Serbia: leave your misconceptions behind
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It is easy to follow the consensus view on Serbia, particularly when it is considered that not 10 years ago this was Europe’s “pariah state.” Unwelcome on the international stage, and still reeling from the destructive rule of indicted war criminal Slobodan Miloševiæ, Serbia was about as far from the tourism map as it could ever have been. That doesn’t mean you should, mind. This country has so much to offer to tourists and travellers of all persuasions. Belgrade, the nation’s capital, is internationally renowned as a mecca of clubbing. In summer, giant barge parties last well into the early hours, and the more-than-reasonable pricing means nobody is left out. This stands in stark contrast to cities such as Paris, London and Madrid, and is not a phenomenon unique to the “White City” – it is the same across the country. The geographical contrast in Serbia is astounding. From the northern region of Vojvodina, historically populated with ethnic Hungarians and part of the once imperious Austro-Hungarian empire, to the southern city of Novi Pazar, which stands as a nod to the Ottoman empire and Turkish influences, there are many different worlds to be found here. Novi Sad, the capital of Vojvodina, is a charming student city which offers a restful antidote to the urban sprawl of Belgrade (don’t be caught out, it is by far the largest city in the western Balkans). The beautiful main square, plethora of packed out bars and clubs along Laze Teleèkog and the small matter of Exit festival (held every July) in the vast Petrovaradin Fortress that overlooks the town, are just a handful of reasons to take the short train journey northwards.
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