Border to Border Serbia
Carefree cycling through an unknown country
Serbia is a beautiful, relatively unknown, but very hospitable country.
We offer you the opportunity to enjoy it fully during this all-inclusive cycling-camping holiday. In almost three weeks, we cycle through the entire country from the Hungarian border in the north to Bulgaria in the south. On the way, we’ll pass through extraordinary landscapes, from the flat land of Vojvodina to the mountains in the south. We will follow the major rivers that have been the main communication routes since ancient times; the Danube and the Great Morava, which make the route relatively flat and manageable for bikes.
Border to Border Serbia
Let’s witness the rich and unique history of this country, which has produced 17 Roman Emperors, many Orthodox churches and monasteries with magnificent murals, sturdy castles and an Ottoman-influenced food culture.
You will pass through dreamy provincial towns like Sombor, Sremski Karlovci, famous for the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 and fruitcapital Grocka. And of course also the bigger cities like Novi Sad, in 2022 the Cultural Capital of Europe, Belgrade, in history often disputed, Kruševac, the cradle of the medieval Serbian Kingdom and Nis, the birthplace of Emperor Constantine the Great.
The route follows rural roads and paths that are mostly asphalted and pleasant to cycle. The tour is divided into sections of about 50 km to 60 km, leaving enough space to look around and enjoy.
Own bike or not
You can use your personal bicycle, which, well packed, can be taken on the plane and will be returned to the airport before departure. However, we can also provide local bikes, sturdy touring bikes with derailleurs and 24 gears.
Every participant is obliged to wear a helmet and a yellow vest. We can also provide these on location.
At the end of each ride, a ready-made camping place awaits you, equipped with individual 2-person tents with beds, a shower, and a dining area. You will be surprised by local dishes authentically prepared by the accompanying cook. Your extra luggage is waiting at the tent.
This event is held in autumn when the temperatures have become bearable again. Autumn generally offers stable and pleasant weather. We enjoy the abundance of the land during this season (grain, peppers, grapes, plums, mulberry, apricots, peaches, apples, and pears) and, visit local events associated with harvest time, witness local traditions such as making rakia (brandy) and ajvar (pepper sauce). Of course, a wine tasting fits into the programme.
DAY TO DAY ITINERY
Day 1. Meet in Belgrade and transfer to the starting point, Bački Breg, at the Hungarian border.
Day 2. Bački Breg – Apatin. (ca.58km)
The route leads through the flat land of Vojvodina, formerly Hungarian, along the nature reserves of the Duna-Drava Nemzeti Park, the Grand Bački Canal, which leads all the way to Novi Sad, and the beautiful Sombor.
Apatin is the beer capital of Serbia and home to the tasty Jelen beer. A visit to the brewery is on the agenda for those who like it.
• Visit the Jelen brewery
• Visit Bačko-Bodroška District office explanation about the famous large painting
Day 3. Apatin – Bač (approx. 54km).
The route continues through the pockmarked former marshland of the Danube to Bač, with its impressive fortress and faubourg. Bač Castle was the guard post of the Hungarian kings for a long time against the advancing Turks. It is the namesake of Bačka County, the surrounding region.
The border with Croatia is sometimes only a stone’s throw away. The flora and fauna-rich nature reserve “Gornje Podunavlje” in the Danube Delta separates the two countries. There is a lot of agriculture along the way, fish farms and fruit orchards, ponds, ditches, and forests.
– Visit a fish farm
– Boat visit Gornje Podunavlje
Day 4. Bač – Bačka Palanka (approx. 47km).
We cycle through the flat land of Vojvodina; in the distance, the hills of the Fruska Gora loom up, formerly an island in the Pannonian Sea, pushing the Danube out of its course. Its name reminds us that Charlemagne’s empire once extended to these parts. Hidden in the hills, 17 orthodox monasteries have been preserved, some of which we will visit later.
Day 5. Bačka Palanka – Novi Sad (approx.45-60km).
On the other side of the Danube lies the fortified town of Ilok, the easternmost city in Croatia, the first stop for the day, where we can enjoy the view of the plain we have left behind.
From Ilok, the route follows the Danube to Novi Sad. The bolder among us can do it on the ridge road of Fruska Gora, but this requires a climb, which is rewarded at the end with a long descent.
The Museum of Vojvodina will be pleased and proud to show you the three golden Roman helmets found in the area. The museum is free of charge for holders of the Sultans Trail Passport.
Possible excursions :
– Visit Stari Podrum Ilok
– Visit the museum of Vojvodina
– Visit Petrovaradin
Day 6. Novi Sad – Stari Slankamen. (approx.48km)
Via the Danube bridge, we leave Novi Sad in the direction of the mighty castle of Petrovaradin. Then the route takes us past Sremski Karlovci, where we visit the “Chapel of Our Lady of Peace”. Here, after the failed second siege of Vienna in 1683, the peace negotiations between the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires took place under the mediation of a Dutch and English diplomat, resulting in the “Peace of Karlowitz” (1699), which put an end to the Great Turkish War (1683-1699).
The route continues away from the Danube through the lovely vine-covered foothills of the Fruska Gora. Enthusiasts are encouraged to visit two or three beautiful Orthodox monasteries hidden in the hills. After this, the route continues through the flat land of Srem, on the high bank of the Danube. At the end of the ride, there is a view of the lower bank, and on a clear day, one can see as far as 60km across the Pannonian plain.
– “Kapela Gospe od Mira” in Karlovci
– Visit Monasteries of Veliki Remeta, Grgeteg and Krušedol
– Wine tasting in Vinarija Acumincum, Stari Slankamen
Day 7. Stari Slankamen – Belgrade (approx. 52km).
On the high bank of the Danube follows an utterly flat ride to Belgrade, ending with descent in Zemun to the waterfront, where we follow the cycle path on the quay, a popular strolling place for the inhabitants of Zemun and nearby New Belgrade.
Day 8. Day of rest in Belgrade.
From the fortified citadel Kalemegdan, at the confluence of the Sava and Danube, take a view over the Pannonian plain. The fortress was founded by the Celts, extended by the Romans, and rebuilt by the Ottomans, a historical bone of contention of empires and razed to the ground 36 times in the course of history.
Shop, enjoy one of the traditional restaurants and in the evening, relish the nightlife in Strahinjića bana at the Danube shore or Skadarlia, the Montmartre of Belgrade.
The Lonely Planet declared Belgrade the best nightlife city in Europe.
Sights to see:
– Underground city of Belgrade
– Nazi camp at the Belgrade Fairground
Day 9. Belgrade – Smederevo (approx. 56km).
The route leads through the gentle hills covered with fruit orchards along the Danube to Smederevo, at the confluence of the Danube and the Great Morava.
During the Ottoman advance, Smederevo was briefly the capital of the Serbian Kingdom, later crucial for the Ottomans, who had stationed their river fleet here. The city was surrounded by mighty walls with impressive towers, which stood intact until the Second World War. Unfortunately, the explosion of a parked ammunition train caused considerable damage to the still imposing defences.
Sights to see:
– Smederevo fortress
– Smederevo Museum
Day 10. Smederevo – Velika Plana (approx.51km).
After Smederevo, we leave the Danube and continue through the valley of the Great Morava River, which will bring us to the Bulgarian border. The route, known as the “via Militaris”, has been used to travel towards Istanbul since Roman times.
The route will take us into “traditional Serbia”, characterised by gently rolling hills, farmland, peaceful monasteries, scattered towns and rural villages, and mighty wood-covered mountains in the background. In the villages, children’s voices are still heard, and the elderly drink their rakia and coffee in the streets. The status symbol of every man here appears to be a red tractor, without which it seems impossible to exist.
Day 11. Velika Plana – Jagodina (approx. 48km).
The river winds its way along several hills, and so do we, with the highest point, just before Jagodina, at 250m. Jagodina is a spacious, elongated rural town with all amenities, including a large water park and a regional museum.
Day 12. Jagodina – Kruševac (approx.56km).
On this day, we ride mainly in the shadow of the Juhor, a 60km long, relatively inaccessible ridge with Veliki Vetren (774m) as its highest point.
Kruševac, founded in 1371 by King Lazar, who also had his palace built here, is a glorious place in Serbian history. It was here that the Serbian army gathered at the outset of the dramatic Battle of Kosovo (1389). A battle that is still deeply engraved in the Serbian soul. The ruins of Lazar’s town are still visible today.
Day 13. Kruševac – Aleksinac (approx. 50km).
Between Kruševac and Aleksinac, we face our first challenges, with two small hills of 350m and 320m and slopes up to 4.9%. Aleksinac is a lovely old town at the foot of the Stara Planina (Balkan mountains).
Day 14. Aleksinac – Niš (approx.35km).
Despite a slope of 7.9%, a gentle ride to Niš, situated at the Nisava, a tributary of the Great Morava. The town lies on a ford in the Nisava, traditionally a crossing point, where the Romans founded Naissus, and the Ottomans built a fortress. The old fort has been fully preserved and is the city’s landmark. Niš forms the informal border between east and west. Constantine the Great, the man who, as emperor of Rome, founded Constantinople, was born here.
Sights to see:
– The Niš fortress
– The Nazi Concentration Camp
– The Skull Tower
– The birthplace of Constantine
Day 15. Niš – Bela Palanka (approx. 42km).
In this stage, we climb to 600m with a maximum slope of 11.2%. We ride through the mountain area of the Suva Planina or Dry Mountains. On the other side of the Nisava are the Stara Planina, which run all the way to the Black Sea and have given their name to the whole region under the name “Balkan”. The word Balkan, by the way, is of Turkish origin and means Forested Mountains. In their aversion to the Ottoman past, the Bulgarians prefer the Slavic name ‘Stara Planina’, or Old Mountains.
The origin of Bela Palanka lies in Roman times when it was known as Remesiana. A Roman milestone in the centre and the excavated remains of a church are reminders of this past. The Ottomans built a wall of stones and earth that is still visible and had a large Caravanserai, of which nothing remains. Nevertheless, all these remains indicate that it was a significant place on the road to Constantinople. A small part of this road is still visible at the water mill on the edge of town.
Day 16. Bela Palanka – Dimitrovgrad (approx. 60km).
On the final day of this tour, we reach a respectable altitude of 691m, with a maximum gradient of 8.6% and a long descent. Halfway through this stage, at about 27km, we arrive in Pirot, a town with a character all of its own, known for its woven carpets, unique cheese, beautifully restored fortress, promenade along the Nisava riverside and a fascinating regional museum. The ideal place for a lunch break.
The last stretch to Dimitrovgrad is a piece of cake. Gradually we rise another 100m, but that is it. Dimitrovgrad, just a few kilometres from the Bulgarian border, wedged in a narrow valley between a large railway yard and motorways, is a typical border town popular with Bulgarians for dining.
Day 17. Transport back to Belgrade
What to expect
– Flight transportation to and from Belgrade, including bicycle transport
– Transport from the meeting point to the starting point
– Bike transport from the airport to the meeting point
– Bike disassembly, packing and delivery to the airport at departure
– Daily luggage transport
– 16 camping overnights, in a double tent, with sleeping mats, shower facilities, dinner and breakfast (please inform us about dietary needs)
– Mentioned excursions
– GPS with the Route, for use in your navigation system
– Insurance cover
What you have to take care of yourself
– Cycling and enjoying
– Cycling clothes, including helmet and yellow jacket
– Navigation device (Garmin or mobile phone), with extra power bank
– Lunch, snacks, and water for on the way (there are always shops in the villages and towns)
– Good travel insurance and identity papers
If desired, we can provide the following at an additional charge:
– Local bicycle, for the duration of the tour
– Helmet and yellow jacket for the duration of the trip
– Sleeping bag and sheet
Border-to-border 17 days € 2595,-
Excluding flight or train ticket to and from Belgrade, excursions
Book at Natuurlijk Reizen: www.natuurlijkreizen.nl
Start in Belgrade: September 9, 2023
End in Belgrade September 25, 2023