Small mountains, old school train journey and a wooden village – this is Mokra Gora in Western Serbia.
In a mood for a digital detox, we searched for a scenic destination in the middle of nowhere when we found Mokra Gora. We knew we had found a special place when Google maps completely threw us off. Oh and we had to use the Translate app to communicate with the locals. It was exactly the kind of escape we wanted after Belgrade’s busy vibe.
Mokra Gora is a small and picturesque destination that’s surrounded by the Dinaric Alps towards the west part of Serbia. It is close to Tara National Park where there’s the Tara Mountain.
Mokra Gora Travel Guide
Mokra Gora’s Narnia like landscape totally won our hearts.
There were little green hills, fairy tale-ish wooden cottages, simple village life and a vibe that was still unaffected by tourism. Using simple hand gestures to communicate with the locals somehow made our experience even more special.
Mokra Gora is one of those places that we’d like to keep to just ourselves as a secret destination. But I changed my mind considering how it is not easy to reach here by public transport. So I think it will be years before it gets ruined by mass tourism.
How to Reach Mokra Gora from Belgrade
The nearest big towns near Mokra Gora are Zlatibor and Užice. We arrived here on a rented card from Belgrade. The journey on the road takes around 3 – 4 hours but we spent 9 hours to reach. It was because of a traffic jam that was caused due to the road repair work.
Reaching Mokra Gora on a rented car is the easiest way to arrive here from Belgrade. It is an economical option if you’re traveling in a group of 2 or more. Moreover, Western Serbia’s countryside is spectacular and you’ll enjoy the flexibility of stopping where you want to while you’re driving.
There is no direct train or bus from Belgrade to Mokra Gora. If you want to do this journey by public transport, then you need to take a train from Belgrade to Užice and find a local bus for Mokra Gora. Alternatively, you can also get on a bus from Belgrade to Lajkovac. There is a train that runs from Lajkovac to Zlatibor, a town that’s close to Mokra Gora. From Zlatibor, a taxi will take you to Mokra Gora for around €15.
Things to do in Mokra Gora, Serbia
Mokra Gora Train – Šargan Eight steam train
Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory isn’t the only one who loves trains, I do too! Even more so when the journey is old-school style. Not only can you enjoy the view of the surroundings on a train, but you can also get a glimpse of the culture.
One of the best things we did in Mokra Gora was Sargan train journey. This train route originally connected Belgrade to Sarajevo when these places were a part of Yugoslavia. Today a smaller part of this heritage train track runs as Nostalgia Express.
Šargan Eight steam train is supposed to be one of the most beautiful train routes in Europe. This train track is narrow gauge and because of that, it felt like we were on a toy train.
The mountainous landscape around Mokra Gora is spectacular enough to make a train journey here epic. The train goes really slow and stops a few times. You can get out and walk around to enjoy the view. It goes in a circular track.
While you’re on this train, I recommend you walk from coach to coach from one end of the train to another – they’re all a little different.
Tickets for Šargan Eight Train Journey at Mokra Gora can be bought just on the spot at Mokra Gora train station before boarding the train. The cost per person is €5 or 600 Serbian Dinar.
Drvengrad Bamboo Village [Küstendorf]
I did mention how Mokra Gora is off the radar but it does enjoy a little fame because of a wooden village. This little village is called Drvengrad (a.k.a. Küstendorf). Yes, almost everything here is wooden, even the lamp posts!
Drvengrad was actually built for a film by Emir Kusturica called Life is a Miracle, but was left as it is after the movie ended. The Küstendorf Film and Music Festival is organized here annually, which does attract visitors to the otherwise offbeat Mokra Gora. Drvengrad is often the location for cinema workshops too. Love Johnny Depp, well he visited Drvengrad too! [and so did Monica Bellucci].
During the month of Küstendorf Film and Music Festival the prices of rooms go up tenfolds in Mokra Gora. Even Lonely Planet mentions Drvengrad and this Cinema festival.
Drvengrad is right above to Mokra Gora train station and is worth a visit. Walk around here, see the wooden church, eat in the wooden restaurant to make your visit epic. Some parts of Drvengrad are covered with artwork. You can even rent a room in Drvengrad and stay for a few days.
Family travelers will especially love will love Drvengrad because there’s a wooden playground, Ivo Andrić Library, Stanley Kubrick Cinema, and even a sauna and a swimming pool.
Drvengrad isn’t the only “old town” village that was created by Emir Kusturica. There’s Andrićgrad too which is across the border in Višegrad (Bosnia). You can read more about this place in this article’s Višegrad section. For more information, check our post about Drvengrad – Serbia’s timber village.
Tara National Park
San and I love nature and we make it a point to visit as many National Parks as possible. While in Mokra Gora, we visited the nearby Tara National Park. This hardly-known paradise completely exceeded our expectations.
Mount Tara is a part of the internal Dinaric Alps (the Dinarides) and is a part of Tara National Park. The Drina river makes spectacular gorges here. As a result, the park has many dramatic viewpoints, that look over the river gorges.
Banjska Stena is the most popular viewpoint in Tara National Park and is near Mitrovac. It is one of the first places that you will see when you search for images of this National Park. Reaching here was quite easy because this place also has English signboards.
The best part of the park, in my opinion, is the Zaovine Lake, which is close to the Bosnia and Herzegovina border. As soon as we saw Zaovine Lake, we wanted to swim in it.
We drove around the lake for a long time but couldn’t see any place from where we could go closer to the shore. Just when we were about to give up, we saw a steep pathway and a few locals swimming in the water. San and I also went in. We swam in this lake for a long time, which was really amazing and we felt refreshed.
Zaovine lake is also connected with the river Drina. It is the same river that we later drove along in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I’d love to return to Serbia and stay for a few days in Zaovine village next to the lake.
Another famous place in Tara National Park is the lonely house on River Drina near Bajina Basta. You can also see Vrelo – the shortest river. I don’t know if it is the shortest river in Serbia or the world – the signs were everywhere but they didn’t specify. There is also a lovely waterfall next to River Vrelo. Sadly there is a restaurant here that spoils the natural beauty of the waterfall.
Many people spend days hiking inside Tara National Park but the easiest way to experience it is by car. Navigating inside can be challenging because most of the signboards were in Serbian. Even Google Maps showed us names in Serbian and again threw us off the road. We got lost here many times but it was worth it. It is such a beautiful place but hardly any people visit it, not even the locals!
Zlatibor is Mokra Gora’s more popular neighbor and it totally deserves the attention because it is lovely. It is one of the most popular destinations in Serbia for rural tourism.
Little green hills and flowery meadows surround Mount Zlatibor. As you move away from the village, you will see vast empty spaces and sometimes just a single cottage on some of the surrounding little hills.
There is also a busy town centre in Zlatibor with many interesting places to eat but the real beauty is outside the town. If you get bored of the limited eating options in Mokra Gora, then you will enjoy the options in Zlatibor town. Take out some time and head to the Gostilje waterfall and Stopica Caves, which are nearby.
Stopica Cave is near Mountain Zlatibor and is really beautiful from inside. There is a metallic walkway inside the cave and several parts are lit by colorful lights. These lights create a dramatic reflection of stalagmites and stalactites against the cave walls.
There is a river inside this cave – how cool is that! Also, this river creates a waterfall inside the Stopica Cave which is 10 meters high.
We also saw layers of cascading limestone pools, which was one of the most spectacular sights inside. There was no water inside these pools at the time we visited. If you visit after it rains, then you will see a mesmerizing sight of water in these pools instead of lights. Here’s a picture that I found on the internet where these pools have water in them.
But here’s what we saw instead because there was no water.
The entry is 250 Serbian Dinars, which is a little more than 2 EUR per person. Parking is not free but the price was very low.
Višegrad is near Mokra Gora bus is not in Serbia, it is in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After Sarajevo and Mostar, Višegrad is the most famous destination in the country because of the Ottoman style bridge – Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge. This bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage site and looks absolutely stunning.
Višegrad was also made famous by the historical novel – the Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić, a Nobel Prize winner. Višegrad also has a mini town Andrićgrad, which is dedicated to this novelist. Just like Drvengrad wooden village, even Andrićgrad village that was created by Emir Kusturica.
Even though Višegrad is close to Mokra Gora, there is a complete change of scene, vibe, and culture here. Many locals spoke good English here which helped us in navigating. I spent half of my birthday here and enjoyed Višegrad a lot.
One of the locals suggested a riverside restaurant called Anika where we had the best meal of our Balkans trip. The meal was so good that we came back here from Montenegro just so that we could eat here.
Unlike my other travel guides, this post doesn’t really have a super long list of places to visit. It is so because the beauty of Mokra Gora is not just the landscape but also the relaxed atmosphere. Make the most of this by doing as little as possible and just spending most of your time sitting in a scenic spot.
Where to Stay in Mokra Gora and Zlatibor
Apartment Mateja, Mokra Gora
This is the first place where we stayed in Mokra Gora and loved it. There was a little water stream that was near this apartment and a lot of greenery. The surrounding area was village-like and yet the apartment was modern from the inside.
Click here to book Apartment Mateja in Mokra Gora
Apartment Mateja had everything – a big living room, kitchen, toilet and a bedroom that was upstairs. The interiors were wooden, because of which it looked very cozy.
Hi Sonal and Sandro,
That’s so cool that you went to Mokra Gora! I have a friend from Serbia, and her father was part of the project to refurbish the Šargan Eight and get it running again. I went there with her back in 2004, when the Nostalgia Express was still quite new. It looks like I missed some other attractions in the area, though. I’ll have to go back one day!
Such a gorgeous land. Thanks for letting us know about it.