Around three million tourists visit Serbia each year. Business travellers make up a considerable amount of this population, attracted to Serbia’s promising economy and extensive range of exclusive attractions.
The Republic of Serbia is a Balkan state in southeastern Europe. Serbia’s seven million population inhabit a 34,000 square miles landmass, which is landlocked between eight different countries. The country shares borders with Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia. The final border is under dispute because Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence, the country claims to share a border with Albania instead. Separating borders to the east is the rugged Balkan Mountains, just east of the Morava River. Europe’s second largest river, the Danube, intersects Serbia’s largest city and capital Belgrade. The capital has a two million populous and is the prime location for business potential and available serviced apartments.
Following Illyrian, Celtic and Roman invasions, the first known Serbian people emerged following a great migratory period from the fifth century onward. Up until the fourteenth century, Serbia created a name for itself, blossoming under a Nemanjić dynastic period. After centuries of successful autonomy, the dynasty’s leader died and the Nemanjić internal demise began. It was the greatest conflict in Serbian history and proved to be the final blow. The Battle of Kosovo resulted in centuries of Ottoman control over Serbia. It took a great struggle to overturn five hundred years of Islamic rule. It finally came out of an eleven-year Serbian Revolution, ending in 1815. Recognised independence followed before the Kingdom of Serbia became intertwined into Yugoslavian Republics throughout the twentieth century and World Wars. Eighty-eight years of Yugoslavian existence ended with Macedonia separation in 2006. Since, Serbia has placed all focus on recreating successful autonomy.
Despite Serbia’s hectic economic history, recent times have finally shown the true potential of the nation’s economy. In the first quarter of 2018, the Serbian economy grew well above forecast, which was the highest growth it has reached for more than a decade. Recent political and macroeconomic stability has been primarily responsible for this. What has never changed though is Serbia beneficial geographical location, positioned at the crossroads between the West and the East. Taking advantage of its open location has been the priority since the turn of the millennium. Serbia has made beneficial agreements with the IMF as well as gradually integrate itself into the European Union. It has also adopted a liberal approach to foreign involvements compared to its neighbours, and this has been recognised by foreign travellers looking to stay in Serbian corporate housing.
Foreign direct investment inflow has risen in the last few years thanks to new incentives and innovative programs. For example, Serbia has the lowest corporate tax rate in Europe, which is implemented most in fourteen ‘free zones’ operating across the country. Some investors are eligible for significant Euro grants and agreements with certain countries mean some can avoid double taxation. A recent four-year plan to rejuvenate existing Serbian railways and public transportation also shows continued promise and can continue to assist those choosing to stay in corporate accommodation within Serbia’s major cities. Expats can benefit too from the national currency. The National Bank of Serbia claims the Serbian Dinar (RSD) was the “world’s second strongest currency in 2018”. With this in mind, be sure to check Dinar exchange rates at www.xe.com.
There are ninety-three countries worldwide whose residents can enter Serbia visa-free. The length of visa-free stay varies though as whilst all European Union, US, Canadian and Kiwi citizens can stay for ninety days, Chinese and Russian visitors can only stay for thirty days. Almost all African and some south Asian citizens require a visa before arriving in Serbia. For more specific information on visa requirements, contact a Serbian Embassy.
Upon arriving in Serbia, visitors can expect to travel the country with little worry about the locals or national law. Serbia ranks above average regarding safety and happy living, and the people have a good reputation of being welcoming of foreigners. In order to benefit from this friendly attitude, tourists must respect the cultures, social norms and signs of proud nationalism. This may mean avoiding the photography of significant Serbian buildings and authorities. Carrying your passport or some identification at all times is also worthwhile.
Many expats visiting Serbia make the decision to drive across Serbia as an alternative to public transport. Foreigners must be aware that driving is on the right-hand side, and they only require an international driving permit once they have been in the country for over three months. Otherwise, a valid driving license of a home nationality is acceptable. Road conditions are generally very easy to manoeuvre. It is, however, important to consider how a beginner to European driving may fare in more mountainous, rugged regions. Worth acknowledging too is the numerous toll roads that pop up across Serbian motorways. It is good to have spare change to hand when necessary.
As well as acting as the prime spot for business travel and serviced apartment living, the Serbian capital Belgrade is also a centre for cultural expression. Home to the most historically important monument in Belgrade, a famed ancient fortress and popular zoo, Kalemegdan Park stands out as a must-see attraction in Belgrade. Equally identifiable amongst travellers is the grand Church of Saint Sava. Despite burning down during Ottoman control, the church still dominates the city skyline and represents a significant house of worship. A Belgrade city apartment can also put visitors in easy reach of the socially bouncing Knex Mihailova high street. Begin or finish a busy day of exploration by indulging yourself in the street’s fine restaurants, boutiques and range of high-end shops.
Despite no coastal borders, Serbia still has rural locations which ooze stunning views. Popular amongst tourists is the Đerdap National Park, which runs along the right bank of the famed Danube River. The park covers over 60,000 hectares of land and is jam-packed with some of the country’s most impressive natural beauty and biodiversity. Equal Serbian pride is shown towards the truly gorgeous Uvac Canyon. Encompassing the beauty of the Drina River and its winding meanders, the Canyon is an amazing home for Serbian wildlife and nature. Beauty is not only expressed through nature though in Serbia. The country is full of magnificent monasteries which combine both spiritual and architectural aspects. The majestic Studenica in central Serbia is one of the largest Serbian monasteries and resembles both past and present religious importance.
Overall, it is fair to say that Serbia has much to offer the business traveller. Whether new arrivals are here for business or leisure, all tourists can now take advantage of the increasing numbers of Serbian serviced accommodation on offer.
Named after the famous inventor and engineer, Belgrade’s airport is both the largest and busiest airport in Serbia. It is based just over ten miles west of the capital’s city centre, and affordable bus and taxi services enable convenient travel to-and-from the airport and your serviced apartment.
Alternatives to Belgrade Airport include Morava Airport (KVO), Niš Airport (INI), Vršac Airport (VRC) and Ponikve Airport (UZC).
Serbian Railways has been split into three separate companies, and Srbija Voz is the company responsible for passenger travel. This company runs services which link Belgrade with other major cities such as Novi Sad, Subotica, Niš and Užice.
For services and useful information on railway services in Serbia, visit either www.srbvoz.rs or www.serbianrailways.com. If you enjoy scenic railway routes, be sure to catch a ride on the Šargan 8 railway.
Bus services and routes in Serbia are extensive and widespread. The biggest and most commonly used bus stations are based in Belgrade and Novi Sad.
With so many borders, Serbia has good bus connections with all its neighbouring countries. These services tend to be better than regional services, but comfort and journey time can be improved by paying slighter higher than regular services.
As part of a €1 billion project within the ‘Urban Master Plan’, a Belgrade metro system is planned to be constructed in time for 2022.