Serbia has a long, rich, and turbulent history and a very proud people to match. The area was originally settled by the Thracians in around the fortieth century BC. It was then at some point conquered by the Greeks, then the Romans, and then the Slavs moved in during the Byzantine period. In the fifteenth century the Ottoman's moved in and held rule over the region for five hundred years before they then joined the wrong side of World War I and II.
They then merged with surrounding countries to form the communist Republic of Yugoslavia under the rule of the beloved Tito. After his death, wars started happening between the different areas of the Yugoslavia Republic, which started the separation into the country borders we see today. Kosovo attempted to separate also and become and independent state as well, but the Serbs wouldn't let them, so now -- despite the UN and several other countries recognizing it as independent -- the Serbs still insist it is a part of their land, creating massive conflicts and sparking the NATO bombings during the Kosovo War. Serbia then split from Macedonia and is now the Serbia we know today.
These days, the Serbs love a good party to embrace their freedoms. They usually celebrate in places called kafanas and drink their local drink, rakia. A side note, the rakia is good but potent -- it can be anywhere between forty and eighty percent, so pace yourself if you don't want to wind up on the floor!
The capital city is Belgrade, which also used to be the capital city of the former Republic of Yugoslavia. There is loads to see and do here, and the city has quite a charm to it from the older, Western-style buildings, to those built in the Communist era of Yugoslavia, to the bombed buildings from the conflict with NATO in the nineties that are still rundown and haven't been fixed. It is home to some interesting museums about history, and also a museum dedicated to Nikola Tesla for science or engineering buffs.
The other two cities outside of Belgrade that are worth a visit are Novi Sad in the north, and Niš in the south. Novi Sad is home to some lovely architecture and churches and is also home to the massive EXIT Music festival. Niš has more historical significance, as it's the birthplace and home of Constantine the Great -- you can see ruins of the mosaics from his palace floors at Mediana. There is also the infamous skull tower the Ottomans erected after Serbia's clash with the Turks during the first Balkan War. You can also visit a concentration camp from the Nazi occupation.
Getting from city to city is quite easy and the buses run quite frequently, however if you want to venture outside of the main areas and into the incredible countryside things become a little trickier and English becomes a whole lot scarcer. That said, if you have the time to spare, it is worth the venture.
There are Serbia hostels in all of the major cities and all over the country. Just check on the Serbian page to see which locations offer hostels before you start planning your trips. Otherwise, Serbia hostels are plenty and fairly good in the bigger cities. Just make sure if you are there for a festival, you book well in advance to avoid missing out! Otherwise, enjoy what this amazing country has to offer!
Hi, I'm Globetrotter,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Serbia hostels. Welcome.