Pijaca: Ultimate Guide to the Serbian Market

People at an outdoor market full of fruits and vegetables

When you’re abroad, visiting a market is a perfect way to experience the local culture. And while you’re stocking up on fresh produce, you can also immerse yourself in the language. So, if you go to a Serbian market, you’re sure to find great food and also pick up a phrase or two.

But since loud and crowded places can be intimidating, we’ll walk you through the Serbian market so you know what to expect once you go there. Read on to get all the info!

What is Pijaca?

Essentially, pijaca is an outdoor market where vendors sell farm products. Most of these vendors are farmers who personally grow and make the things they sell.

Now, the full term would be zelena pijaca (farmers’ market). The other kind is buvlja pijaca or buvljak for short (flea maket). At buvljak, you can find affordable and often second-hand items, including clothes, shoes, household things, and more.

So, when you hear just the word pijaca, it refers to a farmers’ market in most cases.

If you decide to visit a Serbian market, you’ll find yourself in a vibrant, lively place packed with people. They are there to buy fresh products but also to socialize. Yup, just like kafana, pijaca is a great place to exchange the latest gossip, catch up with acquaintances and mingle with different people.

Each prodavac (vendor) needs to rent a tezga (stand) where they sell their goods. In most cases, these are friendly and generous people always in the mood for a chit-chat. Often, they’ll let you try their products before buying them.

Not just that, but if you try haggling, you can get a good deal. In Serbian, haggling is cenkanje and the verb is cenkati se.

That said, you don’t want to haggle too much. Not only because you’ll come off as a stipsa (penny-pincher), but because Serbian farmers are hardworking people who are often struggling to make ends meet.

Bonus phrase:

sastavljati kraj sa krajem (to make ends meet)

Example sentence:

On jedva sastavlja kraj sa krajem otkad je izgubio posao.

(He can barely make ends meet since he lost his job.)

So, next time you’re in Serbia, try going to a pijaca instead of a supermarket. You’ll have more chances to practice your Serbian and you’ll also be supporting the local farmers.

What Can You Buy at a Serbian Market?

We already said you can buy various farm products at a Serbian market. Of course, exactly what foods you’ll find there will depend on the season in which you visit.

In any case, here are the typical products that vendors sell at almost every pijaca.

Voće (fruits)

Serbia is rich in agricultural land. As a result, you can find all kinds of fruits that are both tasty and affordable.

The most common fruits that farmers grow are šljiva (plum), kruška (pear), jabuka (apple), and malina (raspberry). In fact, Serbia was the world’s third-largest raspberry producer in 2022.

Other popular fruits you’ll find at a pijaca include:

  • Trešnja (cherry)
  • Višnja (sour cherry)
  • Kupina (blackberry)
  • Borovnica (blueberry)
  • Jagoda (strawberry)
  • Kajsija (apricot)
  • Breskva (peach)
  • Brusnica (cranberry)
  • Banana (banana)
  • Pomorandža (orange)
  • Nar (pomegranate)
  • Limun (lemon)

Now, as Serbia is far from a tropical country, the last four fruits on the list are always imported. Still, they are healthy, and you can always find them at any market.

And as Serbs often say — zdravlje na usta ulazi (health enters through the mouth). Basically, this saying means you can only be healthy if you eat healthy. So, stock up on those fruits and let the health in.

Lots of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cranberries.
Zdravlje na usta ulazi, so eat voće!

Povrće (vegetables)

Next, no matter what season you choose to visit a Serbian market, you’re bound to find a variety of seasonal veggies. Most of them are even more affordable than fruits. Here are the most common ones:

  • Krompir (potato)
  • Šargarepa (carrot)
  • Pasulj (beans)
  • Grašak (green peas)
  • Brokoli (broccoli)
  • Karfiol (cauliflower)
  • Kupus (cabbage)
  • Spanać (spinach)
  • Tikvica (zucchini)
  • Paprika (bell pepper)
  • Boranija (green been)
Broccoli, tomatos, carrots, and other vegetables inside of baskets.
Sveže povrće 🥦

And the favorite time for Serbs to shop for veggies is the fall. The reason is that that’s the time they prepare zimnica.

Namely, to get ready for winter most households do home canning. From, kiseli krastavčići (pickles), to turšija (torshi), they help people consume enough vegetables in winter when fresh produce isn’t as abundant.

And if you see a Serb dragging a huge sack of bell peppers — don’t worry. They are just making ajvar.

Four jars and a bowl full of spread made of bell pepper.
Ajvar is the signature smell of fall🌶️

Mlečni proizvodi (dairy products)

If you’re lactose intolerant, you might want to avoid this part of pijaca. Namely, farmers often sell various dairy products that they make on their farms. For starters, you can buy sveže mleko (fresh milk) and jogurt (yogurt) there.

Also, cheese is a must. When buying domaći sir (homemade cheese), you can choose between mladi sir (fresh cheese) and stari sir (aged cheese). The former is soft and tastes mild, while the latter has a harder texture and sour taste. Both are delicious, though.

Speaking of cheese, did you know that one of the most expensive cheeses in the world comes from Serbia?

Of course, our top recommendation in the dairy department is kajmak. Basically, kajmak is the skim that appears on top after the boiled milk cools down. The farmers collect it and sell it as a delicacy.

It’s on the pricier side, but it’s worth every penny. Or, as Serbs would put it  — vredi svaku paru.

Other

In addition to these, you can often find cvećara (flower shop) and ribarnica (fish shop) inside or around pijaca.

If you drop by a fish shop, we recommend you try girice. These are tiny fish fried at the shop. They’re crunchy and salty and a great snack to eat with beer.

As you can see, you can buy practically everything you need at a Serbian market. Plus, you’ll have a great time chatting with vendors and other shoppers.

A flower shop in the open space.
Cvećara 🌼

Things to Know When Going to a Serbian Market

In case you don’t know, the official currency in this country is Serbian dinar (RSD). For your reference, $1 is around 110 RSD.

When you go to pijaca, always bring cash in Serbian currency. The vendors don’t take credit cards and often won’t accept any other currency.

Next, at a pijaca, you’ll buy most products na kilo (per kilogram) rather than na komad (per item). That means that you can pick whatever you want to buy, put it in a bag, and the vendor will weigh it and charge you accordingly.

Also, most markets are open until around 5 p.m. If you visit towards the closing time, you might get a popust (discount) if there are any unsold goods. And if the vendor really likes you, you can even get a little something gratis (for free).

Markets in Belgrade You Should Visit

Finally, if you want to visit a Serbian market, here are some of the famous ones in Belgrade:

So, pick the one that’s closest to you and get an authentic shopping experience.

Learn Serbian at a Serbian Market

With all this info under your belt, there’ll be no surprises once you visit a Serbian market. So, grab your shopping bag and go crazy on local goods. And while you’re there, try to strike up a conversation with friendly vendors.

After all, the best way to practice a language is to use it in real-life situations.

By the way, our Beginner Course covers all you need to know when buying food and much more. So, check it out, and once you go to a market, you’ll be shopping like a local.

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