If you want to celebrate life, I highly recommend that you visit Belgrade, the unspoiled capital of Serbia! Belgrade literally translates as “White City” but it is a place of beautiful colours.
Belgrade is situated in the fertile plains where the Danube and Sava rivers converge. This strategic location has meant that it has been fought over for millennia. Belgrade has evidence of stone age settlements dating back to 6000 BCE. This means it has been a frequent area of conflict for over 8000 years! The first mention of Belgrade was in the legend of Jason and the Argonauts when the heroes fled to the area after stealing the Golden Fleece.
Belgrade Fortress: often needed during history
Here’s a pro-tip: For centuries, the Danube river was often-contested border between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Austria-Hungary. Belgrade was on the Ottoman side and Zemun was right across the river. Zemun is super-cool and has a completely different architecture and feel even though it has now been incorporated into metropolitan Belgrade.
Belgrade is a proud city full of impressive culture and attractions. Here are some “must-sees”:
- Belgrade Fortress – The entire city of Belgrade used to be within the walls of this impressive fortress! A total of 122 wars were fought over Belgrade and as a result this fortress has been destroyed and rebuilt 44 times. In 1979, The Belgrade Fortress was declared a Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance. It is majestically situated with a beautiful view over the rivers!
- Skadarlija – Located in Stari Grad, or Old Town, this vintage street is famous for its well preserved gypsy spirit. It is an artist’s sanctuary with its classical cobblestone streets and mural covered walls. Today, it is best known as the Bohemian Quarter. Stick around after sunset to see the neighbourhood come alive!
- Nikola Tesla Museum – This interesting science museum, recalling the works of Belgrade’s most famous son, is located in the centre of Belgrade. I would highly recommend taking the guided tour to make the most of your visit. With over 160,000 original documents you’ll probably only have time for the highlights.
The Church of Saint Sava: Beautiful day or night!
- Church of Saint Sava – Saint Sava, known as The Enlightener, was an important figure in Serbian history as well as the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It is no wonder this grand monument was named after him! Its large dome and white exterior can be seen from almost anywhere in Belgrade.
- Knez Mihailova Street –This pedestrian street is full of fun cafes and restaurants as well as a plethora of shops. The architecture lining the street is an exciting mix of the many different styles you will see around Belgrade.
If you fly into Belgrade, you will arrive at the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, which is about 20km from the City Centre. The best option to travel from the airport to the city is a taxi service. The airport has a regulated taxi office with flat fees paid in advance. The trip takes about 25 minutes and costs around €15.00.
Here’s another pro-tip: The Serbian Dinar is the official currency but almost every place will also accept Euros. Just be aware of the exchange rate so that you don’t pay too much!
When it comes to staying in Belgrade, there are several great options at reasonable prices. My favourite is Square Nine which is conveniently located close to Knez Mihailova Street. The lobby bar is really small but has an excellent selection of wines and spirits.
Serbian food is a spicy treat!
Dining during your stay in Belgrade is guaranteed to be a treat! When it comes to authentic Balkan food Manufaktura is my top choice. Their dishes are made with the freshest, highest- quality ingredients sourced from Serbia. This modern establishment also offers live music in the evenings. I love to sit on the patio at Frans and the food is excellent. Serbian dishes can include a lot of meat but Frans offers some fantastic vegetarian selections. Finally, for the freshest river fish, checkout Sent Andrea right on the water in Zemun. Fish caught right by your table cannot be any fresher!
Belgrade nightlife is vibrant and fun!
With its garden and lovely wine selection, this is the place to sit back, relax and enjoy live jazz music. There are literally hundreds of cool places to party in Belgrade though so you’ll quickly find favourites!
You shouldn’t leave Belgrade without a few bottles of Rakia. While traditionally made from plums, I prefer the pear one which is a bit lighter in colour and flavour. It’s a potent potable so, if you are drinking it, leave the driving to someone else.
Here’s a final pro-tip: Serbians like Rakia that has a harsh bite. When buying the spirit to take home, make sure that you ask for advice on ones that are a bit smoother.
Rakia is also known by the tongue-twister “Slivovitz”!
Belgrade is one of my favourite unspoiled gems. The Serbs are very welcoming and fun!