Serbia Tourist Information and Tips
Downtown Belgrade is populated with many high-end as well as midrange shops. "Knez Mihailova" is the biggest shopping street, but there are also quite a few shopping malls, such as Delta City and Usce Shopping Center. Imported western food is available in many supermarkets, especially in the Croatian-owned "Idea". In nearly all Serbian pharmacies ( apoteka ) you can buy prescription drugs without prescription.
When ordering a burger ask for 'pljeskavica' (pronounced approximately: PYES-ka-vitsa) ask for kajmak (like mildly sour cream) (pronounced: KAI-mak) it tastes way better than it sounds. Stepin Vajat and Duff at Autokomanda , Loki in downtown area and Iva in Zarkovo are the best grill fast food restaurants in town. Also try cevapi or cevapcici (pronounced: chay-VAH-pee, chay-VAP-chitchee), they are small parcels of minced meat, grilled with hot spices. It is considered a local fast food delicacy. Highly recommended to carnivores.
Burek (pronounced BOO-rek), sometimes decribed as the Balkan equivalent of McDonalds due to its being sold everywhere, is very delicious. It is made with a range of fillings including meat, cheese, spinach, apple, cherry....... Not for dieters as it is quite oily. Morning is definitely the best time to eat this (sometimes sold-out by afternoon).
- Kiflice (KEE-flitsay)are lovely little crescent rolls.
- Paprikas (PAP-rik-ahsh) - stew with paprika often with chicken
- Gulas (GOO-lash) - stew with paprika with beef
- Sarma (SAR-ma) cabbage rolls, similar to dolmades but made with sauerkraut instead of vine leaves
- Gibanica (GHEE-ban-itsa) - phillo pie with spinach and cheese or just cheese (like spanakopita or tiropita in Greece)
- Punjene Paprike - stuffed peppers (POON-yennay PAP-rik-ay)
- Pohovane Paprike (PO-ho-vah-nay PAP-rik-ay) - paprika rolled in soya oil and wheat flower and fried in sunflower oil, for vegetarians
- Pasulj - (PAS-ooy) - beans -a national specialty. Often cooked for a long time with onion and paprika. Delicious.
- Riblja corba - (RIB-yah CHOR-ba) Fish soup using freshwater catch.
- Rostilj (ROSH-teel) - barbecue - the most delicious food in the world
- Prebranac (pre-BRAH-nats) - is for vegetarians. It's cooked and roasted beans with various spices and vegetables. Usually completely meat free.
- Alva - a sweet of Turkish origin. Made of sugar and nuts.
- Proja (PRO-ya) - a type of corn bread with white cheese. A national specialty.
- Rakija (excellent brandy that has many flavours, like plum (pronounce like SHYEE-va), quince (DOO-nyah), apricot (KAI-see-yah)... - You should know that some prestigious brand of rakija can be extremely expensive like Zuta Osa (ZHOO-tah O-sah) which means Yellow Wasp or Viljamovka (VEE-yam-ovka) made of pear of the sort william , the most expensive and the most quality ones have a pear fruit in the bottle.
- Loza (from grapes, a type of rakija)
- Voda = Water
- Slivovitza (the national brandy of Serbia, and the most common type of Rakija, very popular, variably strong alcoholic beverage)
- Beer. I believe that Jelen (Deer) and Lav (Lion) are the two best varieties of Serb beer, although Niksicko from neighbouring Montenegro also seems very popular.
Tap water is perfectly safe to drink, and mainly of a good quality, too. There are also many springs and fountains with excellent-quality drinking water - the most popular ones being the fountain on Knez Mihailova in Belgrade, and the many fountains in the city of Nis. One must pay attention when it comes to water in Vojvodina. Some regions ( Kikinda, Zrenjanin..) have heavily polluted water, that is not even used for cooking, only as technical water.
Serbia is generally a very safe place to visit. The locals are incredibly polite and helpful in case you require any assistance. However, you should always be aware of pickpockets, mainly in crowded tourist places and on public transportation. Street robberies, murders, or attacks are highly unusual even in dark or remote parts of the city. One should always watch out for drivers, who can be very rude to pedestrians or cyclists.
Since many Serbs feel nationally frustrated by the defeats in recent historical events, it is best to avoid discussion of the 1990's Yugoslavian Wars, the NATO bombing of Serbia, and president Milosevic's administration. If someone brings the topic up, try to avoid giving any strong opinions until you can assess your acquaintance's views. Do NOT mention Kosovo. Due to the US's vocal support of Kosovar independence, in addition to the 1999 air strikes, there is some ill-will directed towards the West, particularly towards the USA (though unlikely on a personal level). On the other hand, talking about Socialist Yugoslavia and Tito will not raise as many eyebrows; as most will not hesitate in talking about it and some may even approach it with a strong degree of affection towards that more stable and peaceful era. Remember Serbia does not recognize the independence of Kosovo, but does maintain relations with Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Macedonia.
Similar to other ex-Yugoslavia countries, Serbs do not like their country to be described as part of "Eastern Europe". Another common misconception is that Serbia was part of the Soviet Bloc (in fact it was part of Yugoslavia that notoriously split with the Eastern bloc back in 1948). People have no problems talking about the communist period or Tito and often become nostalgic over it.
When toasting in Serbia, as in the most of european countries, make sure you make eye contact. You may be invited to drink gallons, but are expected to be able to hold your drink. Being obviously drunk is a sign of bad taste, lack of character, and worse. It is always nice to toast in your companion's native tongue. Cheers is ziveli in Serbian, gezuar in Albanian (Don't confuse these two, or you will be in trouble!) and egeszsegedre in Hungarian.