Highlights of Serbia

Serbia

Culture

Historic monasteries, striking valleys and Roman ruins

10 days £1,795 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

NEW TOUR

Discover Serbia as you embark on a tour of this beautiful country. Explore the city of Belgrade, from the famous Fortress of Kalemegdan to the striking tower of Gardoš. Visit the many monasteries of the Fruška Gora and Novi Sad region, including the iconic Krušedol Monastery. Drink with locals in the rustic wine cellars of Rajacka Pimnice and scale the heights of Mount Zlatibor. Venture to the historic city of Niš and see its ghoulish skull tower. Journey to Bosnia & Hezegovina as you visit the quaint town of Visegrad before returning to Serbia. Embark on a tour of the imperial Roman site of the Gamzigrad and Felix Romuliana, before taking a step back in time at the former military camp of Viminacium.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Soak up Belgrade's cosmopolitan atmosphere
  • Visit the Cathedrals of Novi Sad
  • The former military camp of Viminacium
  • Lepenski Vir, one of the oldest Neolithic civilizations in Europe
  • Visit the ruins of Gamzigrad and Felix Romuliana
  • The historic city of Niš
  • Drinking with locals in the rustic wine cellars of Rajac
  • Ghoulish Skull Tower of Niš
  • Serbia’s ancient yet living Orthodox monasteries & churches
  • Bizarre landscapes of Devil’s Town

Places Visited

Belgrade - Fruska Gora - Sremski Karlovci - Novi Sad - Viminacium - Lepenski Vir - Kladovo - Rajacka Pimnice - Gamzigrad and Felix Romuliana - Niš - Mediana - Mount Zlatibor - Sarganska Osmica - Mokra Gora - Visegrad - Sirogojno - Drvengrad - Novi Pazar - Sumadija region - Topola - Orašac

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
Image 3

Day 1 : Arrival into Belgrade

Arrive in Belgrade, where you will be met by a Travel the Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day will be free to spend at your leisure. Overnight in Belgrade. 

Meal plan: Dinner

Image 3

Day 2 : Belgrade

Embark on a city tour of Belgrade. See the sights of New Belgrade, including Sava River, before continuing to Zemun. Visit the Tower of Gardoš, before returning to the old part of Belgrade, where highlights will include the Memorial Complex of Josip Broz Tito and St. Sava Church. Later, make your way through Republic Square, seeing the National Theatre and National Museum. Other sights will include Princess Ljubica's Residence, the Rose Church of Our Lady and the Fortress of Kalemegdan. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Belgrade has been the capital of Serbia since 1403, when Despot Stefan, son of Prince Lazar, moved his palace here. Walk through the elegant Republic Square and pay attention to its architectural monuments, such as the National Theatre and the National Museum. Stroll along Knez Mihajlova Street, the main shopping street and meeting place, to see a few other masterpieces of Belgrade architecture. 

The tower of Gardoš, also known as Millennium Tower, was built in the 19th century in celebration of the thousand years of the Austrian empire. The monument is protected both as Spatial Cultural-Historical Unit of Great Importance, and also as a Protected Monument of Culture.

The Memorial Complex of Josip Broz Tito, also known as House of Flowers, is the resting place of the former President of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and his wife Jovanka Broz. It is located on the grounds of the Museum of Yugoslav History in Dedinje. 

The Church of St. Sava in Belgrade is dedicated to the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church - Saint Sava. The construction of the grand building began in 1935. It was planned to symbolically stand on the site where Saint Sava's remains were burned in the 1500s by Ottoman rulers. The church's iconic dome forms significant part of Belgrade's cityscape, whilst the church itself stands as one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world.

Princess Ljubica's Residence was once a palace, built in 1829 for Prince Miloš and his family. The building is one of the most remarkable examples of civil architecture from the 19th century in the country. Due to its historical significance, the palace has been designated a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance.

The Fortress of Kalemegdan, which is the symbol of Belgrade, is where the River Sava flows into the Danube. The Upper fortress area includes well-preserved artillery structures dating from the 18th century, as well as a medieval fortification - an acropolis with original or partly reconstructed ramparts, gateways, towers and the excavated ruins of a 15th century castle. A few Turkish monuments and some ancient Roman remains also lie in this area. In this section of the fortification complex you’ll see the elegant 18th century Baroque Clock Tower and the Roman Well. The Eastern Ward features the Rose Church of Our Lady, along with a panoramic view of the Lower fortress and its monuments - the Nebojsa Tower, the Baroque Gate of Karl VI and the remains of the medieval metropolitan palace.

The Rose Church of Our Lady, locally known as Ružica Church, is a Serbian Orthodox church located in the grounds of Belgrade Fortress. The building suffered damage during Ottoman Turk invasion and the First World War. It has since been renovated by Russian architect, Nikolay Krasnov, in 1925.

Read more
Image 3

Day 3 : Belgrade - Sremski Karlovci - Novi Sad - Belgrade

Drive to the region of Fruška Gora where you will visit Krušedol Monastery. Later, travel to see the medieval buildings of Sremski Karlovci including Patriarch's Palace. Continue to Novi Sad, stopping en route at the Fortress of Petrovaradin. Take a tour of Novi Sad, before returning to Belgrade. Overnight in Belgrade. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Vojvodina and the region of Fruska Gora is the only hill in the entire Panonian Valley. Located on the slopes of this hill are seventeen medieval monasteries, which for several centuries represented the spiritual centre of the region, often labelled as the Serbian Mt. Athos. Krusedol Monastery, founded in the 16th century, is known for its attractive location, historical importance, and a variety of decorative frescos in its church.

Krušedol Monastery lies on the Fruška Gora mountain, in the province of Vojvodina. This monastery was founded between 1509 and 1514, and today, it stands as the legacy of the last Serbian despot family of Srem - Branković. The iconic structure is shown on the national 5 Dinar coin and in recent history, it was declared as a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance. 

Sremski Karlovci is a picturesque Baroque town that used to be a Serbian religious and educational centre in the 18th and 19th centuries. Enjoy the Baroque-style fountain from 1790 and Karlovci High School. This site dates back to the end of the 19th century and contains decorative elements reminiscent of mediaeval Serbian buildings. You can also visit the Patriarch's Palace, once the most imposing building in the whole region, as well as the Cathedral from the mid-18th century.

Patriarch's Palace was built between 1892 and 1895 by Serbian architect Vladimir Nikolić. The historical building was built during the reign of Georgije II Branković and served as the seat of the Patriarchate of Karlovci between 1848 and 1920. Today, it is the permanent residence of the Bishop of Srem and a summer residence of Serbian Patriarch. It is also home to the Museum of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Visit the Fortress of Petrovaradin, once called 'Gibraltar on the Danube'. This Austrian artillery fortification is situated above the river and represents the second largest structure of its kind preserved in Europe. Built by Austrians in the 17-18th centuries at the spot of former Roman, Byzantine and Hungarian settlements, the fortress plays a very important role in the life of the town even today, as many cultural events are organized there. It also features 16km of underground tunnels.

Novi Sad is one of Serbia's biggest cities and is the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Vojvodina. It is a modern, lively city with many growing businesses. At the same time, it maintains a beautiful flavour of its past. Walk through the centre of Novi Sad to visit the main Orthodox Cathedral and the main Catholic Cathedral, then continue walking along the famous Dunavska street.

Read more
Image 3

Day 4 : Belgrade - Lepenski Vir - Kladovo

Depart Belgrade, travelling to Viminacium. Continue along the Danube to Golubac Fortress before later visiting Lepenski Vir. Overnight in Kladovo.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Viminacium was a very important military camp in the 1st and 2nd centuries, housing Legio VII Claudia & IV Flavia. It had the status of “Municipium” in II century during the ruling of Imperator Hadrian and status of “Colony” in III century during the ruling of Imperator Septimius Severus.  

The imposing 14th Century Golubac Fortress is a particularly impressive stronghold along the Serbian bank of the river. 

Dated to 6000 years BC, Lepenski Vir is the settlement of one of the oldest Neolithic civilizations in Europe and a whole era was named after this site. In mythology, it is said to have been founded by Noah’s son after the great flood. The intricate architecture and sculptures are evidence of the advanced culture and religion of the early Europeans that lived here. 

Kladovo is a town situated  in the Bor district of eastern Serbia. Positioned on the banks of the Danube River and surrounded by beautiful hills, the town is home to the biggest gorge in Europe. The geography of the region supports its main industries of hydro-electric power and agriculture. Kladovo tells a very rich cultural story and has been shaped by the many different civilisations that have occupied the town throughout history, including the Celts and the Turks.
 


Read more
Image 3

Day 5 : Kladovo - Gamzigrad - Niš

Visit the wineries of Rajaka Pimnice before visiting the UNESCO-listed Gamzigrad and Felix Romuliana. Travel to Niš and visit the fortress. Overnight in Niš. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The wine cellar village of Rajacka Pimnice, near the actual village of Rajac, consists of 270 stone and wood cellars built between 1750 and 1930. Far off the tourist map, this quaint village is a fantastic opportunity to taste (and buy) the delicious local wine, eat traditional regional food and meet the friendly locals, who are not averse to a glass or two themselves! For those inclined to explore further, Rajac’s unique 3rd century graveyard with its highly unusual gravestones is also worth a visit. 

The Roman site of Gamzigrad & Felix Romuliana is a palace and memorial complex dating from the late 3rd century. It was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Caius Galerius Maximianus as his Imperial Palace. There have been no attempts to rebuild or replicate any of the buildings, other than to conserve the ruins at their current level, making this site famous for its authenticity and integrity.

Niš is the second largest town in Serbia and is most famous as the birthplace of Constantine the Great. It is situated in the Nišava valley, near the spot where it joins the Južna Morava River. This is one of the most important Balkan and European traffic lines along which people, goods and armies moved. Known as the 'Via Militaris' in Roman and Byzantine periods and the 'Constantinople road' in the Middle Ages and the period of Turkish rule, these roads still represent major European traffic arteries. Niš is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans, and has been considered a gateway between the East and the West since ancient times. There is abundant archaeological evidence that Niš was inhabited even in prehistoric times. The city was named after the Nišava River, which was called Navissos by the Celtic inhabitants of the town. Each new conqueror gave the town a new name: Roman Naissus, Byzantine Nysos, Slovene Niš, or German Nissa.

Niš Fortress is a complex and very important cultural and historical monument that dominates the urban nucleus of the city. The existing fortification is of Turkish origin, dating back from the first decades of the 18th century. It is known as one of the most significant and best preserved monuments of its kind in the Balkans. 

Read more
Image 3

Day 6 : Niš - Mount Zlatibor

Visit Mediana and the Skull Tower of Niš, where you will learn more about Serbia's war history. Later, travel to Mount Zlatibor. Overnight in Zlatibor. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Mediana is a royal property with a luxurious residence in the suburb of old Niš, known as Naissus. Constantine the Great (280 - 337 AD) was born and raised in Naissus. He ruled the Eastern Roman Empire from 306 to 337 and he consolidated the frontiers of the Empire by imposing a firm organization on the army and the civil administration. As a powerful emperor, Constantine did not forget his birthplace. He erected a majestic residence in one of the luxurious suburbs of ancient Niš in Mediana, where he often resided and attended to state affairs. Historical records testify it was in Naissus that he passed several laws in the years 315 through 334.

The history of the Skull Tower of Niš: At the beginning of the 19th century, during the Second Serbian Uprising, it was crucial that the Serbian state liberate Nis from the Turks. The battle lasted the whole day and the Turks eventually overran the main trench on Čegar Hill after this fierce fighting. The Serbian General, Steven Sindelic, realising he was on the point of defeat, blew himself up alongside 3,000 Serbian soldiers and about 6,000 Turkish soldiers. The Turks built the grisly Skull Tower ("Cele Kula" in Serbian) with four walls - each containing eleven rows of seven Serbian skulls - as a warning against further Serbian resistance. Many of the skulls were removed - at great danger - by Serbian families and buried, but many remain there to this day. In 1892, a chapel was built over the skulls, which now protects the 58 remaining skulls.

Mount Zlatibor is one of the most popular mountain resorts in Serbia, both in summer as well as winter. Zlatibor is a National Park famous for its beauty and pristine nature. It is a mountain of golden pines, from which it got its name (Zlatan - golden, Bor – pine tree). A short drive through the beautiful countryside will take us into an area where the vegetation will change its look, giving you the impression that you are in a jungle. Here you can find unique flora and fauna, such as the Omorica, the rarest of the pine trees and endemic to this area. 

Read more
Image 3

Day 7 : Mount Zlatibor - Visegrad - Sirogojno - Mount Zlatibor

Begin the day with a steam engine train ride through countryside of Serbia and Bosnia as it travels from Belgrade to Sarajevo. Stop in Visegrad, before returning to Serbia, where you will stop at the village of Drvengrad. Later, ascend Mount Zlatibor where you will see the ethno village of Sirogojno. Overnight in Zlatibor.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Sarganska Osmica is an old steam engine formerly used as a means of transport between Belgrade and Sarajevo, as well as Dubrovnik in Croatia. It is now possible to ride a 15km section of the track, which is famous for curving up the Šargan and Mokra Gora Mountains in the shape of an eight.

Mokra Gora, which translates as the "Wet Mountain", is a village on the northern slopes of mountain Zlatibor. The narrow gauge railway starts at Mokra Gora, which passes through 22 tunnels, over five bridges, and climbs 300 meters during its 15,440 meter journey.

Visegrad is a small town in eastern Bosnia & Herzegovina which sits nestled in a particulary beautiful part of the River Drina valley. It's famous for its stunning bridge which spans the river and acts as a symbol for the whole country. Designed by the Ottoman architect Sinan, it was the inspiration behind Ivo Andric's Noble Prize winning novel 'Bridge over the River Drina'.

Sirogojno is a unique and very charming ethno village, essentially an open-air museum of traditional architecture, as well as an exhibition of handicrafts and famous hand-knitted clothing. 


Drvengrad, meaning Timber Town, is a traditional village that was built by Serbian film director, Emir Kusturica, for his film 'Life Is a Miracle'. The ethno village is also known by the names of Küstendorf and Mećavnik 


Read more
Image 3

Day 8 : Mount Zlatibor - Novi Pazar

Drive to Studenica Monastery before travelling to visit the Monastery of Sopocani. Overnight in Novi Pazar. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Studenica monastery, a UNESCO Heritage site, was founded by Stefan Nemanja, the Grand Prince of Serbia from 1166 to 1196, and one of the most famous and beloved figures in Serbian history. It is considered to be the crowning achievement of medieval culture and art in Serbia. The monastic complex consists of the fascinating Church of the Virgin (1183 - 1196), the Church of SS Joachim and Anne (also known as the King's Church) and the Church of St. Nicholas, a simple single-nave building. The monastery circle contains monuments constructed over a period of 130 years, and several Serbian rulers had a hand in their construction. At the start of this period, the young Serbian feudal state under Stefan Nemanja was consolidating its independence, and by King Milutin's reign it had reached the height of its political, cultural and economic power. The strengthening of the medieval state and of its ruler's might is naturally reflected in these monuments.

The Monastery of Sopocani was built in 1260 by King Uros I as the resting place for the ashes of his parents and his own tomb is now in its vault too. Its mural paintings rank among the most magnificent and beautiful in European medieval art. The monumentality of Sopocani frescos, the harmony of colours, and the refinement of expression were all responsible for it being granted a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The unique quality of these compositions, mostly from the 13th century, testifies to the vitality of Byzantine art at a time when Constantinople was in the hands of the Crusaders. 

Novi Pazar is one of the few Muslim-dominated towns in Serbia today. Minarets puncture the skyline and the call to prayer bellows from a multitude of directions five times a day. Groups of men huddle in the numerous coffee shops that line the town's streets, and women are conspicuous by their relative absence. The town itself boasts a 15th Century Turkish fortress, a beautiful 16th Century mosque and 15th Century Turkish baths as well as the bizarre communist-era architecture of Hotel Vrbak, which has to be seen to be believed. 

Read more
Image 3

Day 9 : Novi Pazar - Topola - Belgrade

Travel through the countryside to Sumadija. Upon arrival in Topola, visit the Residence of Karadjordje and the Church of Our Lady. Later, see St. George's Church and continue on to Bukovička Banja. Return to Belgrade, stopping en route in Orašac. Overnight in Belgrade.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The hilly Sumadija region is known as the cradle of Serbian uprisings against Ottoman rule in the 19th century. From here to Topola, you will visit the Residence of Karadjordje (now a museum dedicated to the leader of the First Serbian Uprising), the Church of Our Lady, built by Karadjordje (1811-1813), and two stone towers which are left from what was once a mighty fortification. A short drive away is St. George Church, built after WWI by the King of Serbia, Petar I, on top of Oplenac. This church is unique among all the monuments in Serbia, with columns made of marble, an iconostasis of local marble, and mosaics covering almost 3,500 sq. metres, which include 725 scenes and 1,500 human figures.

Topola sits in  the hilly Šumadija region,  the heart of central Serbia known as the cradle of Serbian uprisings against Ottoman rule in the 19th century. It boasts the Residence of Karadjordje (now a museum dedicated to the leader of the First Serbian Uprising); the Church of Our Lady, built by Karadjordje (1811-1813); and two stone towers which are left from what was once a mighty fortification. Nearby is St. George Church, built after WWI by the King of Serbia, Petar I, on top of Oplenac. This church is unique among all the monuments in Serbia, with columns made of marble, an iconostasis of local marble and stunning mosaics covering almost 3,500 sq. meters, which include 725 scenes and 1,500 human figures that chart the history and the extent of Orthodox Christianity in Serbia. 

The Residence of Karadjordje is one of the last remaining structures in the Oplenac foothills. The old white stone structure was built in 1811 and once stood within a fortified town. The preserved part of the residence offers visitors a unique insight into Karadjordje's life. Exhibitions display artifacts and relics from the era, including the famous Karadjordje's cannon. 

The Church of Our Lady, also known as the Karadjordje Church, was built in 1811. The single-nave church was where some of the first bells were rung on the liberation of Serbia and it is home to some magnificent medieval paintings. 

St. George's Church, also known as Oplenac, is the mausoleum of the Serbian and Yugoslav royal house of Karađorđević, which was founded by King Peter I of Yugoslavia. The church stands at the top of the Oplenac Hill in the town of Topola. 

Bukovička Banja is a spa located in the town of Arandjelovac, which lies at the foot of Mount Bukulja. The spa is known for the healing mineral waters which, together with clay, are used to treat diseases and injuries. 

The village of Orašac lies in central Serbia. It is best known as the starting point of the First Serbian Uprising in 1804, as the site of the Orašac Assembly. American anthropologists have since written extensive papers and books about Orašac, including A Serbian Village in Historical Perspective by Joel and Barbara Halpern.

Read more
Image 3

Day 10 : Depart Belgrade

Transfer to Belgrade airport for your departure flight.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Extensions

Active Serbia (2-7 days)

Impenetrable forests, abandoned monasteries and limestone caves

Balkan Explorer (20 days)

Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro & Bosnia

Archaeology of the Balkans (19 days)

Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians & Ottomans

Balkan Odyssey (15 days)

Discover Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro & Bosnia

Highlights of Serbia (10 days)

Historic monasteries, striking valleys and Roman ruins

Devil's Town & The Danube (9 days)

Uncover the hidden gems of Europe's best-kept secret

Festivals of Serbia (8 days)

Eat, drink and be merry in Europe's forgotten gem

Serbia's Remoter Trails (8 days)

Hiking and cycling in remote Southeast Serbia

Archaeology of Serbia (8 days)

Follow the path of countless invaders

A Taste of Serbia (6 days)

Discover the unique culinary heritage of Serbia

Belgrade & Vojvodina (4 days)

Discover Europe's coolest capital and the history & nature of Vojvodina

Reviews

Was well thought out and the experience was absolutely GREAT!!!!!!

Gerald & Ann Diamond , Tailormade Serbia

Enjoyed travelling with Travel the Unknown. They were most helpful and filled in as much as possible on our trip.

Declan Cloonan , Archaeology of Serbia

I had the pleasure to be on the "Archaeology of Serbia" trip in May, which although only 8 days long was packed with fascinating insights into the complex history of the land. Not (yet) on the main tourist routes, there are many sites dating from stone-age, through Roman times to the many monasteries of the Middle Ages, some of which retain beautiful frescos, despite a turbulent history. The people here are friendly and the food served in hearty portions, plenty for meat lovers and vegetarian alike. I thoroughly recommend visiting Serbia before it becomes mainstream.

Nigel Denney , Archaeology of Serbia

Simply, a wonderful experience. There`s a special kind of relaxation that`s achieved when you know that you have none of the stress of organizing a trip, driving, navigating, travel, booking, etc. Thanks so much for an excellent experience.

Milojko Dobrijevich , Festivals of Serbia, Serbia

Have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Serbia with David Lindo, the Urban Birder, and local wildlife expert, Milan Ruzic. Truly a privilege to have been with leaders whose knowledge of birds - their identification and calls - was quite outstanding; their sense of humour would also take some beating. Serbia - a birdwatching destination with more bonuses than the average City banker.

Dennis Buisson , Northern Serbia - Owls & Raptors, Serbia

The Balkans is a fascinating part of the world to visit with such complex histories. Wonderful scenery, great food, terrific variety of accommodation and especially loved the vineyards and wine tastings! Albania was such a surprise package! So much more than we anticipated and so much to see and do in this small country. Stunning scenery and roads generally better than we expected. Go before the rest of the world discovers this gem.

Laurel & Paul Smallwood , Balkan Odyssey & Albanian Odyssey, Balkans

We were looking for a land tour in the Balkans and contacted Travel The Unknown. The staff were very responsive in setting up a private tour schedule for us that proved to be perfect and reasonable in cost. We have just got back from our travels and can say that it was certainly a good choice The itinerary was varied and interesting and the accommodation well chosen. The quality and price of the food and wine in the region were an added bonus. Our drivers/guides were friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable. They went out of their way to accommodation our interests and preference.s Highly recommended!

Raymond & Janet Sterling (USA) , Tailormade Balkans

Thank you so very much for organising our trip. It went swimmingly, Dejan is super cool, the house was fab, the people lovely and strange, the rakjia insane. Memories of river swimming, spit roast pigs and lambs, urns of beans and cabbages, gallons of cheap beer and craze-inducing rakia with a massive dose of incomprehensible contemporary Serbian music , a modern take of Balkan brass orchestras, some tiny glimpses into Roma life, and rackety fair rides, along with beautifully grown organic vegetables and perfect skinned youth ...with not so many tourists. Plus a sand blast of the fascinating Balkan history with which the Belgrade fortress bulges, a clean and safe city … I`m a little overstuffed with roast pig but am thirsty as ever to find out more about the Roma and their music. All that history was what I found the most fascinating. Crazy stuff!

Cerys Matthews , Tailormade Guca Festivals Tour

I am delighted to see that Travel The Unknown have started to run tours to Serbia - it is time that someone did as the country has plenty to offer for all tastes. Looking at their itineraries for both North and South Serbia, it is clear that they manage to visit some of the more out the way places and lesser known sites that few know about. They offer a good degree of variety too, and their tours should give potential visitors a really good taste of this often overlooked destination.

Laurence Mitchell (Author of Bradt Guide: Serbia) , Tailormade Serbia

I have been extremely well looked after and am grateful to Dejan for showing me his wonderful country.

Adrian Mourby (Travel Writer) , Devil's Town & The Danube, Serbia
More reviews