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Central Serbia is a densely forested region, a fact reflected in its name – Šumadija, from šuma, Serbian for forest. It is a true paradise, ideal for some down time with your family and filled with an abundance of cultural and historic sites to enrich your holiday. From popular mountain resorts to caves and canyons to aquaparks and adventure parks, Central Serbia offers something for every member of the family.
The peak of Bukulja mountain has stunning views of breath-taking landscapes of Šumadija and its marked hiking trails are ideal for a stroll with your family. Nestled at the foothill is the city of Aranđelovac, with a horse-riding club and a riding school. The centre of Aranđelovac also boasts Bukovička banja spa, with its spectacular park teeming with sculptures made of white marble from Venčac mountain.
Jagodina, with an impressive aquapark featuring 8 swimming pools of varying depth and sizes – an endless source of fun for children and adults alike. This city is also known for its zoo, where you’ll have the opportunity to see more than 250 animal species, including Jovanča the giraffe, a local celebrity and symbol of the Jagodina zoo.
The mountain tourism resort of Divčibare is especially popular in the winter, as it provides ideal skiing conditions for children and beginners and also offers a wide selection of winter games and sports to complete the magical winter experience. In the summer, it becomes a picnic ground with numerous sports fields and activities to entertain the whole family, including mountaineering, trail cycling, panoramic cable car rides and horse-riding.
Goč mountain is another favourite destination for visitors of all ages. Your children can make their first skiing attempts in the ski school, while older children and adults can enjoy the unrivalled experience of night skiing on specially lit ski slopes. Goč is also an oasis for Nordic skiing aficionados, featuring as many as five marked slopes for cross-country skiing.
Children who are slightly more adventurous should check out a hidden gem in the central region of our country: the Gradac river canyon. Thanks to its size and degree of difficulty, this canyon is ideal for children: while it is challenging enough for children, it is easy to navigate on foot and visibility is good, so your family’s safety is guaranteed.
Every child in Serbia knows where Tršić is and why this village is so important. Situated near the city of Loznica, it is the birthplace of the Serbian philologist and language reformer Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. Vuk’s memorial house, vajati (wooden houses used as sleeping quarters for couples), watermills and other authentic facilities at the ethno-park in Tršić tell the tale of ancient crafts and the history of folklore festivals. The park also often hosts linguistic, literary and other workshops for children.
Central Serbia is also the home region of Desanka Maksimović, a famous Serbian poet who dedicated many songs to her birth village of Brankovina. A tour of the village will take your family through the school that she attended, the 19th-Century church where she is buried and the National Museums’ collection in Valjevo.
An indispensable part of any family trip is learning about Serbian history. Younger visitors will undoubtedly be more interested in the story of Despot Stefan Lazarević, one of the first European knights of the Order of the Dragon. Apart from major battles, the Despot is also known for Manasija monastery, which he erected as his endowment in the early 15th Century. This monastery near the town of Despotovac also hosts Just Out festival, a gathering of modern-day knights from many European countries.
For some interesting insights into somewhat more modern types of combat, visit the Stara livnica (“Old Foundry”) museum in the city of Kragujevac. Built in the 19th Century as a weapons factory, it now showcases examples of weaponry, cannons and military equipment and tells tales of times gone by. Alternatively, you can take your children to explore the magical world of dinosaurs! The Dino Park within the Natural History Centre in Svilajnac offers children an opportunity to become familiar with these majestic creatures. On display are more than 20 detailed replicas of various dinosaur species, including Tyrannosaurus, Deinonychus, Allosaurus and many more. Inside the Natural History Centre, you will find meteorites, fragments of volcanic rocks and minerals, Neolithic sculptures and real remains of animals that became extinct during the ice age, including the mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros and the steppe bison. From the Natural History Park, step into the magical world of Central Serbian caves. The halls of Risovača Cave in Aranđelovac were once inhabited by prehistoric humans. Today, their existence has been painstakingly reconstructed as a museum collection, with four realistic figures of the Neanderthal species of archaic humans, who are shown going about their usual daily activities.
In Resava Cave near Despotovac, you will see impressive cave formations, some of which are approximately 45 million years old. For young adventurers there is the Adventure Park nearby with an obstacle course and a zip line amongst other attractions. A similar Adventure Park is situated in Kragujevac, where your children can enjoy a wide variety of sports and fun activities.
After a hard day, the whole family can rest in the deep shade of lush treetops on the shores of Šumarice Lake or visit downtown Kragujevac and see its historic landmarks.
Do not miss the opportunity to visit the botanical garden in Kragujevac, where your children can dive into the ancient woodland, grassland plains and other interesting flora from all over the world. A maze of plant species will help your children discover the specific features of Serbia’s plant life. If you prefer the underwater world to vegetation, we suggest you take your whole family to the Kragujevac Aquarium, with 600 different fish species from all corners of the earth, including lungfish, a relic species that predates dinosaurs.
Staying in rural households in Central Serbia allows you to discover a whole new way of life. At Kočin konak household in the village of Gornja Sabanta, you will find children’s playgrounds and obstacle courses, and you can also ask your hosts to arrange for you to go foraging and pick mushrooms, forest fruits and herbs. The village of Lužnice is a true paradise for children and adults alike. Children will be excited to see the mini zoo, while adults will enjoy relaxing by one of the two artificial lakes, surrounded by hundred-year-old ash trees.
At the very heart of Šumadija lies Čolović House, with old houses, traditional residences (konak), traditional wooden houses used as sleeping quarters for couples (vajat), as well as commercial structures which have been preserved in their original condition from the 19th and early 20th Century.
In Orašac, the village where the First Serbian Uprising began in 1804, you will find vajat wooden houses of Karađorđe, named after the leader of that uprising. Here you will have a unique opportunity to accommodate your family in vajati which are more than 2000 years old. The vajati have been transported here from nearby villages and fully renovated to satisfy the needs of any modern family. A stay in this traditional accommodation will give you the opportunity to teach your children not only about rural architecture and life in the country, but also about the turbulent history of this region.
A family trip to Vrnjačka banja, one of the largest spas in Serbia, will be a truly relaxing part of your trip. Numerous swimming pools, sports fields and cycling and hiking trails will give your family plenty of opportunities to take part in fun activities. Those who are slightly older will undoubtedly enjoy massages, saunas, the halotherapy and other relaxing therapies offered. The Japanese garden, with a tea house and a lake, is the best place to unwind after long walks along the promenade.
With more than 62 kilometres of ski slopes for alpine and Nordic skiing, Kopaonik mountain is Serbia’s largest ski resort. In addition to various ski slopes suited to skiers at various levels of ability, there is also a ski kindergarten for the youngest skiers, while the Outdoor Sports Valley also features the “Children’s Town”, where your children can ride snowmobiles. Adults will enjoy the Little Lake for night skiing. Kopaonik is a cool oasis in the summer months; retreating to the slopes can decrease the temperature by as much as 10 degrees Celsius. A panoramic cable car ride provides breath-taking views of nature and greenery. A thrilling bobsled roller coaster ride, tubing, zip lining, mountain carting and an adventure park are also available and will entertain the whole family.