Serbia

5 Best Things to Do in Nis, Serbia in One Day

(Last Updated On: 02/10/2022)

Nis, Serbia isn’t among the most beautiful places to visit in the Balkans. In fact, when you look around the center just after arriving you might be slightly disappointed at its randomness. But the city actually isn’t as bad as it seems at first and there are a few really cool things to do in Nis that will help you greatly enjoy the place.

things to do in nis serbia

I’ve been twice to Nis. The first time was kind of a necessity since I flew out of there after one of my trips to the Balkans and that’s how I treated the city, a mandatory stop on my trip that I didn’t research properly (and regretted this fact greatly shortly after).

That’s why I purposefully went to visit Nis for the second time recently. I did a small detour when traveling between Skopje (North Macedonia) and Sofia (Bulgaria) to stop for one day in Nis and finally see it properly. Turned out it was a great decision and I really enjoyed the city and all the Nis attractions.

If you happen to visit Nis too during your Balkan trip I put together this small guide with the essential things to do in Nis. I hope you will find it useful and will enjoy the city just like I eventually did.

things to do in nis serbia

Where is Nis, Serbia

With some 260.000 inhabitants, Nis is the third largest city in Serbia, located in the southeast part of the country, not far from the borders of Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Kosovo. Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is located 240 km north of Nis; Sofia (the capital of Bulgaria) is 160 km east, and Skopje (the capital of North Macedonia) is 200 km south.

things to do in nis serbia

Why visit Nis

With the international airport serving low-cost flights, Nis is often the entry point for travelers visiting Serbia. If you decide to arrive here by plane, it’s worth spending at least one day in Nis, getting to know its attractions, and feeling its vibrant atmosphere.

Nis is actually one of the oldest places in the area, the birthplace of Constantine the Great and that already is a good indication of its importance. Over the centuries Nis often played a significant role in the history of the region and today you can find numerous remnants of those times scratted all over the city.

But the city is also a great place to discover and enjoy the unique Balkan vibe and experience off-the-path Balkans since you don’t see as many tourists in Nis as in more popular destinations in the region.

things to do in nis serbia

How to get to Nis

Nis is actually pretty easy to get to and if you decide to visit Nis, you shouldn’t have any problems with finding the connections there.

The international airport offers flights to numerous destinations in Europe, operated by Ryanair, Wizzair, and Air Serbia. There are also numerous bus connections to Nis from all over Serbia as well as North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and further Greece, and Turkey. Nis has also a railway station but it only serves a few connections to Belgrade and is located a bit away from the center so while I love trains, I can’t really recommend using them when getting to Nis.

things to do in nis serbia

Where to stay in Nis

Since Nis is a large city, there are also plenty of accommodation options to choose from. I recommend staying in the center, somewhere near King Milan Square. This way you will be near many attractions and with easy access to public transport that will take you to those located a bit further away.

Here is the recommended Nis accommodation

things to do in nis serbia

How to get around Nis

While many of Nis attractions, as well as the bus station, are located in the center of the city and can be easily reached by walking, some of the interesting places in Nis are a bit further away. You can take a taxi to reach them (they are affordable but make sure the driver runs the taximeter, just in case) but you can also easily get around by bus.

There are numerous bus lines covering the city, the fare (when I visited the city in June 2022) was 80 dinars and you pay directly on the bus to the person who sells the tickets inside. When I was planning my Nis sightseeing, I checked Google Maps and wrote down the numbers of bus lines that would be useful (to take me to the Skull Tower or Bubanj hill) – I recommend doing the same before your trip.

things to do in nis serbia

Things to do in Nis, Serbia

And finally, here are the best things to do in Nis, Serbia.

Explore the center

The center of Nis is a bit chaotic and seems pretty random but once you start exploring the area you will easily find some real gems here. Some of the buildings are really beautiful but since they often are next to the random ones they get lost in the surrounding.

The center of the city is King Milan Square, located right next to the river with the Monument to the Liberators of Niš right in the middle. But the place to fully enjoy and soak the atmosphere of Nis is so-called Tinkers alley (Kopitareva Street) – the urban quarter from the early 18th century that once was the center of tinkers and craftsmen but now is the main hotspot in the city for cafes, bars, and restaurants (and is literally packed with them).

If you would like to learn more about Nis and its long history you should visit National Museum in Niš and especially its archeological hall.

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

Discover the fortress

Across the Nišava river from the central square, you will find Nis Fortress. It dates back to the early 18th century and was built by Ottoman Turks (it is in fact one of the best creations of that kind in the Balkans). However the current fortress was built in a place that was used for centuries before – by the ancient Roman, Byzantine, and later Medieval forts. During World War I Bulgarians took over the place and created a prison there where Serbian patriots were kept.

Today Nis fortress is one of the most popular recreational areas in the city, still full of historical remnants from the old time. You can find there well-preserved walls and gates, a Turkish steam bath, a Bali mosque, a powder room, or ancient ruins. Each attraction is clearly described so you can learn more about all the historical remnants.

But most importantly, the Nis fortress is a large park where locals like to hang out and enjoy free time. It’s easy to understand why since the fortress is such a wonderful area you will most likely spend a while there, exploring and enjoying it too.

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

Visit Crveni Krst Concentration Camp

Nis was home to the first Nazi concentration camp in Yugoslavia – Crveni Krst, founded in mid-1941 and liberated by the Yugoslav Partisans in 1944. In these years around 35.000 people were detained here, over 10.000 of who were killed.

Today Crveni Krst Concentration Camp is one of the few fully preserved concentration camps in Europe, it remained more or less intact since the liberation day. On some of the buildings, you can still find original, German signs.

You can visit the place to learn more about the history of the camp and the people who were kept here as well as the great escape in February 1942 when around 100 people manage to flee from the camp.

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

Visit Skull Tower

Skull Tower in Nis is one of the weirdest, most unique, and morbid things I’ve ever seen and a reason itself to visit Nis. The tower is hidden in a nice building that looks like a chapel, surrounded by a small park and nothing can prepare you for what you will find inside.

The Skull Tower is exactly what the name indicated – the stone tower embedded with human skulls. It was constructed in the early 19th century, after the Battle of Čegar between the Ottoman soldiers and the Serbian Revolutionaries (May 1809, lost by Serbs), ordered by Hurshid Pasha, the local governor in the Ottoman Empire.

The morbid structure is over 4 meters high and originally had 14 rows with 17 skulls in each of them. The skull of the leader of the Serbian uprising, Stevan Sinđelić, was placed on top. Today out of 952 skulls placed in the tower only 58 remained in its place, the rest was either buried or lost.

Even if the Skull Tower is located a bit outside of the center (but easily reachable by bus) it is definitely worth the detour as this is one of the weirdest and most quirky and unique places to see in Serbia.

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

See the spomenik on Bubanj hill

Another interesting place to visit in Nis, also located a bit outside of the center but worth the detour is the monument (spomenik) on Bubanj hill.

The Monument to fallen Yugoslav World War II fighters (as that’s the official name of the structure) has the shape of three clenched fists. It was built in the place where during World War 2 prisoners from the Crveni Krst Concentration Camp and other Nis citizens were brought for execution. Altogether, over 10.000 people lost their lives on that very hill and the monument is a way to commemorate the victims.

If you look carefully you will notice that each of the fists has a different size and shape – that’s because they are symbols of men, women, and children who died here. Besides the centrally located concrete fists, there is also another part of the memorial that doesn’t get any attention but is equally interesting – the marble relief with five parts that symbolize the “killing machine”: execution and firing squads, civil revolts, surrender of the German invaders and final victory over the oppressors.

The whole memorial is surrounded by the park, a bit secluded from the city, which is frequently visited by locals who walk or jog around or enjoy the green space.

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

things to do in nis serbia

Where to go next

Once you are done visiting Nis, you can continue your journey to some more great destinations around the Balkans. I covered many of them on the blog; here are some articles that you might find useful as these are the easiest places to reach from Nis:

Travel Resources

Revolut bank card is the best way to save money when traveling. It’s a pre-paid service that offers very good exchange rates and no fees for ATM’s use. Click here to learn more and order your Revolut card.

You can find the best accommodation options at Booking. They have many discounts and excellent customer service. Click here to look for the place to stay in Nis

Never travel without travel insurance, you never know what might happen and better safe than sorry. You can check the insurance policy for Serbia here.

I recommend joining organized tours to get to know the place better and to visit more places during your trip. You can find a great selection of tours at Get Your Guide – click here.

Make sure to have the offline map always installed on your phone, they can save you so many troubles. I always use the free app Maps.Me.


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  • I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Serbia too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. Thank you!

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things to do in nis serbia


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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Southeastelisa
    22/10/2022 at 17:55

    Serbia was one of my first countries I ever visited – and I did not enjoy it ( I just went to Belgrad) However, I am considering to give it a new chance, thanks to your blog. Also noticed that you’re going to Tunisia and Central-America soon, can’t wait for your new posts!

    • Reply
      kami
      29/10/2022 at 18:27

      Thanks! To be honest, I also had a difficult relationship with Serbia and started properly enjoying it after a few visits only. I think you should give it another chance and if you still don’t click with the place, there are so many other amazing destinations nearby :)

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