Lively, adventurous, exuberant and beautiful: Belgrade is one of Europe’s most hip and happening cities bisected by the gorgeous Sava and Danube rivers. A town of two halves, Serbia’s stunning capital city allows you to explore and enjoy its modern side without ignoring its old world charm. It is a delight for food enthusiasts, art lovers, party goers, and those looking to simply relax and rejuvenate.
Walk the city streets and you won’t be able to escape it’s infectious vibe. From vintage buildings, graffiti-lined streets, bands playing along the Knez Mihailova, to the intersection of the beautiful rivers, it almost feels like the “white city” has a split personality: vibrant, quirky, yet so serene and stunning. The pace of life may be slower than most urban cities but it’s energy is sure to make you fall in love with it.
Streets are flanked by restaurants, and cafes where people eat, drink, smoke and dance to Serbian folklore while bars are squeezed into every little space available. You’ll find them at every level – from basement to the top. Coffee is taken very seriously here as well. You’ll often find people enjoying their cuppas until sunset, which are then replaced with beer or the famous local drink – rakija. One of the best things about Belgrade is exploring it’s cutesy lanes and by-lanes – each with its own distinct character. Most people can communicate in English and are very welcoming. They will almost instantly make you feel at home. This is a place where coffee sessions turn into hangover nights and lunches and dinners can go on for as long as 3-4 hours.
For those of you who are unaware of Serbia’s history, Belgrade was formerly the capital city of Yugoslavia until it became Serbia. History dominates every nook and corner of this place. There are so many touristy things to do and places to see here. If you’re a first-timer, listing below a few places we visited and loved.
Kalemegdan Park: The city’s most popular park, Kalemegdan is a fortress located on the ridge above the confluence of the the Sava and Danube. Walk around and you will feel the spirit of history still alive in this place. It is of great monumental significance and is the historical symbol of Belgrade. Since it is located at a height, it almost feels like it is rising above the city and protecting it like a proud parent. Today, it is a gathering spot for Belgraders where people come to walk, exercise or spend some quiet time by themselves. If you’re visiting for the first time, slip on your sports shoes and walk right to the top during sunset. The stunning views will capture your heart in an instant.
The Church of Saint Sava: Head to Belgrade’s tallest hilltop or building – there’s one edifice you won’t be able to miss. The pillar of Serbian Faith – The Church of Saint Sava is one of the largest church buildings in the world. A monumental edifice in Serbian history, it is visible from everywhere. Unfortunately, it was under construction when we visited so we couldn’t see every part of it.
Zemun: Zemun is Belgrade’s fiercely independent charming neighborhood with a certain feel that can’t be found anywhere else in the city. Whether you want to indulge in a delectable seafood meal at one of its shabby-chic cafes or relax along the river, take a break and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere. Stroll along the cobbled-stoned streets and climb the hill that takes you to the top of Gardos Tower – an observation deck from where you can enjoy incredible views of the city. With its narrow streets, preserved architecture, riverfront eateries and relaxing vibe, this place will make you feel like you’re in a separate town altogether.
Knez Mihailova Street: Knez Mihailova is a lively pedestrian boulevard located at the center of the city. Flanked by historical buildings and chic cafes, it goes from the Kalemegdan Park to the Republic Square (center area) and Terazije square (home to the old and charming Hotel Moskva). If you want to feel the pulse of the city, there’s no better place than this one. You can spend hours sipping on your coffee at one of the many grandiose coffee houses, enjoy live bands right at the center or simply people watch as you stroll through the lanes.
Skardarlija: As the locals say – If you haven’t visited Skardarlija, you haven’t truly experienced Belgrade. The capital city’s Bohemian quarter is old, romantic and full of life. Famous for its vintage cafes serving local cuisine with live music, gas lanterns hanging from trees, brightly lit cobbled streets and famous flower walls, Skardarlija is a magical place for merry-makers. World-famous journalists, musicians, writers and film makers have spent many pleasant evenings at this place. If you want to experience the true essence of Old Belgrade, this spot should be on top of your list.
Beton Hala: Located at the Sava waterfront, Beton Hala is home to Belgrade’s finest restaurants. It is the ideal place for foodies to enjoy cuisines from all over the world in a trendy setting with waterfront views. Whether you’re on a date night or simply catching up with some friends – this place has everything you’re looking for. Do check out Ambar and Toro during your visit. If you want to party and explore Belgrade’s happening nightlife after, the top nightclubs and bars are on the other side. Savamala, a nearby riverside quarter for the city’s creative and relaxed bunch also has a host of places to enjoy a drink or two.
Splavs: Rafts (popularly knows as splavs) anchored on the banks of the river make you feel like every night is a party night. Located on the other side of the trendy Beton Hala district, a cluster of floating nightclubs await. From international pop, casual Serbian folk to hipster splavs blasting underground music – there’s something for everyone here. Whether you want to spend large or not, this is one party place you’ll never forget.
Nikola Pasic Square: Belgrade’s central square is surrounded by the Syndicate House, the National Parliament, and the New and Old royal palaces. It also has the biggest fountain in the city along with the famous ‘Belgrade’ signage that instantly reminds you of the one in Amsterdam. It is an interesting place as many events take place here all through the year.