After living in Belgrade for a month, I decided that it was time for a trip out of the city. I have a very extensive list of places I would like to see in Serbia so it was a difficult task to decide where to go. Eventually I decided on 3 places-
- Golubac Fortress
- Djerdap National Park
- Veliki Buk Waterfall
The trip turned into a wild adventure despite my hopes it would be a relaxing weekend away. Read on to find out more!
As we were a group of 3 (well 4 if you count my cat), we rented a car and booked some rustic accommodation in the middle of nowhere. We picked up the car from Belgrade Airport. We used this company but I don’t recommend them as they were incredibly slow with their service and the petrol gauge on the car didn’t work (which caused them to accuse us of not filling fuel).
We opted to stay at an accommodation connected to Veliki Buk Waterfall. You can find the link to Guest House Lisinski Raj here. The rooms were basic but clean and it was pet friendly. The property itself was extremely picturesque and has a ton of small falls and streams.
We drove from Belgrade straight to Golubac Fortress. The roads were in good condition and it took around 2 hours to arrive there.
Visiting Golubac Fortress
The “jewel of the Danube” is how the locals refer to this castle. You’ll understand why after you actually see it. This monument appears considerably smaller than it actually is at first glance. But once inside, you’ll be astounded by its vastness and distinctive design.
There are different entry tickets depending on how much you want to see. You need to be dressed appropriately (hiking clothes and hiking boots) for any route except the green one. As I was not appropriately dressed, we did the green route. You can explore quite a few towers as well as medieval artifacts and exhibits. Even if you’re not a history buff, its a still an interesting way to spend an afternoon.
Please note this fortress is not suitable for young kids as the stairs are quite steep and prams cannot easily move around. You can consult the official website for more information.
Djerdap National Park
I have to say that my expectation of a ‘National Park” is very different to what this national park offered. I was so sure we would find clear signage about hikes, viewpoints or any other points of interest but instead, we found nothing. We drove around for a it, followed a vague sign which led us to this random open-air gallery. The views were pretty but they refused to serve as food at the onsite cafe as we weren’t part of a tour group.We left there feeling slightly confused.
Time spent: 30 minutes
From Dejerdap we made our way to our accommodation. Unfortunately the detour away from Golubac, worked to our disadvantage. When we tried to stop at restaurants to buy a meal, they turned us away because they were reserved by a large tour group. We eventually found a restaurant willing to serve us where we enjoyed a fantastic meal.
From the restaurant to our accommodation was potentially one of the worst drives I have ever been on (and I have been to Uganda where 80% of the roads aren’t tarred!). Google Maps took us up a mountain on the roughest terrain of large rocks. We were in a regular sedan so it was extremely scary to be on such a bad road after the sunset. It took us 4 hours (1.5 hours on this terrible road) to travel a distance we thought would take us 3 hours. I DO NOT recommend this and will explain what I would’ve done differently later on in this post.
We arrived at our destination to find our accommodation in complete darkness at 11pm but thankfully there was someone who woke up and let us in. We hunkered in for the night after a stressful evening.
After the stress and confusion of day 1, I was hoping for a relaxing day 2 of our weekend getaway and thankfully, that’s exactly what I got.
Upon waking up and wandering around, I found myself in the most scenic of surroundings, the air peppered with the sounds of small gushing waterfalls around me. We had breakfast at Lisinski Raj Guest House (they had lots of options for breakfast and an English menu) and then visited Veliki Buk Waterfall.
Visiting Veliki Buk Waterfall
This waterfall is pretty and is in serene surroundings. Although it was quiet when we visited (because we were there early), I can see how this place would become crowded with day trippers later in the day.
As you approach the waterfall, you first hear its distant rumble, a constant and rhythmic sound that becomes increasingly pronounced as you draw nearer. The air is filled with a fine mist that glistens in the sunlight, creating a dreamy, ethereal atmosphere. The lush greenery surrounding the waterfall seems to come alive, with vibrant foliage and moss-covered rocks adding to the picturesque scene.
What stands out about Veliki Buk Waterfall is that the pool below it is its most beautiful blue shade. It looks so inviting, with the jewel toned waters reflecting the surrounding cliff and plants.
However, I don’t think you can spend more than 30 minutes at the waterfall itself. Thankfully, the area has plenty of restaurants and accommodation options with play areas for young children so it could easily become a worthwhile day trip from Belgrade.
Time spent: 30 minutes
The road back from Veliki Buk Waterfall was smooth and quick with the majority of the ride taking place on the highway. We made it back in time to return our rental car at the airport and still have enough time to do errands.
If you were to visit these places over a weekend (as I did), I would start with Veliki Buk Waterfall (via the highway), stay overnight and confirm the best route to Golubac Fortress and Djerdap National Park with the staff at the hotel. If you’re looking for great viewpoints at Djerdap National Park, I don’t recommend driving aimlessly as we did or even checking Google Maps for photo spots. I would rather follow the instructions in this blog post to find the start of the hike.
Overall, I thought this was a great weekend getaway but either destination (Golubac Fortress or Veliki Buk Waterfall) can work as a day trip from Belgrade as well. I would definitely recommend both if you’re looking to explore more of Serbia away from the cities.
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Would you consider visiting Golubac Fortress & Veliki Buk Waterfall? Or have I just put them on your list? Let me know in the comments below!