Governments of many states, especially of the European Union member states, attach significance to rural tourism in their strategies and plans of development. It is due to the direct and indirect positive effects that rural tourism has not only on the local communities in rural areas, but also on national economies on the whole. The aim of the work is to point out main characteristics of rural tourism and necessary prerequisites for development. The presentation of development draft will be given throughout practical examples of some states which are among the leading ones in this field. Rural tourism in Serbia will be especially emphasized – its condition, problems and necessary corrective activities, in view of the position that belongs to it in the process of creation of the new identity of Serbian countryside.