Serbia is generally a safe place to visit. The locals are incredibly polite and helpful in case you require any assistance. If you need any help finding/reaching a place, it's best to ask a younger person for help, as they are more likely to speak English. However, you should always be aware of pickpockets, mainly in crowded tourist places and on public transportation. Street robberies, murders, or attacks are highly unusual, even in dark or remote parts of the city. Organized crime is common, but doesn't target tourists or the general population. One should always watch out for drivers, who can be very rude to pedestrians or cyclists. There is also widespread intolerance against homosexuals.
Following the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, reports of UXO's unexploded ordinances have occurred outside the major cities. Keep an eye out for markings which may note a potential UXO zone when outside the cities and always stick to well-trod paths. If you find a suspicious object resembling a bomb/mortar/landmine, DON'T touch it. Report it to the nearest police station immediately. Although most or UXO's have been cleared, it is also very unlikely that you will find any of those, even in the least visited parcels of Serbia.
In case of any medical emergencies you should dial 194 and call the Emergency Ambulance service. All foreigners have the right to receive help. The ones coming from the country Serbia has signed a special health insurance treaty can have it for free, others have to pay on the spot.
Many people come to Serbia to primarily have a medical procedure done and visit the country along the way. They become a part of the medical tourism. It is well developed business. There are even medical tourism agencies that offer complete services from transfers, booking accommodation to organizing city tours.
Since many Serbs feel nationally frustrated by the recent historical events in the Balkans, it is best to avoid discussion of the 1990s Yugoslavian Wars, the NATO bombing of Serbia. If someone brings the topic up, try to avoid giving any strong opinions until you can assess your acquaintance's views. Do not mention support for Kosovo independence. The US's vocal support of Kosovar independence, in addition to the 1999 air strikes caused some ill-will directed towards the West, particularly towards the US though unlikely on a personal level. However if you share the views of most Serbs some may be willing to discuss the subject and many will be happy speaking to a Westerner who shares their views.
On the other hand, talking about Socialist Yugoslavia and Tito will not raise as many eyebrows; as most will not hesitate in talking about it and some may even approach it with a strong degree of affection towards that more stable and peaceful era. But it is possible to approach strong anti-communist and nationalist attitude, especially among young people and some rural aereas, where old communist/nationalist divide from WWII is considered still alive.Remember, Serbia does not recognize the independence of Kosovo but maintains relations with Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Serbia is a predominantly Christian Orthodox country, though secular, it is extremely rude to insult or mock some of its traditions, and ensure that you do not speak badly of the Christian religion.Similar to other ex-Yugoslavia countries, Serbs do not like their country to be described as part of "Eastern Europe". Another common misconception is that Serbia was part of the Soviet Bloc in fact, it was part of Yugoslavia that notoriously split with the Eastern bloc back in 1948. While in other nations of Eastern Europe Russia remains unpopular due to its influence over those nations during the Cold War, in Serbia Russians were always seen as friendly brotherly people. People have no problems talking about the communist period or Tito and often become even nostalgic over it.
When toasting in Serbia, as in the most of European countries, make sure you make eye contact. You may be invited to drink gallons but are expected to be able to hold your drink. Being obviously drunk is a sign of bad taste, lack of character, and worse. Be careful, "rakija", a plum spirit usually about 53% alcohol content, is stronger than expected, and will make you drunk fast! It is always nice to toast in your companion's native tongue. Cheers is živeli in Serbian, egészségedre in Hungarian. Don't point with your finger at someone. This is considered rude.
Socially, displays of affection among the younger generation are the same as Western European standards, but the older generation over 65 still are quite conservative.
The word molim please is key to polite conversation in Serbian. It basically means please, but also you're welcome, an appropriate response when somebody thanks you and says hvala. It also means I beg your pardon?. Just saying Šta? What? can sound rude. It may be said that the use of the word molim is similar to the use of bitte in German.
Like most European languages, has the formal and informal way of saying you Vi and ti. Use the formal Vi version when addressing older people. People are normally not addressed or referred to by their first names, unless among friends or relatives.
Parts of Russia#Respect also apply here in particular Home Etiquette and Dining Etiquette.
For ease of reading the titles, we present comparative Serbian Cyrillic alphabet and the Latin translation in brackets:
А аAa, Б бBb, В вVv, Г гGg, Д дDd, Е еEe, Ж жŽž, З зZz,И иIi, К кKk, Л лLl, М мMm, Н нNn, О оOo, П пPp, Р рRr,С сSs, Т тTt, У уUu, Ф фFf, Х хHh, Ц цCc, Ч чČč, or ch, Ш шŠš, or sh, and Ј јj or Y, and Љ љLj lj, Њ њNj nj, Ћ Ćć or ch-soft, Ђ ђĐđ, Џ џDŽ dž, or dz,-example:БеоградBeograd, Врњачка бањаVrnjačka banja, СлободанSlobodan, МихаилоMihailo, ЦркваCrkva, УлицаUlica,ПијацаPijaca,ТргTrg,КафанаKafana, ГрадGrad,ЦентарCentar...
Serbian greetings are the following:
Dobrodošao!Serbian Cyrillic:Добродошао! = Welcome!
Kako se zoveš?Serbian Cyrillic:Како се зовеш?=What's your name?
Moje ime je Mihailo!Serbian Cyrillic:Моје име је Михаило=My name is MihailoMichael
Dobro jutroSerbian Cyrillic: Добро јутро = Good morning
Dobar danSerbian Cyrillic: Добар дан = "Good day", indeed to be used most of the day
Dobro veče Serbian Cyrillic: Добро вече= Good evening
Laku noć Serbian Cyrillic: Лаку ноћ= Good night only when going to sleep, otherwise Dobro veče
DoviđenjaSerbian Cyrillic: Довиђења = Goodbye
Zdravo Serbian Cyrillic: Здраво= Hi, the most common informal greeting, used both when coming and leaving.
Hvala!Serbian Cyrillic:Хвала!= Тhanks!
Vidimo se, kasnije!Serbian Cyrillic:Видимо се, касније!=See you, later!
Ćao Serbian Cyrillic: Ћао= Similar to "Zdravo", even more informal pronounced the same as in Italian, but with different accent. Used more commonly when leaving.
Kako si?: Dobro, a ti!?Serbian Cyrillic:Како си?: Добро, а ти!= How are you ?: Good, and you!?
Živeli!Serbian Cyrillic:Живели!= Cheers!
Izvinite!Serbian Cyrillic:Извините!= Excuse me!
Srećan put! Serbian Cyrillic:Срећан пут!=Have a nice trip!
Volim te! Serbian Cyrillic:Волим те!=I love you!
Sviđaš mi se!Serbian Cyrillic:Свиђаш ми се!= I like you!
When you are invited into a Serbian home, make sure to bring them a gift if you are coming for the first time. Anything is fine from flowers to chocolate or alcoholic drinks and indeed something representative from your country. If you are bringing flowers, make sure you bring an odd number of them, as an even number is usually brought to funerals. When inside the house, don't ask for anything for they will surely offer it. If you are thirsty it is polite to ask for a glass of water. The host probably forgot to offer you a drink and will do so.
The official Serbian language is similar to Croatian and Bosnian. Before the era of nationalist linguistic policies and the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, all of those dialects were all known as Serbo-Croatian. Today, people in the former Yugoslavia no longer use this general term for what remains as a common language.
If you speak Russian, it can prove to be occasionally helpful for you, as the two languages have some similarities. This also includes all other Slavic languages, especially Bulgarian and Macedonian.
English is commonly spoken throughout Serbia and the younger people tend to have excellent command. They are also quite willing to practice it with foreigners. Also, you can try with young people talking German, French, Russian, Spanish or Italian which are taught in Serbian schools.
In Vojvodina, most people speak Serbian, but other languages are also used. In some towns near the Hungarian border, you are more likely to hear Hungarian. There are many smaller minorities, like the Slovaks, the Romanians, Romani people and the Russians, who often speak their native languages.