Belgrade, Ada Ciganlija
- How to get there: In summer, bus route number five goes from all parts of the city to Ada Ciganlija.
- Entry: Free.
Ada Ciganlija is an island on the Sava River, which has been artificially converted into a peninsula, thus forming Sava Lake. It’s one of the most popular places for city-dwellers to spend their summer holidays. As well as a beach with parasols and sub loungers, it boasts cafés and small restaurants, a sports area (for tennis, volleyball, basketball, badminton, and mini-golf, as well as a yoga park), and cycle paths.
You can take a sightseeing train ride (from 150 dinars/€1.30) and check out Ada in its entirety. As well as the standard children’s playgrounds, a science park has been organized in Ada for children. It has exhibits and challenges related to physics, astronomy, math, and geography.
From May to September, a water park is open, with inflatable toys and slides. For adults, there are well-equipped picnic areas. You can take a trip in a boat, catamaran, or kayak (500–1200 dinars/€4.20–€10.20)
The Serbs grumble that people who live in Belgrade don’t actually swim there, but that’s not true. When thermometers go above the 35° mark, the island’s beaches quickly become filled with vacationers. The water in the lake warms up quickly, and as a result, even though you’re swimming in a river, you’ll have oceans of fun!
Belgrade, Zemun District, Lido Beach
- How to get there: From Zemunski Kej, cross the pontoon bridge onto Great War Island.
- Entry: Free.
The charm of Lido Beach on Great War Island in the Danube lies in the fact that for most of the year, it is largely ignored by the general public. It is only towards summer that soldiers erect the temporary pontoon bridge that leads to the beach from Zemunski Kej. By contrast with Ada Ciganlija, Lido is of a smaller scale: the only signs of civilization are the emergency services that are permanently stationed there. But at least you can have a lie down on the snow-white sand and let your children paddle on the shore, since the river is fairly shallow at this point.
If you visit this part of Belgrade, we definitely recommend that you plan a short walk through Zemun. At one point, it was a separate Austro-Hungarian town, but today it is a district of Belgrade, and it retains a historical atmosphere to this day.
Take a wander through the old streets of Zemun and definitely head up the Millennium Tower (200 dinars/€1.70) to admire the city from above. You can also have dinner in one of the many restaurants in Zemunski Kej (where there are mind-blowing sunsets over the Danube).
Novi Sad, Štrand
- How to get there: Along Sunčani Kej to Most Slobode.
- Entry: 50 dinars (free entry on Mondays for a voluntary donation).
The town of Novi Sad (cultural capital of Europe 2022) is one of Serbia’s best-known landmarks. If time allows, we definitely recommend spending a couple of days here.
In hot weather (which in Serbia lasts almost until November), you may wish to cool down. We recommend doing so on the Štrand beach on the banks of the Danube.
It’s a really cool, modern beach with shower cubicles, changing rooms, sun loungers and parasols, and well-equipped children’s playgrounds. Štrand has a zone with individual cabins that the locals rent for the whole season in order to store folding tables, deck chairs, parasols, and other beach equipment. But that probably won’t be relevant to you, as you don’t need to pay extra for the sun loungers and parasols.
The river is fairly shallow here, so the water is warm. Once you’ve been swimming, we recommend that you refuel in a local café: you could grab a roshtil (a barbecued meat dish) to take away or sit down to eat at a table (the average check for two comes to 1,500–2,000 dinars/€12.70–17.00).
Silver Lake, Veliko Gradište
- How to get there: By car or bus from Belgrade (110 km) or Novi Sad (195 km).
- Entry: Free.
Silver Lake is an artificial body of water that was formed when a dam was constructed on the Danube. It is believed that, thanks to the dam and natural filtration, the water is cleaner than the Danube. This resort area is located not far from the town of Veliko Gradište. The town itself is not particularly remarkable from a touristic point of view; the lake is its main attraction. It is, therefore, best to stay in the beach area.
The beach is equipped with sun loungers and parasols. There is a large walking area along the lake, and the dam offers stunning views over the lake itself, which is particularly picturesque at sunset.
Directly behind the dam is a marina from which you can head out on a river tour along the Danube and through Djerdap National Park. The latter is a protected zone that stretches for many kilometers and is situated in this part of Serbia, along the Danube. During your tour, you’ll see the Ram Fortress, Golubac, and the Iron Gates, the narrowest stretch of the Danube. And if you go by car, you can visit the Lepenski Vir archaeological museum.
Sremska Mitrovica, Brioni Bridge
- How to get there: By bus from Belgrade or Novi Sad.
- Entry: Free.
Sremska Mitrovica is a charming town in the Serbian autonomous province of Vojvodina. It is primarily famous because the ancient town of Sirmium used to be situated where it now stands. A number of archaeological landmarks still remain here today. The most significant of them is the Sirmium Palatium Imperiale museum (150 dinars/€1.30). Here, in the middle of last century, the remains of ancient buildings were discovered by chance by workers during construction of housing on the site. It subsequently transpired that these buildings were Roman structures that dated from the 3rd-4th centuries: the artifacts were cleaned up, and a museum was opened on the site.
In addition, the ruins of ancient Sirmium’s trade district are preserved in the town on Žitni Trg.
Once you have explored the historical monuments, you’ll probably want to chill out by the banks of the cool river Sava. For this very purpose, the sandy Brioni beach has been set up in Sremska Mitrovica. It boasts areas for sports and children’s playgrounds, cafés, showers and changing rooms, deck chairs, and parasols.
A forest park area runs along the length of the beach, so you don’t have to burn in the sun: you can chill out in comfort in the shade too.
Tara National Park, Zaovine and Perućac Lakes
- How to get there: By car from Zlatibor.
- Entry: Free.
It’s most convenient to visit Tara Mountain when staying in Zlatibor. This huge national park encompasses 20,000 hectares of forests, rivers, and mountains.
There are a number of picturesque lakes in the area: the sizable Zaovine Lake, which has next to it two smaller lakes: Spajici Lake and Lipovica Lake. In summer, during hot weather, the warmest water can be found in Zaovine Lake, while the two smaller lakes are slightly cooler. The nearby beaches are wild, but you can swim here, and there aren’t usually that many visitors.
If you want to relax on a well-equipped beach, it’s worth heading to Perućac Lake. It has a large pontoon beach with swimming pools for children that have been set up on the beach itself. There are showers and changing rooms, and lifeguards are always on duty.
Once you’ve had a swim, we recommend having lunch at Splav Restoran Sidro (where the average check is about 2,000 dinars/€17.00 for two people). Splavs are floating restaurants on “debarkaders,” which are popular in Serbia.
In fact, through the restaurant staff, you can book a boat trip along the Drin River Canyon (2,500 dinars/€21.20), the third deepest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the USA and Tara River Canyon in Montenegro. We’d like you warn you that the standard route of these cruises goes as far as Višegrad, which is in a different country: Bosnia. In the past, there were no issues with these trips, but nowadays you’ll have to take a PCR test or provide further documentation in order to cross the border.
You can also book a sailing trip on Perućac Lake (1,400 dinars/€12.00).
So those are the best-known and most accessible Serbian beaches. There are actually far more places for swimming: in this southern country, relaxing by the water is a way of life, even if there isn’t any sea. There are also tons of aquaparks in Serbia, as well as open urban swimming pools, and spa resorts. In this country of rivers and lakes, you’re sure to find somewhere to cool down in the summer Balkan heat with no difficulty at all.