Zlatibor Mountain is among the most popular tourist destinations in Serbia and there’s a reason for that. Still, there are visitors who don’t leave the center of this lavish mountain while on vacation, not aware of all the beauties and possibilities the whole area has to offer. In this post you will thus find everything you need to know about the mountain attractions that actually make Zlatibor so special.
FROM BELGRADE: 230 kilometers
FROM NIS: 275 kilometers
I didn’t stop by the center of the mountain for years. Surrounding villages and velvet-like hills were always more appealing, given the fact that I come from Belgrade, trying to escape all those buildings and traffic. And they say that the Zlatibor center became “so very urban” over the years.
ZLATIBOR The name of the mountain is most likely related to the cone of the rare pine tree, the species protected by the state, which gives the tree a golden-like shade. (“Zlato” in Serbian means gold, while “bor” is a pine tree, hence – Zlatibor, the golden pine tree.) The massive stretches for about 1,000 square meters and due to its position, the area was always politically important. For instance, there was once the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman border here.
Zlatibor is famous for various wind currents circling its hills, fresh air, wide pastures, herbs, ski slopes, but also for gastronomy specialties like “prshuta”. Tourism has officially started in August 1893, 125 years ago, when Serbian king Aleksandar Obrenovic stayed here. Ever since then, the local spring bears the name of the King’s Water and resorts started to emerge in surrounding villages. The mountain is still visited by numerous tourists from all over the world, in winter and summer alike.
So, the time has come for me to visit the center. True – so many cars around, you have to watch out when crossing the street next to the Traditional Market. But still, when a tourist comes here, he actually expects the center to have a bank, an exchange office, shopping facilities, restaurants. And next to all that, one can still take long walks or go for a visit to the Adventure Park and the Dino Park.
If you don’t know where to find dinosaurs as big as they once were, this is the place! Among the trees you will glance at the long-necked-one while you pass by other dinosaurs – the species that once inhabited the Earth. One of them seems like heading to the pond… Children will find this more than interesting, because there are lots of activities for them in the park – zip line, 6D cinema, horse riding, kids quads, playground, mini tubing etc. Entrance fee for kids under three is free, while tickets for kids are 300 RSD (2.5 Euros), for adults 600 (5 Euros). There are also various discounts such as – two parents with a kid will pay around 9 Euros.
For those of you who like to walk, there is the so-called Trail of Health that goes for few kilometers from the center up the hill. At the very top you will be welcomed by the monument dedicated to wounded Partisans who were killed during the WWII. There are sunbeds all around the hill if you enjoy mountain sunbathing. And the view, oh! Just take a look at the following photo, no additional explanation needed, right!
If you are into long walks and viewpoints, Zlatibor will be just perfect. Trails usually go through lovely meadows and forests and you can easily find one to match your fitness level. You shouldn’t miss Tornik where the ski slopes are. It is the highest point of Zlatibor and it’s located about 9 km from the tourist center. It’s full of activities in winter and summer alike. For bicycle riders who love mountain tracks this will be perfect. In addition, all the equipment can be rented here. You can take your kids to a small zip line, tubing etc. or just to enjoy the panoramic view from the cable car (the fee is 500 RSD or 4 Euros per adult).
While sliding up the Tornik peak, I was worried about my tiny summer shoes that could fall off my feet any time. (Oh, my, who would find them down there!) Just as I was taking the cable car up, there was some mountain biking competition and bicycles were rushing beneath like crazy. My choice was to climb up to the viewpoint at 1,496 meters where the view was just stunning. What a surreal impression – I could see all the mountain peaks aligned in the distance, disappearing in the mist! Try not to rush it, enjoy the view, save the sight somewhere in the back of your head in order to pull it out every time the city rush gets to you afterwards. And make some more room in that head of yours, since we are just about to go around the picturesque Zlatibor villages…
SIROGOJNO This open-air museum is located 26 km from the tourist center. It consists of traditional cottages that were used in the area and were gathered here to be displayed. The museum has two households with all the facilities in the original order. All the cottages date back to the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. There were up to 50 family members living in one household at the time. They would eat, cook, wash, welcome guests and spend time in the “main building”, while each son would also have a house where he would sleep with his wife and children. The household also had specific separated cottages for storing milk, corn, for baking bread, housing cattle or was used as a workshop.
The museum in open all year round, 9 to 16 in winter and 9 to 19 during summer. Entrance fee for adults is 150 RSD (1.2 Euros), family ticket is 400 (3.3 Euros) and there are also discounts for organized visits.
The Old Village is easy to find since it’s not far from the settlement center and it’s dominated by the church. There are few stalls next to the entrance with wool products, sweaters and socks, knitted in traditional patterns and colors. The museum is right on the other side of the church.
While I stroll among these old cottages and peek inside, I notice that there is a woman in the “main building”. “Oh, do come in, please”, she says: “Look, this is how the old house was like. All the family members gathered around the fire. They all worked in fields, there were so many children back then…” It was like I entered another century as I could imagine how hosts were welcoming guests when celebrating Serbian slava or how they were, right there by the fire, sifting flour and making bread.
Sirogojno seemed like the perfect place for a break. Going around another part of the museum where there were few more traditional cottages but redecorated inside for souvenir shop purposes or transformed into facilities for rent, I also stumbled upon the charming rustic restaurant. The menu was full of traditional dishes – from chvarci to proja. Among others – the traditional nettle pie, and the homemade sour milk. How can one resist!
GOSTILJE About 25 km from the Zlatibor center there lies the Gostilje waterfall and the Tourist Association of Gostilje (TAG). Water tumbles here from 20 meters down, forming the big waterfall and numerous smaller cascades and slopes until it flows into the Katushnica river in the valley. Next to the entrance there is a swimming pool for visitors who like to escape the summer heat surrounded by forest and greenery. The fee is 200 dinars (1.6 Euros). Further down the complex trail, there lies the small park for kids. Few steps down and there is the path next to the tumbling water that goes all the way to the river.
The Gostilje complex is open all year round and one can admire greenery and fast slopes in the summer or the view of the frozen streams in the winter. Entrance fee is 150 dinars for adults (1.2 Euros) and 100 for kids (0.9 Euros).
I was so impatient to come here again. Waterfalls and viewpoints leave me speechless by default – and luckily, there are lots of those in Serbia – but I was always under the impression that Gostilje had some traditional magic embedded into it. Well, no wonder I felt that way since locals tend to tell tales how people once believed that nature fairies lived here. Those creatures that were once important part of the traditional culture, were beautiful, but powerful and arrogant at the same time, often tricking people into their traps.
“Women should look after their husbands when coming here, because they can be easily bewitched by fairies”, says the TAG man. “What about women, can something happen to them – to become fairies them selves maybe?”, I asked naively. “Oh well, if that happens, I’ll quit my job instantly!”, says the man smiling.
When you walk by water slopes here, it’s easy to understand why people were once regarding the waterfall as home to nature fairies. Just look at those elegant thin streams flowing down from one level to the next, reflecting the sun light and covering small stone gaps. It’s not hard to picture a pretty girl with hypnotizing smile and long hair, peeking from inside one of those holes, alluring you to come in.
This is another place to take your time. Go all the way down to the river, take a break if you need to, listen to splashes. And do try to resist a fairy if she happens to emerge before you.
STOPICA CAVE This place is 19 km away from the tourist center and it lies beneath the Zlatibor-Sirogojno road. The cave got its name after the settlement of Stopici and the first exploration here were undertaken by Jovan Cvijic, the father of speleological research in Serbia. This is the river cave 1,691 meters long with the Trnavski stream flowing through it. The cave is the most recognizable for its limestone tubs with curving edges, filled with water that overflows to the lower tubs.
It’s possible to go around the cave accompanied by the local guide throughout the year. The fee is 250 dinars (2 Euros) and the parking 70 (0.6 Euros).
This place was such a surprise. When I was here 10 or so years ago, the cave was yet to be adapted for visitors. The old Stopic himself took of the chain from the gate and walked me in with a small hand lamp. Now there is a wide pathway for visitors with so much light that you can admire the cave’s ceiling and that the limestone tubs seem like they are changing colors according to different beams of light coming from the side. I just whispered that I had no idea that the ceiling was so high. When we got to the waterfall, my jaw dropped. In the middle of this “hole in the ground”, there was water tumbling down, breaking out of the rock, roaring and echoing amidst the cave walls!
My ride for the day was from the tourist center over the Rudine village (this is where you will see those famous Zlatibor hills that seem like being covered in green velvet), by the Stopica Cave, Sirogojno and Gostilje, to the village of Ljubis and the main road again. Don’t think that the latter has nothing to offer because there is the natural swimming pool that are numerous in the area. People make a small dam on the spring, collecting water into a natural swimming pool (without chlorine and ceramic tiles). They put sunbeds around and open a traditional rustic restaurant. That is the old way, they say, that the children from surrounding villages used to bath in small springs in the summer.
If you like fish, bear in mind that there is a fish pond in Ljubis and a restaurant accordingly with the local trout. And above, on the top of the hill – another thing younger population would probably be excited about: the longest zip line in Serbia! It’s 550 meters long and 130 high. You will be greeted by Uros and Sanja with a smile, encouraging you to take a plunge, saying that the youngest zip liner here was a four-year-old girl. The oldest one was the 75-year-old grandpa who was present at the time I got to the zip line. “How was it? Oh, don’t ask… Good, good”, he shouts. The ride costs 1,200 dinars or 10 Euros. The first anxiety quickly disappears when the adrenaline rushes in with such a beautiful view!
CHAJETINA The administrative center of the Zlatibor area is the small Chajetina town. According to the 2011 official data, there are about 3,300 inhabitants here. The town’s name was first mentioned in 1815. Most of the inhabitants are into agriculture and tourism. The municipality is located in the southwestern part of Serbia.
Nice, small town next to the main road. The first thing you see is the park with the street curving down by the church. The municipality building is decorated with flowers. In the Library building, they say, there is a small museum. Another coffee break for me, after I visited villages of Tripkova and Sljivovica. And here is what I saw there.
Tripkova is located about 15 km from the center of Zlatibor. As you drive up the road, it seems like you will end up in some kind of wilderness, but after few kilometers the church will appear on the right and the school on the left. And right next to it – the Velimir Tosanic’s gallery. This stained-glass artist has discovered his art in 1988 in Germany, he says. He learned the craft there and organized his first exhibition in Serbia in 1993. Who would say that on the top of some Zlatibor hill there lives the man who did vast glass works for buildings in Russia, among others the ceiling of the St. Petersburg hotel under which the famous meeting of George Bush and Vladimir Putin took place in 2003! It also happened that Tosanic did doors and windows on the former Serbian president residency. “Just as I was forbidden to take pictures of my work in the building that was Putin’s villa in Russia as I was told, I also wasn’t allowed to photograph my work here”, he says. Velimir’s daughter Ana inherited the talent so she does pots and plates, ashtrays, jewelry, and you won’t be able to find Tosanics’ work anywhere else but here – in Tripkova village.
Driving few more kilometers towards the Tara Mountain, right next to the main road, there lies another interesting gallery. You may know the huge wooden statue of a local man, situated in the center of Zlatibor next to the lake, under the name of the Fast Train of Zlatibor. That is Miladin Lekic’s work who carved it after the old local photo. Lekic began with his art in 2001, mainly carving the oak and walnut tree. I asked him if he could imagine when he did the huge statue by the lake, that it would somewhat become the symbol of Zlatibor and that everybody would take pictures by his statue someday, Lekic just smiled modestly. Never the less, he now has his own gallery in Sljivovica village, welcoming organized tours and travelers, carving animals, peasants, furniture, faces of saints. This is the place to get an authentic souvenir – you can make an order for a larger piece or just purchase some 30 cm sculpture for about 30 Euros.
There is one more thing to do here if you like visiting monasteries and churches. The only problem for me was that the macadam road towards the Uvac and Dubrava monastery was not that good after such unstable weather. But I could at least get to the Jablanica traditional church. The scenery by the road towards the village of Jablanica (some 13 km from Tornik) was surreal because the road curved down while I gazed at surrounding hills. The church was built in 1838 in a hidden place and it’s well known for the preserved sobrashice, cottages like terraces built by locals used as gathering places during holidays.
(The scenery was even more surreal when I was driving back up, when the sky became dark shooting lightnings out of its clouds and pouring like crazy!)
Next destination – Tara, Drina and Bajina Basta
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