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.
Best places to stay in Serbia
Eastern Europe - Serbia (Chapter)
Warm, welcoming and a hell of a lot of fun – everything you never heard about Serbia is true. Belgrade is one of the world’s wildest party destinations, the northern town of Novi Sad hosts the rocking EXIT festival, and even its hospitality is...
Five of Serbia’s travel highlights
Serbia is not yet a mainstream European destination, but the ingredients are there – from the capital Belgrade’s nightlife to the architecture of the South. Step around Serbia with this selection of highlights from Lonely Planet Traveller magazine. Photos by Matt Munro...
Croatia and the Balkans
The Balkans are just getting noticed as a great European travel destination - we can’t believe it took so long! Situated on the balmy shores of the Adriatic and home to some of the most wondrous landscapes, monuments and villages you’ll ever see, this part of the world still feels like a well-kept secret.
Outspoken, adventurous, proud and audacious: Belgrade is by no means a 'pretty' capital, but its gritty exuberance makes it one of the most happening cities in Europe.
A beginner's guide to Serbia
Picture everything you want from a classic European country, then add a level of quirk that you won’t find anywhere but the Balkans. Serbia is one of Europe’s more sizeable countries, and yet it remains largely overlooked by travellers who tend westward rather than venturing east...
Eastern Europe Phrasebook
One of the most rewarding things about travelling through Eastern Europe is the rich variety of cuisine, customs, architecture and history. The flipside of course is that you’ll encounter a number of very different languages. Most languages...
Top 10 countries that didn't exist 20 years ago
Turbo boost your passport by venturing to these recently minted destinations, as highlighted in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2011. It's also a good chance to increase your collection of miniature national flags...
Europe on a Shoestring - Montenegro & Kosovo (Chapter)
Imagine a place with sapphire beaches as inviting as Croatia’s, rugged peaks as dramatic as Switzerland’s, canyons nearly as deep as Colorado’s, palazzi as elegant as Venice’s and towns as old as Greece’s, and you start to get a picture of...
As convivial as a rakija toast – and at times just as carousing – Novi Sad is a chipper town with all the spoils and none of the stress of the big smoke. Locals sprawl in pretty parks and outdoor cafes, and laneway bars pack out nightly. The looming Petrovaradin Citadel keeps a stern eye on proceedings, loosening its tie each July to host Serbia's largest music festival.
Belgrade to Bucharest
A unique cycle journey along the Danube from Belgrade in Serbia to Romania
Great adventures await south of Belgrade. Zlatibor's rolling hills are a peaceful privilege to explore any time of the year. Dramatic Kopaonik is a popular ski destination for Europeans in the know.