What to expect as a Tourist in Serbia – Everything you need to know

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We spent 3 weeks in Serbia in January 2020. It was my husband, myself and our 2 year old son. We only stayed in Belgrade (New and Old) and Novi Sad. We booked all 3 of our stays with Booking.com as it was cheaper with more options than AirBnb for the areas and time of year we chose to visit. *We paid 100% out of pocket for our trip and all activities – nothing was comped.

So…here’s what we learned.

  1. There are TONS of playgrounds all over Belgrade but less in smaller towns. This is a kid friendly country.
  2. Beautiful architecture and lots of churches.
  3. Reservations. Most restaurants that aren’t fast food, require a reservation – including almost all bars. That doesn’t mean you can’t get in but you might have to wait a while or sit in a weird corner on a barrel (like my husband did one night) or where space permits.
  4. Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. There are shoe stores everywhere.
  5. Bread and Meats. You can grab a meal or snack on every block. Most of the food we had was really good, fresh and made/sourced locally.
  6. Plenty of creature comforts from the West like McDonald’s (always smoke free) Pringles, Starbucks (in Belgrade – none in Novi Sad – and smoke free) snickers, some big name brands like Calvin Klein.
  7. Cinemas. Most movies are in English with Serbian subtitles except for kids movies. Just ask at the counter.
  8. Kids are polite and act like…kids. Even the teenagers seem very respectful.
  9. Great prices for Americans. We can go out to breakfast, lunch and dinner as a family of 3, daily, for under $45 USD a day…some days less
  10. SMOKE. Smokers are everywhere. 30-40% of the adult population smokes AND worse… 95% of all restaurants are filled with smoke (as of January 2020) even if they say they have a non-smoking section.
  11. You can drink water out of the sink.
  12. 80’s and 90’s Music from America is played EVERYWHERE. We were told that those eras had quality music and that is why it’s everywhere.
  13. It’s Safe. At no time did we ever feel unsafe no matter where we walked or what time of day or night. And…we walked everywhere.
  14. Dog poop everywhere. No one picks up their dog poop.
  15. Friendly people. They may look tough but every single person we met was friendly, helpful and fantastic (with the exception of Taxi drivers)
  16. Smog. We encountered a lot of Smog in January. It might be better at another time of year.
  17. Many English Speakers. Even if someone doesn’t speak English they know a couple words and you can figure out how to communicate.
  18. Taxi drivers are lazy. Most won’t drive you if you have luggage or they will want 100+ Dinar per bag extra AND most don’t seem to actually want to take any customers. The best way to get a taxi is to order one.
  19. Grey. It’s very grey in terms of the buildings and colors so in the winter it is extra grey.
  20. Walking. It’s very easy to walk everywhere. Sidewalks are usually in good shape.
  21. Malls are all everywhere. Big and Small. Name brands and little flea markets too. Serbia’s like to shop.
  22. Rakija. The drink of Serbia is something a bit like Moonshine made from fruits…I couldn’t drink it. Too strong.
  23. Underground Walkways to cross the street. There are all kinds of shops underground. Occasionally you can even find a toilet! Most are stairs only but some have escalators going up.
  24. Helpfulness. Everyone we’ve met is super helpful. If you try to say the basic pleasantries in Serbian, even if you butcher them, people will bend over backwards to help you.
  25. Gypsies are around and some beg while others might pick pocket. We’ve never been pick-pocketed but we think we might’ve been cursed a few times for not giving them money.
  26. Mexican food doesn’t actually have Mexican spices so don’t be surprised if it just tastes. like…food.
  27. Pay in Dinar or Euro’s. Both are accepted and welcome.
  28. Exchange places are everywhere. Why? We don’t know.
  29. No pizza sauce on pizza (Sometimes). They offer you ketchup which is their tomato sauce. Sometimes it’s homemade and other times it’s packaged.
  30. Drivers are polite. People actually stop for pedestrians.
  31. Cigarettes can be purchased on every corner.
  32. War. This country, and it’s people, still feel the effects from the NATO bombings 20 years ago.
  33. Keto Friendly. Tons of meat eating options. If you are Vegan or Vegetarian there are still plenty of options for you.
  34. Pet friendly. We constantly saw people our walking their dogs throughout the day and many even had dog coats on!
  35. Fur coat shops. I’ve never seen so many furs in all my life.
  36. The average wage for a Teacher is 300-400 Euros a Month. That is less than $450 USD a month.
  37. The average price of rent is $300-500 Euros a month.
  38. The currency is Serbian Dinar. 1000 RSD = $9.42 USD

Overall… We LOVE Serbia. We spent 3 weeks in Belgrade and Novi Sad Serbia. We didn’t have a single bad experience (with the exception of a ridiculous exchange with a dramatic Taxi Driver). We would happily come back here in the summer to explore but winter wasn’t bad either.

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42 thoughts on “What to expect as a Tourist in Serbia – Everything you need to know”

    1. The food was flavorful and well made. It also tasted really fresh and most restaurants started proudly that the meat was domestic. Thank you! I hate reading 18 pages of fluff to get a handful of tips so I thought I’d go with this approach!

  1. Great list about Serbia. You answered many of the questions I had before reading through your post. Interesting…I never thought about visiting until now.

  2. Good to know highlights about your visit. It sounds like I’d stick to Serbian cuisine. No mexi spices in the Mexican food and no pizza sauce on pizza? Interesting, but I love learning the different ways of the world.

    1. Walking around Budapest tonight my husband and I were commenting on how a particular area reminded us of Serbia and the. I said…except no smoking in restaurants here and no poop on sidewalks!!

  3. Oh, the smoking… I really look forward to the days when the world does adopt this one nicety of the USA. I get horrible headaches from even the slightest exposure, which really limited our experiences in Europe. I remember it being really bad in Romania when we went ages and ages ago.
    What a lot of great information in your post! I’m sure Serbia was a HUGE change from all your Asian adventures. 🙂

    1. People still smoke all over the place here in Budapest and I recall it was the same in Romania but it’s no longer indoors at public places which is a HUGE difference from having to sit and eat a meal while choking on smoke.

  4. I always think of it being really cold there! Was this on your bucket list or what inspired you to go to Serbia?

    1. Well… We had flown into the Tesla airport 3 times prior for layovers and that put it on our radar but, it just so happened to be the cheapest place to fly into Europe to from Tokyo Japan on that particular day. That’s kind of how we roll.

    1. Shawn and I were constantly singing and reminiscing listening to all the music. It’s not line an 80’s channel in the states so there were so many songs that we knee that weren’t like the one hit wonders being played

  5. I was surprised by how many people smoked in Prague! I suppose there are quite a few countries that still have plenty of it. I do love a good, walkable city though! And you mean ketchup for on the pizza?! Interesting.

    1. They call it Ketchup but some places make their own tomato sauce with Italian spices. But to me…it just tastes like ketchup. I recall that Prague had smokers everywhere too…just not in Restaurants. Same here in Budapest at the moment. So nice not choking on smile while trying to eat or reeking of it.

  6. As always, such great information…love your authenticity. Would definitely know what to expect before a visit after reading this post. So sad that the remnants of war are still present but seems like you had an amazing time. Oh, and love your giant latte. 😂

  7. I like how you highlighted both the pleasant and unpleasant. Sounds like an interesting trip! I would not like the smoking, the dog poop or the pizza! But, it is nice that the children can be kids, there are lots of parks, and they are so polite!

  8. Taci- Life Beyond Zebra

    Never been all that interested in Serbia but it looks like you had a great stay. I love the straight forward list of the good and the bad! I love anywhere I can take my dog, sad they don’t clean up after them.

  9. This is great. I love the bullet points. It is good to know that there is no pizza sauce on the pizza. I like learning how other places make different foods.

  10. I absolutely love this! Straight to the point and answers any question you may need to know! The perfect guide if considering travel to this area! Awesome!

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