Exploring the rivers and lakes of Serbia

We are onto our sixth article in our zero-emission tourism series, and this time around it is all about the beautiful rivers and lakes of Serbia and the exciting activities that you can do on or near them.

As you know, Serbia is a landlocked country but what it lacks in beautiful coastline, it more than makes up in many of its rivers and lakes. Whether you are just an avid sunbather, or a swimmer, or love rafting, or cannot spend a weekend away from your fishing gear, or enjoy in water sports, or a boating enthusiast, we are sure that there is a river or a lake in Serbia that could fully cater to your needs and hobbies.

The three rivers – the Danube, the Sava, and the Tisa – are completely navigable, from their entry point to Serbia all the way to their exit point. The rivers that are partially navigable are the Velika Morava and Tamis.

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Serbia is also the country that has some of the best rafting rivers in Europe, and if you are an adrenaline junkie, you can take your pick. The Tara, the Lim, the Drina, the Ibar or several other smaller rivers would definitely satisfy your appetite for adventure. So, let’s start with that…

1, Rafting and canoyingIf wild rivers, getting soaking wet, and not knowing in which direction is the next swing of your oar going to take you is your thing, than by all means experience rafting on the river Tara or the river Lim.

Both of these rivers are located in the areas of outstanding natural beauty with the Tara also being an integral part of the eponymous nature’s park. It is also considered one of the most beautiful and fastest rivers in Serbia. A total of 100km of this river is suitable for rafting. In summer months, the temperatures here can reach 30 degrees Celsius, but nights are always fresh. As for the water temperature, it rarely exceeds 12 degrees Celsius, even in summer. The perfect months for rafting are from April to June because the water level is high enough which just adds to the sense of adventure and raises your adrenaline even more. In summer months, i.e. from July to September, the water level is lower and is more suitable for those rafters who are not keen on too much excitement. The Tara rafting tours are always done with a professional skipper and complete equipment provided.  They can last from one to three days, and you can combine them with jeep safaris, exploring the canyons, or hiking.

The rafting on the Lim River is for the real daredevils. The Lim is known as one of the cleanest and greenest rivers in Europe, surrounded by the stunning nature. The rapids here are not for the fainthearted, as they are often criss-crossed with huge rocks. The rafting takes place along the 130km-long-stretch.

Again, if you are not a person who can handle that much excitement and danger, the Lim offers something a little bit more peaceful but equally as enjoyable. At the end of every May or beginning of June (depending on the water level), there is the Lim Regatta which takes place in two countries – Serbia and Montenegro. The regatta lasts for three days. It starts in Plav and Berane in Montenegro and ends in Bijelo Polje and Prijepolje in Serbia.

2. Kayaking on the UvacThe Uvac River has found its place in virtually every video clip promoting Serbia as a tourist destination. You have probably seen it many times without even knowing that it was the Uvac. This beautiful, emerald-green, meandering river, surrounded by fantastic canyons, is located near the town of Nova Varos and the mountains of Zlatar and Zlatibor.

Back at the time of the Ottoman Empire, the Uvac was known as the border between Serbia and Turkey, while the river also played a historically important role in the First Balkan War. Today, the Uvac and the area around it are considered among the top three most beautiful places in Serbia. This is also a protected nature’s reserve and known as the largest natural habitat of the griffon vulture in the whole Balkan area. The bird is not only the symbol of the Uvac River Canyon, but is also depicted on the Serbian national flag. Its wing span is an incredible 2.8 metres, and due to its beauty and power, it was often ascribed mythical features.

The kayaking here is of recreational character, meaning you don’t need any special knowledge or training to do it as you will be accompanied by trained professionals. If the weather is right, the guides will take you into the many caves on the Uvac River and adjoining lakes. Half way down the route, you will anchor your kayaks on the river shore and walk up to the Molitva viewpoint from which you can clearly see the entire are in all its splendour. Also, the equipment (the kayak, the ores, and the vest) will be provided for you.

The Uvac area is also suitable for cycling, hiking and fishing, if kayaking is not really one of your preferred activities.

3. The floating islands of the Semetes LakeYou’ve heard of the Kopaonik, one of the most popular and most visited mountains in Serbia. What you probably did not know is that the Kopaonik hides one of the most special and unusual gems of nature – the Semetes Lake. It is located on the west side of the mountain, near the village of Semes, and it measures 80 metres in width. The geologists claim that, millions of years ago, this was the site of a huge glacier.  

What is so special about the Semetes Lake, you ask? The lake is full of floating islands that you can actually get on, and they are one of the rarest natural phenomena in Serbia.  The legend says that fairies used to assemble here to watch a mysterious aquatic monster emerging. The villagers refused to go out of their houses at night, and had their windows tight shut in fear of the monster which emitted very odd sounds.

Well, we can’t guarantee you’ll see a fairy or the monster when you visit the lake, but what we can guarantee is that you will be warmly welcomed by the friendly locals who are going to offer you delicacies of this area. On 2nd August every year, the locals celebrate here a folklore event called Ilinski Dani during which there are many old, traditional contests like river jumps, rope pulling and fife playing.

4. The Belgrade RegattaWe haven’t forgotten about all of you urban dwellers who can’t bear to part with city hustle and bustle for very long. The Belgrade Regatta might be just your cup of tea because you won’t have to leave Belgrade and yet you will be able enjoy the beauty of Belgrade rivers.

The Regatta takes place on 10th August and it lasts for three hours. You will be sailing along on a 6.5km-stretch on the Sava River, between Makis and Ada Ciganlija. You don’t need to be a seasoned sailor to participate in the regatta, or own your own boat for that matter. There will be boats to rent, as provided by the regatta’s organizers. What you would need to do is to register your vessel beforehand and enjoy in this fun, relaxed event. If you are experienced on water, you can participate in head-to-head raft race.

Along with the regatta, there will be a beach volleyball tournament, while the merriest (not the best, but the merriest) crew will be given a trophy at the end of the regatta.


Photo credits: Serbia.com, Rafting Centar Tara, PanaComp.net, WildSerbia.com, Wikipedia

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One Reply to “Exploring the rivers and lakes of Serbia”

  1. Sanja Nikolic says:

    In Novi Sad, Serbia you have also on river Danube canoeing


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