Belgrade was the final stop on my trip through Montenegro and Bosnia, and travelling through the beautiful likes of Mostar and Kotor, I actually wasn’t looking forward to exploring a city. However Belgrade has its own unique charm, and a city you should consider visiting.
Exploring with little sleep
Following an overnight coach journey from Sarajevo, we arrived around 6am into Belgrade bus station. Not surprisingly, there was no shops or cafes open that myself and 2 other backpackers from the coach journey could relax in before checking in to our hostels. More surprisingly, is that we saw a few people ending their nights out and heading home!
So after we shared coffees, we headed to our hostels to drop our backpacks off, and I had brunch at Denada Bistro & Cafe before heading out to explore the city. Tbh, just like most places I visit these days, I did not arrive with any expectations, but from walking the streets, I was initially super impressed. The residential streets near my hostel were tree lined and I walked past a café or bar nearly every minute.
What to do in Belgrade
Walk along Danube & Sava Rivers
After the Thames, the Danube is probably my favourite river in Europe, maybe because I have crossed paths with it many times along my travels now. There are a few bridges across Sava including Brankov Bridge which connects New Belgrade with the rest of the city.
A few restaurants are located along the river including Ambar and Catine de Frida. There are many joggers and cyclists who were using this path in the morning.
This is the centre of the city, and has some mediocre overpriced cafes surrounding it, it is also where most of the walking tours start. The national theatre and national museum are also located here.
You will find the main shopping streets here, which are pedestrianised.
Romans started building here from the 2nd Century, and is a must see visit during your trip to Belgrade. The fortress complex is pretty big, and the views over the city and rivers are beautiful. There are a few museums dotted around the fortress such as the Roman Well and casemates. Kalemegdan Park is also located here, which is a great place to relax and view the rivers.
Tip : visit twice – during the day (early morning is best, as it can get pretty busy later during the day) and during sunset.
Saint Sava Church
The exquisite detail on the ceiling and walls of this orthodox church was breath taking and is one of the Orthodox Church in the world.
Make sure to visit the crypt, which was unfortunately closed during my visit due to a wedding.
Yugoslav Ministry of Defence building
The site of the former Ministry of Defence, which was bombed by NATO in 1999 (super recent). I think it is a wise decision for the country to not knock down / rebuild these buildings, as it stands a a reminder for the recent history Serbia has been through.
During the weekends and even during the weekdays, it seems that every night is a Friday in Belgrade. Even on a Sunday, the bars and clubs were packed up until 3am and beyond…
In summer the boats along the Sava are turned into nightclubs, each with a specific genre of music, and the best part is that they are open, meaning fresh air and views of Belgrade. The river boat clubs are called ‘splavovi’ and I think every city should have these.
Also when in Serbia, you have to try Rakia, which can contain up to 70% alcohol.
A nice area to walk around in, with some people comparing it to Montmartre in Paris. It is a relatively short street but offers a few restaurants and cafes.
Burek – a trip to a Balkan nation isn’t complete without trying some burek. It makes a perfect snack or breakfast and is filo pastry filled with meat, potato or cheese. Bobe sells good burek
Baklava – Balkan Baklava was the last stop on my trip before heading home, so I could bring boxes of the sweet stuff back to London. There is a large choice of baklava, and you may even get a little treat before leaving the store!
Pekara Trpković – Slavija – Popped into this bakery after a visit to the Church. They sell burek and sweet pastries. Be prepared for a little wait, as it is popular
Manufaktura Restaurant Belgrade specialises in local cuisine, with good size portions.
And if you are not in the mood for Serbian cuisine, Trattoria Campania serves really nice Italian food (had a great aperol, pasta and tiramisu here). La Taqueria is a good spot for tacos
My visit to Serbia means I have 5 more countries left out of the 47 to visit in Europe.