Last updated: 03:20 PM ET, Mon July 22 2019
Lonely house on the river Drina in Bajina Basta, Serbia (photo via AlbertoLoyo / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Serbia

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Panorama of Belgrade at night with river Sava (photo via vladimir_n / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Panorama of Belgrade at night with river Sava (photo via vladimir_n / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The Kosovo conflict of 1999 inflicted severe damage to Serbia and its people, leaving the country for two decades in a state of political and economic turmoil over bitter territorial claims. Travelers headed to the country’s southern region should know tensions remain high and security can deteriorate quickly if a situation escalates to violence.

One of the six former republics of Yugoslavia in south central Europe, Serbia is wedged between Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia and Romania. In 2003, the nation formed a new state, Serbia and Montenegro, which peacefully ended its union in 2006. The two are now separate countries. In early 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia as well. The tourism sector is slowly re-emerging after being plagued for years by war, hoping to somewhat return to the state it was in prior to 1990.

The capital Belgrade was destroyed 20 times over the course of its long history. This urban metropolis lies at the confluence of the Danube and the Sava rivers and has a medley of architectural styles, including Ottoman, Serbian and Hungarian. Stay at a hotel in the city center, as Belgrade is easily explored on foot. See the fortress of Kalemegdan, royal estate in Topcider, bohemian Skadarlija and walking Street Knez Mihailova, as well as numerous museums and galleries.

At night, the city is illuminated in thousands of white lights. Wash down a dinner of pihtije (jellied pork or duck) or cevapcici (charcoal-grilled minced meat) with a potent plum brandy and then enjoy the burgeoning nightclub scene. Visit the many spa resorts, participate in a folklore festival or hike around Djavolja Varos, with its natural limestone chimneys. Unfortunately, it may not be possible to reach central Serbia’s vast collection of sacred orthodox monasteries, five of which are UNESCO sites: Studenica, Stari Ras, Sopocani, Djurdjevi Stupovi and Decani.