My Top Five of Serbia
We dashed through Serbia in two quick, but busy bursts before continuing on our journey. The former Yugoslavian countries have a complicated relationship with each other, and it was really interesting (and sometimes a bit worrying) to see how influences of recent history are playing out. Local tensions aside, we had a fun time in Serbia and here’s a glimpse at some of the interesting things we would recommend seeing!
A Polish girl we met in Niš raved about Belgrade being her favourite city in Europe, she just loved it. She was a partier, and Belgrade, the city that never seems to sleep, was definitely the city for her! For Nat and I, we found the fortress more our speed (we’re so predictable, eh?). What I really liked about Belgrade Fortress is they have turned it into a diverse, community space with something for everyone. Restaurants, markets, parks, tank exhibitions, and even a dinosaur exhibit! So much fun, and what a great way to incorporate modern life into a piece of the past!
A lovely spa town sitting just outside of Niš, Niška Banja has been showing off its healing magic since the Ancient Romans built the first baths in the area (and probably even before that!). We visited in the quieter off-season, but I can see how this would be a sought-after place to relax. There are plenty of pretty, leafy walks up the nearby hills and within the town itself. There are also some really nice parks with gazebos to have picnics in and cute, little kiosks selling souvenirs not too far away. Keep an eye out for the romantic and slightly spooky ruins of old manors (hotels?) that have been left to the elements. While we can’t speak for the spa services, we did find that an afternoon walking around was certainly relaxing and well-worth the visit!
Welcome to Skadarlija! Or put another way, welcome to the cutest, bohemian neighbourhood ever! Well-known writers and poets from Serbia and beyond became regulars to this cute corridor in the early 20th century. Even today restaurants on the block boast about hosting big names like Jimi Hendrix, George H. W. Bush, and more. The car-free zone is lined with restaurants, galleries, and boutiques bursting with their own flavour and flair. We saw one place that had a huge wall-garden surrounding the patio, and another had mismatched, antique tables and chairs to add to the eclectic atmosphere. Along the side of the larger buildings is a massive mural depicting tunnels, trees, and a beautiful city-scape to brighten up the drab buildings. When you’re in Belgrade be sure to set aside time for a stroll down this street and a floral, porcelain teacup brimming with freshly-ground coffee.
Pedestrian Corridor, Novi Sad
Novi Sad was our last stop on our Serbian adventure and it’s a very pretty, little city. Picture those pastel-coloured, chocolate-box buildings that everyone loves about Europe lining pedestrian corridors, ah! What’s not to love? A lot of the downtown has been made into a fantastic pedestrian zone, allowing you to stroll around freely and check out sights like The Freedom Square, Town Hall, and lovely churches.
Stari Zemun, Belgrade
Look at that poor soul sitting there on the steps! Oh wait, that’s me. I was sick that day. Still! Zemun, one of the most beautiful residential areas in Belgrade, is well worth the long walk to get there. From the city centre you can take a stroll along the canal and check out the funky houseboats and stylish restaurants docked along the shore. Perched at the top of the hill in Zemun is the Gardoš, or Millenium, Tower. Built in 1896, when Serbia was still part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, to commemorate 1000 years of Hungarian presence on the Pannonian plain, the tower is one of four built by the empire on the four directions of the world. It was under renovations when we visited, but the view from the top is fantastic! A must-see if you find yourself in Belgrade.