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It might not get the press of Belgrade or Vojvodina, but the relatively undiscovered aspect of Eastern Serbia means there is plenty of variety waiting to be enjoyed. Nature is king in these parts, but culture vultures will find more than enough to keep themselves occupied in this part of the world.
Požarevac is most definitely a functional city, but a little bit of elegance can be found just outside town. The horse stables at Ljubičevo come with quite the pedigree, thanks to none other than Miloš Obrenović himself. The reputation of the stables soon grew through the continent, although you don’t need us to tell you that – just nip into the trophy hall. This is the oldest stable in the country, and it offers visitors the chance to saddle up and ride some fine steeds.
Serbia is a country full of imposing fortresses, and few are as arresting and recognisable as Golubac. Located on the right side of the Danube river, this 14th-century fortification has seen plenty of people come and go over the years. The Ottomans, Bulgarians, Hungarians and Austrians all had turns at protecting it, before the Serbs claimed it for good (for now, at least) in 1867. A gorgeous spot for a summer walk, Golubac is one of the finest attractions in the country.
Known as the ‘Rivers Route’, EuroVelo 6 runs from Nantes in France all the way through to Constanta in Romania. Geography buffs will know that Serbia sits on that route, and the track does indeed wind through the heart of the nation. It goes through Belgrade, but the most idyllic section of the route can be found out here in Eastern Serbia. The Đerdap National Park is one of the most exceptional parts of the continent, and arguably one of the finest cycle routes in the world.
Veliko Gradište is one of the most idyllic parts of Eastern Serbia, and the Srebrno jezero (Silver Lake) is undoubtedly its most paradisal spot. Serbia is a landlocked state, and the Silver Lake has taken on the mantle of being the nation’s seaside. This is clear to see from the masses that flock here every summer, each more desperate than the last to strip off and jump into the waters.
Referring to it as the ‘Alien Mountain’ might be a little bit dramatic, but there is definitely something otherworldly about Mount Rtanj. The mountain rises up in the region around Zaječar, and it is the almost worryingly-conical peak that attracts the most attention. While most mountains have jagged rocks at the peak, Rtanj seems to meet perfectly in the middle, almost as if it was designed by a child. It is a whopping 1,560m to the peak, so this might only be for the experienced and energetic.
Jelen and Lav dominated Serbia’s lager scene for years, but an increased interest in pivo from a new generation saw Zaječarsko emerge from the shadow. Unsurprisingly from the town of Zaječar, this is now the most popular beer in the bars and clubs of the nation, easily recognised by its red logo. The beer has been around since 1875, but it is definitely experiencing its halcyon days right now.
The eastern portion of Serbia is famous for a number of reasons, and the preponderance of so-called ‘Vlach Magic‘ is one of them. While far from constituting a tourist attraction, the more daring might think about heading to a town like Kučevo and getting their fortune told, although be prepared for pessimistic news. And if you’re expecting an 85-year-old Vlach grandmother to speak English, you might want to rethink.
Spa tourism is big business in Serbia, and it all began at Sokobanja. Miloš Obrenović took over Sokobanja in the 19th century, and soon noblemen and intellectuals alike were flocking here to make the most of the spa’s healing thermal waters. Ivo Andrić famously claimed to be born again following his stay, and if its good enough for Yugoslavia’s greatest writer then it will more than do for us.
We don’t mean the literal moon of course, but a landscape that comes close to replicating that most desolate place. Bor is home to the largest man-made hole in Europe (a tourism slogan that is yet to catch on), and nowhere is the impact of industrial mining clearer than here. The hole is home to one of the most unique cafés in Serbia too, located in the rock some 400 metres below the surface.
As mentioned earlier, Đerdap National Park is one of the most awe-inspiring spots in all of Europe. Also known as the ‘Iron Gate’ (much easier to say, obviously), this monolithic natural border shepherds the Danube between Serbia and Romania. It is also home to one of the deepest parts of the famous river, although it is unlikely that many readers will be going 90 metres below the surface. Your best bet is to view it from above, although you’ll still struggle to take in this most splendid vista.