July 18, 2013

Travel tips for Serbia 2013

When I decided to travel to Serbia for the first time (that's quiet a long time ago...) you could not find ANY advise for travelling there, but just recomendations to NOT go to that area of the world. The war was over, the NATO agression fresh in the back an internet was not yet sharing many links regarding that area.

Today it's easier, tourism is wide spread also in Serbia and even less informed people know that the entire Balkan region is not only of a stunning beauty but also a safe place to explore and makes it also a good and cheap place for simply spending a vacation.Of course you can just jump into a plane and land in the middle of Belgrade and have a perfect stay without even knowing where you are. 

The advise I'm giving here, is for a traveller like me, the one that enjoys the preparations and getting inspired for the journey as much as the travelling itself!

If you wish to have the best of the Serbian experience, here my advise:

Preparations for visiting Serbia

1. read something about serbian history

Serbia is a country with an important history and everything you see is loaded with history! So I suggest to read at least this historic summary, that will put the things you see in the right historic contest.

2. learn the serbian cyrillic alphabet

Learn to read cyrillic characters or at least print this cyrillic alphabet out and carry it with you. Most of the signs are written in cyrillic, however in Belgrade and where big communities of hungarians (in northern Vojvodina province) or albanians (in Kosovo and Metohija province) live, you'll find a lot written also in the latinic alphabet.

3. learn about serbian cuisine

The Serbian eating style is something that delights tourists the most: it's absolutely fantastic! In this overview about serbian food you find an explanation to all the dishes served in restaurants, a good guide to drinks and eating habits. (For vegetarians, well what to say? if you decide to eat meat once in your lifetime, do it in Serbia...)

Since the food is so good you might come back from Serbia and have the wish to cook the nice things yourself. So here my 4 favorite links to serbian recipes:
astal - Vera's recipes from the Vojvodina region
palachinka - serbian food in stunning nice pictures
mezze - my favorite cooking magazine from Serbia (my favorites are the ethno recipes in each issue)

moje grne - The vaste recipe collection from Dragana from Bor

Љубав на први залогај - the recipes from Dragana from Belgrade

kad ja kuvam - Irena from Montenegro has good recipes with great pictures

Formal matters for Serbia

Here some general information to get the administrative things right when entering and leaving Serbia. It's not complicated, but it's nice to have it here all in one place:

French embassy in Belgrade (vis-a-vis Kalemegdan)

1. Here a list of all foreign embassies in Serbia (listed by countries)

2. Here is an overview for Visa regimen with the list of countries
Foreigners should register their arrival in Serbia (if you're staying at a Hotel, they will do that automatically for you) with the competent authorities (according to the place of residence of the foreigner - the police department). It's not a big deal and it doesn't cost much (a couple of cents for the papers).

3. It's never a bad idea to check border customs (here an overview) As a tourist you shouldn't have any troubles with customs officers. Be just sure to get an "Entrance to Serbia stamp" in your passport, that will avoid troubles when travelling out of the country again.

That's what I usually bring out of Serbia! 

General advise for Serbia

1. It's forbidden to take pictures of any military facilities.

2. Don't panic if you read some bad facts about Serbia.It's still some anti-serbian propaganda going on, and whatever unpleasant happens in Serbia is displayed as a big thing in western european medias (there are however some sites, like at de-construct and Serbia's Ambassador to the world oposing against that). Remember that statistically it's more likely you happen to get harassed in a western european city that somewhere in Serbia. Be respectful and you get respected!

3. Stay out of politic debates and go easy on spreading your opinion about themes like Balkan Wars, religion, Kosovo and gay-parades.
In the entire balkan region people are still very sensitive about war themes and if you're not part of them you can not 100% understand it. So keep the good advise for your diary and not for the table at the local Kafana. If you are interested in following politics in Serbia (and it's really entertaining) here an overview of the political parties, their leaders and their ideas.After these more general links, the next few posts will be about 4 itineraries to discover Serbia.After these more general links, the next few posts will be about 4 itineraries to discover Serbia.

With these basics you just need to get your itinerary and depart!

Ideas for itineraries in Serbia:

Travel tips for Belgrade
Travel tips for Kosovo and the Raska region
Travel tips for Tara National Park and Kopaonik
Travel tips for Ethno Villages in Serbia
Travel tips for Fruska Gora Monasteris

Stara Planina (the old mountains -heart of the balkan)
Vranje (the city of Bora Stankovic)
Sremski Karlovci (beautiful town at the border of Fruska Gora National Park)
Zasavica Nature Park (Nature, Ethno, Food, Culture)