Accessible Travel

There are very few specific facilities for visitors with disabilities. Many hotels and private accommodation don't have lifts. Uneven sidewalks and cobblestones can make getting around difficult. Some higher-end hotels have wheelchair-accessible rooms.

Bargaining

A bit of haggling (especially if you know some Serbian) at flea markets is fine, if not expected, but you’re expected to pay the stated price everywhere else (including at produce markets).

Dangers & Annoyances

Travelling around Serbia is generally safe for visitors who exercise the usual caution. The exceptions can be border areas, particularly the southeast Kosovo border where Serb-Albanian tensions remain. Check the situation before attempting to cross overland, and think thrice about driving there in Serbian-plated cars.

Embassies & Consulates

A complete list of embassies and consulates in Serbia, as well as Serbian embassies around the world, is available at www.embassypages.com/serbia. New Zealand doesn't have an embassy in Serbia; it is represented through its embassy in The Hague.

Emergency & Important Numbers

Ambulance194
Fire193
Police192

Entry & Exit Formalities

Getting into Serbia from everywhere but Kosovo is simple and should be hassle-free. As Serbia doesn't recognise Kosovo's independence, it may not be possible to enter Serbia from Kosovo unless you first entered Kosovo from Serbia. Some travellers with Kosovo entry or exit stamps in their passports have been denied entry to Serbia; check with your embassy for up-to-date information.

Customs Regulations

  • Exporting recognised objects of artistic or cultural value may require a permit (this doesn't include souvenirs or the majority of locally produced art).
  • Amounts greater than €10,000 in cash or travellers cheques must be declared when leaving the country.
  • Drug laws are similar to most other European countries. Possession or trafficking of drugs could result in a lengthy jail sentence.
  • When you enter the country you need to receive an entry stamp in your passport. If you don’t, you may be detained or fined (for entering the country illegally) when you seek to leave.
  • Serbia's Customs Administration has more information at www.upravacarina.rs/en.

Visas

None required for citizens of the EU, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.

More Information

Tourist visas for stays of less than 90 days aren't required by citizens of EU countries, most other European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mfa.gov.rs/en) has full details.

Officially, all visitors must register with the police. Hotels and hostels will do this for you but if you're camping or staying in a private home, you are expected to register within 24 hours of arrival. This is rarely enforced, but being unable to produce registration documents upon leaving Serbia could result in a fine.

Etiquette

  • Greetings Usually consist of a three-kiss hello and cheerful gesticulations.
  • Visiting Take off your shoes when entering a home. Serbs are obsessed with draughts and cold extremities; they'll have slippers for you. Bring a small gift, like wine, chocolate or a bag of coffee.
  • Conversation Tread carefully around politics, religion, history and ethnicity; just don't expect the Serbs to do the same. This is not a quiet country, so don't be alarmed if everyone is yelling; they're probably just talking about the weather.
  • Religion Walk backwards out of a shrine and dress conservatively at monasteries.
  • Drinking Make eye contact during toasts. Splitting bills when you have drinks with someone is not done; the host (or person who initiated it) will always insist on paying.
  • Smoking Don't even think about asking someone to put out their cigarette; if smoke is bothering you, you'll have to move elsewhere.
  • Manners Serbs are polite, but the Western habit of saying 'thank you' for every small deed or exchange is deemed strange and excessive. Thanking someone for rakija is especially not done. Likewise, don't ask a Serb 'How are you?' unless you're actually interested to hear how they're feeling.

Internet Access

Free wi-fi is available in most of the bigger city and town centres, and at almost every hotel or hostel. You will probably need to ask for a password to connect at cafes and bars. Very rural areas may not have internet access.

LGBT Travellers

As evidenced by the furore over Belgrade's early pride parades (chronicled in the 2011 film Parada), life is not all rainbows for homosexuals in this conservative country. Discretion is highly advised. Check out www.gay-serbia.com and www.gej.rs for the latest news in the Serbian LGBT community, or to make local connections.

Money

ATMs are found in all main and mid-sized towns; all major credit cards are accepted.

More Information

Serbia's currency is the dinar (DIN); though accommodation prices are often quoted in euro, you must pay in dinar.

ATMs are widespread and cards are accepted by established businesses. There's an exchange office (menjačnica) on every street corner. Exchange machines accept euros, US dollars and British pounds.

Exchange

AustraliaA$175.57DIN
CanadaC$179.17DIN
euro zone€1118.34DIN
Japan¥10091.23DIN
New ZealandNZ$170.31DIN
UKUK£1135.92DIN
USAUS$1103.71DIN

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Tipping

Not obligatory, but always appreciated for good service; round up the taxi fare.

Opening Hours

Banks 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm Saturday

Bars 8am to midnight (later on weekends)

Restaurants 8am to midnight or 1am

Shops 8am to 6pm or 7pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 3pm Saturday

Post

Parcels should be taken unsealed to the main post office for inspection. You can receive mail, addressed poste restante, for a small charge.

Public Holidays

New Year 1 and 2 January

Orthodox Christmas 7 January

Statehood Day 15 and 16 February

Orthodox Easter April/May

Labour Day 1 and 2 May

Armistice Day 11 November

Smoking

Smoking is permissible almost everywhere in Serbia, despite attempts at banning it in enclosed areas. Restaurants with enforced non-smoking sections are a rarity.

Taxes & Refunds

  • It may be possible for visitors to claim a refund of VAT paid on goods over €150; see www.upravacarina.rs for full details.
  • Tax is not always automatically included in hotel rates, but it is included in the price of goods and other services.

Telephone

The country code is 381. To call abroad from Serbia, dial 00 followed by the country code. Press the i button on public phones for dialling commands in English. Long-distance calls can also be made from booths in post offices. A variety of local and international phonecards can be bought in post offices and news stands.

Mobile Phones

Serbia is outside the EU so roaming charges are high; local SIM cards are a convenient option, particularly for internet data, and you can get packages specifically intended for tourists. Mobile-phone SIM cards (around 300DIN) and recharge cards can be purchased at supermarkets and news stands. All mobile numbers in Serbia start with 06. There are three mobile phone operators: Telenor, MTS and VIP. Telenor has a simple-to-use app, good coverage across regional Serbia and the sign-up procedure is quick and easy.

Time

East European Time (GMT/UTC plus one/two hours in winter/summer). The 24-hour clock is used.

Toilets

Sit-down toilets are the most widespread WC, though you'll still find squat toilets in many public facilities. You may have to pay a small fee to use public toilets; carry change and bring your own tissues.

Tourist Information

Tourist offices in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš have plenty of English material and friendly, knowledgeable staff, as do the country's various national parks offices.

The National Tourism Organisation of Serbia website is loaded with useful information.

Travel with Children

Serbs go gaga for babies and kids; prepare for your little ones to be smooched senseless and squeezed like fruit at a market. Children are welcome pretty much everywhere, though it's up to you if you really want them sitting around in a smoky kafana.

Serbia isn't kid-proofed like many other countries are; pools are unenclosed, there's a dire lack of fences and public playgrounds are usually in concrete lots. Keep an eye on your scallywags (as eagle-eyed bake – grandmothers – will no doubt also be doing) and they'll be fine. Many local children (as young as three!) speak rudimentary English, and may end up following you and your offspring around, showing off their skills and wanting to play. In the cities and larger towns, you'll find private playgrounds (igraonica) and by-the-hour child-minding centres (dnevni boravak) with attached cafes; these can be a lifesaver for parents simply wishing to have a cup of coffee in peace. In summer, funfairs (luna parkovi) pop up anywhere crowds gather.

Broken footpaths, cobbled streets and a noticable lack of lifts can make pram-pushing a chore; a baby carrier or sling takes up less luggage space and makes exploring easier.

Baby change rooms are few and far between, but nobody will look askance at a swift al fresco nappy change. Big brand-name disposable nappies are easy to come by at supermarkets and pharmacies (apoteka), as is infant formula. It’s a good idea to bring a few days’ supply with you just in case. The main brands are Bebelac, Nestle and Aptamil.

Better hotels may have cots available, but it’s best to check in advance. The same goes for car seats at rental-car agencies or taxi companies. Car seats aren’t legally required, but you should consider bringing your own or buying one; all the big cities and towns have children's stores.

It's unlikely you'll find children’s menus (or highchairs) at restaurants, but local staples like ćevapčići (skinless sausage) or pljeskavica (hamburger) should keep kids happy; if not, pizza, pasta and hot chips are everywhere. Bakeries are also a good choice for mini-pizzas, sweets and savoury burek. If you're self-catering, the produce from local green markets is invariably fresh and often organic.

Breastfeeding in public isn't often done, but as 'breast is best' is the prevailing notion here, it's unlikely anyone will bat an eye.

Serbian medical care is generally very good, though in smaller centres you may face language barriers. Every town has a public medical centre (dom zdravlja); private clinics can be found in the cities.

Volunteering

Serbia isn't a common destination for international volunteering agencies, but you can get involved in local projects.

  • Refugee Aid Serbia (www.refugeeaidserbia.org) Assists refugees and asylum seekers in Belgrade and at the country's borders.
  • Mladi Istrazivaci Srbije (Young Researchers Serbia; www.mis.org.rs) Focuses on environmental and youth projects.
  • Volonterski Centar Vojvodine (www.volontiraj.rs) Has various volunteering opportunities in Vojvodina.
  • United Nations Volunteers (UNV; www.rs.undp.org) This programme operates within Serbia on various humanitarian projects.
  • WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms; wwoofserbia.org) Opportunities to volunteer exist across Serbia.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures The metric system is used.

Women Travellers

Other than a passing interest shown by men towards solo women travellers, travelling in Serbia is hassle-free and easy.

Work

It's not easy for locals to find a job in Serbia, and it's even more complicated for foreigners. You'll need to apply for a temporary residence visa; to do that, you'll need a job offer from a Serbian (or Serbia-based) company or Serbian government department. You'll also need proof of finances and police and medical checks. You can attempt to find out more from the National Board of Employment (www.nsz.gov.rs).