Put the words ‘Europe’ and ‘adventure’ in the same sentence and you’re undoubtedly going to think along the lines of Norway’s fjords, Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes, or the Greek Islands. Well known and annually visited by thousands of tourists, the aforementioned destinations are among Europe’s top satisfaction-guaranteed adventure havens. Though, just as an unlikely Tuesday night out to a city bar you have only heard rumours about, Serbia is an untapped world of adventure, revealing its beauty only to those who go against the status quo. So, without holding you up any further, here is your appetizer to the plateful of wanderlust that is Serbia.
Tara National Park
If you’re aiming to pack each and every day of your Serbia holiday with adventure then the Tara National Park should be on your list of places to visit. Spread across 22,000 hectares, the park boasts eighteen marked hiking trails, five official lookouts and a plethora of natural attractions everywhere in between. Waterfalls, rivers, canyons, lakes and dense forests are just some of the natural beauties awaiting discovery within the park. Alongside them, there are 28 species of fish, 140 bird species and 58 species of mammal, including the largest population of brown bear in the country. Adventure activity opportunities are also easy to come by. Hike, bike, kayak or go canyoning, with plenty of equipment available for hire at the park. Best of all, if one day isn’t enough, then accomodation is available at mountain huts or hotels.
The Dry Mountain
Located on the doorstep of Serbia’s third-largest city, the Dry Mountain is an easily accessible adventure location. A favoured getaway spot among locals and mountaineers, the mountain boasts 11 peaks. Chief among them is Trem, which sits at 1,810 m above sea level and provides unbroken and expansive views of the surrounding wilderness. Aside from its obvious natural beauty, the Dry mountain is also home to a significant historic site. Here you may find traces of the ancient road leading to Constantinople, Via Militaris. Getting to the bottom of the mountain easy. Just take a daily service going from Nis to the village Gornja Studena. From there, it’s a 5 km hike to the mountain hut Bojanine Vode. All that’s left from there is for you to pick which peak you want to conquer.
At a mere 80-million-years old, the Resava Cave is recognised as one of Serbia’s oldest cave systems. Since local shepherds discovered the cave during the 60’s it has quickly become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country’s east. Inside the cave, a mixture of red, white and yellow 45-million-year-old natural ornaments are on display, spread across several halls, galleries and tunnels. Following a spiralling set of stone stairs leading to the cave’s depths, you have access to roughly 800 m of exploration space. Overall, the cave is 4.5 km long, though only half of that has been explored in detail. During the 70’s a radio maker from the balkan region, Arsenije Jovanovic used the caves stalagmites and stalactites as well as the human voice to compose music which resonated through the interior.
Encapsulated by two mountains covered in lush dense vegetation, the Ovcar-Kablar Gorge is home to rich history and breathtaking scenery. Housing 11 medieval monasteries, some of which date back to the 14th century, the gorge has rightfully been named Serbia’s Mount Athos. Alongside the monasteries, small villages can be found along the rolling hills found within the valley. The centrepiece of this entire area, however, is the West Morava River. Hike atop the Kablar Mountain to witness the river meandering through the valley as well as a carpet of greenery visible for as far as the eye can see. Electing to hike between the two mountains, you will come across a rich catalogue of plant life, a mountain church, as well as an Ottoman death chamber.
The Uvac Special Nature Reserve
The Uvac Special Nature Reserve is home to both spectacular views and extraordinary wildlife and is one of Serbia’s better-known adventure destinations. Quietly tucked between the Zlatar and Javor mountains, here you may witness the mesmerising Uvac river elegantly making its way between two mountains covered in carpets of greenery. Roosting atop the mountains, you will find the largest colony of the rare griffin vulture on the Balkan peninsula. Alongside the area’s fascinating wildlife, over 219 plant species can be found here, three of which are considered to be of national significance. Finally, to cap it all off, the Usac cave system, Serbia’s longest and lowest, is located within the nature reserve as well.
Founder and editor of Avanturista, a Serbian adventure platform.