Image credit: Filip Maljković
The capital of Serbia is fast growing in popularity with tourists, with a burgeoning reputation as a destination for those who like to party. But head beyond Belgrade and you’ll find so much more to this beautiful country on the west of the Balkans.
As the second largest city in the country, Novi Sad enjoys its status as a cultural and economic centre of Serbia. Undoubted star of the show is the award-winning EXIT music festival, where party goers do what they do best and cut loose in the old fortress of Petrovaradin every summer. The modern incarnation of the fortress is said to have never been taken by enemy force, but if you’re looking for something slightly less rowdy, you can instead storm the Novi Sad City museum that these days resides behind the impenetrable walls.
The city itself lies on the Danube, the river that runs from the Black Sea in the west to the town of Donaueschingen in south-east Germany and in summer you can make the most of the sandy beaches on its banks, while during winter you can rest assured there are plenty of bars and restaurants to get comfortable in and while away the hours.
Djerdap National Park
Bordering Romania in eastern Serbia and located on the Danube, the national park of Djerdap arguably contains Serbia at its best – sites such as the foreboding Golubac Fortress allude to the cultures and civilisations that have risen and fallen throughout Europe’s long military history, whilst the gorges, rivers, flora and fauna of the park remind that through it all, nature carries on its merry way, finding a way to prosper at every turn.
There are numerous places to stop and take in the view if you’re driving along the riverside, or if you’re feeling a bit more limber and wanted to dust off those walking boots, park rangers will lead you on trails through the park, making sure you don’t hike off into the Serbian wilds whilst ensuring you get the most from your walk on the wooded side.
1 hour 50 minutes
Little more than 5 miles from the border with Hungary, Subotica is an Art Nouveau enthusiast’s dream, with an abundance of buildings built in the modern stylings that looked to embrace the forms of nature and reject the hierarchy of historical arts. The city hall should not be missed if you’re a fan of the movement, with its shapes and angles beautifully accentuated at night with simple yet stunning lighting.
If you’re looking for a little bit more than a nice looking town hall, Subotica’s reputation as something of a creative haven means there is always something going on to satisfy your needs. Buzzing nightlife, festivals, music, film and food should keep you busy and here’s a little tip – try the Burek. You won’t be disappointed.
1 hour 50 minutes
Situated in the picturesque mountainous region of the Dinaric Alps, Zlatibor is the perfect playground all year round with long hot summers punctuated by snowy but hardly glacial winters, and always with clean, crisp air. If sliding down slopes with things attached to your feet appeals, we might just have found your new favourite resort.
In English, Zlatibor translates to the rather magisterial name of Golden Pine, and we’re guessing you won’t be surprised in the least to know the region is dotted with many of the majestic trees. But flora fans will be pleased to hear about the abundance of spruce and fir trees, along with an array of seasonal flowers growing in the woods and slopes of the area. The air in this year round natural paradise is even said to have healing properties and is recommended for post-surgical convalescence.
3 hours 5 minutes
Sounding like a location out of a children’s programme, the village of Drvengrad, which translates to the wonderfully sweet ‘Timber Town’ in English, lies the proverbial stone’s throw from the Serbian border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Built by film director Emir Kusturica as the set of his boisterous 2004 film Life is a Miracle, the village is a fully functioning fairytale setting, with wood cottages (naturally) looking out over the mountains of Western Serbia, while roads are named after icons of the 20th century in Diego Maradona, Nikola Tesla and Bruce Lee – where else in the world could you experience that collision of folklore and modernity?
3 hours 40 minutes