The road was dark and it was chilly outside. I parked my small rented Citroen by the side of the road and tried to get some sleep for the next day, a day that was expected to be the highlight of my trip in Serbia – the legendary Sargan Eight train ride. Having just completed my path of illumination in Rome, big surprises were about to come – which Serbia was about to deliver.
But I couldn’t fall asleep. Whether I was too excited or was it just too uncomfortable, or probably a mix of both – I just got back on the steering wheel and continued driving. Geared with lots of expectation, a bottle of water and a little bit of Serbian Kajmac (absolutely delicious) from a few hours before – little did I know of how spectacular this train ride is going to be like.
So, what really is the Šargan Eight ?
The Sargan Eight is a narrow gauge railroad (heritage railroad, actually) that runs from the nice-looking village of Mokra Gora to the nearby Sargan station. The ride forms an ‘8’ form, and hence the name – Sargan Eight. It’s a very picturesque ride, considered by many to be the best train rides in Europe. “Let’s give it a try” I thought.
This train ride was really one heck of an experience. The whole ride (back and forth, plus a little stop) takes maybe 2 hours if I remember correctly, and the view is absolutely beautiful. What I really liked about the train ride was the old-fashioned looking wood deck inside and the energizing Balkan music on the background. It’s impossible to stay indifferent to that.
The train ticket costs 600 Serbian dinar (just a little bit less than $7) and is absolutely worth it.
Also, make sure you don’t miss the newly built village Drvengrad which sits just a few minutes of walk (ask the locals for the way) from the Mokra Gora’s Sargan Eight station. It is a wooden village built by famous director Emir Kusturica for his move ‘Life is a Mircale’.
Along the ride, you will pass through some stunning lush central-eastern European Balkan view. Lots of trees, mountains, traditional Serbian houses, and even tunnels that the train will go through. Make sure you dress well since it can get chilly even at summer (People love to keep the windows open on this ride).
If you rent a car, there’s a parking lot right in front of the train station in Mokra Gora, 10 seconds walk from the booth where you’re supposed to get your ticket from. I arrived very early and chose to climb my way to Drvengrad instead of driving there with the car, and I was very happy with that. Met a few locals up the way that let me try their proudly grown plums
So do I recommend the Sargan Eight ride? Definitely. Bring a good camera too.