The former Yugoslavia was a massive country in Europe, consisting of different cultures and a diverse terrain. From Julian Alpes to Lake Ohrid, Venetian towns on Croatian islands to the high mountains above Kotor Bay, Ottoman bridges in Bosnia to the bustling city of Belgrade, there are many different things to see and experience. Many backpackers come to this region to visit attractions of Yugoslavian former republics. When backpacking Serbia as a part of your Balkans tour, you will definitely stay breathless to its beauty. Here is what you have to visit.
Belgrade – Starting Point for Backpacking Serbia
Belgrade is Serbia’s capital and the largest city in this country, so it can be a great starting point for your backpacking through Serbia.
Knez Mihailova Street and Question Mark Tavern
The Knez Mihailova and surrounding streets are the core center of the Serbia’s capital, so you should definitely stroll around if you have time. To the west, close to the park, you will find a Palace of Princess Ljubica and the Serbian Orthodox Museum.
Near, there is a Question Mark Tavern (“Znak Pitanja”) which is one of the most famous taverns in the city. It is a historical building built in 1823 by a Greek architect. The place got its unusual name in 1892 during a dispute between the Serbian Orthodox Church and its owner. The tavern originally opened as a cafe and the owner had named it after the Saborna Church. This led to church authorities strongly protesting, forcing him to remove the name. As a temporary solution, the owner put a question mark on the door. So, it eventually became the tavern’s official name.
On the southeast side of the city center, you will find Republic Square. It is the main meeting point for locals. Also, The National Theatre and The National Museum of Serbia are close by.
Skadarlia – the Gem of Belgrade
One area that you will really love in Belgrade is Skadarlia. It is a bohemian district with lots of cafes and restaurants. That is why it really comes alive at night. This street is very picturesque and it is an ideal place to enjoy Serbian cuisine in a traditional setting. You must try out sarma, cevapcici and Karadjordjeva steak and spice it up with famous alcoholic drink rakia. Our hostel is also near, so you can stay here while visiting Belgrade and backpacking Serbia.
Slavia and the Flower Square
From Skadarlia, you can easily reach Terazije and then walk through Kralja Milana Street to get to the Student Cultural Center and Flower Square (“Cvetni Trg”). There is a nice Njegoseva street with lots of cafes in a row. The Slavia roundabout is considered as an attraction as tourists sit and observe how accidents fail to occur even with cars coming in and out so fast. You might need earplugs here because drivers horn here way too much.
The Temple of St. Sava
Near Slavia, there is the temple of St. Sava, which is (as some say) the largest Orthodox Church in the world! It was built in 1594, but it is renovated inside. It is a majestic building and one of the symbols of Belgrade.
Belgrade is the gateway to the Balkans with both it’s positive and negative elements that all Balkan countries tend to have. But, Serbia has much more to offer than just its capital. If you have adventuristic spirit, you can take a bus, a train or even hitchhike through Serbia and visit one of the following destinations.
Other places in Serbia Definitely Worth Visiting
Since Belgrade is Serbia’s capital, foreign tourists often stop by. However, when backpacking Serbia you shouldn’t focus only on Belgrade. There are many beautiful places this country has to offer besides this famous big city.
Hey, did you know that Nis is also listed among 15 best places to visit in Serbia by The Crazy Tourist?
When you go from Belgrade to other big cities like Skopje or Sofia, you can use Nis as a stopover point. While backpacking Serbia and Balkans, you can stop by to this famous University town.
Nis is dating back to 279 b.c., so it is one of the oldest European cities. Founder of the powerful Constantinople, Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, was born here. In his honor, there is a memorial in the city center. Also, there are remains of an 18th-century fortress built by the Turks. Although gruesome, a Skull Tower is interesting to see because it was made of the skulls of Serbians who were killed by the Ottomans. On the Southeast of the city, there is Niska Banja, 9 kilometers from Nis. This spa is a center of the health tourism and it has hot water springs which can help in treating rheumatic disorders.
Devil’s town was named after unusual rock formations caused by erosion. There is an urban legend which says that rocks are actually members of a wedding ceremony which were scared by the Devil himself. The Devil’s Water, (known as “Djavolja voda” in Serbian) also affected this geological phenomenon. This water is very acidic, so it contributed to forming of unusual shapes.
This is a never ending story. Pillars collapse and make room for the new formations to appear, making these rock formations changing and evolving through time. So, don’t miss out this attraction on your backpacking Serbia trip.
Kopaonik National Park
Kopaonik became a national park in 1981 and it is the highest mountain in Serbia. Scenic and modern, the park is currently Serbia’s main ski resort. It has 25 ski lifts that can serve about 32 000 skiers per hour. The snow season lasts from November to May. It can also be a good place to hike during the summer, with different species of fauna and flora. Also, the mountain has mineral wealth with silver, gold, zinc and iron. There are also geysers, hot springs, and waterfalls.
Djerdap National Park
There are Three Gorges in China, but Djerdap National Park has its own four gorges. They stretch through the valleys and they are 115 km (72 miles) long. One of the deepest rivers in the world runs through a gorge called Gospodjin Vir. These gorges combine all together to make Djerdap Gorge. It is a southern entrance to the Carpathian Mountains, also known as the Iron Gate.
The park is located near the imposing Golubac fortress, on the Danube river. It one of the most often visited areas in Serbia, especially thanks to a lake formed by a hydroelectric plant and an abundance of flora and fauna.
If you pass through the Central Serbia while backpacking, make sure to visit Studenica Monastery. You will be amazed by two marble churches (Church of the King and Church of the Virgin) and a lush green grass.
However, this 12th-century monastery has outstanding 13th and 14th-century paintings, frescoes, and other ornate decorations that can be seen in different churches at Studenica. The monastery has a reputation of the mother of all Serbian Orthodox monasteries and the richest monastery in Serbia.
Founder of the monastery Stefan Nemanja is buried on the grounds.
Zlatibor is a well-known tourist attraction in the mountains of the western Serbia. There are many facilities to keep you healthy and entertained, from skiing resorts in the winter to hiking centers in the summer.
At Tornik, the highest part of Zlatibor, there is a famous ski resort. It has a capacity of 5 400 skiers every hour. Also, there are rustic historic villages and large meadows. Old churches made of wood are top attractions for tourists.
Backpacking Serbia must include Novi Sad. It is a lovely city on the Danube River. There is one of the river’s best beaches.
Novi Sad is Serbia’s second largest cities with a laid-back atmosphere. This city became famous worldwide for its Exit Music Festival held annually in July. People from all over the world come to Exit to listen to their favorite musicians and of course, have fun!
Some of the buildings that are worth seeing are:
- Old Town Hall located on the main square,
- a Church of Great Martyr St. George and.
- Dundjerski Castle.
The country’s fifth largest city is one of the best places to visit when backpacking Serbia. Interesting buildings like the City Hall and the Synagogue were are here from early 1900. Also, there are older buildings like the Cathedral of St. Theresa of Avila, built in 1797. Cafes around the main square are a good place to relax. If you like shopping, you will be happy to find Buvljak, one of the largest flea markets in Europe.
If you think that we have missed something worth visiting, please comment below, so we can include this place to our list. And, of course, stay in our Belgrade hostel when backpacking Serbia. We will always be happy to see you.