This is going to be a heady two weeks, so it is best to take things easy to begin with. After arriving at Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, immediately head north to the flat plains of Vojvodina. Don’t stop until you approach the border with Hungary and the exquisite town of Subotica, one of the finest in the northern part of the country. Check into a local hotel before heading out to Lake Palić, for a relaxing afternoon ahead of the big trip.
Things can begin in earnest on day two. Make the short trip to Novi Sad, the capital of Vojvodina and the city known as the Serbian Athens. Novi Sad is the second largest town in Serbia, and there is plenty to see on both sides of the river. Tick off the city centre sights on the first day, before spending the night at dom b-612.
Novi Sad is a great base for exploring the many towns and villages of Vojvodina. Sremski Karlovci may well be the prettiest town in the entire country, and it packs plenty into its small borders. The town is a treat to say the least, and you won’t find a more pleasant spot for a relaxing morning in the entire nation.
Head back to Novi Sad for the afternoon and evening, allowing plenty of time to explore every nook and cranny in Petrovaradin Fortress. The home of EXIT Festival, the complex offers some of the finest views in the city and is a fabulous place to get a sunset dinner. You don’t need us to recommend that, do you?
Vojvodina is an overwhelmingly flat part of the country, which makes Fruška Gora stand out all the more. Serbia’s northern national park is a veritable banquet of greenery, the lush forests only interrupted by the many monasteries that were built within this most tranquil landscape. We’ll be heading to Belgrade on Day 5, so best to get some serenity in before the intensity of the capital.
Belgrade is a special place. Most capital cities hold an important place in their nation’s hearts, but the value of the White City is something else altogether. Spend your first day in the city getting to know the parks and green spaces, easing your way into Beograd before an intense day of sightseeing and debauchery.
After a couple of days of relative relaxation, you should be ready to hit the museums, galleries, monuments and churches that Belgrade has to offer. The Nikola Tesla Museum and Tito’s House of Flowers are musts, as is the Church of St. Sava and the smaller Church of St. Mark. Be sure to explore Kalemegdan Fortress, too, as it’s the number one attraction in the entire city.
Let’s go ahead and say that day 6 is a Saturday, and there is no better place to be on a Saturday night than in Belgrade. The city’s nightlife comes with a reputation that precedes it, no matter what you’re looking for. Beograd’s clubs are legendary, but it has just as impressive a roster of beer pubs these days. For a little bit of everything, spend your evening at Cetinjska.
You may well have a hangover following a night of madness, so you would be wise to spend day 7 loading up on coffee and food. After getting an early caffeine fix in one of the many cafes of Dorćol (we heartily recommend Meduza), head across the river for a lazy afternoon in Zemun, Belgrade’s most passionately independent municipality.
After checking out Gardoš and the Kej, lazily stroll over to New Belgrade to see what Tito had in mind when he expressed a desire for a big, modern capital. If you want to see what the future of the past looked like, this is where you need to go.
Although there is strong temptation to head east to the majesty of Golubac Fortress and the Đerdap Gorge, the relative lack of time means journeying south is the better option for now. Not all the way south of course, as we need to head west first. Kragujevac is the next destination, but stop off at Mount Avala for a picnic by the Monument to the Unknown Hero.
Forty kilometres further south is Kosmaj, home to one of Serbia’s many iconic monuments to those lost in the battle against fascism in World War II. The monuments have received plenty of criticism from all corners of the globe, and many have indeed fallen into disrepair. They still amaze however, either in ambition of design or sheer scope of size.
Continue the journey south Kragujevac, Serbia’s fourth largest city and one of its most underrated. Kragujevac is home to its own monument park, commemorating the thousands killed in a World War II massacre here.
Day eight involved no small amount of intense history, so it might be a good idea to head into the clouds to clear your head. The west of Serbia is home to some of the nation’s finest mountains, and Mokra Gora is first on our list. There is plenty to see and do here, including Emir Kusturica’s idyllic Drvengrad village and the Šargan Eight light railway.
The mountain-hopping will continue, and there isn’t far to travel at all between Mokra Gora and Tara National Park. Serbia is home to plenty of stunning mountains and national parks, but Tara arguably takes the biscuit. The magnificent Drina River hems the national park in, allowing Serbia’s most forested area to flourish with breathtaking gorges and astonishing ravines.
After the magnificence of the west, it is time to head back into Serbia’s interior for a little bit of history. Kraljevo is a short drive from the national parks, but the route allows you to get a feel for the rural side of the nation before jumping back into society.
Kraljevo is one of the most historic towns in the country, and its name (which means ‘King’s Town’) didn’t come about by accident. Seven Serbian kings have been crowned here, and it was actually the nation’s capital following the liberation in 1819. The city made headlines for the wrong reasons 180 years later, when it was the site of the first NATO bomb to fall on Yugoslavia.
The time to head south has come, but there is plenty to see between Kraljevo and Niš. Two of Serbia’s most important monasteries are found here, and no trip to this part of the country is complete without visiting either. Žiča is a 13th century monastery founded by St. Sava, arguably the most important individual in the early stages of the Serbian state.
Žiča may be bettered by the nearby Studenica, which remains one of the largest and richest Serbian monasteries. Put bluntly, this is one of the most remarkable sights in the entire country, and it is impossible to understand the complex history of this nation without spending an afternoon at Studenica.
With just two days left on the itinerary, Niš awaits. Serbia’s southern towns are arguably its friendliest, and it is easy to understand why. Everything seems to taste a little bit better down here, and carnivores are in for an absolute treat. Stop off at Kafana Marjan just outside the city, but leave a little bit of space for the evening meal (this might not be an actual option).
Niš is an energetic student town that often resembles an overly excitable new friend, so make the most of its vibrant zeal and effervescence. If your most famous attraction was a tower made of skulls, you’d probably cling onto everything life has to offer as well.
If you are leaving the country out of Belgrade then you’ll have to hop back up to the capital quick and sharp, but Niš also has an international airport to make use of. If you’re lucky enough to be flying out of the south, head over to nearby Leškovac for your final Serbian meal.
The city of Leškovac is famous nationwide for its food, and its annual Roštiljijada (Barbecue Week) is one of Serbia’s most attended festivals. The festival is home to world’s largest hamburger, which you absolutely won’t be able to eat before your flight. You’ll definitely fill your stomach however, ensuring that you leave Serbia with plenty to remember.