Things to do in Serbia – Discover the Balkans
Getting Here – Visit Serbia
First things first. Getting to Serbia and Belgrade is easy. We use skyscanner.com and kiwi.com to book all our flights. Both provide affordable options from wherever you are in the world. The beauty of both of these is that you can put in your destination and current location and both can show you the cheapest dates to fly, especially good if you do not have any time restraints.
It is easy to fly into Belgrade from most airports in Europe and around the world. We flew from Tokyo to Belgrade with one stop in Abu Dhabi. From Belgrade it is easy to access other cities in Serbia from here. Generally it will cost about €35 to get a taxi from Belgrade to Novi Sad (Belgrades beautiful sister!)
There are so many things to do Serbia and so many things to visit. It really is undiscovered. Our first trip here was 3 days in Belgrade over the Easter break. Great introduction to Eastern Europe.
Where is Serbia? – Geographic Location
Serbia is in the centre of Eastern Europe and is surrounded by 9 other countries. This makes it a land locked country, with no part touching the ocean – an ideal base to explore the rest of the Balkan States. Belgrade was once the capital of the Former Yugoslavia, and there has been much bloodshed and fighting in this part of the world.
The countries surrounding Serbia are:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Accommodation in Serbia and Novi Sad
While here in Novi Sad, we have used Airbnb. We have found this to be the best way for us to find fully furnished apartments that include internet, electricity, air con and heating. Recently in need of somewhere fully furnished with all utilities we emailed all the properties we were interested in, told them our budget and asked them to consider an offer for a 3 month booking. We have had great success and it is worth asking for a discount as most places will consider this if you have a booking of a month or more.
If you are here for a shorter time bookings.com also has some great hotels and prices available.
In Novi Sad, the Centar is the best place to stay to be close to all the action as well as having easy access to transport. The town centre is a large pedestrian square surrounded by cafe’s, restaurants, bars and boutiques. There are small designer shops that have some beautiful clothes and jewellery all designed and made in Serbia.
Transport – How to get around in Novi Sad and Serbia
Public transport is a breeze. Signs are clearly marked (hmmm not really), but most people are willing to help and you can ask for information as to where the bus is heading. A bus costs 55din for an adult ticket, children ride free (under 16).
Taxis are inexpensive and make an affordable way to get around from various locations around Serbia. We got to know a Taxi driver (as most are happy to give you their number) and we were able to look around Novi Sad and its surrounds this way.
It is possible to hire a car, either at the airport or in the centre. You must have your lights on while driving, even during the day. And make sure to read the fine print. We learnt the hard way, but you don’t have to!
Serbian drivers also like to stop and put there hazard lights on just about anywhere, main roads, middle of the road – it doesn’t matter! And the driving can be a little unpredictable, I often pretend I am asleep while my husband drives, as the drivers make for a rollercoaster like ride!
If you find a great parking space, there are a couple of things to be aware of. Make sure you pay for parking or park where there are blue signs. You can pay for parking via SMS, we made the mistake of parking, umm, next to the French Embassy. Don’t do this. We didn’t realise and thought we had found a great parking space and wandered into Belgrade to have lunch and when we came back we couldn’t find the car… That was when some very jolly Serbian Guards came and let us know that the car had been impounded. They kindly hailed us a taxi and sent us on our way. This is also where I tell you that you need to make sure that you have all the paperwork for your car. Having a car from a friend (in Prague), with Czech number plates, producing an Australian Drivers License and British Passport did not elicit a smile from the impound chap, it just meant we had a lot of paperwork to sort out and a few hundred Euros to pay to get the car back. This is one of those look back and laugh moments, though to be fair we were all laughing at each other anyway! Lesson Learned..
Visas and Vaccinations – What do you need to consider for Serbia
When you arrive make sure to register with the police within 24 hours of arriving in the country. If you are staying in a hotel or hostel this will be taken care of for you. However, if you are staying in an Airbnb make sure to check with your host that they have done this for you. If not, you are required to go to the Police together and register. They will give you a white slip of paper called the Bela Karta which you will need to take with you while you are traveling around Serbia.
For all EU and EU associated countries visas are not required. However you only have 90 days and you will need to cross the border and get another stamp in your passport. You may have to produce the Bela Karta at the border.
There are no required Vaccinations for Serbia. Be aware that there was a recent measles epidemic (it only takes one case to be an epidemic as it is an eradicable disease) that began in Montenegro and moved towards Belgrade. At the time of this post there were no further cases reported. With all vaccinations make sure you are up to date and you can always check WHO (worldhealthorganisation,com) for further information regarding this.
Events – Novi Sad and Belgrade
There are always different sorts of events going on in Serbia. Facebook is an easy way of finding events that are going on around Serbia. We discovered the National Tourism Information website (click HERE). It has lots of different events organised by month. Great and easy to navigate, making planning a visit around any of these events really easy.
One of the biggest is the Exit Music Festival in Novi Sad, it started 17 years ago as a student uprising against Slobodan Milosevic, and is now Europes best music festival. Held at the Petrovardin Fortress, looking over the river Danube in Novi Sad. It is an event that takes place annually in July and attended by over 350,000 people over three days.
Most recently, we are enjoying the Novi Sad Winterfest. It is no secret that I love Christmas. I love the happy atmosphere, I love finding the perfect present for friends and family, I love the carols and I love the sparkly, twinkly lights that let me feel like a kid again. So being in Serbia, surrounded by cold and having to wear fluffy jackets and hoping for snow, is a dream come true! Freedom Square, the main pedestrian square has local food stalls – Rakia, Honey, Sweets, traditional Serbian food. A Singing Christmas Tree – adorable when full of tiny out of key singing children. And my favourite is the sleigh pulled by 2 beautiful horses with christmas bells!
Europe does Christmas so beautifully.
Weather in Serbia
Serbia has all the seasons! For Queenslanders (North East Australia) this has been great to experience, as it feels like we only have Summer and Winter. We arrived at the beginning of April to a cool Spring where the average temp is 12 degrees celsius – definitely jumper weather. All along the Danube restaurants and beach front resorts were getting ready for the coming summer season. We were back in Serbia in mid August, Summer was in full swing. And it was hot. While the average temperature is 21 degrees we had at least two weeks of temperatures over 35 degrees celsius. I was really glad to welcome the cooler weather. Autumn has become my new favourite season. I haven’t seen such gorgeous colours. Everywhere we looked, the trees were throwing down their summer coats and the reds, golds and yellows were brilliant! Temperature ranged from 15 – 20 and the nights were much cooler. Now Winter is here. Our first properly cold winter. All I can say is ‘winter is coming’. Honestly I have been rugged up like I have been living in Winterfell. Love it and hate it at the same time. That bone chilling cold is coming and I have bought thermals to make sure I am not too cold!! We are expecting snow over the weekend and temperatures are dropping. We have a high of 2 and lows of -3. Locals have told us that it will get much colder and possibly drop to around -15 in the dead of winter. We might have to knick off to warmer climes!
Places to Visit in Serbia
We have been in Novi Sad for the last 6 months and we are based here to explore the rest of Europe and the Balkans. We have been here for 4 months, and we managed to visit so many little towns as well as side trips to Hungary, Romania, Macedonia and Bulgaria. We gave plans to visit Bulgaria and the Ukraine in the coming months.
Fruska Gora National Park
40 mins outside of Novi Sad is Fruska Gora National Park. Its beautiful. We have been lucky enough to be here during summer and autumn, and coming from Noosa, Australia where we only have summer and winter – this is magical. There are lots of walking and hiking tracks through the Park and all are easily accessible. There are a few places where you are able to have a picnic and enjoy a BBQ. We have enjoyed having an open fire and attempting to roast chestnuts (more like watching them explode out of the fire!).
A busy cosmopolitan city. So many different places to explore, but make sure not to miss Kalamegdan Fortress – The Belgrade Fortress. Located on the confluence of the River Sasa and The Danube. legend suggests that Attilla the Hun’s remains lie beneath the fortress. This fortress has withstood the test of time and repelled many attacks from various forces. The park is an oasis in a very busy city. There is so much to explore in this fortress and it is worth the walk around. From the crumbling World Heritage Listed stair case, to the museum (which was closed at our time of visit) – they had an exhibition on torture implements, my kids were disappointed (me not so much…) The view from across the two rivers is worth the walk and the crumbling remains of the Metropolitan Court was our favourite archaeological site here.
Nikola Tesla Museum – Belgrade
This small museum highlights the important work of the man that brought us Alternative Current (AC). While he did drop out of recognized Science programs, I cannot remember him at school, he is a National Hero in Serbia and is on the 100din note. His story is fascinating and we enjoyed this museum as the kids could interact with the exhibits.
Museum of Aviation – Belgrade
This building is spectacular in its design and seems a testament to the Yugoslavian architecture. It is sadly run down and you can see so much potential for this building. Surrounding the building is the bodies of aging aircraft. There are some incredible planes on display and even for those not interested in aviation history this is a fascinating museum.
Kikinda is home to Kika the Wooly Mammoth discovered in a brick factory floor in 1996. She was fully preserved in mud and is now on display in Kikinda. She would have been 15 tons and remains one of the largest complete skeletons of the Wooly Mammoth ever found. Outside there is a full replica showing how big she would have been – enormous!
There is an annual pumpkin festival held in mid October each year.
And there is a dedicated terracotta museum “Terra” that was opened 5 December 2017. The initial symposium began in 1982 and has had over 300 sculptors participate. It is a significant and interesting museum.
Sremski Karlovci is the old centre of Serbia. We stayed here for two months and enjoyed the generous hospitality of our airbnb host, the walks to collect water from a local well and enjoyed the much slower pace outside of the city centre. We have found that for us it is a little to far out to make exploring easy.
Eating Out in Novi Sad
We can eat out for dinner for under $10 for a family of 4. BRILLIANT. Food choices are not limited, from gyros to pizza and of course traditional Serbian food. Which is delicious! and we have discovered a few vegan restaurants/cafes as well as some white table cloth restaurants.
Our favourite place to eat is a cheap little grill that serves traditional Serbian food. This consists of cabbage salad (knowns as Shopska Salad), grilled meats and Jelen beer!
Our favourite places in Novi Sad
- Lantern – fantastic pizza and amazing pot plant dessert
- Kombinat – Great breakfast, great coffee. Funky atmosphere. Oh an excellent rose, with their own label.
- Loft – Best coffee and a great selection of craft beers – My favourite – Janis Hoplin
- Project 72 – serves the most delicious selection of food! Our favourite has to be the foie gras! All the food is sourced locally and is fresh. They provide an excellent wine list and the wait staff are very knowledgeable.