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Introducing Serbia

Serbia (Srbija) is yet to come within most tourists' comfort zone, but having got rid of Slobodan Milošević and become a democracy, the nation is now knocking on the doors of Europe, and in the meantime is a safe and welcoming place to visit. The most exciting spot is undoubtedly its capital, Belgrade, a gritty, energetic city. Cultural buffs can revel in its architecture and museums, foodies in its restaurants, while party animals will get no rest exploring its incessant nightlife.

Vojvodina's flat plains and the tranquil Fruška Gora monasteries provide an effective antidote to urban chaos, while Novi Sad is home to the world-famous Exit music festival. Proud and traditional Southern Serbia is a land of lush rolling hills and wooded valleys brushing up against rugged mountains. The medieval monasteries of Manasija, Sopoćani and Studenica remain the keepers of Serbian faith and Byzantine art, while the mountains of Zlatibor and Kopaonik provide snow fun in winter and glorious hiking in summer. Mosques mix with monasteries in Novi Pazar, where life in the Turkish quarter continues much as it did a century ago when the Turks were still in power.

A few kilometres south lies Kosovo, a disputed land riven by different interpretations of history. For Serbs it is the cradle of their nationhood, for Kosovo Albanians it is their future independence. The UN still recognises Kosovo as part of Serbia until current talks decide its future.