People are magical all over the world, but the 7,120,666 individuals who make up the population of Serbia deserve special mention. You simply won’t find a more energetic and engaging nation of people, men and women who are as academically sharpened as they are willing to destroy their brain cells with late nights and debauchery. They are Europe’s funniest, friendliest and most hospitable people.
Every nation is reliant on its capital to a certain degree, and Serbia is no different. Belgrade is front and centre of everything that makes the nation incredible. This is Europe’s most invigorating city, a town of immense history that isn’t going to open itself up for you and make things easy. Belgrade demands your attention and no small amount of work, and once its claws are in you’ll struggle to leave.
Belgrade is a city of high intensity, but the energy of the big city is gorgeously balanced against some of Europe’s most arresting monasteries. The Serbian Orthodox Church has played a keen role in the history of the nation, and as such these spiritual complexes are well looked after in the modern age. Studenica, Krušedol and Žiča are three of the best, while Mileševa is home to a fresco that became the first image sent into space.
Okay, so ‘complex’ and ‘confusing’ are words rarely used when trying to convince someone of the greatness of something, but hear us out. Serbia’s geographical position means it has spent its existence on the border between the ideological West and East. Empires fought many battles here as the Serbs did their best to keep their heads above the water. All of European history can be referenced here, from medieval conflicts to 20th century squabbles. Serbia has it all.
Beguiling forests, enchanting mountains and sparkling rivers might not jump to mind when one thinks of Serbia, but that only means the surprise will be even more of a shock. Serbia is a nature lover’s paradise, to say the least. The Uvac Canyon is every bit as preposterous as if it had been designed by an excitable child, while the national parks of Tara and Fruška Gora are as remarkable as they are varied.
The Balkans have long been touted as a carnivorous utopia, and it all comes together in Serbia. The grilled meats left over from centuries of Ottoman rule have been dragged under the Serbia umbrella with the addition of all manner of quirks, although the other national dishes are so toothsome that you can get your fill without touching the ćevapi and pljeskavica. Vegetarians shouldn’t worry either, as Serbia is at the forefront of the herbivore revolution in the region,
Many nations on the Balkans like to talk about being undiscovered, but it is difficult to walk down the streets of Kotor, Mostar, Split and the rest without questioning how some define the word. On the other hand, Serbia remains relatively quiet by modern tourist standards. Belgrade and Novi Sad get plenty of attention, but visitors to stunning towns like Sremski Karlovci, Užice and Zrenjanin can be forgiven for thinking they are the only foreigners in town.
The idea of choosing a holiday destination based on cost is a little frustrating, but those intending to cover a lot of ground will obviously be looking to get the most out of their chosen currency. Serbia is a modern state with plenty to see and do, incredible food and no small amount of fun, all of which will leave you with change to spare. It remains one of Europe’s most affordable destinations, free of the vulture-like price hikes seen in neighbouring states.
That has to be at the top of every traveller’s wish list, right? Anyone can visit a major destination and tick off the major sites surrounded by tourists. Want something unique? Serbia awaits. Tourism is undoubtedly less developed here, and as such you can guarantee that your experience will be more about quirks in between sights as opposed to impressive art or museum collections.
Serbia is about momentary interactions with locals in and out of the restaurants and cafes, about confusing experiences on public transport, and about the thrill of the unknown. You owe it to yourself to visit.