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Feature 26 Jun 16

Ethno Tourism Offers a Window into Traditional Serbia

A trip to one of the many new “ethno villages” springing up around the country is a great way to escape the bustle of Belgrade and encounter Serbia’s past.

Ivana Nikolic
Photo: etnozdanije.com.

Looking for that perfect weekend getaway just outside of Belgrade? If spending two days at a cosy country cottage, eating traditional Serbian food and enjoying long walks across unspoiled meadows sounds good, then a new trend called ethno villages might be just the thing for you.

Ethno villages, or etno selo, are small, rural tourist destinations that evoke a by-gone time, and offer guests a chance to experience Serbian history firsthand. Built in a classic rustic style, these quaint villages immerse visitors in faded customs: sleeping on huge wooden beds covered with traditional Serbian cilim, or rugs; eating fresh, local cuisine prepared in simple, time-honoured ways; and listening to classic regional Serbian music are all possible in an ethno village.

With their immersive approach to Serbia’s past, ethno villages are slowly becoming a must for the tourists and a boon for hosts. Over the past several years, Serbian entrepreneurs have embraced the idea and there are now more than 40 ethno villages across the country. Right now is one of the best times to visit.

To help you find the right one, Belgrade Insight found four ethno villages within 100 kilometres of Belgrade.

Etno selo Topalovic 

Photo: Facebook.

Etno selo Topalovic lies in the village of Lipolist close to the town of Sabac in western Serbia some 100km west of Belgrade.

Locals claim this village, famous for the roses grown in the region for decades, is the most aromatic town in Serbia. For the last twenty years, Lipolist has hosted an annual “The Roses of Lipolist” festival in June.

Topalovic consists of several houses built with an authentic 100-year-old look, each fitting perfectly into the rich tradition of the Macva region.

This ethno complex offers more than just lodging. Exhibits include vintage horse-drawn carriages, and a gallery of Serbian Orthodox icons.

Prices per person vary from rsd800 for accommodation only to rsd1,500 for all-inclusive [around €7-€12].

Contact: +381 15 72 74 309

Address: Karađorđeva 132, Lipolist

Zmaj od Nocaja

Photo: etnozdanije.com.

This spot is also located in the Macva region, some 75km from Belgrade, in the village of Macvanska Mitrovica. Zmaj od Nocaja is a good bet if you also want to visit to nearby Sirmium, a famed archaeological site, or stop in at one of Serbia’s last virgin wetlands at the Zasavica bog.

You can also visit one of the sixteen monasteries of the nearby Fruska Gora mountain while staying at Zmaj od Nocaja.

According to its website, Zmaj od Nocaja is a prime example of ethno tourism because it offers an “authentic Serbian household” experience.

Apart from spending the day here and enjoying Serbian food specialties, you can also spend the entire weekend at Zmaj od Nocaja. Accommodation prices range from rsd1,500-2,000 [around €12-€16] per person, depending on the meal package.

Contact: +381 64 21 58 223, +381 63 50 38 23

Address: Cara Lazara 3, Macvanska Mitrovica

Karadjordjev vajat

Photo: karadjordjevvajat.com

This “ethno pub” is located 70km from Belgrade, close to the town of Arandjelovac in the central Serbia, in the village of Orasac. This village is among the most famous in Serbia; the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottomans, led by Karadjordje Petrovic, took place here in 1804.

Karadjordjev vajat consists of several Serbian traditional huts, vajats, as well as a house with 15 beds. The 200-year-old vajats, transferred from nearby villages, have recently been fully restored.

The owners also have sheep, so don’t be surprised if you spot them around the vajats – they simply add to rustic charm of the place!

Accommodation prices range from rsd1,300- 1,500 [around €10-€12] per person, with or without meals.

Contact: +381 34 67 09 501

Address: 34 308 Orasac

Etno selo Moravski konaci

Photo: Facebook.

Located 90km from Belgrade, Moravski Konaci lies in the village of Velika Plana in central Serbia.

In addition to a traditional restaurant and lodging in old wooden houses, there is also a Serbian Orthodox Church dedicated to St. Nikola. The key attraction here is a huge lake with nine small, interconnected islands. Two of the islands also have ethno rooms available, a gallery of old furniture, and a coffee shop where you can eat homemade sweets and drink domestic coffee.

Etno selo Moravski konaci also offers relief from the summer heat – there are two swimming pools for adults and for children. They also offer wellness and spa centres.

Accommodation varies from rsd1,350-3,000 [around €10-€24] depending on meal packages.

Contact: +381 65 21 17 778

Address: 10. Oktobra 83, Velika Plana

This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy. 

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