Serbia is a Balkanic, Danube, Moravaian and Pannonian country in Southeastern Europe. It is a country of long history, tradition and turbulent past, which is located in a place where East and West, European and Oriental influences, Christian and Islamic cultures meet. The area of Serbia is about 88,000 km2, and and is characterized by vast plains in the north (Vojvodina) and picturesque mountains, valleys and gorges in the east, south and west. The climate of this region is temperate continental with long, hot summers and cold and harsh winters. Natural beauties of Serbia are numerous - National Parks (Tara, Kopaonik, Fruška Gora, Iron Gate and Šara mountain), reserves and natural parks (Uvac River Canyon, Vršac mountains, Avala, Rtanj, Ibar valley, Drina, Danube and Sava rivers) and many other natural curiosities and rarities (sand-plains, canyons, gorges, a large number of spas and mineral springs). The capital is Belgrade, the city that has two million people. It is a cultural and social headseat. Apart from Belgrade, other cities, such as Novi Sad, Niš, Kragujevac, Vršac, Subotica, Priština and others, can be highlighted by their beauty.
The territory of Serbia has been inhabited since ancient times. Slavic tribes came in the sixth century, and as of IX century they formed the first independent Serbian state. XIII and XIV century was the Renaissance period during the Serbian dynasty of Nemanjići. With the collapse of the former empire, this territory was occupied by the Turks, who retained them until the nineteenth century, when Serbia became independent again. The period of the twentieth century passed with two turbulent Balkanic wars and two World wars. Since 1945 it became a part of the common state of Southern Slavs - Yugoslavia. After the civil war in 1991 the country broke up and formed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which consisted of Serbia and Montenegro.
By 2006, that state union dissolved and Serbia became an independent country on the map of Europe. The end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century is a period of difficult political and social situation in the history of this country, faced with numerous internal and external problems, where firstly there is the unilateral declaration of independence of the autonomous province of Kosovo by ethnic Albanian majority.
Today, Serbia is a modern country in transition and EU integration. Country is a member of the UN, OSCE, Partnership for Peace and CEFTA. Serbia has close relations with Russia, neighboring countries and the Non Aligned Movement members. Also it is a potential candidate for EU membership.
The tourist offer is very good, but with possibility of further progress and improvement. Serbia has a large number of natural rarities and beauties that attract domestic and foreign tourists. There is five national parks, spas, mountain resorts (ski resorts, air spas), and large and navigable rivers, lakes and forest expanses. A great number of monasteries are situated on Fruška gora. Because of the fact that there are 35 monasteries in these Pannonian mountains, many consider it as the second Athos. There are numerous monasteries throughout Serbia (Dečani, Manasija, Ravnica, Studenica, Sopoćani, Mileševa), forts from different historical periods (Petrovaradin, Kalemegdan, Smederevska tvrđava, Golubac city, Mediana, Gamzigrad, Felix Romulijana, old city of Ras), and colorful ethno-villages and old towns. There is Devil's town, natural rarity which was in the semifinals of voting for 7 Wonders of Nature, and has received the most votes in the category of rocks and formations. However N7W's Commission decided that Devil's town should not continue to the final stage of voting, but to be a backup if one of the finalists should get disqualified.
If you love music festivals you've probably heard of the "Exit". It is a summer festival in Petrovaradin, that has been among Top 5 European music festivals in the recent years. Belgrade Beer Festival attracted around 900,000 people last year.
Italian Count Pietro D'Arvedi Emilee said that the Serbian hunting areas are one of the best, and more praise came for rural hosts and owners of famous
Belgrade is the capital and the largest city of Serbia and one of the oldest cities in Europe. The first settlements in the Belgrade area date from prehistoric Vinča, 4800 BC. Belgrade itself was founded by the Celts in the 3rd century BC, before becoming the Roman settlement Singidunum. Slavic name "Beligrad" (Slavic: Bjelgrad) was first recorded in year 878. Belgrade is the capital of Serbia from 1405 and was the capital of various South Slavic states since 1918 until 2003, and Serbia and Montenegro since 2003-2006.
The city lies at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers in central Serbia, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkan Peninsula. The population in Belgrade according to the census of 2002 is 1,576,124. It is the largest city in the former Yugoslavia and the third by population in southeastern Europe, after Istanbul and Athens. Belgrade has the status of a special district in Serbia with local government. Its territory is divided into 17 urban municipalities, each with its local government. Belgrade occupies more than 3.6% of the territory of the Republic of Serbia, and about 20% of Serbian citizens live there. Belgrade is also the economic center of Serbia and center of Serbian culture, education and science. Belgrade is a cultural, social and touristic capital of the country and the city of youth. It is a place of rich and long history, tumultuous past, exciting present and bright and perspective future. Streets are always full of people - Belgrade is constantly on the move - night and day, summer and winter. It is the spirit that cannot leave any visitor indifferent. Belgrade has a moderate continental climate. The average annual temperature is 11.7 °C, the warmest month is July, with an average temperature of 22.1 °C. However, Belgrade has on average about 31 days a year with temperatures over 30 °C, and up to 95 days a year with a 25 °C. Average annual precipitation is about 700 millimeters. Every year this area has about 2096 hours of sunshine, with July and August as the sunniest, and December and January as cloudiest months, with only 2 to 2.3 hours of sunshine a day. In last five years average temperature in October is about 12,5 °C, which is slightly above average for that month.
The fact that in only two months of this year the number of foreign tourists increased by 16% shows the magnitude of tourism development in Serbia. In recent years, great efforts are being made at restoring and improving the tourism insdurty. The numbers of the „weekend“ and the „city“ tourists are increasing. Almost all tourists spend their evenings exploring the nightlife of Belgrade.
But in daylight, the inevitable locations are certainly Kalemegdan fortress, The Republic Square and Knez Mihailova pedestrian zone with all its amenities. For nature lovers, there are the Topčider park, Hyde Park, the forest complex Košutnjak and Botanical garden „Jevremovac“ that is more than a hundred years old. The perfect place for a relaxing break outside of the city is the mountain Avala resort, where the popular Avala tower (the tallest building in southeastern Europe) and the Mausoleum of the Unknown Soldier are situated. In the summer season, there is a big artificial lake, Ada Ciganlija. You shouldn't miss a visit to the Belgrade Zoo and the Great War Island on the Danube river. You can explore Belgrade by foot, by bus, ship, balloon or tram. particularly interesting sites include the famous royal White Palace complex in Dedinje and the Bohemian quarter, Skadarlija. For museum and gallery lovers, the best time to visit Belgrade is during May, when traditionally „Museums Nights“ are held. Admirers of religious architecture can visit monuments of Orthodox Christian (Temple of St. Sava, Church of St. Mark, St. Ružica Church, Monastery of Presentation), Islamic (Bajrakli Mosque) and Judaic architecture (Belgrade Synagogue). There is a large number of historically, architecturally and socially significant buildings - the National Museum and National Theatre on the Republic Square, the Assembly of Serbia and the City Assembly in the vicinity of the Square of Nikola Pašić etc. Special and equally attractive environmental sites are Zemun Gardoš and promenades along the banks of the Sava and Danube rivers.
Serbia and Belgrade are known for their traditional local specialties, whose main ingredient is mostly meat. The most famous meat dishes are kebabs and steak named after Karađorđe (Karađorđeva steak).
Over 1000 restaurants serve very tasty local and foreign food. The most famous Serbian cuisine restaurant are located in the bohemian quarter, Skadarlija. Those are “Two White Doves (Dva bela goluba), " "Two Deer" (Dva jelena), "Some days" (Ima dana), "My Hat" (Šešir moj), "Three Hats" (Tri Šešira), "Golden Pitcher" (Zlatni bokal) and others. The oldest café in Belgrade is “?” (Question Mark) and it is still situated in Kralja Petra Street no. 6. Everyone who comes to Belgrade and Serbia should try some of the various specialties, such as grilled meat (burgers, kebabs, white hanger, skewers), cabbage rolls ("sarma"), homemade cream ("kajmak"), various kinds of pastries and others. For fans of international cuisine, there are numerous restaurants, such as "Óttimo Ristorante" on Students' Square (Italian cuisine), "Beijing" and "Mao Tao” (Chinese cuisine), “Sushi Bar" and “Moon” in Makedonska Street no. 30 (Japanese cuisine), "Zapata" in the Vojvode Bogdana 13 (Mexican cuisine) and many others. You can buy fast food for just 100 RSD, while the prices in restaurants are between 2 € and 20 €.
It is very important to note that all fruits and vegetables used in Serbia are exclusively organic in origin. The quality of Serbian field and vegetable products is confirmed by the fact that they are at the top of the world market and can be found in stores in USA, Europe, Russia, Japan, Turkey and other countries. If you prefer vegetarian cuisine, don't miss the chance to try the Serbian cream and “ajvar”. In the downtown, there is a green market with reasonable prices of seasonal products. In the morning, the market is full of pepper, potato, tomato and cucumber sellers, whose products come from their gardens. In addition to watermelons, melons, domestic kiwi, raspberries and grapes, some kinds of tropical fruits can also be bought.
Recent statistics show that tourists from Western Europe gave highest grades for Belgrade nightlife and drink prices. The national drink is “rakija” (type of brandy), a strong beverage of good quality.
Water from public fountains, hotels and restaurants is completely safe. It is free to consume it and don't hesitate to ask the waiter to bring you a glass of tap water. It is free of charge! If you want to drink bottled water, there are dozens of brands available.
Traditional and very popular local drink is “šljivovica” (plum brandy). Serbia is known for its large number of domestic brands of beer – Jelen (Deer), Lav (Lion), MB, BIP, Pils etc. Besides them, foreign beers (Heineken, Tuborg, Amstel, Becks) are served in cafes. Homemade wine is good and smooth. In all bars, there is a wide range of coffees, such as espresso, Turkish, macchiato, cappuccino, Nes and so on. Juices are made from almost any fruit, and the most popular are orange, strawberry, blueberry, apple, cherry and peach.
For refreshment “on the street", the most famous locations are concentrated at Strahinjića Bana Street in Dorćol and Obilićev venac Street, near
Belgrade holds the 6th place in London's Sunday Times' list of world's best cities for entertainment. Many European magazines ranked it at the top. Over 2,000 bars and hundreds of discos, nightclubs and rafts offer a rich and interesting entertainment until the early hours. The prices of drinks vary and are generally suitable for tourists from Western countries.
Sites that are recommended for night-out are "Underground" in Pariska Street no. 1a, under the Kalemegdan fortress, the club "Academy" in Rajićeva 10, at the end of the pedestrian zone, "Bitef Art Cafe" (Drinčićeva 1), "Barutana" at Kalemegdan, "Idiot" in the Dalmatinska Street no. 13, "Bizarre" (Gospodar Jevremova 38), "Plastic" in Takovska Street 34, club "Tramvaj" (Ruzveltova Street 2), "Plato" on Students' Square, "Three Carrots Irish Pub" (Kneza Miloša Street 16), a traditional Irish pub.
Belgrade lies on two rivers - the Sava and the Danube - so for those who like to have fun on the water rafts, there are "Amsterdam", "Hua Hua", "Acapulco", "Ambis", then "Blaywatch", "Lukas", "Freestayler" and many others. Most of them are visited by major world DJs throughout the summer.
The only official currency in Serbia is the Serbian Dinar (RSD). Money can be exchanged in all banks and post offices, as well as in numerous exchange offices. There are many ATMs that accept foreign bank cards, and you should not have problems with them, since they are new devices. Payment by Visa, Visa Electron and Mastercard is widespread. However, traveler's checks are not a common and customary form of payment in Serbia, so try to avoid them.
Shopping is an integral part of every trip. Diversity of supply is reflected in a blend of global brands and local products and handicraft. Pedestrian zone Knez Mihailova is one of the most popular places for shopping. All stores are usually open on Saturdays, and some work until 3pm on Sundays. Some shopping centers are open every day. Shopping centers Ušće, Delta City and New Millennium are one of the most popular places for shopping.
It is customary to shake with right hand while meeting someone, regardless of gender. Kissing on the cheeks upon first sight is not required, but at each following meeting, it is usual to kiss in Serbian way, three times! Serbs toast with every drink. Rakija (Brandy) is usually made within families. Toast is done by clinging of glasses, while maintaining eye contact and loudly shouting "Živeli!" (Cheers).
Enjoying spicy foods is a part of everyday life. The main and largest meal is lunch. An important part of the Serbian mentality is "paying bills" in cafes and restaurants. The host almost never allows a guest to pay for lunch, dinner or drinks, as it is customary for the host to bear all the expenses while he has guests staying with him. Unlike the rest of Europe, there is no typical day for night life in Serbia. Throughout the week, there are places for a night-out for all generations, styles, music tastes and budgets. It is not uncommon to finish your party-time after 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning by buying "burek" in a nearby bakery or kebabs with onion and cream.
Serbia is located in the Central European time zone region – GMT +1 or GMT +2 during Daylight saving time. As in most cities of Continental Europe, the electricity voltage in Belgrade is 220V. Electrical outlets are standard European. The electric socket used is the European CEE7/7 "Schuko" as well as its non-grounded equivalent, the European CEE7/16 "Europlug". If your equipment uses different sockets, make sure that you bring appropriate adapters.