Serbia by car: what should I know?

Serbia was the first country we visited in the Balkans. I have to admit that I was a bit worried about travelling by car in Serbia. If you are planning to go there by car, this article will be perfect for you. I will tell you how driving looks like in Serbia, what are parking rules in Novi Sad and Belgrade and if there is a chance to sleep in the car in this country.

Mandatory documents

If you want to enter Serbia by car, you will need:

identity document. As Polish citizen you can take your identity card or passport

driving license. Polish driving license is accepted in Serbia so it’s not necessary to have international driving license

registration document of the car

insurance. Polish OC insurance is accepted in Serbia so before travelling you don’t need to issue the green card insurance. Driver of any car registered and insured in EU country doesn’t need a green card insurance in order to enter Serbia

Car equipment

Obligatory equipment

Equipment that you need to have:

a warning triangle (2 if a car has a trailer)

first-aid kit and rubber gloves

high-visibility jacket

set of spare bulbs

a tow rope (at least 3 m)

In addition, if you are travelling to Serbia in winter (1st of November – 1st of April)

– winter tyres (tread min. 4 mm)

– tyre chains in the trunk of the car

Recommended equipment

Recommended equipment contains:

fire extinguisher

Lights

Driving with passing beam during the daylight is obligatory for the whole year.

Roads and fees

Motorways are paid in Serbia. You pay for it at the exit from the motorway so the fee is based on the specific distance you drove. You can pay in dinars or euro. I recommend you keep some dinars for that because paying in euro is always a bit more. We paid 3 euro for the motorway from the border crossing in Horgoš to Novi Sad.

Road quality

Everyone warned us about the road quality in the Balkans and Serbia as well. How is it in reality? The section of paid motorway we used to get to Novi Sad scared us a bit. There were holes everywhere. The motorway looked like a bad quality suburban road.

In other places where we avoided using motorways, it wasn’t better. Every few kilometers there were road constructions and we had to use detours. The detours were often just dirt roads where it was hard for two cars to pass next to each other. In other situations, our GPS led us to non-existent roads or ones that were still under construction. As a result, the way from Belgrade to the border in Merdare took us 10 hours instead of 4… It was really hard to drive on Serbian roads.

Speed limits

Speed limits for cars are as follows:

– near schools 30km/h

– built-up area 50km/h

– outside the built-up area 80km/h

– expressways 100km/h

– motorways 120km/h

Parking

Car parks in big cities are divided into zones. The price of the parking and the time we can use it for depends on the zone. In Belgrade the zone 1, red, allows to park the car for one hour, zone 2, yellow, for 2 hours and you can leave the car for maximum of 3 hours in zone 3 which is the green zone.

Parking fees

Parking in Belgrade is paid on working days and on Saturdays from 7 am to 2 pm. On Sunday it’s free of charge. You pay for the parking by sending a text message with registration number of your car to the number provided on special signs next to each parking zone.

Personally we found it difficult to do because we hadn’t bought Serbian card for the phone. We had to pay for the parking in Novi Sad and we were looking for an alternative way to do it. Finally, a woman from a bakery helped us. It turned out that we could buy parking scratch cards in a kiosk. You scratch the time when you parked the car on the parking and leave the card in a visible spot behind the windshield.

Scratch cards to pay for the parking

Sleeping in the car and the registration requirement

Before travelling to Serbia we were worried if it would be possible to sleep there in the car since there is a registration requirement for tourists. I had asked on several travelling groups how does it look like and most of the people said that no one really checks that. The prices for accommodation in Serbia turned out to be good so in Novi Sad we stayed in a rented flat and in Belgrade in a hostel. In the first place, no one registered us, in the second one it’s hard to say. Maybe the owner did it and he didn’t tell us. Anyway, at the border no one checked if we were registered or not.

Fuel prices

Fuels prices in Serbia were one of the highest ones during our trip to the Balkans. I think only in Croatia it was more expensive. In August 2018 fuel price was as follows (the rate I used 1 euro = 118.3 euro):

Diesel – 160-165 dinars (1.35-1.39 euro)
Gasoline 95 – 154 dinars (1.3 euro)
Gasoline 98 – 163 dinars (1.38 euro)
Gas – 79 dinars (0.67 euro)

Safety on the road

We had our first encounter with Balkan driving in Serbia. My first impression was that driving there is just crazy. Going by car through a city like Belgrade requires a lot of patience. While we were passing through a two-lane roundabout, I was sitting on the passenger seat with my eyes closed. I’m glad I didn’t have to drive because I would have ended up with a heart attack.

Nobody cares about road traffic rules, nobody cares who has the right of way, everyone is just driving and if it’s needed they just beep and keep going. No one follows their lane on a roundabout like this and sometimes instead of two cars next to each other (as it should be on two-lane roundabout), there were three. Add to that a passing tram and you have a real challenge for the drivers.

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