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21st March, 2022

Discovering Serbia on a River Cruise

A view from above of the Serbian city of Belgrade

Have you ever considered taking a trip to Serbia? This breathtaking Balkan country is brimming with natural beauty and Eastern European charm - ideal for anyone who wants to explore somewhere new.

Where is Serbia?

Serbia is a landlocked country to the east of Croatia, and just to the north of Greece. Starting from the top (and working clockwise), it borders the countries of Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia.

A slice of Serbian history

St Sava Cathedral in Belgrade, Serbia

Serbia has a long and proud history, with records dating back to the Palaeolithic Age. But it was in the Middle Ages that Serbia truly came into being, with the Kingdom of Serbia becoming recognised by the Holy See and Constantinople in 1217, and leading to the expansion of the Serbian Empire.

In the 16th century, Serbia was taken over by the Ottoman Empire, who went on to fight the Habsburg Empire for the territory. Following a turbulent 20th century, 2006 saw Serbia become an independent state for the first time since 1918, after a peaceful dissolution of its union with Montenegro. This varied past is evident in Serbia’s historic cities, fortress towns, and rich and diverse architecture.

Why visit Serbia on a river cruise?

The city of Belgrade on the Sava River in Serbia at sunset

The Danube, the second largest river in Europe, has shaped the landscape, history and culture of Serbia, flowing through the country from Croatia to the border of Romania and Bulgaria. Taking a cruise down this magnificent river is one of the best ways to discover the true Serbia, and everything that makes it such a unique and captivating place.

So what has Serbia got to offer a curious traveller? As a country that sits at the meeting point between East and West, Serbia has inherited influences from both regions, and boasts landscapes full of untouched nature and man-made beauty. This variety is reflected in Serbia’s way of life, something that will become evident as you travel along the Danube, and see gorges and mountains transform into mellow countryside.

A visit to Serbia can encompass vibrant evenings spent drinking rakija (a Balkan fruit brandy) in Belgrade, and tranquil days exploring Serbo-Byzantine monasteries. The famous hospitality of the Balkans also ensures a warm welcome - whether you are visiting historic landmarks, enjoying one of the many local festivals, or diving into its hearty and delicious dishes.

What can you see in Serbia?

With our selected Danube river cruises through Serbia, you will pass legendary fortresses, ancient cities and rugged landscapes. With so much to discover, a river cruise is the best way to see Serbia in all its wonderful variety, from the bustling capital of Belgrade to the rugged border.

Belgrade

The city of Belgrade in Serbia at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers

The capital, Belgrade, sits at the meeting point of Serbia’s two biggest rivers, the Danube and Sava. With a striking mix of medieval, communist and art nouveau architecture, the city was also visited by the Michelin Guide for the first time in 2021, shedding light on some of the best-loved restaurants in Eastern Europe. Sample local favourites such as sarma and burek and enjoy a few drinks by the city’s sparkling riverside.

Novi Sad

Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia

While the vibrant and cosmopolitan Belgrade is not to be missed, Serbia’s second city is just as inviting. Nicknamed the 'Athens of Serbia', Novi Sad is a relatively modern city known for its laid back atmosphere, cultural diversity, and thriving creative scene. Boasting landscaped parks, beautiful buildings and even a riverside beach, this is an easy place to while away a relaxing afternoon.

Donji Milanovac

The 8000-year-old Mesolithic settlement Lepenski Vir

Located in the spectacular Djerdap National Park, the town of Donji Milanovac - otherwise known as ‘the town of a thousand roses’ - offers a refreshing change of pace. Donji Milanovac is just 15 kilometres away from Lepenski Vir, an 8000-year-old Mesolithic settlement where archaeologists have unearthed fascinating fish-like idols with human faces, and the area is surrounded by lush deciduous forests.

The Iron Gates

The Iron Gates Gorge on the Danube River, Serbia

The Iron Gates Gorge is an astonishing sight, and one of the most scenic areas on the Danube. As the river flows into Romania, formidable 500m cliffs soar overhead, creating the narrowest and deepest point on the whole river - and a dramatic landscape that’s not to be missed. The wild and romantic scenery is protected by two National Parks, and the gorge is also one of the most biodiverse areas in Romania.

What is the best time of year to take a river cruise in Serbia?

Serbia is a beautiful country all year round, but with the occasional blast of Arctic air from Siberia causing cold snaps (and the fall of heavy snow in the mountains during winter), the best time of year to take a Serbian river cruise is through Spring, Summer and Autumn.

Explore Serbia on a Saga river cruise

Are you inspired to take off on a Serbian river cruise? Explore our range of Danube cruises to find the right fit for you.

From Budapest to Belgrade

From the Balkan Mountains to Vienna

From Vienna to the Balkan Mountains

Danube Splendours

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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