and the leisure time activities are offered. The most famous include Vrnjačka Banja, with a two millennia-long tradition and more than 120 years of organized tourism and health care. The spa has three mineral water springs, of which one is warm and two are cold. In the immediate vicinity of this spa, there are many important monuments dating back to the 14th century. Soko Banja is a well known balneological centre that dates back to Roman times. The curative waters come from several springs, the temperatures ranging from 20 to 45°C. Banja Koviljača has also been known for centuries. It now ranks among the most well-appointed and modernly equipped natural health resorts in the Balkans. The spa has several springs of thermo-mineral waters. Mataruška Banja has highly curative thermo-mineral water, with a temperature that ranges from 28 to 50°C. The sulphur-content of the waters is one of the highest in the world.
Niška Banja has a number of thermal springs, the temperature ranging from 19 to 30°C. There are also the remains of Roman and Turkish baths, speaking about its history. Bukovička Banja, Selters Banja, Ovčar Banja, Banja Junaković, Sijarinska Banja, Kuršumlijska Banja, Gornja Trepča, Bujanovačka Banja and others offer a lot of curative, recreative and relaxative facilities.
Serbia has a rich cultural heritage ranging from the remains of the oldest human settlement Lepenski Vir, 7000 years old, through the Neolithic site at Vinca, Roman and Byzantine edifices, Tabula Trajana, Gamzigrad, the Belgrade Fortress, Petrovaradin Fortress, to medieval monasteries with their unique architecture and fresco paintings of outstanding beauty from golden age of Serbia in the 12th and 13th centuries. Đurđevi Stupovi, Žiča, the Patriarchate of Peć, Gračanica, Visoki Dečani, Ljubostinja, Mileševa, Sopoćani are some of them.
- Patriarchate of Peć, Gračanica and Our Lady of Ljeviš- medieval spiritual heartlands of Serbian orthodoxy, protected by UNESCO
- Studenica Monastery and the medieval town of Ras, with the Sopoćani Monastery are included in the list of the world most valuable monuments, protected by UNESCO.
- Visoki Dečani monastery- UNESCO protected cathedral near Peć; one of the biggest medieval churches in the Balkans
- Đurđevi Stupovi monastery- 12th-century temple of Nemanjić dynasty
- Mileševa monastery- royal family's shrine (Nemanjić dynasty)
- Banjska monastery in Kosovo
- Žiča monastery of Stefan Prvovenčani, first king of Serbia, 13th century
- Kalenić monastery in Central Serbia
- Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade
Mountain and winter tourism
Serbia's mountains are its wealth and its beauty. The joint characteristics of most of its mountains are the vast areas of coniferous and deciduous forests, pastures and meadows, a moderate altitude and very agreeable climate for both summer and winter vacations, sports activities and rehabilitation. Kopaonik, Tara, Šar Mountain and Fruška Gora have been proclaimed national parks, thanks to their exceptional beauty.
The most developed mountain tourist centre is Kopaonik, 2,017 m above sea level, a well known winter sport resort. Kopaonik is a mountain giant, about 120 km long and 50 km wide. With a ten-year-long tradition, its ski centre has become established in Europe. It is convenient to all categories of skiers. Kopaonik is not only attractive in the winter, but also as a summer tourist centre. In the surroundings of Kopaonik there are many interesting monasteries such as Sopoćani, Studenica, Žiča, Visoki Dečani, Patriarchate of Peć, the Župa vine-growing region, night spas, and the Ibar and other rivers. Zlatibor is a traditional health, recreational and vocation resort. The Zlatibor plateau is a climatic resort, and thanks to its modern recreative and preventative programme it has become popular among the all categories of tourists.
Brezovica on the Šara mountain has a lot of similarities with the Alps. This is sufficient for the development of modern tourism in the summer, and especially for the development of winter tourism. Mount Para is about 80 km long with numerous peaks over 2,500 m. covered by snow all the year around. The whole area has an exceptional environment: changing scenery, beautiful valleys and mountains, picturesque villages and historical monuments. Divčibare, Tara Mountain, Vlasina Lake, Goč, Zlatar, Stara Planina, Golija offer favourable climatic and tourist conditions. There are also other mountain resorts offering tourist facilities.
Hunting and fishing
Serbia abounds in hunting grounds rich in big and small game. Hunting is possible all year round depending on the type of game and the grounds. Big game includes bears, deer, wild boars and mouflons. Small game species such as hares, pheasant, rabbits, mink and others are abundant throughout Serbia and especially in Vojvodina. Game bird hunting grounds are also rich.
Recently, according to several local, regional and international news magazines, papers and news agencies, notably The New York Times and CNN, Belgrade has become quite the regional night life hub, boasting cheap drinks and accommodation in comparison to the rest of Europe and the regional capitals like Zagreb, Budapest, and even Athens. Weekend fun-seeking visitors from Europe and most notably from Croatia and Slovenia revere Belgrade as "the-place-to-be", citing friendly atmosphere, great clubs and bars, cheap drinks, language they can understand and lack of restrictive night life regulation.
Ada Ciganlija is a former island on the Sava river, and Belgrade's biggest sports and recreational complex. Today it is connected with the shore, creating an artificial lake on the river. It is the most popular destination for Belgraders during the city's hot summers. There are 7 kilometres of long beaches and sports facilities for various sports including golf, football, basketball, volleyball, rugby union, baseball, and tennis. During summer there are between 200000 and 300000 bathers daily. Clubs work 24 hours a day,organising live music and overnight beach parties.Extreme sports are available, like bungee jumping, water skiing and paintballing. There are numerous tracks on the island, where it is possible to ride a bike, go for a walk or go jogging.
Novi Beograd offers rich night life along the banks of Sava and Danube, right up to the point where the two rivers meet. What started mostly as raft-like social clubs for river fishermen in 1980s expanded into large floats offering food and drink with live turbo folk performances during the 1990s.
Today, it is unlikely that one would walk a 100 meter stretch along the rivers without encountering a float. Some of them grew into entire entertainment complexes rivaling clubs in Belgrade's downtown core. While most of the floats used to be synonymous with turbo folk in what was essentially a stereotypical kafana setting, a recent trend saw many turned into full fledged clubs on water with elaborate events involving world famous DJs spinning live music.
- "Sportski tereni" (in Serbian). Public utility "Ada Ciganlija". Retrieved 2007-05-19.[dead link]
- "Ada Ciganlija". Tourism Organisation of Belgrade. Retrieved 2007-05-19.[dead link]
- "O Adi" (in Serbian). Public utility "Ada Ciganlija". Retrieved 2007-05-19.[dead link]
- "Kupalište" (in Serbian). Public utility "Ada Ciganlija". Retrieved 2007-05-19.[dead link]
- Ana Nikolov (2005-07-29). Beograd – grad na rekama. Institut za Arhitekturu i Urbanizam Srbije. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- "Zbogom, oazo!" (in Serbian). Kurir. 2006-05-23. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Beoinfo (2005-08-04). "Prirodno dobro "Veliko ratno ostrvo" stavljeno pod zaštitu Skupštine grada" (in Serbian). Ekoforum. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Eve-Ann Prentice (2003-08-10). "Why I love battereBelgrade". The Guardian Travel. London. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
- Seth Sherwood (2005-10-16). "Belgrade Rocks". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
- Barbara Gruber (2006-08-22). "Belgrade's Nightlife Floats on the Danube". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
- "Slovenci dolaze u jeftin provod" (in Serbian). Glas Javnosti. 2004-12-21. Retrieved 2007-07-10.
- "U Beograd na vikend-zabavu" (in Croatian). Večernji list. 2006-01-06. Archived from the original on 2006-01-06. Retrieved 2007-06-15.
- Gordy, Eric D. (1999). "The Destruction of Musical Alternatives". The Culture of Power in Serbia: Nationalism and the Destruction of Alternatives. Penn State Press. pp. 121–122. ISBN 0-271-01958-1. Retrieved 2007-07-10.
- "Intro". Club "Akademija". Retrieved 2007-07-10.
- "Klub Studenata Tehnike - O nama" (in Serbian).
- "Student cultural center". SKC. Retrieved 2007-05-19.[dead link]
- "Skadarlija". Tourist Organisation of Belgrade. Retrieved 2007-05-19.[dead link]
- "Beogradska Industrija Piva AD". SEE News. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
- Dulovic, Vladimir. "The Oldest Houses In Belgrade". Livinginbelgrade.com. Archived from the original
|url=(help) on 1 Feb 2013.
- "Znamenite građevine 3" (in Serbian). Official site. Retrieved 2007-07-10.
- Scurlock, Gareth (2008-11-04). "Europe's best nightlife". London: Official site. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
- "The world's top 10 party towns". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
- "Sportski tereni" (in Serbian). Public utility "Ada Ciganlija". Retrieved 2007-05-19.[dead link]
- "O Adi" (in Serbian). Public utility "Ada Ciganlija". Retrieved 2007-05-19.[dead link]
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Serbia.|