Backpacking in Serbia on a Gap Year

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In recent years, Serbia has become an increasingly popular backpacking destination, known for its beautiful landscapes and rich history. Its warm, welcoming culture and vibrant nightlife are sure to make you glad you came.

The country is a living testament to its complicated past, mixing memories of Roman, Ottoman, and Yugoslavian rule. Still, it boasts its own, uniquely colourful culture, full of rakija (fruit brandy) and art nouveau. Backpacking in Serbia is bound to be an adventure, whether you end up in Belgrade’s bars, Novi Sad’s innovative music scene, or in Zlatibar’s lush, green mountains.

Cities in Serbia

Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, has been the centre of several political regimes throughout its thousand year-long history. But its tumultuous roots and fascinating past are only a portion of its draw. Belgrade’s nightlife is notoriously wild and noisy, so if you’re looking for a great bar and a good time, you’re bound to find one of the best in Belgrade. If you’re not quite into the party scene, don’t fear—there’s so much more to see, including the Belgrade Fortress, whose history dates back to the Neolithic period, and Mountain Avala, which offers a gorgeous, panoramic view of Belgrade.

Only visiting Belgrade would be a terrible mistake; Serbia’s various cities boast a wide range of different sights and cultures. Novi Sad is an up-and-coming European Capital of Culture (in 2021, to be exact), and Sremski Karlovci reveals its history as a religious and cultural centre through baroque landmarks such as St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral and Chapel of Peace.

Countryside in Serbia

While Serbia’s lively cities are ideal party spots, Serbia’s countryside promises just as many scenic landscapes. Tara National Park and Fruška Gora National Park hold some of Serbia’s most beautiful natural wonders, including photogenic forests and canyons. Tara National Park even hosts Serbia’s largest population of endangered brown bears, so be on the lookout!

Zlatibor’s town has all the comforts of a modern city, but it’s proximate to rural villages that provide relief from the noise and excitement of Belgrade if you’d rather stay away from the crowds. The region is full of gorgeous mountains and kind hospitality, and offers a completely different aspect to backpacking in Serbia.

Top Experiences in Serbia

Kalemegdan Citadel

Kalemegdan Citadel is a symbol of Serbia’s long history as a site of war and turmoil. The citadel has been destroyed and rebuilt forty times, and bears the signs of Roman, Austro-Hungarian, and Turkish influences. The tower has been turned into a museum, complete with exhibits that detail medieval Belgrade, the Ottoman era, and the First Serbian Uprising.

Uvac Gorge

The Uvac River’s path has created a series of curves and twists over time, leaving remarkable canyons, whose high grounds sit 3280 feet above sea level. Be sure to visit Uvac Gorge for a breathtaking view from the high grounds above the canyons and an array of majestic wildlife, including griffon vultures and golden eagles during your stay in Serbia.

Exit Music Festival

Each summer, Novi Sad hosts one of the world’s most famous music festivals, the Exit Music Festival. The 2017 lineup includes Jason Derulo and The Killers. Mixing genres of music and artists from all over the world, Exit draws tourists from all parts of the globe, so you definitely won’t be the only visitor there.

Gallery of Matica Srpska

This gallery, located in Novi Sad, hosts some of Serbia’s oldest masterpieces from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, in various styles and genres. The entire gallery is three stories high, and is said to be a national treasure. If you want an expert opinion, there are expert interpretations available in English on Fridays at 6:00pm.

Drvengrad

Built by Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica in 2002, for his film “Life is a Miracle,” this little village is an inevitable tourist attraction. Its colorful wooden buildings have a sort of quaint charm to them, and if you’re into quirky attractions, you can take a picture with the life-size Johnny Depp (circa “The Arizona Dream”) statue.