Once in the news for the wrong reasons, Serbia sees little in the way of tourists despite a plethora of exciting places to visit from cosmopolitan, easy-going Belgrade to its spectacular Orthodox monasteries; from the beautiful landscapes of Devil`s Town to the rustic wine cellar village at Rajac. Its stunning hiking trails, delicious cuisine and quirky festivals make Serbia an ideal place for a unique trip.
This cosmopolitan and historic city sitting at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers also sits comfortably between the past
and the future. From the medieval fortress of Kalemegdan and its intriguing history on the frontier between East and West, to the
city`s teeming cafés, excellent food and fantastic nightlife, Belgrade has something for everyone. Learn about life under Tito and Milosovic and how modern Serbia is preparing itself in time for a new era.
Churches & Monasteries
Serbia is a country with a rich religious heritage. Visit the tiny 9th century St. Peter`s Church and Borac`s simple, hidden church. Admire the sublime frescoes of the UNESCO heritage site of Sopocani and the elegance and beauty of Studenica. Unlike in much of modern day Europe, Serbian monasteries continue to play an active and important role in the spiritual life of its people.
Devil`s Town is a unique geographical phenomenon. Nominated as a UNESCO natural heritage site, the area consists of bizarre
rock formations where water erosion has left cone-like pyramid structures of reddish rock, capped with a mysterious `black hat`.
Pyramids are continuously formed and destroyed, leading locals to believe that this was the result of devils fighting each other for
power. Local legend has us believe that the eerie sound of the wind whistling between the pyramids is that of the devils trying
The Skull Tower of Nis
This ghoulish tower was the Turkish response to an episode during the first Serbian uprising where the Serbian General, Steven
Sindelic, realising he was on the point of defeat, blew himself up alongside 3000 Serbian soldiers and about 6000 Turkish soldiers. The Turks built this grisly tower with four walls, each containing eleven rows of seven Serbian skulls, as a warning
against further Serbian resistance. Many of the skulls were removed at great danger by Serbian families and buried, but many remain there to this day.
The Danube River
The mighty Danube river is of huge importance to Serbia today and throughout its history. This impressive and beautiful river can be explored by boat (weather dependent), travelling through the narrowest part of the river at only 300m across and flanked by cliffs of up to 600m on both the Serbian and Romanian sides. The imposing Golubac Fortress is a particularly impressive stronghold along the Serbian bank of the river. Take a dip in the Silver Lake, a body of water formed by the Danube and popular with locals.
The wine cellar village of Rajacka Pimnice, near the actual village of Rajac, consists of 270 stone and wood cellars built between 1750 and 1930. Far off the tourist map, this quaint village is a fantastic opportunity to taste and buy the delicious local wine, eat traditional regional food and meet the friendly locals, who are not averse to a glass or two themselves! For those inclined to explore further, Rajac`s unique 3rd century graveyard with its highly unusual gravestones is also worth a visit.
Vastly different from the more southern regions of Serbia, the semi-autonomous province of Vojvodina is more influenced by the Austro-Hungarian Empire than the Ottomans who ruled the more southerly parts. This is clearly reflected in the architecture and attitude of the people. The beautiful towns of Novi Sad and Subotica look and feel more like central European towns that might be more at home in Hungary.
Bosnia & Hercegovina
Once known for tragic reasons, Bosnia and Hercegovina now features in travel plans as people realise what this country has to offer; age-old cultures, stunning mountain landscapes, access to the great outdoors and a sense of adventure. This most easterly point of the west and the most westerly point of the east bears the imprint of two great empires. 500 years of domination, first by the Turks and then briefly by the Austria-Hungarians, have inexorably influenced the culture and architecture of this land.
Everyone loves a newborn, and since 2008, when Kosovo declared independence, large letters spelling `Newborn` have graced a section of pavement in Pristina. The location, between the secure offices of the UN and a shopping mall featuring ubiquitous European clothing stores and a sky-clawing crumbling concrete monument, tells it all: that Kosovo is finding its feet. Staff from international organisations glam up Pristina`s restaurants, cafes and bars, as do talented Kosovar`s who are taking their seats for the ride forward.
Montenegro is coming out from its Yugoslav shadow and beginning to be admired for the beauty it is. No longer should visitors think they will fall off the edge of the world if they journey east beyond Dubrovnik; Croatia`s sapphire blue Adriatic Sea does continue. However here it`s backed by a craggy, grey mountain range leaving just enough room for a ribbon of coastal towns on a sweep of sandy beaches and small coves running down to the Albanian border.
Historic walled towns like Stari Bar, Budva, Kotor and Herceg Novi are perfect for exploring, and anywhere along the coast you can find private rooms in a laze-away seaside town. The interior is a setting of dramatic mountains tufted with pine forests, dotted with lakes and scored by giddy-deep canyons. The highest region, the Durmitor National Park, is a favourite for winter skiing and summer hiking in a pristine mountain-scape while below in Tara`s deep canyon, intrepid rafters challenge its tumbling rapids.
Mountainous Macedonia still has an air of mystery to it. Simultaneously ancient and brand new, it`s struggling to find its place in the post-Communist world. Black-clad Orthodox monks are just as much a part of this renewal as the hordes of teenagers, bedecked in the latest Italian fashions, sipping coffee in the stylish bars of the capital.
For outdoor types it`s a paradise. Its extensive wilderness allows ample opportunities for hikers, mountain climbers and skiers. Try the stunning Mavrovo National Park in Western Macedonia for the country`s best skiing and some unforgettable alpine views. Meanwhile, ancient ruins will fascinate anyone with even a smidgen of interest in history, as will the amazing Sveti Naum monastery. The culturally-rich town of Ohrid is one of Macedonia`s highlights, with its beautiful lake and spiritual significance. The capital Skopje is a buzzing place where Eastern European stereotypes and unexpected attractions coexist with intriguing results.