Serbia is known to be very hospitable, especially in rural areas. If you are in someone’s home, you will be offered tons of food and drinks. It can seem a bit overwhelming.
In terms of greeting, handshakes are common in Serbia. If you are seated, it is polite to rise when you meet other people, particularly women and elderly men. Women who know each other better usually kiss each other on the cheeks. Maintain eye contact when greeting a Serbian person. They may ask questions that you are usually unaccustomed to answering, like about your personal life or likes and dislikes, but this is just to get to know you better.
If you go to a Serbian home, you will likely be offered black coffee and juice and Rakia. Rakia is a very strong liquor, so be careful with it, especially if it’s home made! They may also offer you sweet preserves, or “slatko,” to eat with a spoon. It is customary to bring a gift, such as a bottle of alcohol, chocolates or flowers. When Serbians toast, they say, “Živeli,” and touch glasses. When you are toasting, make eye contact with everyone at the table. When you finish your drink, it will be refilled by someone else, so if you don’t want more to drink, just leave some liquid at the bottom of your glass. Dining is not extremely formal in Serbia, and there are no strict eating rules. Dinners often have several courses, including starters, soup, a main dish and then dessert.
If you are out at a restaurant, it is customary for everything to be paid for by the host. Do not offer to pay, as this can be considered rude, but you can offer to buy another round instead.
Smoking is very common in Serbia. There are hardly any no-smoking places. It is customary to ask for cigarettes from strangers.
If you are visiting a church or a monastary in Serbia, do not laugh or speak loudly while inside. If it is warm out, refrain from wearing shorts or mini skirts into a religious house. If you are wearing a hat upon entry, be sure to remove it. If you wish to take pictures, ask for permission. Some churches do not permit women in the altar space.