Beautiful wide boulevards, an indefinite supply of excellent cafes, and locals who simply know how to enjoy life – this is what awaits you in Belgrade.
Belgrade, capital of Serbia, is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. It wasn’t until recently that Belegrade made its name as tourist destination. With its rich history dating back to Celtic times, the city offers outstanding historic sights.
The Serbian capital lies on the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. The strategic position had made Belgrade into a battlefield time and time again. Not even the 20th century was peaceful: Belegrade suffered serious damage during World War II and 1999 NATO bombing. Luckily, peace had prevailed in Belgrade since then.
This year, I got the chance to visit Belgrade for the third time. I love returning to this city; first, because the city center is really pretty and has a special atmosphere. Second, time somehow goes slower in Belgrade. Serbian people seem to have mastered the art of living in a more relaxed manner, without the need for permanent stress.
The most convenient way reach Belegrade is by air. Nikola Tesla Airport is located 18 kilometers from the city center. National carrier Air Serbia offers flights from 49 destinations. Find cheapest deals with Kiwi.com.
If you are already in the region, consider reaching Belgrade by car or railway. Train connections are available from other European destinations such as Budapest, Vienna, Ljubljana and Prague.
The best way to explore the city is on foot. The city center is quite compact so there is no need to use public transportation. Everything between Kalemegdan, Kneza Mihaila street and Skadarlija corner is within walking distance.
The following are attractions worth visiting when in Belgrade:
This white marble building overlooking the city from the quarter of Vračar is the biggest orthodox church in the Balkans, and one of the biggest on earth. As many as 10,700 people can fit inside this monumental building.
The walls inside the St. Sava church are unattractively covered by scaffolding–the church had been patiently awaiting its completion since 1936, when construction officially began. Work on the interior is still in progress, but the northern section is still open to both worshippers and visitors alike.
TIP: Take a good look up at the church’s dome. It is quite special as it was built separately (weighing an impressive 4000 tons), and lifting it up to the roof took a full 20 days. Quite amazing, huh?
The historical complex of Kelemegdan is the oldest monument in Belegrade. This is the place were Celtic tribes first settled in the 4th century BC.
Due to its strategic location, the fortress was always a target for various invaders that wanted to rule the region. Despite this traumatic past, the building is now a popular leisure destination for local Belgraders. The surrounding 30-hectare park is stunning, and offers a fine vantage point for stunning sunsets.
TIP: Make sure to observe the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers and the statue of Pobednik (Winner), one of the symbols of Belgrade. Next to the fortress, an outdoor collection of historical canons lines the outer wall of the Military Museum.
When Belgraders make plans to meet, their choice location is usually “at the Horse,” a reference to Republic Square, which is dominated by a statue of Mihailo Obrenovic, the Serbian Prince that freed Serbia from the Ottoman Empire, atop a horse.
Republic square is surrounded by beautiful historical buildings such as the National Theatre and National Museum. The square point from which to orient yourself when navigating the city. You can easily reach Terezije a Knez Mihailova street from here.
TIP: If you want to relax, I recommend you stop by Student Park (Studentski Park), about a 5-minute walk from Republic Square. There are plenty of benches to sit on and for some reason I really love this place.
The kilometer-long boulevard is surely one of the most beautiful pedestrian zones in southeastern Europe. There are plenty of shops as well as the most expensive flats in the town. Who wouldn’t like to have address on the prettiest of Belgrade’s street?
It is really a nice walk down the Kneza Mihailova. The restaurants and cafes with huge umbrellas are inviting. No matter what time of day it is, there are always plenty of people passing by. This is also where many street artists perform; you might even walk into a random guy with cobra wrapped around his neck (!)
TIP: Stroll the Kneza Mihailova in the evening, when the atmosphere is more romantic.
This cobblestone street is legendary. Writers and poets once flocked here, it gaining it the reputation as the bohemian center of the city. With all the rapid post-war rebuilding that has taken place in Belgrade, it hard to find as picturesque a street as Skadarlija is.
Thanks to its atmosphere, Skadarlija is usually compared to Montmartre in Paris. It’s an amazing place to spend an evening; you can find here some of the best restaurants to try local Serbian food. Plus, local live bands can often be found performing traditional music here.
I am sure you will get hungry when wandering around the town. The good news is: finding great food in Belgrade is not hard at all. You don’t need much money to eat well here: much less compared to most European cities.
Restaurant Manufaktura will catch your attention immediately thanks to the large red umbrellas outside. Apart from the design, you will really eat well here. The service is great and every dish comes with an amazing salad. In the evenings (especially at the weekend), there is live band playing.
The next Belgrade restaurant that you should try is Vuk, just a stone’s throw from Kneza Mihailova Street. They serve authentic Serbian cuisine, including amazing desserts.
A bunch of nice restaurants can also be found in Skadarlija. Nearly every choice is a good one around there–go for Maly Vrabac if the choice is too much for you to handle. They are just great and serve food in big portions.
Serbian national cuisine is in fact a mix of food from all over the Balkans–it has characteristics from various countries of the former Yugoslavia. The national dishes you should definitely try in Serbia include ćevapi (grilled minced meat) and plejskavica (dish similar to burger). As for drinks, have a shot of plum brandy (šljivovica) or rakija, a kind of fruit brandy.
If you are more into exploring coffee houses, check out the article of fellow blogger who wrote extensive article about cafes in Belgrade.
Belgrade offers a wide variety of accommodation options. The closer to the city center you can find, the better. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, but I also explored other accommodation options for you.
If you like a homey atmosphere, you can consider booking a room (or an entire flat) via Air Bnb. Here is a 20 USD voucher that you can use for the booking!
These are other great places to stay:
Perfect for backpackers: one of the best rated hostels in Belegrade. It is 10-minute walk from the city center.
This 3-star hotel was my second home for couple of days:) Stylish and spacy rooms. 30-minute walk from city center. Perfect wifi.
Elegant 4-star hotel. From their rooftop terrace you can see the whole Vračar district, including the St. Sava church.
Even after three visits, I feel like there are still many areas I haven’t explored in Belgrade. I wonder what Belgrade sight is your favorite? Let me know how you liked the city!
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the article, please share! 🙂
PS: If you are planning to explore more of Serbia, check out this handy Ultimate Guide to Serbia by a fellow blogger.
Edited by Nick Kembel.
The post was created in partnership with Air Serbia. It was amazing to be back to this town – I enjoyed every minute in Serbia.