Serbia, Serbia…Siberia? This is the usual stream of thoughts of anyone who has heard of this small European country for the first time. Luckily, the situation has been improving in the last couple of years, and all due to some phenomenal things you can do while you are there. Situated in the Balkans, Serbia is where the Western Europe meets its Eastern counterpart. Consequently, the land is a real melting pot of cultures, rich in history, blessed with beautiful, diverse nature, and even quite famous among the youth for its nightlife. Regardless of your age, here are some of the best and most original reasons to visit Serbia this year.
Visit the festivals
For such a small country, Serbia certainly has its fair share of festivals. One of them is especially in the spotlight – the EXIT Festival at the Petrovaradin’s Fortress, in Novi Sad. Once again, EXIT won the award for the Best Major Festival at the 9th annual European Festival Awards. Find out why this event outshone its fierce competition (Lowlands, Tomorrowland, Sziget Festival, and Wacken Open Air being just some of them). Bear in mind that this is a developing country, and the festival’s budget is ten times smaller than its huge competitors’. The venue probably has something to do with its success. 17th century fortress is a unique place to dance your heart out, as well as enjoy the view on the lovely city of Novi Sad.
For the film lovers, there’s a one of a kind experience in Kustendorff. Watch the films in Drvengrad, a town created by a famous film director, Emir Kusturica. If Monica Bellucci loved it, why wouldn’t you?
Grab a cup of coffee
If festivals aren’t your cup of tea, how about drinking a cup of coffee? Serbian people love having this hot beverage several times a day, and you must try the national version, called Serbian or Turkish coffee. If you’re in luck, a local can even tell your fortune from the cup – something similar to reading the tea leaves.
Have a great meal
One thing is for sure: you are going to love the food here. Admittedly, it’s not the best place in the world for vegans and vegetarians, though in the recent years restaurants have taken care of introducing the vegetarian options. Actually, even the traditional restaurants have options without meat or any animal products; just make sure you ask about it.
Traditional Serbian cuisine is very tasty, but it can be a bit heavy at times (as all the delicious meals usually are). The barbecue is absolutely great, even if you have it in a fast food joint. Serbian hamburgers are mouth-watering (called “pljeskavica” in the local language). Among some of the food which can only be enjoyed here are: Pule (the world’s most expensive donkey cheese), and komplet lepinja (a super greasy, super tasty bread bowl).
Indeed, you’ve read it well. Serbia has become quite a popular destination for health tourism. Compared to the prices in the rest of the world, the procedures here are more than affordable. On the other hand, to obtain a degree in medicine is extremely difficult, so the quality of the service is undeniable. It has all started with Serbian expats using their vacations to solve health issues at a low cost. As a result, medical tourism is blooming, and the patients are interested in weight loss, fertility surgeries, sex change operations, dental surgery, stem cell therapy, spine and neurology surgery, and so on.
Experience the awe of nature
There are lots of mountains, national parks and astonishing views to enjoy (Kopaonik, Mirac, Tara National Park, Deliblato Sands, Uvac… ), but perhaps one of the greatest is the sight of the Uvac River and its canyon. Turquoise water meandering through the hills will definitely take your breath away.
Also, when a country is this small, it’s fairly easy to visit other natural beauties, such as the Ceremošnja caves, the Đerdap Gorge, Krupaj Spring, or Đavolja Varoš (Devil’s Town).
And all this is just for the beginning of your adventure. Whether you’re a nature or music lover, a gastronomic pleasures seeker, or have a medical condition, you are bound to enjoy Serbia to the fullest.