Kopaonik (Serbian Cyrillic: Копаоник, is one of the larger mountain ranges of Serbia. It is located in the central part of Serbia. Its highest point, Pančić’s Peak, is 2,017 m (6,617 ft) above sea level and is located on the border between the two administrative entities.
Kopaonik is largest ski resort in Serbia, and after Bulgaria’s Bansko, the largest in Southeast Europe. There are 24 ski lifts with capacity of 32,000 skiers per hour. A national park spread over 118.1 km2 (45.6 sq mi) of the central part of the Kopaonik plateau was established in 1981.
In 1981, due to its location, climate, rich forests, variety of herbs, and area for holiday and recreation, 12,000 hectares of the range were proclaimed a national park. Deciduous forests and native coniferous woodland make up most of the forested land in the park. Kopaonik has many species of birds, such as rock partridge, scops owl, red-backed shrike, and the wood lark. Soil erosion is a threat as there is a lot of logging and deforestation in the park.
The national park is situated on a relatively flat region, at an altitude of about 1,700 m (5,577 ft). This central Kopaonik plateau is called Suvo Rudište. It is surrounded by mountain peaks. To the north and northwest of this plateau stretches Banjski Kopaonik, which is the location of Jošanička Banja spa, whose strong springs’ waters reach the temperature of 88 °C (190 °F). Directly below the Suvo Rudište plateau starts the valley of the Samokovska River, with its steep run, numerous rapids, falls and gorges. Kopaonik has over 200 sunny days annually and over 160 days covered by snow.
Kopaonik is the largest ski resort in Serbia with excellently prepared runs, which offers unlimited joy to all categories of skiers, from beginners to highly skilled ones. Kopaonik ski resort comprises of about 55km of runs for alpine skiing and 12 km of runs for cross country (nordic) skiing. It has 24 ski lifts, with 70 km (43 mi) of ski slopes for all categories. For those who enjoy skiing at night, resort has a lighted run “Malo Jezero” in the very centre of the resort. Apart from that, for the youngest skiers and all those who are taking their first ski steps, resort has a secured “ski kindergarten” area with a conveyor belt and a carousel which makes learning basic skiing skills easier.
The artificial snowing system covers 97% of the resort. This system covers the following runs: Karaman A and B, Pancicev Vrh, Duboka 1 and 2, Suncana Dolina, Malo Jezero, Krst, Krcmar, Knezevske Bare, Mali Karaman, Marine Vode, Karaman and the adjoining ski roads, as well as the run in Gobelja. The artificial snowing systems make the skiing season last longer, and the skiers, both the beginners and those more experienced ones, can be sure that they will be able to enjoy the season on excellently prepared runs.
All the runs are well connected with a system of chairlifts and ski lifts, with a capacity of over 32.000 skiers per hour. The system comprises of one six-seater chairlift, with the capacity of 3,000 skiers per hour, 4 detachable high speed four-seaters ( with a total capacity of 10,000 skiers per hour), 3 fixed four-seater chairlifts with a loading conveyor belt (total capacity of about 6,200 skiers per hour, two T-bar ski lifts with a capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour and eight platter type ski lifts with a capacity of 6,500 skiers per hour, as well as three interconnecting ski lifts.
During the entire winter season, but also during the summer, apart from skiers and snowboarders, the four seater chair lift “Pancicev vrh” also takes the visitors to this ski resort who take a sightseeing tour of the mountain and take part in other numerous activities that the ski resort offers.
Apart from the runs for alpine and cross country (nordic) skiing, the ski resort Kopaonik also has a snowboard park, which hosts numerous domestic and international competitions.
Walking excursions (to the Metođa spring and Semeteško Jezero lake), mountain biking and basketball, tennis, riding and English language schools also take place on Kopaonik. A diverse range of children’s programmes, as well as slimming and fitness programmes, are offered and there are a many sport grounds, which are ideal for sports team training camps. The jagged landscape of Kopaonik is ideal for paragliding.
The Jošanička, Lukovska and Kuršumlijska (at the foot of Kopaonik) spas are very close to Kopaonik, while the rich thermal springs of the Vrnjačka, Mataruška and Sijarinska spas are just a little further away. Kopaonik, too, has mineral springs: the lightly radioactive Krčmar spring, which is 1700 m above sea-level, and Marine Vode (1950 m).
The historical significance of the Kopaonik region as the seat of the mediaeval Serbian state is illustrated by the remains of fortified towns (Zvečan, Koznik and Maglić) on the peaks of the central massif and the mining areas (Stari Trg and Novo Brdo), as well as the churches and monasteries (Gradac, Pavlica, Studenica, Žiča and Sopoćani), the endowments of Serbian rulers, nestled at the foot of the Kopaonik mountain range.
Accommodation and Prices
It’s fair to say that accommodation in Kopaonik costs less than in other ski resorts in Europe. Still, these prices are a bit too steep for the locals, but quite affordable for those who come from Germany, Austria, and UK. If you are looking for luxury accommodation, you should definitely book modern hotels such as Angella or Grand Hotel & Spa. Both are located in the center of the resort and offer a full spa service, nicely furnished rooms and swimming pools.In the center of the town, there are also a couple of old-school hotels from the eighties. Most of them are only partly renovated and look worn out on the outside, but still, they offer a good service and a great location. Make sure to book a hotel in the center at least 2 months before arrival, due to limited capacity and a large number of visitors. The third options are villas that are located just a short drive from the center. Some of them are nicely equipped, but transportation can be a problem if you don’t get here by car. A 10-minute taxi ride will cost you around 5 Euro one way.
Kopaonik is well-known for its bars, restaurants, and nightlife. Red Bull pizzeria offers a nice selection of freshly made pasta and pizzas. If you want to try something local visit Kamelot or Zvrk Restaurant. I like it that the portions are huge everywhere, so there’s no chance you’ll stay hungry here. The drinks cost around 2 euro, while dinner can cost you up to 10 euro per person.
Kopaonik is well-connected with the main transport routes in Serbia. The central part of Kopaonik with the tourist center and ski slopes are linked with the Ibar highway, and the nearest international airport is in Niš. A public helioport is located in a military base half a mile north of the resort.
The 2nd closest airport is located in Belgrade and you can catch a bus ride to Kopaonik, go there with a car, or rent a taxi. It takes 4 to 6 hours to reach Kopaonik from the airport, depending on the weather and type of transportation.If you decide to hire someone to drive you to the resort, make sure to negotiate the price and you will probably save some money in the end.