Nowhere in the Balkans buzzes with excitement quite like Serbia does. Its up and coming capital, Belgrade, boasts a vibe that’s hip and edgy enough to rival any of Europe’s coolest cities. Explore its breadth of museums and contemporary art galleries, or join the locals for a shot of rakija (fruit brandy) in one of the disco ships along the Sava River. Thankfully, Belgrade’s historical side remains beautifully intact. Get some perspective at the massive Belgrade Fortress, held by Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires through the ages. The castle now serves as the city’s central park, offering fantastic views over the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers from its ancient walls. This forward-thinking attitude extends to surrounding cities like Novi Sad, famed for its huge annual music festival, and northerly Subotica, home to many art nouveau splendours and two beautiful lakes.
There’s more natural beauty in the south. National parks like Kopaonik, Zlatibor and Tara are home to verdant valleys, steep cliffs, deep ravines – and when the snow falls – some of South Europe’s best ski resorts.
In true Balkan style, Serbia is a country of multiple cultures, faiths and ethnic backgrounds. The southwestern city of Novi Pazar provides a unique example: Muslims and Orthodox Christians live side by side harmoniously, a concord that’s reflected in the city’s architecture, which ranges from medieval Ottoman monuments to the oldest church in Serbia.
Accommodation is widely available in Serbia, ranging from luxury hotels and private apartments to friendly guesthouses and cheap hostels. There’s a good selection of aparthotels in the ski resorts, though these should be booked well in advance.