‘Aaaah, help me. The first thing I think about whenever I travel anywhere is whether or not I’m going to be okay. I think everyone is trying to kill me at all times so I’ve been frantically Googling ‘is Serbia safe?’ and I really need someone to make me feel better before I go on vacation and get viciously murdered.’
That’s my impression of you.
Look, I’m gonna be honest. I think this question is ridiculous. If you’re going to a place, you should be excited, not scared (unless it’s like Kabul or something). But people ask me this question all the time, so I thought I would write a quick blog post to address it.
I’ve spent a few months of my life in Serbia – and from experience, it’s really safe.
People are super friendly, welcoming and accommodating. People will make an effort to ensure you feel safe, happy, and at-home.
Compared to lots of other European capital cities, I reckon Belgrade feels much safer. It might look like somewhere you’re going to get your head kicked in, but it really isn’t.
Anyway, I’ve addressed all the major Serbia safety questions coming up. Stick your crash helmet on, wrap yourself in cotton wool, and join me…
I Heard There’s a Big Mafia Presence in Serbia. Am I Going to Get Whacked?
No. Why would the mafia care about you? Are you an international drug baron? Are you a the leader of a rival gang? Are you a multi-millionaire who runs a Serbian casino as a money-laundering scheme?
You’re not the main character in a movie; get over yourself.
Is Serbia Safe for Solo Travelers?
Yes. Being alone doesn’t mean you’re instantly going to get murdered. You’re an adult, you’re gonna be okay.
If you’re really worried, bring your mum.
Is Serbia Safe for Women?
I can’t be 100% sure, because I’m not a woman. But lots of women have told me that they feel very safe in Serbia.
Sadly, women have to take more precautions than men, because some men are horrible. Until those men change, you need to be careful (and that’s shit).
So take the same precautions you would take in any other place in the planet. But broadly speaking, from what women have told me, and what I’ve seen myself, Serbia is safer than lots of other countries.
Is Serbia Safe for LGBTQ+ Travelers?
In terms of LGBTQ+ stuff, Serbia’s attitudes aren’t very modern. There’s an annual Pride Festival in Belgrade, but during the festival, the streets are rammed with riot-gear-toting police who are tasked with fighting off the small but vocal homophobic local minority.
In the bigger cities, the vast majority of people don’t care if you’re gay or straight or whatever. In rural areas, lots of people might care. So it’s best to keep public displays of affection to a minimum, and be selective about who you share your sexuality with.
Obviously, it would be better if everyone didn’t care about your sexuality. But until that’s the case, just be careful.
That said, I met lots of LGBTQ+ people from other countries while I was in Belgrade. And those people felt comfortable enough to leave their home countries to move to Serbia. So that’s probably a good sign.
Is Nightlife Safe in Serbia?
Yes. It’s as safe as anywhere. If you want to be careful, always keep your drink covered, don’t get too drunk, and don’t start a fight.
But again, not everyone is trying to murder you and attack you, so just go out and have a good time.
How Can I Stay Safe in Serbia?
Just exercise the same cautions you would exercise anywhere.
If any areas are unlit, or look dangerous, don’t go there. In the middle of the night, try to stick to busy areas. If you feel like you’re being scammed, you’re probably being scammed. If someone says ‘hey man, would you like to have a big fight and punch each other right in the head?’, say ‘no.’
Are there Any Safety Threats I Need to Be Aware of in Serbia?
There’s a tiny risk from terrorism (but that’s the case anywhere). There’s also a tiny risk of being mugged or pickpocketed (but that’s also the case anywhere).
In the southern part of Serbia, along the Serbia-Kosovo border, there’s a small risk of unexploded mines that haven’t yet been found and disabled. So if you’re in that area, stick to existing roads, footpaths and trails – if you don’t go off-piste, you won’t step on any mines.
The biggest threat to your safety will probably be the chance of having a massive heart attack after eating loads of burek and cevapi.
The most important thing is this: no matter where you go, you should always have good travel insurance. Then if you do get in trouble, at least you’re properly covered. I always recommend World Nomads, who are great for backpackers – they’re flexible and reliable, and you can take out, amend and extend policies when you’re on the road.
If you’re a remote worker, Safety Wing are perfect for you – they cater specifically to remote workers, and they’re really affordable.
So, there you go – that’s everything you need to know. In summary, Serbia is safe, you’re not going to die, and you’ve got nothing to worry about. Get yourself to one of Europe’s most underrated countries, and have a brilliant time.