For those who like life to run at a slower pace and savour every moment, Serbia is the perfect antidote to a fast-moving world.

Serbia is a relatively young country, having become a sovereign republic on 5 June 2006. Under the modern tricolour Serbian flag lies a nation with a long history that saw the presence of Ottoman Turks, and later in the 20th-century, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the complicated formation and dissolution of Yugoslavia. Many people are aware that Serbia had some turbulent years in the recent past, but the country today is peaceful, prosperous, and most importantly, widely regarded as a good-value holiday destination by intrepid travellers. For rail enthusiasts, riding the restored Šargan Eight line is the ultimate experience, so join PTG Tours to explore this magnificent part of the Balkan Peninsula.

Serbia at a glance

Capital: Belgrade
Language: Serbian
Money: Dinar
Travel advice:

Tipping: If the service charge hasn’t been included, tipping 10%-15% is common.

  • New Year’s Day – January 1
  • Orthodox Christmas Day – January 7
  • National Day – February 15
  • Orthodox Good Friday (date varies)
  • Orthodox Easter Monday – date varies
  • May Day – May 1
  • Armistice Day – November 11
  • Ascension Day – date varies
  • Whit Sunday – (date varies)
  • Germany Unity Day – October 3
  • Christmas – December 25
  • St Stephen’s Day – December 26

Zdravo (Hello), Dobro jutro (Good morning), Kako ste (How are you?), Hvala (Thank you, informal), Molim (please, informal), Da (Yes), Ne (No), Ćao (bye, informal)

Exploring Serbia says Balkan is a Turkish word and it means ‘mountain’. Unsurprisingly, forests cover about a quarter of Serbia’s territory, especially in the south. Here, the mountain ranges of Dinaric Alps, Carpathian, Balkan and Rhodope rise and fall, offering panoramic views of peaks, lakes and glades stretching to the horizon.

Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, sits at the confluence of the Sava and the Danube. The two rivers, along with their enviable riverine belt that rings three sides of the city, have made Belgrade the ‘guardian of river passage’ since the days of yore. Today, Belgrade continues to be the economic, cultural, and political hub of Serbia.

Serbian cuisine has many influences from its neighbours, chiefly Greece, Bulgaria and Turkish. Hence it is unsurprising to find items like burek (a meat or vegetable pie wrapped in flaky dough), sarma (cabbage roll), roštilj (grilled meat) and moussaka gracing the restaurant menus. 

Coffee drinking is an integral part of the Serbian culture – it is common to see friends, business partners, and family members enjoying the time spent together in a café, during which various matters are presented and negotiated. Rakia (fruit brandy) sharing is another relaxed, social affair that can last for hours. The most popular rakia is slivovitz (made with plum) and the best ones are usually homemade.

Serbian wine? You heard that right. Once upon a time, Serbia was an active wine producer whose wine was prevalent throughout the Balkan. But following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the winemaking industry in Serbia went into a decline. It remained so until the 2000s, when small and family-owned wineries started to revive the trade.

Today, Serbia has about 110,000 hectares of vineyards producing a wide variety of wines, from the dry Banat Riesling to the spicy Prokupac and sweet Muscat Ottonel.

Serbia has a continental climate which can see the mercury dipping below zero in the depth of the winter, especially when cold air masses from Siberian sweep into the region. Summer is hot and sunny, with a good amount of rainfall. Autumn is a lovely time to visit Serbia as the weather is mild and pleasant.

Make use of layers when visiting Serbia, and it is essential to have a medium-weight coat if you’re visiting the mountainous south. Take a waterproof too.

Zlatibor, which literally means “Golden Pine”, is a mountain in western Serbia. On the northern slopes of Zlatibor lies Mokra Gora, the starting (and ending) point of Šargan Eight, a revived narrow-gauge railway (760mm) that runs to the nearby village of Šargan Vitasi. The track only covers a short distance of 15km but the train, complete with wooden wagons and retro interior, shall pass through 22 tunnels and five bridges, offering gorgeous mountain scenery along the way.

  • My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla (since he is one of the most well-known Serbians)
  • The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia by Tim Judah

Why choose PTG Tour’s escorted rail tours through Serbia

  • Established in 1998, PTG has evolved into a leading tour agency offering rail-based holidays with a focus on culture and heritage.
  • You can choose from a diverse product range, based on your preference and budget.
  • Your escorted rail tour comes with a professional tour leader who will take great care of you, plus local guides when applicable.
  • All hotels and restaurants included in your package are vetted and approved by the local teams.
  • You can travel in confidence as all of our tours are ATOL and ABTA protected.