This month I was invited by the National Tourism Board of Serbia to take part in a press trip which aims to promote the campaign called #MySerbia. I’ll also be…
Serbia has some great mountains but one in particular seems to be very underrated. Suva Planina (meaning the Dry Mountain) is especially beautiful but still not enough known among travelers….
Serbia has some great mountains but one in particular seems to be very underrated. Suva Planina (meaning the Dry Mountain) is especially beautiful but still not enough known among travelers.
One of the reasons why this place hasn’t grown into a famous tourist attraction is poor infrastructure, so you’ll need to arm yourself with a lot of patience if you decide to explore it. However, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views and solitude.
This area is a popular excursion destination for the citizens of Nis, Serbia’s third largest city. But for people who love hiking Dry mountain offers well-marked trails to the peaks.
The highest peak is Trem (meaning porch) at 1,810 m. Other peaks that also deserve attention are Mosor (this one is especially popular among climbers) and Sokolov kamen.
One thing I suggest you do during your planning process is check the weather forecast for the mountain. Great website for that is Mountain Forecast.
How to get there
There’s a daily service from Nis to Gornja Studena which is a village at the bottom of the mountain. Unfortunately, from there to the mountain hut “Bojanine vode” you’ll need to walk 5 km as the bus doesn’t go all the way up. You can easily hitch a ride though and some people will probably offer to take you there which will save you a lot of time. I had a bumpy ride on a tractor from the village to the hut! 🙂 The trails to the peaks basically start from here and you can opt between three or four great ones.
Where to stay
You can stay in Nis which is 17 km away from the mountain or Niska Banja which is a little bit closer. Niska Banja is basically a spa of Nis and it’s a famous health center in the country. It’s popular among athletes and it has a new modern wellness center. The nearby area also offers great opportunities for active holidays. You can read more in this travel guide to Nis.
Serbia is still insufficiently known country in terms of tourism and the first associations related to it are usually great nightlife of the capital and the world-famous Exit festival. However,…
Serbia is still insufficiently known country in terms of tourism and the first associations related to it are usually great nightlife of the capital and the world-famous Exit festival. However, if you decide to look deeper you’ll find more fascinating gems that wait to be discovered by more travelers.
One such gem is Nis, the third largest city in the country. Due to its geographic position Nis has always been considered a gateway between East and the West and one of the most famous military roads in the world called Via Militaris used to run through its territory.
The city is most proud of the fact that Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor and the founder of Constantinople was born here. In 2013, the city was host to the celebration of 1700 years of Constantine’s Edict of Milan.
Besides many important historical monuments, the city offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation in its vicinity, it’s proud of its food and maybe most of all its hospitality. Indeed, many people will say you haven’t actually been to Serbia without visiting its south.
The bloody history of Nis
The fortress in the very center of the city is the most famous tourist attraction. The oldest remains such as the tombstones and thermal baths are linked to the Roman era. Given the fact that the fortress was destroyed and renovated several times, it was in hands of many conquerors, among them the Ottomans. Some rare objects that have been preserved from Turkish times are a hamam and mosque which is now being used as an art gallery.
The monument which perhaps speaks the most about the brutal history of this city is the Skull tower. It was built after the defeat at the Battle of Cegar in 1809, during the First Serbian Uprising. Turks have built this tower which consisted of 952 skulls of Serbian soldiers. Today however, only 54 stay on it. Upon visiting Nis in 1830, a French romantic poet Alphonse de Lamartine said that the Skull tower was one of the most horrific things he’s seen.
Another sad reminder of a recent history is Bubanj Memorial Park which was built to commemorate the shooting of more than 10,000 citizens of Nis during the Second World War. It’s one of the most famous monuments of this kind in the former Yugoslavia and it consists of three concrete obelisks which symbolize men’s, women’s and children’s hands that defy the enemy.
The citizens of Nis were brought here from the Red Cross concentration camp which was operated by Germans during the Second World War. This is one of the best preserved camps in Europe and a little known fact is that the largest escape from all the camps on the continent was organized here.
City of burek and “Chaos”
Nis’ main pedestrian street is full of traditional restaurants and cafes where you can sit and relax after sightseeing. The city is famous for its burek, a pastry filled with meat or cheese but there are other varieties too. The recipe for round burek was developed in Nis back in 1498 by a famous Turkish baker Mehmed Oglu from Istanbul and since then it got spread all over the country and beyond. The city hosts an annual burek competion and the world’s biggest burek was made here – its diameter was 2 meters long.
Chaos? Nothing to worry about. It’s just the name of a salad which consists of cream cheese in oil mixed with ground peppers and garlic. Other popular dishes are the shopska salad, cevapcici and pljeskavica – better known as the Balkan burger. When it comes to drinks, a local favorite is rakija, a brandy made from various fruits. The city prides itself on its traditional spirit which is reflected in high number of taverns.
The Alps at the South of Serbia
Just ten kilometers away of the city center there’s a Spa of Nis, a famous health center in Serbia. It is very well known for its hot, radioactive water containing radon. The spa is especially popular among athletes and has a new modern wellness center.
The vicinity of Nis is rich in natural beauties. Suva planina (meaning the Dry Mountain), which was named as the ‘Alps at the South of Serbia’ by the most famous Serbian geographer Jovan Cvijic is especially attractive. Its highest peak called Trem (1810 m) is very popular among mountaineers. There are several trails that are well-marked and which lead to several peaks that offer beautiful views. Mountains in the vicinity of Nis are also ideal for mountain running, climbing, rock climbing, speleology etc.
Cerje Cave for example offers ideal conditions for tours that are tailored to different interests (educational, sports and adventurous visits etc.). For water sports enthusiasts there are opportunities for rafting and kayaking on the river Nisava.
How to get there
Starting from June 29th WizzAir will add flights to Nis from Basel/Mulhouse and to Malme – Sweden from June 25th. However, the best way to reach the city is by bus. ‘Nis Express’ has 22 daily services to Nis from the capital city Belgrade and the journey takes about 3 hours.
Novi Sad, a city known for its world famous Exit Festival has so much to offer besides partying. It is home to some of the most important cultural and academic…
Novi Sad, a city known for its world famous Exit Festival has so much to offer besides partying. It is home to some of the most important cultural and academic institutions in the country, and it has an interesting offer for those who love cultural tourism. Unlike Belgrade, Novi Sad has a multi-ethnic feel which makes it different from the capital. There are plenty of galleries and museums with exhibitions that often change, so if you are a culture freak a visit to Serbia would not be complete without experiencing Novi Sad’s cultural offer.
And here are a few cultural attractions in Novi Sad that deserve to be checked out;
Novi Sad City Museum
The museum has a fantastic location on the Petrovaradin fortress and is best known for its underground military tunnels. This underground system was one of the largest among European fortifications as it consisted of 16 km long tunnels. A lot of money was poured here by the Habsburg Empire as the fortress had an important role of protecting the boundaries of the Empire. “Novi Sad from the 18th to the 20th century” is another great exhibition that provides insight into the lifestyle and culture of living in the city. The collection consists of fine arts, old photographs, personal items of its citizens, books, furniture, music material etc. There’s also a memorial collection of Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj – one of the most important Serbian writers. Outside of the museum there’s a cozy cafe with the amazing view of Danube river and Novi Sad.
The Gallery of Matica Srpska
Founded in 1826 in today’s Budapest, Matica Srpska represents one of the most important cultural and scientific institutions of Serbian people. The museum was moved to Novi Sad in 1864 and its collection has grown steadily ever since. The gallery mostly showcases the works of art dating from the 16th to 20th century. The works of some of the most famous Serbian painters are showcased here such as: Teodor Iljic Cesljar, Konstantin Danil, Pavel Djurkovic, Katarina Ivanovic, Djura Jaksic and others. The exhibits include post-byzantine icons, baroque paintings and modern Serbian art so don’t miss this once in Novi Sad. The Gallery of Matica Srpska is located at the Gallery Square where another two institutions are also based – the Pavle Beljanski Memorial Collection and the Rajko Mamuzic Gift Collection.
Serbian National Theatre
This theatre is the center of the cultural life in Novi Sad. The repertoire is large – from classical opera and ballet to modern Serbian drama. Dramas are mainly in Serbian language and the theatre also hosts various festivals and events such as the famous Novi Sad Jazz Festival.
Photo: Serbian National Theatre (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Dennis Jarvis
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina
The museum has a great combination of exhibits and programs that are well worth the visit. The fund includes paintings, sculptures, conceptual art, film, video and photography from the late 20th and early 21st century in Vojvodina but also the work of foreign artists. The entrance is free.
Where to stay
Novi Sad has many budget stay options and the one I really recommend is Hotel Vigor. Breakfast is included in the price and it has many healthy snacks while the staff is very kind and always ready to help. Rooms are clean and the wi-fi connection is great. All in all, the hotel exceeded my expectations and it’s much better than the number of its stars. However, the location is bit out of the city center, but the neighborhood is so quiet making this hotel a great choice for families. There’s a bus station 2 minutes from the hotel and taxi can take you to the city center for just 2 euros.
How To Get to Novi Sad
Novi Sad has no airport but it has excellent train and bus connections with other cities in the region. Trains from Belgrade run almost every two hours so you can depart at any time of the day. The exact timetable can be seen here. And for buses here.
What other cultural activities would you recommend in Novi Sad? Feel free to comment below.
Although Belgrade is famous for its nightlife and attractions such as Kalemegdan park, Nikola Tesla museum and St. Sava Temple, it still provides many interesting experiences that are almost unknown…
Although Belgrade is famous for its nightlife and attractions such as Kalemegdan park, Nikola Tesla museum and St. Sava Temple, it still provides many interesting experiences that are almost unknown to tourists.
Here are some great and unusual ways to spend time in Belgrade;
1. Explore the markets
This is not unusual for the locals who find visiting markets as a necessity, but if you happen to be in the Serbian capital you should visit at least one of them. Serbs favor naturally grown vegetables and fruits. You’ll be able to test your bargaining skills and buy some traditional Serbian products from various parts of the country, like kajmak, honey, ajvar and of course rakija (brandy). If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a short introduction to Serbian cuisine. Markets should be visited in the morning to feel the real buzz of the place. Some of the most famous ones are: Kalenic, Zeleni Venac market and Bajloni.
2. Ride a bike from Dorcol to Ada
For less than five euros, you can rent a bicycle for the day and explore the city. The recommended route is from Dorcol where you can rent a bicycle in sports center “Milan Gale Muskatirovic” and then head to Ada Ciganlija. You will see several bridges on the Sava river and explore the city from a new angle. In addition to this route, there’s also a circular path around the lake of Ada and New Belgrade cycling path.
3. Go on a kayak tour
Another quite unusual thing to do in Belgrade is to go on a kayak tour organized by the Belgrade Adventure tour guides. The best way to describe this tour is: less talk-more action. You’ll be paddling for three hours around the Great War Island which is a nature protected area of the city. Besides paddling, you’ll also be involved in bird watching as this protected area is inhabited by 196 bird species and swimming at Lido which is a famous Belgrade beach. The tour costs 15 euros but it’s absolutely worth it.
4. Have a picnic at Kosutnjak park
Kosutnjak is a park-forest and one of Belgrade’s most popular recreational spots. In addition to its sports centre, Kosutnjak is also home to many restaurants, trails which are ideal for walking and running, film town with many studios and buildings etc. Park has an important historical role because a Prince of Serbia Mihailo Obrenovic III was assassinated here and it also used to be a hunting ground for Serbian royal family.
5. Sightseeing by tram
This is an organized tour by the Tourist Organization of Belgrade, and a great thing is that it’s free of charge. The tour lasts 60 minutes and it will take you through some of the most interesting points in the city including the Zoo, Kalemegdan park, Railway station and Nemanjina street (where it’s possible to see destroyed buildings left from the NATO bombing in 1999). For this tour you need to apply at some of the Tourist Information Points with your ID or passport because the spots are limited. The tour is available every Friday from 20-21h and Saturday from 18-19h in English language.
6. Get familiar with African art
Museum of African art is the only museum in the region which is dedicated entirely to the arts and cultures of the African continent. The museum examines cultural areas of Ethiopia, Maghreb, Central and Eastern Africa and another important area of the work includes publishing. It’s one of the rare museums in Belgrade that has its own magazine called “Africa: Studies in art and culture”. African festival is another product of the museum and plays a major role in strengthening cultural ties and promoting the principles of multiculturalism and cultural diversity. Some of the things that are displayed include masks, ceramics, figures made of soft stone, musical instruments etc.
7. Visit the Etnographic museum
This museum houses a large number of items which are dedicated to Serbian culture and other ethnic groups from the Balkan region. It will take you through the traditional material culture, social relationships and family life, customs, beliefs and folklore of the country. The library has approximately 60,000 publications, including 33,000 books and 27,000 journals in the fields of ethnology, anthropology and related sciences, making it one of the best equipped library in the Balkans.
8. Go Karting
If you have never done karting you should! It’s so much fun and fun is good- especially for adrenaline lovers! 😉 It’s also a refreshment from typical activities that Belgrade offers. AutoKomerc sells individual and group rides of 10 minutes so you can compete against yourself or your friends. This is the only professional karting track in Serbia and it meets all requirements in terms of security. AutoKomerc’s karting track is easily accessible from Nikola Tesla Airport (just 3 km away) and it’s worth making a stop here. If you are an expat who lives in Belgrade you may even be interested in School of Carting.
Everyone has heard about the Bergen railway, Flam railway and Glacier Express, but what about the Eastern Europe and its railway routes? One route that definitely deserves attention is the…
Everyone has heard about the Bergen railway, Flam railway and Glacier Express, but what about the Eastern Europe and its railway routes? One route that definitely deserves attention is the one from Bar to Belgrade, which connects the Montenegrin coast with the capital of Serbia.
Not only does this route include breathtaking mountain scenery but also the crossing of 254 tunnels and 435 bridges of which the most impressive one is Mala Rijeka viaduct- the world’s highest railway viaduct.
Here are some basic facts;
Fares and timetable
For fares and timetable click here. You’ll need to enter the stations and the date first to get the prices.
17 hours, 550 km
The train leaves Bar at 5pm and arrives in Belgrade next morning at 10am.
When to go
Points of interest
Montenegro: Lake Skadar, the highest railway viaduct at Mala Rijeka, Moraca valley
Serbia: Kumanica monastery, Lim river, Zlatibor, Belgrade
I have traveled this route in August 2014 and it was one of the most unforgettable experiences. You might want to make a reservation a day or two earlier because 3-berth compartments may be taken really fast. I’ve bought a ticket in 6-berth compartment and went to the platform. There was a column of people, many of which with children, who were moving from car to car without knowing in which one to enter. The whole mess lasted about 20-30 minutes, after which the train whistled and finally moved.
I got a bed on top which involved climbing the ladder, and there we were… a Serb, Macedonian, an Englishman and Russian in a small 6-berth compartment which was a bit claustrophobic. The temperature was high but the refreshment came almost immediately after the departure of the train. Getting a supply of food and drinks is recommended because there’s no restaurant in the train. There are a couple of restaurants and shops near the train station where you can buy things.
You may wonder why it takes 17 hours for 550 km of travel? It’s even more bizarre that in 2014 it takes 17 hours while in 1975 it just took 7 hours to reach Bar from Belgrade. Welcome to the Balkans! However, there is a reason for this. During the nineties, this railway suffered from underfunding which has resulted in the railway deteriorating. Also, this line has been the target of NATO bombing in 1999, when parts of the tracks were seriously damaged.
As soon as the train passed the tunnel Sozina which is the longest one on this route (6 km), majority of people left their compartments and stood by the windows enjoying the beautiful scenery. A train passes by lake Skadar which is splendid, before arriving in the Montenegrin capital to pick up the passengers. The most impressive moments of the journey were crossing the viaduct Mala Rijeka, as well as passing through the canyon of Moraca river.
The passage is full of students who are talking about the exams that await them, older people who debate about politics and crying children, but they all have something in common – not taking their eyes off the beautiful landscape. I had the opportunity to meet a few Polish girls in a train, who have shared their cherry vodka with me and my friend, and made this journey even more interesting. Cherry vodka, the wind blowing your hair and amazing scenery… what else can you wish for?