Top Destinations for 2015: Serbia
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Festivals in abandoned fortresses, 6,000-year-old history and skiing on the cheap: Serbia might not be the first destination that springs to mind when you consider backpacking in Europe, but if that’s the case you’re making an error and potentially missing out on one of the continent’s best kept and most character-filled secrets. With its cool capital Belgrade (a place of “wine, old city, songs and poetry” as well as a fairly raucous nightlife) making waves in the Euro-traveller community over the last couple of years, you’re advised – if you want an alternative to the well-trodden B’s of Berlin and Budapest – to head south east and check out for yourself what this edgy and extremely cultural country has to offer. With over 500 cafes, clubs and floating bars (yes, on the river), premiere city Belgrade is crying out to attract the student traveller/hostel-dwelling backpacker. The fact that Lonely Planet has called the country’s skiing and spa break opportunities “astonishingly inexpensive” shouldn’t hurt its cause either... Read on to find out why Serbia needs to be added to your European travel itinerary this year. Where to go Your first stop in the Serbian capital is likely to be capital city Belgrade, which has been raising its game in the nightlife stakes over the last few years. Floating bars and clubs are its forte, but if you’d rather keep your feet on dry land you’ll find the best nightlife in Laze Teleckog Street, the lively hub of the after-dark city. Belgrade’s “mini Monmatre” of Skadarlija, with its multiple bars, galleries and musicians, is also well worth your time. You’ll find it in plum position in the middle of the city, close to the south bank of the Danube. 270 miles south, in the Kopaonik National Park, you’ll find the country’s best skiing – and probably the most affordable resorts in the whole of Europe – whilst other active pursuits that the adventurous might want to build into their trip include trekking, waterskiing and bungee jumping on the island of Ada Ciganlija, in the Danube in central Belgrade. Once you’ve exercised quite enough adrenalin, head for the 19th Century spa resort of VrnjaÄka, 20 km south of the capital, where you’ll find outdoor hot springs and beautiful gardens, offering a luxurious way to relax. The spas here are probably the cheapest in Europe, without compromising on quality. Lastly, if you’re looking to keep your costs down whilst you’re in Belgrade (and if you’re a student we’re guessing that you probably are), look into joining the community of backpackers that are camping rather than opting for rigid walls and stuffy hotel rooms. There are multiple registered campsites, and you can even pitch up on the banks of the Danube. What to do Go “killer skiing”
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