Flying to Serbia
Coming to Serbia? Perhaps for the Exit Festival? The easiest way to get to Serbia from any distance away is of course to fly. So you how do you fly cheap to Serbia? The good news is that there are finally low-cost flights to Serbia!!
So how to fly to Serbia cheap?
The answer used to be: Fly to Budapest! The low-cost carriers did not operate to Belgrade until Summer 2010, when Wizz Air finally began a 2-3 times weekly service to London Luton, and kind of finally put Serbia on the low-cost map. So if you are wanting to fly from Britain, Wizz Air is your first and best bet, though I am pretty sure you would have to buy tickets VERY early on to get any of the real low cost ones around the time of EXIT. If you manage to get tickets, then read below on how to get from Belgrade to Novi Sad once you land.
The other alternative used to be, and probably will still be for many, to use one of the several very cheap low-cost carriers such as EasyJet or WizzAir to fly to Budapest from Luton or other European destinations. Budapest is a major low-cost destination and is just a few hours’ drive from Novi Sad and Belgrade.
Once you get to Budapest, of course you need to get to Belgrade, or Novi Sad if you are going to the Exit Festival. The best way is by airport minibus, but you may also be willing to take a train. There are NO flights from Budapest to Belgrade, bizarrely, and never have been as far as I know. They are probably just too close for an international flight.
Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport (its newer name – it is still known to many as Surčin airport, after the nearby Belgrade suburb) serves most major European destinations, as well as a couple of Near- and Middle-East and Russian cities, and is used by some 20 carriers, including British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, Swiss Air and Alitalia. If you are coming from further afield, though, you will have to change at one of the major European hubs. For the London-Belgrade route, for example, you are not left with much choice – it is either British Airways, or JAT.
Taking a bike by plane
Skip this if you’re not a biker! All I can say is that I must admit I have never tried to put a bike on a plane, but as I understand it a bike CAN be taken on board as baggage but the exact conditions depend on the carrier and you need to phone them and ask first. Most do have some kind of provision for “sports equipment”, but no doubt it will cost you.
One of the problems people meet with is also how to transport the bike on arrival. In Serbia, a well-packed bike should be quite alright to take by taxi, though they may charge you a couple of Euros extra, and a larger vehicle might be needed. Buses are a little more hazy – there is no rule as such, it is all a case of soft-talking the driver, but most will accommodate your pride and joy, again for the price of perhaps some additional baggage (1 or 2 EUR), or of a beer, depending on what kind of “agreement” you reach with the driver! Again, the better it is wrapped, the more chance of getting it on board, and the less chance of it getting damaged of course. However, it has been known for drivers to outright refuse to take a bike, especially if the bus is full, so be prepared to just give up and get another bus if you are on one of the main routes.
Getting into Belgrade from the airport
Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport was recently renovated and looks a lot like every other modern European airport these days. Which is just why you won’t particularly want to spend much time there. Oddly enough, there are NO direct connections to Novi Sad from Belgrade airport. However, around the time of the EXIT festival there are bound to be plenty of enterprising taxi and minibus drivers offering their services – find a decent-looking vehicle, a company that looks reputable, negotiate up-front and if the price is alright, well why not, otherwise you will want to head into Belgrade.
The airport is around 15km away from the centre of Belgrade and your options are either to take a taxi, the JAT bus, or a minibus. The JAT bus runs on the hour and costs just a few EURO, dropping you off at a couple of points in town. The E7 minibus line may also be running – these are also quite cheap, as about them at the Information desk.
You might just find it easier to get a taxi, in which case just be a bit careful. Most of them are reputable, but there are a few hawks who hang around the terminal and who will charge you 20-30 EUR or more. The going rate is 10 EUR max (it was until recently anyway, certainly not 30) and you should grab one that has just dropped someone off, i.e. that looks like it is going back to town anyway so will welcome the return fare. Or make sure it has the roof-sign of one of the reputable companies like Pink Taxi, Lux Taxi, BeoTaxi. If in doubt about transport into town, find the tourist information desk in the Arrivals Hall.
If you are headed to EXIT, you will want to get dropped off at the main Belgrade bus station, where there are loads of services to Novi Sad. See the Bus or train from Belgrade section.
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