If you're looking to travel off-the-beaten-path, the Balkans should be on your radar. Serbia is still relatively undiscovered, the people are extremely warm and hospitable, the cities are safe, and food and drink is cheap. So here's everything you need to know before planning a trip to Serbia and the perfect itinerary to help you discover this Balkan gem!
What are the Balkans?
The Balkans are a group of countries in Eastern Europe; the exact set of countries that are considered part of this region is always up for debate but generally includes Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and North Macedonia. Most of these countries were communist for a long time, and have only been opening up to tourism in the last decade or two. This makes them an excellent choice for your travel plans - still undiscovered, still cheap, and pretty easy to navigate.
What's the best time to visit Serbia?
As with many countries in Europe, it's most pleasant to visit Serbia in April-May or September-October. It can get quite sunny in the summer. However, unlike other European countries that are incredibly packed in the summer, Serbia is not. So rest assured, even if you visit in the dead of the summer, you won't have to fight the crowds (although it will be pretty hot)!
How many days should I spend in Serbia?
Depends on how much time you have! If you are planning a trip to Serbia, I would highly recommend exploring at least two cities, to get a more authentic feel of the country. This means a minimum of 4-5 days. Here's a quick itinerary to help you figure out how many day to spend there.
- Belgrade (2-3 days)
- Novi Sad (+1-2 days)
- Zemun (a suburb of Belgrade, +1 day)
- Subotica (+1-2 days)
- Fruska Gora National Park (+2 days)
Where should I go: The Ideal Itinerary for a trip to Serbia
Most likely, you're planning a trip to Serbia and only have a week or less. I would recommend spending 3 days in Belgrade, 1 day in Zemun, and 2 days in Novi Sad. They are all super close to each other and very accessible, making the trip much easier. However, do check out the other spots I've listed above to see if something else interests you a bit more.
How to travel within Serbia
Train infrastructure is not the greatest; trains are often delayed. Instead, the bus system is pretty efficient, reliable, safe and clean (and very cheap). I would highly recommend it! Renting a car is also easy, but unless you're going to be there for more than a week, or are traveling to slightly more offbeat places, it's much more convenient to just take buses!
How much does a trip to Serbia cost?
Serbia is very cheap!
- A great dinner at a nice restaurant will cost only $10/person
- A glass of alcohol at a bar will cost only $2
- A nice Airbnb (for 2 people) in a central neighborhood will cost only $50/night
- A round-trip bus ticket from Belgrade-Novi Sad costs $18/person
Is there enough vegetarian food in Serbia?
Serbian cuisine is very meat-heavy, so don't expect to try much local food while you're there. However, there's LOTS of great vegetarian-friendly places serving Italian, Mediterranean and global fare. I had some of the best meals in Serbia, so don't worry at all if you're vegetarian.
Other general travel advice while planning a trip to Serbia:
- English is widely-spoken! The exception might be cab drivers outside of Belgrade.
- Avoid taking cabs from unknown companies, at airports or bus stops. They tend to overcharge you. Have your hotel or Airbnb host book you a car instead, or give you a trusted company's name.
- Most shops will not accept Euros, so make sure you have sufficient Serbian Dinars on you. Many souvenir stores will accept Euros, and give you change back in Serbian Dinars, so that's helpful!
- Sofia Adventures is a great website for planning a trip to Serbia or anywhere in the Balkans. I got a lot of helpful tips from there!
That's everything you need to know while planning a trip to Serbia! It's a unique destination, that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. Visit it soon before everyone else discovers it ????