Friday, December 3, 2010

Tourism in Serbia - a quick survey full of wonderful tips and insightful information

President Hotel, Belgrade, Serbia

You might not have guessed it but Serbia is becoming a tourist destination of note in Europe. From the website of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia ( I learn that on average 2 million people visit Serbia every year, and stay an average 3.5 nights. There are 7.3 million people living in Serbia, so the ratio of guest per resident would be about 0.3 per year. Compare this to the United States, where 60 million tourists visit 300 million residents, which is 0.2 tourists per resident per year (source: US Census Bureau at The Netherlands hosts a whopping 11 million annual guests and counts 17 million residents, which comes down to a ratio of 0.6 (source: Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek at

Zladnik Hotel, Belgrade, Serbia

The average disposable income in Serbia is about 290 euro per month. In the United States this is a little less than 2700 euro, and in the Netherlands it’s a little more than 2700 euro, but in both cases it comes down to more than nine times as much as in Serbia. This is of course entirely unfair, but also quite convenient to foreign investors, and although it creates understandable envy, it also provides Serbia with an excellent momentum to establish a platform of international trade and tourism.

Serbia’s capital Belgrade alone has close to a hundred hotels, ranging in price from 120 euro per night for a suite and 70 for a double room at either the five star hotel Zlatnik or the five star President Hotel, to the 10 euro per bed per night Hostel Belgrade and the 5 euro per bed per night Chilton (which, coincidentally offers a free fifth night after a stay of four).
Hostel Belgrade

Food is such an important element of Serbian life that almost the entire ground floor of the inner city seems to consist of restaurants. Meals are invariable inexpensive - I never paid more than 25 euro for two but usually the graditi (bill) is more in the vicinity of 15 euro for two. It’s also a sheer miracle that Serbians are without exception slim as tent poles. Traditional Serbian meals consist mostly of meat and preparations for dinner usually follow doing the lunch dishes without much ado.

Chilton Hostel, Belgrade
Public transportation is excellent in Belgrade. Trams and buses go everywhere, although a bus only gets replaced by a shiny new one after a hundred years of faithful service, and I’ve personally suffered a trip or two in a screaming coffin chauffeured by Belgrade’s most death-defying drivers. Tickets are 40 euro cents when purchased at a kiosk, or 80 cents when bought on the bus, and are valid as long as you stay in the same bus or tram.

Since Belgrade has more cars than streets, it is perpetually cluttered, and a tourist may sit in a bus for an hour and a half and still be smack in the middle of town. The avid sight-seer is better off walking for more than one reason, but after an evening out in the town, a taxi will bring you anywhere for less than 10 euro. Of course, your chances are excellent that your taxi is a 1983 Renault and the taxi driver spends much of the trip trying to pry his Metallica tape from the deck, whilst huffing Marlboro‘s, which go for a euro and a half per pack.
Cevapcici, a traditional
Serbian dish

Tourist information centers can be found all over the city. The one most central is on Republic Square. You can find it by following the aim of Prince Michael on the horse, and then veering off to the right. Most bars will offer wireless internet, but for the light traveler there’s an excellent Internet café with computers on the fourth floor of the pleasant Vulcan bookstore just off the pedestrian shopping street Knez Mihajlova, five minutes away from the horse.

Belgradians are invariably courteous and most speak English. Their town offers excitement in all seasons and is home to countless museums, churches, shops, bars and restaurants. This combined with low prices leads Belgrade’s star as a favorite European tourist destination on a well deserved rise.

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