Belgrade is one of those cities that should ABSOLUTELY be on your list if you’re heading to the Balkan region. It’s a city FULL of history, OUTSTANDING restaurants, an EPIC party scene and wonderful people. I’ve highlighted the BEST things you CANNOT miss during your visit!
- Why Belgrade, Serbia?
- How to Get to Belgrade
- Where to Stay in Belgrade
- Where to Eat & Drink in Belgrade
- The 6 Best Things to Do in Belgrade
- Nearby Countries to Visit
To be honest with you, Belgrade was never on our radar until one of our best friends married an awesome Serbian gal who happened to fill us in on just how amazing the city is! Not only does Belgrade offer a lot of obvious history, it also offers delicious restaurants, quaint cobblestone streets, kind people and an EPIC nightlife scene!
I must also mention that your dollar will go very very far in Belgrade, which means you’ll have more money for all the amazing drinks, tours and great food!
How to Get to Belgrade
Getting to Belgrade is quite easy! You can drive, fly, take a bus or a train. We were coming from Zagreb, Croatia, so it was easiest for us to take the train, but did take 7 HOURS! It was a very authentic experience, as the train moved very slowly and didn’t have great A/C, but we were able to see a LOT of the countryside of both Croatia and Serbia, which was lovely.
If you’re looking into taking a bus, Flixbus offers great rates and free wifi on board, but they don’t allow pets, unfortunately, so keep that in mind.
Air Serbia is a really great airline and we flew it on one of our legs to Greece.
Finally, there’s always a ride share! We had great success using Blah Blah Car while traveling around Europe.
Where to Stay in Belgrade
We stayed three nights in Belgrade and, if you’ve been following along on our adventures, you know that Josh and I are avid Airbnb and users. Why? Because it’s MUCH more affordable and a much more authentic experience each and every time.
Fortunately, our Airbnb in Belgrade was spectacularly located inside the city right near all the fun and action! Furthermore, it was super clean, safe, well decorated and had everything we needed during our stay. I’d also like to add that it was just over $100 for 3 NIGHTS, which made it incredibly affordable!
For $55 off your first AIRBNB booking, click HERE!
If you’re more into hotels than Airbnb’s, our friend that used to live in Belgrade highly recommended Mama Shelter. At around $100USD per night, it has excellent reviews and is in a great location as well!
Where to Eat & Drink in Belgrade
In all our European travels, we had some of the best food we’d eaten in Belgrade. Crazy, right?! Belgrade literally has every type of food that you could ever dream of, all at extremely affordable prices.
Manufaktura: Manufaktura (pictured here) is a unique restaurant that serves traditional Balkan cuisine made from only ingredients made in Serbia, making it a pretty special little gem. It’s also beautifully decorated with umbrellas, so, if the weather permits, sit outside and soak in the ambiance.
W Sushi: We ate the most AMAZING sushi in Belgrade. We loved W Sushi SO much, we ate there two nights in a row!
Jazz Cafe: We went to the Jazz Cafe for breakfast and absolutely loved sitting outside people watching and soaking in the city streets of Belgrade, while eating a delicious meal.
? Kafana: You cannot come to Belgrade without eating at a Kafana. In 1521 when the Ottoman empire conquered Belgrade, they brought coffee to the city and established the very first kafana, which is a traditional tavern or coffee house.
Amazingly enough, the oldest kafana in the city is over 200 years old and is called “?” and it’s located just opposite of the church where the free walking tour ends at. So, why not have lunch there after your tour ends?
WHERE TO DRINK
If you only go to one area of town to eat and drink, then Skardarlija MUST be it! Skardarlija is the Montmartre of Belgrade. This is the poppin spot after 6pm daily for everything fun!
We spent our entire evening on the balcony of Red Bar, overlooking the cobble stone streets and sipping their devils iced tea (take my advice, only have one-I almost didn’t make it on our train the next morning after two of them).
On the Main Street of Skardarlija, you’ll also find more Kafana restaurants serving traditional Balkan food and talented musicians playing traditional accordions and guitars. It’s a must see while you’re in the city!
The 8 BEST Things to Do in Belgrade
Join a Free Walking Tour
Josh and I really love to do free walking tours in new cities. It’s a great way to support a local guide, while getting to know the history of the region. It’s no surprise that Belgrade is full of history and we really appreciated the way our guide summarized it all while showing us all the different areas of the city. We opted for the Free Downtown Walking Tour with Belgrade Walking Tours. Their tours run daily at 11am and 4pm and are completely free (but make sure you tip your guide, as this is how they earn money). The tours lasts about 2.5 hours.
On the tour, you’ll meet at Republic Square and learn about the National Museum and Belgrade National Theatre. You’ll visit the Bohemian Quarter (Skadarlija), the only mosque in the city, Belgrade Fortress, Knez Mihailova street and SO much more!
2. Eat a Traditional Kebab
As previously discussed, Belgrade’s food scene is ON POINT! I ate the BEST falafel kebab I’ve ever had in my life in Belgrade and Josh loved it too. There’s a street lined with restaurants next to Grill Kebab, in case kebabs aren’t your thing, but I highly suggest trying one anyway! The coolest part is they’re open 24 hours too, so you can grab one before your night out on the town, or after (or both)! They’re also only about $2USD each, so you’ll never feel bad about the purchase!
3. Visit the Largest Eastern Orthodox Church
The Church of Saint Sava is the largest Eastern Orthodox Church and is absolutely beautiful inside and out. Constructed in 1935, this massive church can fit 10,000 people inside its walls and has 18 gold crosses adorning its domes! The church houses 50 bells, so when the clock strikes noon daily, you won’t be able to miss the beautiful sound of the church bells ringing.
Covered in white marble and granite, the Church is Located on Vračar plateau, in Svetosavski Trg Square. It is constructed in what is believed to be the same exact location as where the remains of Saint Sava were burned in 1595 by the Ottomans.
4. Watch the Sunset at Belgrade Fortress
The highlight of our trip in Serbia, besides getting together with a few friends, was watching the sunset at Belgrade Fortress. The Fortress has a beautiful restaurant located outside on the top floor called, Kalemegdanska Terasa. From the restaurant you’ll be able to sip on delicious drinks as the sun goes down, while taking in the views of the Danube and Sava Rivers as well as Branko’s Bridge. We did not eat here, but they offer a lunch and dinner menu as well.
Because this is obviously one of the top tourist spots in town, you have to expect for prices to be a bit more than average. If budget doesn’t permit to eat or drink at the restaurant, why not grab a bottle of wine or a few beers and watch the sun set while sitting on the beautiful city walls?
5. Sip some Drinks on a Floating River Barge
It’s no secret that Belgrade is highly known for its party scene. If you happen to visit during the warm summer months, what cooler way is there to spend a night out on the town in Belgrade than on floating river barge, also known as a Splavovi? These barges are anchored all along the Danube and Sava rivers and will bump all different types of music into the wee hours of the night!
Filled with locals and tourists seven nights a week (even those that have to work the next morning), these venues hold between 300-500 people. Do not expect boujee expensive cocktails aboard a Splavovi, but more so straight liquor and beers. If you’re feeling like going all out, a VIP table can be reserved for just a few hundred dollars. In high season, reservations are a must and you can do so through belgradenight.com website. There are SO many different splavs to choose from, you’ll surely find one that fits the scene you’re looking for while visiting Belgrade!
While there, be sure to have a few shots of the national drink of Serbia, Rakija! This fermented fruit brandy liquor comes in various flavors like Šljiva (plum flavor-my favorite), dunja (quince) and kruška (pear).
6. Stroll Through Kalenić Green Market
Even if you’re not planning on cooking anything while visiting the city, a stroll through Kalenić Green Market is a must! Take in the sights, colors and smells of the cities largest outdoor market.
Located in the triangular square between Maksima Gorkog and Njegoševa Streets, you’ll find endless amounts of fruits, veggies, herbs, spices, fresh fish, teas, cheeses, jams and SO much more! Get your camera ready, because everywhere you turn is a film worthy moment!
Nearby Countries to Visit
If you have some extra time in your schedule, the Balkan region offers up SO many beautiful countries located just a quick flight, train or bus ride from Belgrade.
Some of our favorites include the following:
Ohhhhh Slovenia, Ljubljana and Lake Bled…such a magical country, city and place! Slovenia is a hidden gem in Europe-at least to us Americans (and I hope it stays that way). This gem is nestled in between Croatia, Austria, Hungary and Italy and is truly unique compared to the other Balkan countries. It has such a chill sophistication about it and, coupled with epic landscapes and amazing people, I didn’t want to leave. We spent 4 months exploring the Balkans and Slovenia was one of our FAVORITES. The people are warm and friendly, the food is of a wide range and totallydelicious, the scenery is unreal and Ljubljana is truly an unforgettable city! Check out my blog post on Slovenia for more information!
While Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city, is closest to Belgrade, I highly suggest taking the time to see Split and Dubrovnik as well!
Zagreb is a bustling town full of rich history, lush green parks, beautiful architecture, delicious food and kind people. There is an abundance of things to do in the city but if you’re pressed for time, you can certainly see most of the highlights in one day. I’ve outlined an itinerary for you to maximize the most out of your day in this beautiful city, complete with a map.
Fortunately, Zagreb is small enough that the entire city can be explored on foot. Plus you’ll get free wifi all around the city center, pretty amazing huh?! This capital city also boasts more museums per capita than anywhere else in the world. So if you’re a museum buff, you’ll surely be in heaven. It even has been given the nickname ‘the city of museums.’
Montenegro….When you think of Europe, what comes to mind? For an initially not-so-well traveled American, I always thought of Paris, London, Barcelona, Rome…you know where I’m going with this…
Yet, when Josh and I came to Europe and decided to explore ALL it had to offer for an entire year, we were quickly surprised by all the places that weren’t on the list. Budapest, Bratislava, Malaga, Dubrovnik and Kotor, Montenegro!
We initially came to the Balkan region (a geographic area in Southeast Europe, which includes old Yugoslavia) to get out of the Schengen Zone. Yet, we quickly discovered that this region of Europe was one the most beautiful of all the places we’ve seen, and is vastly underrated. One of the hidden gems of this region is Kotor, Montenegro.
I had truly never heard of Montenegro and only learned about the country from a great Serbian-American friend of ours. Her father still lives in this incredible country. She described to us the beauty that Montenegro has to offer, yet you never really can relate to a place unless you’ve been there.
We stayed for two months total in Kotor, Montenegro but all you really need is just a few nights. Check out my blog post about Montenegro for more information.
BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
Mostar, an incredible city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is truly an underrated city. When we were planning out our European travels for 2018, B&H honestly didn’t cross my mind because I hadn’t heard much about it. It wasn’t until we were coming to the Balkan region that I started learning of the history and beauty of this beautiful country. Afterward, I immediately booked our tour to Mostar.
Mostar is one of the most ethically diverse cities in the world, which has unfortunately caused great conflict in it’s past. Conflict still continues to produce division both emotionally and geographically in the city. Cobble stone lined streets, beautiful Turkish architecture, and war torn history makes it such a uniquely beautiful city that should certainly be on your list. Check out my blog post about Mostar for more information!
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