This year I went on my very first ever road trip around the Balkans. When I started planning the trip, I was searching for the information online about what should I know before I depart but I did not find much that would prepare me for the road ahead. So here are all the information you need and if you have any other question, please ask me and I will be glad to help if I can.
Disclaimer! I do not have many photos which would prove my words and I am sorry for that. But I am trying to be a “designated driver” in a way that I do not take photos while I am driving. Take my word or go and see for yourself. 🙂
Police – 192.
Fire department – 193.
Ambulance – 194.
Road Emergency – 987.
50 km/h (31 mph) within Inhabited Places.
80 km/h (50 mph) outside Inhabited Places.
100 km/h (62 mph) on Expressways.
130 km/h (81 mph) on Motorways (Highways).
Road Signs & Language
The official Serbian alphabet is Cyrillic but road signs are written in both, Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.
Special Road Signs
It took me 2 towns to realize that some villages do not have their name written on a sign that you see when you enter the town. Instead, there is only a silhouette photo of a city so when you drive past that, you have to reduce your speed to 50 km/h.
You really have to take good care while driving because streets in Serbia are in a really bad condition. Not just in small villages but also in big cities like Novi Sad (2nd biggest) and even in Belgrade, the capital. The roads are cracked and every few meters you have to over-challenge giant holes which may feel like a wild train ride in an amusement park at times.
I think it is worse on the North than on the South of the country but this is not necessarily a rule. The road from the Croatian-Serbian border and further along the way to the Novi Sad is the worst. It is seriously dangerous.
Fun fact: They have car services specialized for shock-absorbers repair in almost every village.
An update! When a local read this blog (and approved my words), he reached out to me to fill me in with some more information. He said that it is completely usual for Serbians to replace every part of a car that can be replaced just after spending 30.000 kilometres on the road (or to just buy a new car) because of the damage on cars from driving on such roads. Also, it is almost impossible to sell your used car in Serbia for the same reason. He also said that if the police stop you, no matter what you did, you can make it all go away for 20€ or 30€. Luckily, I cannot deny or confirm that.
Spare yourself some time and nerves and use the highways every time you can. I am not saying that the highway is good, it is just a bit better than other roads and the toll is really cheap (compared to Croatian’s, for example). So for the approximate 60 kilometres from Novi Sad to Belgrade, you will pay 200 Serbian Dinars (less than 2€) and from Belgrade to Niš, you will pay 800 Serbian Dinars (6€). If you head from Niš to Bulgaria, the tunnels’ fee is 190 Serbian Dinars or again, less than 2€.
While driving around Serbia you do not have to worry about running out of gas because petrol stations are everywhere to be found. Both, in the cities and on a highway, there are big stations every few kilometres. Gas prices are a bit lower in the cities. If you are heading to Bulgaria, you will save a few cents if you fill your tank there instead of in Serbia.
Parking System in the Cities
Their parking system is the worst ever. You need a Serbian telephone number to send a text with your license plate registration and so you pay for 1 or maximum 2 hours long parking. Then you have to move your car or you get a fine.
If you do not want to buy yourself a Serbian sim card, you can buy a parking ticket in the small shops called “Kiosk” around the city. The only problem is, that there are not many of them so maybe you can ask a local to help you find one. This kind of parking ticket is only valid for one hour. You can buy more of them if you want to leave your car parked at the same spot for a longer time but I do not know if that is permitted. I was lucky and I did not get a fine that way.
Some locals would advise you just to park your car without paying for the parking ticket and wait to get a fine. It costs approximately 8€ and the good part about it is that you cannot get another fine in the next 24 hours from the moment you got the first one. So basically this is the cheapest way to park your car somewhere in Serbia for a day.
What Kind of Drivers Are Serbians?
In my opinion, they are quite aggressive and impatient drivers. Almost nobody keeps safety distance and they honk the car horn all the time. They also often transform a road lane into a parking place. You literally cannot find a street in the centre without a parked car on the side of the lane. I have seen parked cars in the middle of a bridge that I have driven under and even in the middle of the crossroads.
As long as you drive in Europe you do not have to be afraid of radars because the law says that people should be informed about them in advance. Whenever you are approaching one, there is going to be a road sign which has a picture of a radar way before it can spot you so you will have enough time to slow down.
But be careful because this does not apply for the police patrol that can stop you whenever they see you are going too fast. They will usually write you a fine ticket right on spot and if you pay it immediately, you get 50% off.
My General Opinion
I believe Serbia has one of the worst roads I have ever seen. The country is really worth visiting, but I would totally not recommend going to Serbia by car. If you are doing the Balkan trip like me, then just be really careful and drive slowly. Coming to the destination 5 minutes later can sometimes save your life.
Have you ever been to Serbia or are you planning to go? Let me know in the comment section below!
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