Photo by Julie Tupas on Unsplash
This article was developed within the program Venture an Idea funded by the USAID.
Belgrade has plenty of panache to keep you busy, even during the winter months. Still, we all need a nice change of scenery every once in a while and situated snuggly near the middle of modern-day Serbia, the capital yields plenty of opportunities for short day trips on all four (sides).
In fact, there are so many picturesque places near Belgrade that listing only three or five doesnāt do it justice. The ones we narrowed down meet a very stringent set of criteria that includes undeniable charm, ease of access, and relative hour-drive vicinity. The best part? Neither of these requires guided tours to enjoy. Here goes.
First, the obvious. Novi Sad is the second largest city in Serbia, located some 100km north of Belgrade. It features similar extraordinary architecture but without all the hustle and bustle of the capital. Everything feels more relaxed in Novi Sad, more loosened up, and the entire city can be experienced on foot or, better yet, by bike.
Sights you donāt want to miss in Novi Sad are the unavoidable Petrovaradin Fortress along the Danube River promenade, the Freedom Square and the magnificent Name of Mary Church in its center, as well as a plethora of delightful green respites like the inland Danube or Liman parks.
Speaking of fortresses, the one-day trip from Belgrade you absolutely mustnāt miss is the visit to the 14th-century Golubac Fortress nested near the Äerdap Gorge entrance. Historically, empires clashed over the Fortās 10-tower magnificence due to its paramount riverside location. Stepping on the paved patio near the Fort is like walking down the centuries, and, if adventurous enough, you can even marvel at the impressive surroundings from inside the fortress.
Bear in mind the city of Kladovo, where the Fort is situated, is also a top-shelf bike destination with over 500 cycling routes to explore.
If youāve had enough of cities and want something a little more off the beaten track, then FruÅ”ka Gora National Park is the way to go. Situated just South of Novi Sad, it is a hillside haven with pristine nature, cracking viewpoints, and as many as 16 Orthodox Monasteries sprayed all over its undulating hills.
If youāre only visiting a couple, make Novo Hopovo and Vrdnik top of your list. You can then head over to the Zmajevac viewpoint (Zmaj ā dragon) to take in the most awe-inspiring view of FruÅ”ka Gora or pay a visit to one of the several small wineries in the region.
Thanks to the lively thermal underbelly of central Serbia, there are several spa resorts less than an hourās drive from Belgrade. Just shy of 80km away lies a quiet nature resort called BukoviÄka Banja, with its mineral springs and century-old forests.
All the spa perks one might expect are here, from mud baths and natural saunas to luxury hotels, shooting grounds, and hiking trails. Thereās even a permanent exhibition of towering marble sculptures mined directly from the site.
Fun fact: the Knjaz MiloÅ” mineral water that you see in kiosks around the capital comes from right here.
One for the history buffs, this. Lepenski Vir and nearby Viminacijum are the most significant and imposing archeological sites in the country. Whereas the latter focuses more on Roman-era artifacts, Lepenski Vir offers a fascinating peek into the regionās prehistoric culture, arguably the oldest in the whole of Europe.
Neolithic statues, 8,000-year-old skeletons, and traces of the millennia-old alphabet testify to the thriving community sitting pretty alongside the Äerdap Gorge. And the whole site has recently been renovated to look even more spectacular.
There you have it, the top day trips from Belgrade at about an hourās drive or so. Either one will make it worthwhile but, if itās us, weād see them all.