Best things to do in Zlatibor, Serbia’s mountain getaway

Best things to do in Zlatibor, Serbia’s mountain getaway

The alpine town of Zlatibor, Serbia is one of the country’s most popular mountain escapes, and the gateway to adventures like caving, skiing, ATV rides, mountain coasters and scenic rides in sky-high cable cars.

Located in western Serbia near the Bosnian border, this is a popular trip from Belgrade (three hour drive) and Novi Sad (3 ½ hours), ideal for those looking to ditch city life for fresh air and panoramic views.

Things to do in Zlatibor, Serbia
Zlatibor

While Zlatibor gets absolutely packed during winter when the ski hill is open, it’s a perfect year-round destination with hiking, paragliding and boat rides in the warmer months. It’s also a popular wellness destination thanks to the crisp air, and hosts health resorts along with spas and saunas at many of the holiday homes and hotels.

From waterfall walks to e-biking, here are the best things to do in Zlatibor, Serbia.

Gostilje waterfall
Gostilje waterfall

Ride the Gold Gondola in Zlatibor

To get a lay of the land, start your trip to Zlatibor (which means ‘golden pine’ in a nod to the rare trees found here) by taking a ride on the Gold Gondola, which has bragging rights as the world’s longest panoramic gondola.

The Gold Gondola in Zlatibor
The Gold Gondola in Zlatibor

The nine kilometer-long route starts in the town centre, and glides over rolling hills and sparkling Lake Ribnica up to the 1,496 metre-high Tornik ski resort. There’s one intermediate station above the lake, and rides take 25 minutes each way.

The Gold Gondola is open daily starting at 9 AM. Tickets cost 1,200 dinars for adults and 650 for children (about $12 and $7, respectively).

Lake Ribnica

The Gold Gondola in Zlatibor

See the Gostilje waterfall

One of the best things to do in Zlatibor, Serbia is heading out to the beautiful Gostilje (Gostiljskoj) waterfall.

A paved pathway leads to the 22-metre high falls which plummet over a limestone cliff, and there are a handful of viewpoints to see it from different angles.

Gostilje waterfall
Gostilje waterfall

Continuing down toward the river, guests pass nearly a dozen smaller sets of falls before arriving at a shaded bridge perched above the confluence of the Gostiljska river and Katušnica rivers.

Gostilje waterfall

It takes about 30 minutes to walk down to the bridge and back, and there’s also a restaurant and snack shack on site. Entrance is 200 rsd for adults, and 100 rsd for children age 6-14.

Gostilje waterfall

Gostilje waterfall

Explore Stopića Cave

Stopića Cave is a short drive from the waterfall, and is one of the largest caves in Serbia at 1,961 metres long.

Located on the northeast side of Zlatibor Mountain on the banks of the Pristavica river, the underground river Trnavski Potok also flows through it.

Stopića Cave
Stopića Cave

A lush, forested pathway leads to the entrance, which is 40 metres wide and 18 metres high in some spots.

A small waterfall cascades past the limestone cliffs, and guests exploring the marked, lit trails inside will find tufa pools or ‘siga tubs’, a specific hallmark of the cave formed by limestone sedimentation.

Stopića Cave

Stopića Cave

Play at the Tornik Ski Resort

This winter playground is popular with skiers, and in it’s just as fun in the summer thanks to the walking trails, bike paths and scenic chairlift rides.

There are food stalls and play areas for little ones near the base, mini golf and an adventure park, a tubing course, and thrilling rides on the mountain coaster.

Trails for riders include:

  • Ribnica route: 3.5 km. Starting from Tornik peak, follow the pass and continue through forest and fishpond paths, then head down a ski route along Stankov stream
  • Beli kamen route: 12 km. Starting from Tornik peak, follow the pass then go past Djurovica cemetery, Ribnica, over Beli kamen and Ječmiste.
  • Previja route: 5.3 km. Starting from Tornik peak, follow the pass and continue along Tokvica slope, the settlements Ribnica and Ječmiste.

Go on an e-bike ride

Speaking of cycling, a great way to tackle the trails is by renting an e-bike so you can work up as much of a sweat (or not!) as you’d like.

E-bike tours Zlatibor offers rentals and guided tours on some of the newest trails, and can cater the route to all accessibility levels.

Cycle up to the ski resort, along the shores of Lake Ribnica, through serene alpine villages and past fields of wildflowers to see another side of Zlatibor.

Wander around the Zlatibor town centre

Despite some hills, Zlatibor’s town centre is actually quite walkable with the main attractions all easily accessed on foot from the surrounding hotels and vacation homes.

While most visitors venture out to the surrounding mountains during the day, Zlatibor comes alive in the evening when everyone returns to dine at the traditional restaurants, hop on the ferris wheel, go shopping and grab a drink at an outdoor cafe.

The heart of the action is the main plaza called Kraljev Trg, which also has an impressive water fountain display complete with a light and water show at night.

Be sure to swing by the local market to pick up local handicrafts and souvenirs like wool mittens, coats, jelly and clay pots.

The bazaar in Zlatibor

Marvel at the impressive Stari Grad, Užice

One of the most jaw-dropping landmarks in the region is a 30 minute drive from Zlatibor: the hilltop fortress in the city of Užice.

Now in ruins, Stari Grad dates back to the 14th century when it was commissioned by the noble Vojinović family. The imposing stone structure is perched dramatically on a cliffside above the Đetinja river, and is a Protected Monument of Culture in Serbia.

While it’s possible to head up to the fortress and enjoy the city views, to properly appreciate its magnificence the best views are from the E-761 highway that winds past it.

Stari Grad, Užice
Stari Grad, Užice

Learn about Serbian history at Sirogojno

Another important Serbian cultural monument near Zlatibor is the Old Village, found in Sirogojno.

This open air museum holds more than 50 houses and 1500 artifacts, detailing what life was like in the Dinaric region during the 19th and 20th century.

Sirogojno village in Serbia
Sirogojno

The first buildings were transferred in 1980, and the ‘old village’ was officially founded in 1992 and is Serbia’s only open air museum. Visitors can see what homes, classrooms, dairies and cottages once looked like, and get a glimpse of daily life and farming practices.

Sirogojno village in Serbia

The village of Sirogojno is also known for housing six rescued crews of American airmen during WWII; the 47 men were rescued by members of the Zlatibor Brigade in 1944, with some staying here for up to two months.

Entrance is 200 dinar for those age 7 and up, and opening hours are from 9 AM to 7 PM (closing at 4 PM from November 1-April 1).

Sirogojno village in Serbia

Map of Zlatibor attractions

Tours to Zlatibor

To properly experience Zlatibor, the best bet is to stay for at least a couple of nights to allow time for top activities like the waterfall, cave, open air museum, gondola and a bike or ATV ride. Local operators such as the female-founded Balkanica Travel Agency can assist with coordinating your time in the area, and also operate multi-day adventures into neighbouring Bosnia and Montenegro. 

Those short on time can try and squeeze their Zlatibor visit into a day trip from Belgrade by booking one of these guided tours:

 

Where to stay in Zlatibor, Serbia

A construction boom in Zlatibor means there’s almost never a shortage of places to stay, as towering hotels (all built in a traditional style) keep popping up all around town.

Most have clean, modern rooms and amenities like spa pools, dining and ski storage: check out Hotel Zlatibor Mona which is centrally located with a full-service spa, or the luxurious Grand Hotel Tornik which has an opulent lobby and impressive pool area complete with saunas and a hammam.

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