Is Serbia Safe for Tourists in 2024? Common Concerns & Helpful Tips

Serbia’s reputation as a tourist destination has increased dramatically in recent years but many visitors who are unfamiliar with the region believe that traveling in Serbia is dangerous.

Some of the misconceptions about Serbia are possibly linked to the country’s geographical position. Some people believe Serbia is unsafe due of previous and current geopolitical conflicts.

Much of it is likely attributable to Serbia’s relative little recognition globally, and we tend to dread what we don’t understand.

In truth, Serbia is one of the safest nations I’ve seen or lived in. I feel safer in Belgrade than in nearly any other Western European capital.

This is, of course, my own opinion. However, there is data to back it up. 

Here are some of the most common concerns that travelers have when visiting Serbia for the first time. I’ll also provide my best safety suggestions based on my years of traveling and living here.

I hope the recommendations below help you make your vacation to Serbia an outstanding experience that you will want to repeat! 

Is Serbia a safe country in 2024?

According to the International Crime Index for 2024, Serbia ranks 49th in the world in terms of safety, trailing only Spain, Portugal, Austria, and Switzerland.

Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, is one of Europe’s safest cities (now ranked 64th according to the Safety Index 2024). 

Since I previously lived in Novi Sad, Serbia’s second largest city, as well as Nis and Kragujevac, I believe that other major cities in Serbia are similarly secure for tourists.

The website Travel Safe – Abroad gives a list of all nations and localities in terms of tourist safety. 

Novi Sad, like Belgrade, is one of Serbia’s rated tourism attractions. Both cities are considered safe.

The rating category was determined using data from public sources such as police records, international surveys, the likelihood of occurrences involving robbery, narcotics, violent confrontations, bribery, property crimes, stolen cars, religious and racial tolerance, and so forth. 

This site assessed that Novi Sad is a relatively secure city. The most likely source of concern for tourists is Serbs’ irresponsible driving, which, with prudence, poses little harm to life safety.

Serbia, together with only a few other European countries, is rated as a safe country for tourists, while on the other hand, the capitals of many tourist favorite countries such as Italy and Portugal have a medium level of safety. In addition, a large number of US states are considered medium safe states.

So, is Serbia a safe country for tourists? I think the answer is a resounding yes.

I’ve always argued that just because the statistics suggest Serbia is safe doesn’t mean you should let your guard down and not be concerned about your personal safety while there. Every country has challenges, and you should be aware of some of them.

Official travel advisories

Concerning personal safety, I see no convincing evidence of an impending threat. At the time of writing, government travel advisories classified Serbia as follows:

I recommend that you follow your home country’s travel advice both before and throughout your journey.

Avoid discussing controversial historical and political topics

Many Serbs are nationally frustrated by recent historical events in the Balkans, thus it is advisable to avoid discussing the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and NATO’s bombing of Serbia. If someone is talking about it, try not to give your opinion until you have considered the perspectives of your acquaintance and others.

Do not mention the United States’ backing for Kosovo’s independence. However, if you agree with the majority of Serbs on this issue, many will be pleased to speak with a “Westerner” who shares their viewpoint.

On the other hand, the debates around SFRY and Tito are less contentious. Most people recall that time as calm and peaceful, although there is a significant anti-communist and nationalist sentiment, particularly among young people from rural areas where the ancient divide between those for and against communism still exists. 

Remember that Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence but maintains links with Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Serbia is a largely Christian Orthodox country, therefore it is impolite to mock its traditions and faith.

Similar to other countries of the former Yugoslavia, Serbs do not like their country to be described as part of Eastern Europe. Another common misconception is that Serbia is part of the Soviet bloc, but in Serbia the Russians have always been a friendly and fraternal people.

Crime in Serbia

Solo female tourists can generally feel comfortable using Belgrade’s public transportation system. It consists of a network of buses, trams, and trolleys that are widely used by both locals and visitors. 

Of course, like in any large city, you should always stay mindful of your surroundings, especially at night or in less congested vehicles. Pickpocketing does occur, but it is uncommon. Always keep your stuff secure and within sight. There is usually a steady police presence, which can provide reassurance. Furthermore, most residents are polite and prepared to assist if you have any problems.

When traveling in Serbia, you should use common sense just like you would anyplace else. As I previously stated, both Serbia and Belgrade have extremely low crime rates. 

On the other hand, you should always be aware of pickpockets, mainly on public transport. Street robberies, murders or assaults are very rare, even in the dark parts of the city. Organized crime exists, and tourists are not the target.

Some of the places where pickpocketing most often happens in Belgrade are:

  • In central city municipalities

Stari Grad and Vracar, there are also many cases in Zvezdara and Vozdovac.

Citizens usually impose themselves in the busiest streets, such as the main pedestrian zone in Kneza Mihaila Street and Kalemegdanski Park.

However, thefts were also recorded in the “side streets around these places”.

  • At public transportation stops

I recall that most pickpockets occurred on public transport about fifteen years ago.

But this is no longer the case. Today, almost every vehicle is equipped with video surveillance, which assists law enforcement in identifying criminals.

Pickpockets are aware of this, so they have adapted, and they are now stealing more frequently at public transportation stops.

Pickpocketing is especially common when entering a public transportation vehicle; they take your wallet or phone, you continue on, and the pickpocket remains at the stop. Even if you notice the theft, you cannot leave the vehicle immediately.

  • At pedestrian crossings

You can be an easy target even if you are sand waiting for the green light to cross the street.

It can get crowded, which gives pickpockets the opportunity to sneak in.

In this situation, pickpockets use the fact that as a pedestrian you are focused on traffic, so your attention is weaker and that makes you an easy target.

Street robberies, murders, and assaults are extremely uncommon, even in the city’s darkest areas. 

Organized crime exists, but tourists are not the target.

How to protect yourself?

  • Do not carry backpacks or bags on your back

The majority of stolen items come from backpacks and bags that people carry on their backs. 

When your purse is out of sight, the pickpocket has the opportunity to approach and open it first. Then he can create a distance, and when he’s confident you haven’t noticed anything, he approaches again and steals items.

  • Do not keep anything in the back pockets of your pants

When you talk on the phone in the street, you can see what model of phone you’re carrying and decide whether it’s worth it for them to steal.

And when you put it back in your back pocket, they have the option to do so. 

  • Avoid walking with headphones in your ears

Many people use headphones to block out city noise and listen to their favorite music.

However, I must remind you that this method drowns out all other street sounds, making it easier for pickpockets to steal.

That way, you won’t hear footsteps or rustling, which indicate that a thief is aiming for your pocket. 

  • Do not carry your card’s PIN in your wallet

If you leave this information, the damage can be much greater, because I assume that you keep more money in your account than you have in cash.

What to do if you notice pickpocketing?

Pickpockets try to go unnoticed and, as a rule, do not resort to violent theft. It rarely happens that pickpockets use force, so as not to create additional problems with the law.

If you notice that you have been a victim of pickpocketing, I advise you to call the police.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these emergency numbers in Serbia:

192 – Police

194 – Emergency Assistance

193 – Fire Service

Child beggars

In Serbia, there are very few people prosecuted for organizing begging. The only issue I’ve seen recently is an increase in the number of beggars on Main Street, folks attempting to sell postcards or beg money for some disease/cancer/treatment or anything, which was not the case two years ago.

However, while going through Belgrade’s inner core, you may hear a child’s piercing cry: “Please, do you have some dinar to give me?” If you are kind, you will find it difficult to refuse the little ones who beg not only in the capital, but also in spas, mountains, lakes, and even traffic stops in Serbia.

Kids may approach you for money when you are seated in a cafe or standing on the street. When you say no, they will most likely walk away.

In addition to beggars, you may encounter persons who are not suspected of being fraudsters or involved in organized fraud, such as young pregnant ladies and grandmothers, who get the most sympathy and pity from those who give them money.

What matters in all circumstances is that none of them will be aggressive or pushy if you decline them.

Advice: In these situations, it is better not to give money, since you would be supporting organized fraud, and the money you give to children often ends up with their parents or some other elderly person who forces them to work. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to resist, especially for children, but it’s better to give food instead of money.

Taxi drivers 

Taxi scams typically involve forcing you to pay as much as possible for the ride, such as taking a detour, claiming that the meter is broken, or claiming that you would easily agree on a price. Taxi drivers frequently enter into arrangements with local businesses and hotels to offer their services to tourists in exchange for a commission.

Advice: if possible, always call a taxi to ensure that they are members of the taxi drivers’ association, check if the taxi meter is working or agree on the price of the ride ahead of time, and check the prices of taxi rides in tourist information centers or with another neutral party – locals who will most likely be honest about how prices are changing. Also, take the taxi driver’s recommendations with a grain of salt.

More expensive restaurant bill

Restaurants and pubs in the city center or near major tourist sites are sometimes substantially more expensive than those only a few minutes away. In general, going a little further out from the city center can save you money on your bill. It is not uncommon for them to charge you more than you consumed if they detect you are a tourist (instead of three, they will bill you for five drinks, for example), and careless tourists frequently do not check the prices or quantities.

Advice: Before your vacation, ask on specific forums and websites which restaurants are suggested, and build a list of a few of restaurants that look intriguing to you. If you sit down at a bar and the drink card/menu does not reflect prices, you are more likely to be charged more than necessary. When you receive your bill, always examine it to see what they charged you.

“Well-intentioned” residents 

There are situations like this all around the world, when someone will try to take advantage of a tourist who is unfamiliar with the place in order to cheat them out of money. They may offer you assistance with withdrawing money from an ATM, pointing you to a specific site or attraction, assisting you in purchasing tickets from machines, and so on, all with the intention of robbing you later.

Advice: Don’t trust everyone, and don’t let strangers be in your immediate neighborhood while you type the pin code at the ATM; such persons can rob you later and withdraw money from your card. 

Traffic Safety

Rental automobiles are a wonderful way to navigate about Serbia. Renting a car gives you a lot more freedom and allows you to visit national parks and remote monasteries that buses do not service.

Driving in Serbia is rather safe. However, many roads are poorly maintained, with potholes, and may not be what you are used to driving on.

My advice is to stick to major highways and avoid rural roads wherever feasible. Serbia is home to a large number of prominent rental enterprises. Europcar and Enterprise Rent-A-Car have sites in Belgrade. 

Traffic in Serbia can be difficult due to heavy traffic and occasionally unexpected driver behavior Watch out for drivers – they can be very rude to pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrians should exercise extra caution at crosswalks, as cars frequently fail to cede the right of way.

Advice: If you intend to rent a car or take public transportation, drive safely and follow traffic laws.


Demonstrations typically occur in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, or during international events.

There is frequently a greater than usual police presence around demonstrations, and traffic may slow or stop until the demonstration concludes.

Advice: Although these protests are often nonviolent, they can be unpredictable. Avoid regions with protests and demonstrations. 

Sporting events 

There is a risk of violence before, during, and after sporting events. Previously, there have been fights between police and spectators around sporting facilities, which are frequently located in residential neighborhoods. 

I believe that matches between particular clubs, such as “Partizan”, “Rad”, and “Crvena Zvezda”, are high-risk events due to recent violence. 

Advice: Stay away from high-profile sporting events.


If you want assistance, the locals are quite nice and helpful. If you need help getting somewhere or buying something, approach a younger individual because they are more likely to speak English.

“Please” is the fundamental to polite discourse in Serbian. It essentially means “please,” however it can also be used as an answer to thank you, rather than a pardon or a question. 

Serbian, like most European languages, contains both formal and informal ways of address. When speaking with an elderly person, use the polite “you”. Personal names are rarely used, save among friends and relatives. 

Respect for Local Customs

Serbs are very polite, courteous, and welcoming people, particularly in the south of the country.

When you are welcomed to a Serbian home, bring a gift on your first visit. Flowers, chocolate, an alcoholic drink, or something from your home country. If you wear flowers, be aware that an even amount of flowers is reserved for funerals. 

Please do not ask for anything during your stay because they will offer you food and drinks.

The standard of living

Standard of living is subjective depending on how you measure it. If it’s just a matter of how much disposable money people have, it’s pretty low. However, if you judge by how satisfied people are, it is extremely high.

Meeting Serbian People

The Serbian people are kind and friendly. Someone is always willing to assist you, and I’ve heard that no one goes hungry since there is always someone to help.

I think Serbia is the most likely country in the world to meet a random person on the street and spend the whole night talking and going on random adventures. Without them trying to rob you, take advantage of you or do anything out of socializing.

During one visit to Serbia, due to the inability to pay for parking with my card, I found myself in a problem. But not for long, because the Serbs helped me. Parking can be paid only by sending an SMS, but unfortunately it does not work with a foreign number. On that occasion, I asked the Serbs for help. 

They paid for my parking and didn’t want to take money for it! They didn’t even want money for the amount of the parking lot, they just wished me a nice day”, Because of the kindness I received in Serbia, I am happy to return.


Serbs are friendly and welcoming as long as you do not offend them.

People in large cities like Belgrade and Novi Sad are well-educated, and the atmosphere is cosmopolitan, with no regard for national origin. I also spent a few days in Novi Pazar and Sjenica, and the people were quite friendly. 

LGBTQI+ Travelers

There are no legal limitations on same-sex sexual relationships in Serbia, nor are LGBTQI+ events prohibited. Serbia has active and more prominent LGBTQI+ advocacy organizations, and some LGBTQI+ bars operate openly and without incident in Belgrade. Many recent public events have occurred without incident. 

Whether you are LGBTQI+ or not, no one cares, or at least not enough to physically assault you on the street because of it.

Passengers with disabilities 

Serbian legislation bans discrimination against those with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disability, and it is enforced. 

The most prevalent forms of accessibility are accessible facilities, information, and communication. Expect restricted accessibility in accommodations and basic infrastructure, as well as ordinary public transportation. 

Although there is some accessibility for disabled passengers in Belgrade and Novi Sad, it is restricted or missing across the remainder of Serbia.

Street harassment

Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, is generally secure for solitary female tourists. The prevalence of street harassment is low. Locals are usually friendly and willing to help.

Nonetheless, as in any other city, exercise caution, especially at night or in less busy places. Keep your belongings safe and stay in well-lit, crowded areas, and you should be alright. Finally, maintaining a confident manner can tremendously deter potential harassers.

Solo Female Travelers

Belgrade has a very stable security environment, making it safe for solitary female tourists. While most inhabitants are kind, considerate, and eager to assist tourists, it is nevertheless necessary to take standard precautions. 

Like any other municipality, there are some districts with greater crime rates, particularly at night. Furthermore, there may be the rare fraud or petty larceny. However, if you stick to tourist and busy regions, you will not encounter these situations frequently. It is always advisable to respect local customs and traditions in order to avoid unwanted situations. 

Overall, the city is inviting to guests and offers a comfortable environment for solitary female travelers.

Night safety

Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, has a comparatively safe image when compared to other European capitals. However, as in any other city, strolling alone at night should be done with caution.

Most locations are well-lit and frequented, however there are some less-visited neighborhoods that should be avoided. Public transportation runs late, and cabs are easily accessible. Locals are generally helpful and courteous, and crimes against tourists are uncommon, but it’s always vital to keep vigilant, especially at night.

Tap water is very safe

The tap water in Belgrade is noted for its exceptional purity and safety. It is regularly tested to guarantee cleanliness and conformance to health requirements. There is no reason to rely only on bottled water while in this city. Drinking directly from the tap is regarded as extremely safe.

Drinking in Serbia

Overall, the lifestyle is really lively. Balkans don’t require many excuses to start drinking and partying. At a pub, you may be tempted to drink too much rakija, the traditional Balkan liquor, but that is all up to you.

When toasting in Serbia, as in most European countries, look other people in the eye. 

You may drink gallons of alcohol, but you are expected to be sober. Being clearly drunk is a sign of bad taste and lack of character. Alcoholic drinks in Serbia are very strong. Plum “brandy” contains about 53 percent. It’s nice to know how to toast in the native language of the host – say “Cheers!”.

Last Sunday, I awoke to the sound of trumpets and gunshots. Yet another Serbian wedding.

Health protection

Serbia’s healthcare system is usually regarded as reliable, but some visitors may require extra health insurance during their stay. 

Advice: Carry vital medications and contact information for local medical institutions in case of an emergency.

Travel Insurance 

A good travel insurance policy covers medical expenses incurred during your stay in Serbia, as well as any injuries or illnesses. 

Advice: Consider purchasing travel insurance to cover the costs of trip cancellations or delays. This could protect the money you spent on your vacation or cruise reservations if they are canceled for any reason.

Climate in Serbia

In the north, continental climate (cold winters and hot, humid summers with well-distributed rainfall); in other parts, continental and Mediterranean climate (relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall and hot, dry summers and autumns)

Adventure sports in Serbia

Rafting is a popular extreme sport that takes place on fast and powerful mountain rivers with rapids, which adds to the excitement. Of course, everyone on the boat must have the required equipment, and once you reach the calmer areas of the river, you may jump in and enjoy its various attractions. Tara has long been considered one of the top rafting spots. The reason is that Tara’s nature and surroundings are ideal for this form of amusement and activities. Tara is blessed with the tenacious and powerful river Drina, whose spectacular waterfalls and twisting path make the rafting experience even more lively and exhilarating.

The difficulty of the water ranges from third to fifth degree, therefore this form of exercise might be more strenuous, requiring the use of all appropriate equipment and alertness. The maximum water levels occur between March and April, and the higher the water level, the greater the difficulty of the water, therefore my advice is to wait for the water level to decrease slightly. Keep in mind that the Drina is an extremely chilly river, therefore I would not consider rafting before summer.

Stara Planina is one of Serbia’s most popular holiday spots, and hiking is only one of several activities that get a lot of attention from travelers. My advise is to embark on an expedition to Midzor and reward yourself to a thrilling adrenaline trip. It is the tallest mountain in central Serbia, reaching an astonishing 2,169 meters above sea level, and Serbia’s second highest peak.

While climbing, I suggest you to exercise extreme caution because Stara Planina is notorious for its high cliffs and terrible climatic conditions, which are particularly noticeable on its summits. However, the view from the highest top will undoubtedly astound you and leave you breathless. Stara Planina’s peaks offer stunning views of the thick forest, including Dmitrovgrad, Pirot, and Zajecar.

Favorite activity during the winter periods on the mountain is skiing. Kopaonik has long taken pride in its contemporary and well-maintained ski slopes, which are plenty. The trails on Kopanik are one of the best ski trails in all of Europe, so be sure that your skiing in this area will truly be an unforgettable experience.

In addition to Kopaonik, Zlatibor is another incredibly popular destination that will provide you with the perfect mountain vacation of your dreams. Mountain biking is becoming an increasingly popular sport in Zlatibor. For this reason, several excellent cycling paths have been built on Zlatibor, and the terrain is perfect even for the biggest adrenaline junkies.

Of course, the list of the best adrenaline activities cannot go without including the increasingly popular paragliding. Paragliding is one of the most extreme sports, but I would like to point out that it is worth every risk and brings great enjoyment. If you want to feel as if you are on top of the world and enjoy the vast expanses below you, go paragliding and treat yourself to a completely unusual and extraordinary experience. If you’re new to paragliding, I recommend starting at Fruska Gora.

Eating and drinking in Serbia

Serbian cuisine, like that of other Balkan countries, is predominantly meat-based, with numerous dishes influenced by Turkey or Austria-Hungary. Breakfast (dorucak) normally consists of a coffee, roll, and cheese or salami. Burek, a greasy, flaky pastry stuffed with cheese or meat, is also popular. Burek, cevapcici, and pljeskavica are popular street snacks. 

Restaurant menus typically include starters like corba (a thick meat or fish soup), as well as main dishes like pasulj (a thick bean soup with bacon or sausage), paprika-red gulas (popular in Vojvodina), and kolenica (suckling pig leg). The national dish, Karadjordjeva snicla, is a wrapped veal steak packed with cheese and covered in breadcrumbs, named for the national hero, Karadjordje Petrovic. Pogaca, a huge bread cake, is sometimes served as a complement to these meals. Typical sweets include strudla and baklava.

Vegetarian options include srpska salata (tomato, cucumber, and raw onion), šopska salata (similar to srpska salata but with grated kackavalj white cheese), and burek.

You will not run out of coffee (kafa) in Serbia, although the classic Turkish kind (thick, black, with grinds) might be difficult to get, since many young people prefer to drink Western-style coffee. 

Balkan beer brands (pivo) like Lav, Jelen, and Montenegrin Niksicko are delicious. Although wine is typically expensive on restaurant menus, Montenegrin Vranac and Macedonian Tikves are more cheap options. I recommend that you definitely try slijvovica (plum brandy).

Final words: Is Serbia safe?

My various and diverse experiences traveling around Serbia and living in a variety of locations have taught me that Serbia is an excellent safe tourist destination. I believe most other expats and travellers would agree with me.

Taking care of your personal belongings should be your main concern, just like anywhere else in the world, and I recommend that you take proactive measures to ensure that any travel you do is as safe as possible. Risk mitigation is key.

English is widely spoken in Serbia, especially among the younger population, and people here are known for their hospitality and kindness towards foreigners. This, combined with a meager crime rate, makes Belgrade and other major cities safe, and Serbia a safe country in general.