Last week I ventured across the world with 5 friends to explore Serbia, located in Southeastern Europe. It was an incredible trip filled with authentic Serbian cuisine, history, beautiful attractions, lively nightlife, outdoor adventures, and so many cool cultural experiences. We spent most of the trip in Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia and a couple days exploring the rural areas on the eastern side of the country near Romania. My travel buddies: John, Blake, Katie, Becca, Kit (and Jenn & David our hosts!). [Professional photography in this post shot by John Philp Thompson.]
Air Serbia started our trip out right with an awesome flying experience that made the 11 hour flight so enjoyable – I don’t know how I’ll ever top an airline experience with a reclining massage chair, wine tasting, and white table cloth dining experience! When we landed, we met with our guide Srjdan who walked us through the heart of Belgrade and gave us a little overview of the city. The cobblestone streets were filled with locals eating & drinking, gypsy bands, a mix of modern & historical architecture, unique art, a farmer’s market, coffee & pastry shops, dogs (literally, dogs everywhere), and scenic views of fortresses in the distance along the Danube. We quickly found out ‘Serbian time’ is a bit different than our sense of time, and in this part of the world, the pace of life is much slower.
Just a little bit of history…
Serbia is a landlocked country in Southeast Europe that was previously part of Yugoslavia (made up of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia). Since Yugoslavia collapsed, the country has struggled with ethnic conflict between Christian Serbs and Muslim Kosovo Albanians. The capital city of Serbia, Belgrade, lies in between the Danube & Sava rivers and is one of the most coveted cities in the world – it’s been occupied or destroyed over 40 times in the past 2,000 years. Here are some of the amazing things we did during the trip that should absolutely be added to your itinerary when exploring Serbia:
Golubac Fortress along the Danube – the stunning medieval fortresses in Serbia looked like something straight out of a fairy tale!
St. Sava Temple – The largest Orthodox church in the world (Christian Orthodox is the main religion of Serbia).
Viminacium – a former Roman military camp. Yes – dressing up as little Roman women was definitely one of my trip highlights (haha). I say ‘little’ because the average height of a Roman woman was 5′ – shorties! We got to act as Romans for the day wearing traditional robes, tasting red wine from ancient amphora, and touring ancient ruins including the public baths they’d relax in for hours each day.
Boat Ride along the Danube – we cruised along Europe’s second largest river, right in between Serbia & Romania while drinking authentic Serbian beer & coffee.
Bukovo Monastery – vast vineyards & wine tasting
Lunch at Kapetan Misin Breg – an authentic open-air art gallery serving authentic Serbian food with an amazing view of the Danube. How pretty is that display of food!?
Soko Banja – hiking to the top of ancient ruins in Eastern Serbia
Sicevo Gorge – it was an incredible view from the top. To get here, we drove along a winding road through tiny towns where the people were so surprised to see cars driving through!
(wearing my Nike Juvenates below, my fave!)
The Splavs (nightclubs on boats): Serbia is known for it’s nightlife scene which has turned the city into a nightlife destination. Serbs don’t typically start the party until midnight! We had quite the night getting to experience VIP service at Freestyler, their most popular nightclub.
The FOOD, a few notes about Serbian cuisine
Meat. Potatoes. Veggies. Most of our meals consisted of some form of potatoes, vegetables, and dairy. It’s common for a plate of sausage, prosciutto, beef, etc. to be set on the table as an appetizer. The national dishes include pljeskavica – a ground beef/pork patty and Karađorđeva šnicla – schnitzel. But, the vegetable dishes were my fave – we had so many fresh salads!
Turkish Coffee – strong, muddy, and gritty coffee Serbians like to slowly drink over the span of 2-3 hours. Served with a chewy Turkish Delight! Best coffee spot: Restaurant Question Mark (sign looks like“?”) in Belgrade.
Rakija – the national drink of Serbia – homemade rakija – is basically plum brandy but tasted more like moonshine if you ask me.. SO strong.
Hoping my little trip diary and beautiful shots from my trip interest you in possibly exploring Serbia on your own! I’d love to share more details if you’re interested in more info about my experience 🙂 The National Tourism Organization of Serbia did a fabulous job of planning the best things for us to experience and where to stay. Be on the look out for a few of my favorite outfits I wore during the trip and some suggestions for what to wear while traveling & touring in Europe later this week!