Serbia and Montenegro

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Introduction to Serbia and Montenegro

Serbia and Montenegro is bent on rapid reform and consigning to history its associations with despotic rulers, failed socialism and war. Witnessing this transition and rediscovering a region of forgotten beauty, culture and history will reward and surprise even the most jaded traveller.

What remains of former Yugoslavia is Serbia and Montenegro, a child still not on its feet, that has already seen its first Prime Minister assassinated and one of its members (Montenegro) still to decide if it even wants to be part of the new body.


Despite the ongoing presence of multiple international forces in Kosovo, the tension over the region's independence remains high between the minority Serbs and Albanian Kosovars. The Presevo and Bujanovac areas of southern Serbia, near the administrative border of Serbia and Kosovo, should be avoided.

There have been reports of isolated acts of violence in Podgorica and Belgrade, and a few others throughout Serbia and Montenegro. Attacks by extremists and criminals occur sporadically in Kosovo. While this outlook continues, travellers are advised to check government travel advice but should also note that most visits to the country are hassle-free.

Full country name: The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro

Area: 102,350 sq km

Population: 10.65 million

Capital City: Belgrade

People: Serb 63%, Albanian 14%, Montenegrin 6%, Hungarian 3%, Croatian, Romano, Magyar

Language: Serbian, Albanian

Religion: Serbian Orthodox, Islam, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism

Government: Republic

Head of State: President Svetozar Marovic

GDP: US$23.15 billion

GDP per capita: US$2,200

Annual Growth: 3.5%

Inflation: 48%

Major Industries: Machine building, metallurgy, mining, consumer goods, electronics, petroleum products, chemicals, and pharmaceutical

Major Trading Partners: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Russia

Member of EU: No

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Traveler Facts

Visas: Visitors from Australia, the US, Canada and most European countries do not require a visa for a visit of up to 90 days. For those who do need a visa, they are not available at the border and you must get one in advance from a Serbian consulate.

Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1

Dialling Code: 381

Electricity: 220V ,50Hz

Weights & measures: Metric

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For a small region, Serbia and Montenegro fit in a lot of time for fun. Belgrade hosts a film festival (FEST) in February, an international theatre festival in mid-September, a summer jazz festival and a festival of classical music in October. Novi Sad also enjoys a rousing festival, including one of Eastern Europe's finest, the Exit music festival in August ( that attracts bands from Europe over to perform in the Petrovaradin Citadel. The city's folks also turn out for the Agricultural Fair in mid-May, as well as the Sterijino Pozorje Drama Festival and the Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj Children's Poetry Festival. In Guca, near Cacak in Serbia, there is the lively and popular Dragacevo Trumpet Festival in late August that manages to generate a lot of fun over three days. In Montenegro, Budva has a summer festival in July and August, while Herceg Novi hosts the Suncale Skale music festival in July. Serbia and Montenegro's main public holidays fall on New Year (1 and 2 January) and Orthodox Christmas (6 and 7 January). Orthodox churches celebrate Easter between one and five weeks later than other churches.

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Best time to Visit

Yugoslavia is pretty quiet all year round. Its days as the beach playground of Eastern Europe are long past, and tourism hasn't really sunk its teeth back into the country. However, unless you like freezing cold, it might be an idea to avoid Yugoslavia in winter. Summer is festival season - Yugoslavia kicks up its heels in celebrations of jazz and classical music, theatre and poetry.

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Currency / Costs / Approx. Spending

Currency: Yugoslav Dinar


Budget: 1-7

Mid-range: 7-15

High: 15-50

Deluxe: 50+


Budget: 7-20

Mid-range: 20-75

High: 75-200

Deluxe: 200+

While Serbia still rates as a travellers bargain basement, Montenegro in high-season is every bit as expensive as Croatia or Greece as the inlanders flock to the coast for their summer holidays to escape the sweaty interior. Accommodation will be your biggest expense. Although there is hostel accommodation in major centres, it is neither plentiful nor cheap. There are also very few budget hotels around, although as the Serbian and Montenegrin governments try to restore traveller confidence the situation is rapidly improving. Hotels along the coast and throughout Montenegro are more expensive than those in the Serbian interior away from Belgrade. Travelling around by train is slower than bus, but not necessarily cheaper; the average price of a trip between Belgrade and the Montenegrin coast setting you back between DIN1000-1500 (15-20).

Euros are widely accepted in Serbia, along with US dollars, although the dinar is not accepted in Montenegro. It is best to travel with euros and change these into dinar when needed. All banks, travel agencies and hotels will change hard currency into Serbian dinars at the official rate. The number of ATMs is increasing rapidly and Visa card, Mastercard and Eurocard holders will have little trouble getting cash advances from banks throughout Serbia. In Montenegro, ATMs are also on the spread but still infrequent; the Podgorica Banka has branches in major centres where cash advances are possible. Diners club is not widely accepted and American Express cards can only be used in 5-star hotels and car rental agencies, however Visa cards are widely accepted.

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Destroyed 40 times in its 2300-year history, Belgrade has never quite managed to pick up all the pieces and take its place in the European aristocracy. Despite this, the slightly dishevelled air, combined with the city's indefatigable vibrancy lend Belgrade an unpretentious charm and credibility.

Belgrade's bustling centre is the Kneza Mihaila, a cafe-lined pedestrian boulevard that runs northwest through the old town. To its south you'll find the train and bus stations. Belgrade's fort since Celtic times, Kalemegdan Citadel, looms over the old town that was mostly built in the 17th century.


A series of fine beaches punctuates the Montenegrin coastline, with high coastal mountains forming a magnificent backdrop. Budva is the region's top beach resort, drawing heavy crowds in summer. Budva's main beach is pebble city, head 500m north to Mogren Beach and you'll be in beach-bunny heaven.

Budva's Disneyesque old town is almost too gorgeous, struck by an earthquake in 1979, it was later rebuilt as a tourist attraction. There's a museum, three churches and a fortress (stand on the ramparts for a lovely view) around a cutesy town square, all faithful copies of the originals.


Once the capital of Montenegro, Cetinje sits on a high plateau between the Bay of Kotor and Skadar Lake. When the rest of the region was absorbed by the Ottoman Empire, Montenegro hung on to its independence, primarily because Cetinje was so easy to defend.

The most imposing building in the city is the former palace, now the State Museum. Opposite is the former house of Cetinje's prince-bishop. The Cetinje Monastery, founded in 1484 and rebuilt in 1785, has a treasury of artefacts, including a collection of liturgical songs printed in 1494.

Novi Sad

North of Belgrade, in Vojvodina, Novi Sad is a friendly modern university town with a touch of Hungary. More multi-ethnic than Belgrade, the city is embraced by a curve of the Danube, has a lively atmosphere - perhaps due to all the students.

This doesn't, however, mean that there is an abundance of cheap student accommodation - as with the rest of Serbia most hotels still hark back to its Eastern block days, great if you're into ironic post-Communist retro-chic but not so great if you're looking for affordable modern comfort.

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Disclaimer: We've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, but it is provided 'as is' and we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. You should verify critical information like (visas, health and safety, customs, and transportation) with the relevant authorities before you travel.

Sources: CIA FactBook, World FactBooks and numerous Travel and Destinations Guides.

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