Serbia hitchhiking essentials
Advantages of hitchhiking in Serbia
The Serbia hitchhiking experience is, on the whole, a mixed bag with unpredictable waiting times stretching from a few minutes to many hours. At least the concept is well understood and it is easier in the north of the country with more people willing to stop. If you do manage to get a lift on the main north–south A1 motorway, rides can be long and fruitful, especially towards the capital, Belgrade. Road condition is also strikingly good, especially when compared to its eastern neighbours (Romania & Bulgaria).
Other advantages of hitchhiking in Serbia include a simple visa regime (if you are from the majority of ‘western’ countries) and the comparatively cheap cost of travelling in the country (except notably in the capital). Serbia also still carries that sense of adventure, as tourism has yet to really get off the ground in the majority of the country.
Disadvantages of hitchhiking in Serbia
Despite the many advantages, hitchhiking in Serbia does have its negatives, however. Firstly, those long waiting times alluded to earlier are even more noticeable when travelling south of Belgrade and more so if you are trying to get to Kosovo or Macedonia.
Furthermore, cars rarely stop once dusk approaches and street lighting outside the city centres is hardly present at all.
The A1 motorway, while covering long distances, usually has its junctions 5-10 km from the town it services, so prepare for long walks if you get dropped off at the exit.
The political situation, also makes for uncomfortable situations. Kosovo, is still thought of by many Serbs as an integral part of their nation. So, avoid any political discussions that are likely to upset your drivers.
Types of roads
There are around 40,845 km of public roads in Serbia of which 651 km are motorways with the most important being the A1 – it runs from Hungary in the north to Macedonia in the south and forms the main spine of the road network.
23,780 km of expressways, which are subdivided into class I and II, form the rest of the relatively well developed and well-maintained system (in comparison to the rest of the Balkans).
① Motorways (Аутопут: A-Roads) are dual lane carriageways and form the quickest way to move around Serbia. There are 5 motorways in total (A1-A5), most run to the capital Belgrade and are marked by white on green signs. The speed limit is 120 km/h (75 mph) and Hitch-hiking on them is illegal so you will have to use the slip road.
② Expressways (Брзи пут) are also dual lane carriageways (but do not have an emergency lane) and form the rest of the major roads in Serbia. There are two classifications of major state roads marked by white double or triple digit numbers on a blue background but all with a general speed limit of 100 km/h (62 mph). Hitch-hiking on them is a grey area.
③ Municipal Roads (Општински путеви) make up the remainder of the roads in Serbia. Some are unpaved and in poor condition, and the speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mph) within inhabited places and 80 km/h (50 mph) outside the cities. Hitch-hiking on them is legal.
Four general speed limits apply on roads in Serbia:
50 km/h (31 mph) within inhabited places.
80 km/h (50 mph) outside inhabited places.
100 km/h (62 mph) on expressways (Put rezervisan za saobracaj motornih vozila).
120 km/h (75 mph) on highways (Autoput).
Road map of Serbia
Absolutely essential hitch-hikers phrasebook
– Hello – Здраво. Zdravo. (ZDRAH-voh)
– Thank you – Xвала. Hvala. (HVAH-lah)
– Yes – Да. Da. (DAH)
– No – Не. Ne. (NEH)
– Please – Mолим. Molim. (MOH-leem)
– Excuse me. (getting attention) – Извинитe. Izvinite. (eez-VEE-nee-teh)
– How are you? – Kaкo стe? Kako ste? (kah-KOH steh?) – formal / како си? Kako si? (kah-KOH see?) – informal
– Well, thanks. Добро, хвала. Dobro, hvala. (DOH-broh, HVAH-lah)
– Goodbye Дoвиђeњa. Doviđenja. (doh vee-JEH-nyah)
– Hitch-hiking – стопирао. Stopirao. (sto-pee-ra-oh)
– I don’t have money. – Немам новца. Nemam novca. (Neh-mum NOV-tsah)
– We don’t have money. – ми немамо новацa Mi nemamo novca. (Me Neh-mah-mo NOV-tsah)
– Money – новац. Novac. (NOH-vahts)
– I’m going … – Идем… Idem… (EE-dehm…)
– We are going to … – Ми Идемо у … Mi idemo u … (Me EE-deh-moh ...)
– Where are you going? – Где идеш? Gdje ideš? (Gdje EE-desh?)
– Can we go with you? – Можемо ићи са вама? Možemo li ići sa vama? (Moh-ZHE-moh lee Y-chy sah VAH-mah?)
– I am … – Ја сам … Ja sam … (yah sahm …)
– My name is … – Зoвeм ce … Zovem se … (ZOH-vehm seh …)
– I am from … – Ја сам из … Ja sam iz … (Yahsahm eez …)
– What is your name? – Kaкo ce зoвeтe? Kako se zovete? (KAH-koh seh zoh-VEH-teh)
– Pleased to meet you. – Дpaгo ми je. Drago mi je. (DRAH-goh mee yeh)
– I don’t understand. – Не разумем. Ne razumem. (neh rah-ZOO-mehm)
– now – сада. sada (SAH-dah)
– today – данас. danas (DAH-nahs)
– yesterday – јуче. juče (YOO-cheh)
– tomorrow – сутра. sutra (SOO-trah)
– friend – пријатељ. prijatelj (pri-YA-telee)
Very useful when they ask you where you’re staying. The concept of Couchsurfing is often too difficult to explain, so just say you’re staying with a friend. You can also use this word to express the relationship between you and your fellow travellers.
– Can you stop? – Можеш ли престати? Možešli prestati? (Moh-zhesh lee preh-STAH-tea) – informal; Можетели престати? Možeteli prestati? (moh-ZHEH-teh lee preh-STAH-tea) – formal
– I want to get out. – Желимизаћи. Želimizaći (ZHEH-leem EE-zah-chyee)
– Turn left – Скрените лево. Skrenite lijevo! (SKREH-nee-teh LYEH-voh)
– Turn right – Скрените десно. Skrenite desno! (SKHREH-nee –te DEHS-noh)
– Straight ahead – Право напред. Pravo napred (PRA-vo Na-pred)
– here – овде. ovdje (OV-dye)
– Do you have …? (in a shop) – Имате ли … ? Imate li …?(EE-mah-teh lee …?)
– beer – пива. piva. (PEE-vah)
You should know this word, you will be often invited for some.
– Bus station – аутобуска станица. autobuska stanica. (OW-toh-boos-kah STAH-nee-tsah)
You should know this word and listen out for it to avoid situations when your driver, in their best intentions, takes you off the road and drives you to a station.
– Train station – железничка станица. željeznička stanica. (ZHEH-lyehz-neech-kah STAH-nee-tsah)
– Help! – Упомоћ! Upomoć! (oo-POH-mohtch)
– Look out! – пази! pazi! (PAH-zee)
– street – улица. ulica. (OO-lee-tsah)
– road – цеста. cesta (TSEHS-tah)
– roundabout – кружни ток. kružni tok. (CROOZH-nee tok)
– crossroads – раскрсница. raskrsnica (RAH-scrah-snee-tsah)
Serbia Border Crossings
Serbia neighbours 7 or 8 different countries depending on who you talk to: Hungary (to the north), Romania (north-east), Bulgaria (south-east), Macedonia (south), Kosovo (south), Montenegro (south-west), Bosnia & Herzegovina (west) and Croatia (north-west).
Serbia – Hungary
There are five road border crossings between Serbia & Hungary
- Horgoš (Serbia) – Röszke (Hungary) – it is The most important crossing situated on the busy north-south running A1/M5 motorway. The road connects the capitals of the two countries as well as passing through a host of major cities including Novi Sad (Serbia) and Szeged (Hungary). The crossing is renowned for its long waiting times.
Serbia – Romania
There are six road border crossings between Serbia & Romania
- Srpska Crnja (Serbia) – Jimbolia (Romania) – use this crossing if you want to travel to the north of Romania; it connects to the Romanian city of Timisoara and beyond.
- From Belgrade it is perhaps easiest to cross at Kaluđerovo (Serbia) – Naidaş (Romania), or at the newly opened most southern crossing at Đerdap (Serbia) – Porţile de Fier (Romania) if you heading toward Bucharest.
Serbia – Bulgaria
There are five road border crossings between Serbia & Bulgaria
- The main border crossing is located at Dimitrovgrad (Serbia) – Kalotina (Bulgaria) on the E-80 motorway. The crossing connects Serbia to the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, and attracts lots of trucks and summer holidaymakers, so expect long queues in the summer.
Serbia – Macedonia
There are two road border crossings between Serbia & Macedonia
- The main border crossing is positioned on the A1 highway at Preševo (Serbia) – Tabanovtse (Macedonia) and connects Kumanovo & Skopje (Macedonia) with the main north-south Serbian highway that continues through all the major cities including the capital Belgrade. It is a problem-free crossing from our experience.
Serbia – Kosovo
There are six road border crossings between Serbia & Kosovo. However, Serbia does not view these as international crossings, more as domestic ones, so there is a problem for the average backpacker. Namely, that whilst you can enter from Serbia to Kosovo, and return if you so like, you may not enter from Kosovo to Serbia unless you have a pre-existing Serbian stamp. This is because they view you as having entered Serbia illegally.
There are two ways to avoid this problem. 1) visit Serbia first or 2) when you enter Kosovo ask them nicely not to put a stamp in your passport and after visiting Kosovo head to Macedonia or Montenegro and then head to Serbia.
- Due to continuing tensions in the north of Kosovo, it is advisable not to use the two northern crossing at Jarinje (Serbia) – Leposavic (Kosovo) & Brnjak (Serbia) – Zubin Potok (Kosovo) although they are the most conveniently placed for Belgrade.
- Instead, head to the Merdare (Serbia) – Besianë (Kosovo) crossing on the E-80. It runs between the southern city of Niš (Serbia) and Pristina, the capital of Kosovo.
Serbia – Montenegro
There are five road border crossings between Serbia & Montengro
- The busiest border lies on the E763 at Gostun (Serbia) – Konatar (Montenegro) and connects the towns of Brodarevo (Serbia) & Bijelo Pilje (Montenegro). This is the obvious border crossing if travelling to / from north and central Serbia.
- The southernmost checkpoint at Dračenovac (Serbia) – Krš (Montenegro) on the E-65 is also another popular crossing and is useful if you are travelling from Novi Pazar (Serbia) into Montenegro.
Serbia – Bosnia & Herzegovina
There are eight road border crossings between Serbia & Bosnia
- To travel between the capitals: Belgrade & Sarajevo cross at Ljubovija (Serbia) – Mihaljevici (Bosnia) or at the border town of Mali Zvornik (Serbia) – Zvornik (Bosnia), which also serves as the crossing to the major Bosnian city of Tuzla Canton.
Serbia – Croatia
There are six border crossings between Serbia & Croatia
- The main crossing is located at Bajakovo (Serbia) – Batrovci (Croatia) on the only border crossing motorway E-70. It is the most popular route with truck drivers but you also expect long delays in the summer due to the amount of traffic.
map of Serbian border crossings
Written by: Jon