Slowly making the transition from hidden travel gem to full-fledged must-visit destination, Serbia’s entrancing capital is brimming with exciting things to see, do, eat and drink. Whether you’re into museum-hopping, history, shopping, bonding with locals over craft beer, or exploring unique neighbourhoods without an agenda, Belgrade has it all — and then some.
The Church of Saint Sava is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world, and the largest in the Balkans. You can see the majestic church with its white marble and granite facade from almost anywhere in Belgrade. The building process was started in 1935 but interrupted numerous times. First during World War II, and then during the 40-year Communist rule of Yugoslavia. The building process was continued in the 1980s and finished in 1989, but the interior is still being painted.
Beer fans will definitely want to make their way to Samo Pivo (Just Beer), one of the hottest bars in town. The aim of Samo Pivo is to expand beer culture in Serbia and offer a place dedicated entirely to beer, with a focus on local brews. This is a place that literally doesn’t offer anything other than beer, but the choice of beer, however, is endless. Choose from a wide variety of beers from small local breweries, as well as imported beers from all over the world.
This fortress-turned-park, located above the old city centre, overlooks the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, with great views of New Belgrade. The park is one of the largest and most beautiful in the city and you can easily spend an afternoon here exploring the fortress, walking the park’s scenic paths, and checking out the many monuments and statues dotted throughout the sprawling complex. If you get hungry, there are two restaurants here to choose from: Mali Kalemegdan, serving traditional food and barbeque; and Kalemegdanska Terasa, with an international menu in a more upscale setting.
Just four kilometres from the city centre you’ll find one of the prime stops to soak up the sun in Serbia: Ada Ciganlija. Once a river island that has been artificially turned into a peninsula, Ada Ciganlija is also home to an artificial lake and the best place to go for some water-based fun in the city, as well as for an adrenaline-packed day. You have options such as water-skiing, kite surfing, bungee jumping or just taking a walk through an oasis of tranquility. The circle around the lake is roughly eight kilometres, and lined with restaurants, bars, cafes and nightclubs. During summer months the lake’s beach is full of locals coming for some refreshment and a good relaxing time.
No trip to Belgrade is complete without a visit to Skadarlija Street. This is Belgrade’s old bohemian quarter, right in the city centre and well worth a wander. The cobbled, pedestrianised street is home to numerous restaurants and bars, with tables spilling into the street during warm evenings. Most of the restaurants here serve traditional Serbian dishes and you’ll often hear live local music. The charming district is particularly impressive during spring and summer months in the evening when the gardens are open and full of people. In addition to an abundance of places to eat and drink, Skadarlija Street is also home to antique stores, galleries and souvenir shops.
Located just around the corner from Skadarlija Street, Cetinjska Street was once an old industrial zone left abandoned for years. Recently transformed, the area’s unused buildings have been turned into a vibrant collection of bars, cafes and nightclubs. It is a large area around an open parking lot that doesn’t look like much at first, but when night falls, the excitement picks up. The area starts to get busy around 9pm and reaches its peak between 10pm and midnight. Take your pick out of dozens of bars, and indulge in cocktails or local beers, with the sounds of electronic, hip-hop or alternative music.
Try the best burek in the town and see why locals wait in queues on the street to buy it. Burek is a type of pie typical in Balkan countries, and in Serbia it usually comes with cheese or minced meat, although there are other options as well. The one with cheese is a must-try, and we recommend getting it with yogurt on the side. The best time to go is early morning for breakfast, although obviously burek is a fine choice for a quick lunch too. They serve other pastries as well and whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
There are plenty of museums in Belgrade for getting your culture on. For history, visit Konak Kneginje Ljubice (Princess Ljubica’s Residence), which is a residential house from the early 19th century, built by Prince Milos Obrenovic for his wife, or the Historical Museum of Serbia, which features regularly changing exhibits on Serbian history. Also worth checking out are the Ethnographic Museum, where you can view a collection of items from everyday life in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and, of course, the Nikola Tesla Museum, dedicated to protecting and presenting the legacy of one of the world’s greatest scientists, Nikola Tesla.
Splavovi are floating rafts housing restaurants, cafes and nightclubs set along the rivers of Sava and Danube in New Belgrade. These are popular places for either a coffee break by the river, lunch or a night out. Nightclubs on the river are a particular highlight, with sounds ranging from national turbo-folk music (a fast-paced mix of Serbian folk and pop music), hip-hop, electronic, rock’n’roll, alternative music and even Gypsy bands.