24 hours in Belgrade

View larger map
No image

By Laura Dixon, a Travel Professional

Read more on Belgrade.

Overall rating:4.0 out of 5 (based on 1 vote)
Enjoyable
4
4.0
Useful
4
4.0
Inspirational
5
5.0
Recommended for:
Short Break, Nightlife, Mid-range

From war-torn capital to party town, Belgrade is emerging as one of the hottest city-break destinations in Europe

Belgrade isn’t going to win any awards for beauty – you can still see the ruins of bombed out buildings in many of the city’s districts. But for those with a sense of adventure, there’s plenty to discover in a city that’s coming of age. The former war-torn city has been hitting the headlines for its youth appeal: after years studying abroad during the Balkan war and following turbulence, Belgrade’s younger generation are returning with new ideas, new-found optimism and an irresistible party spirit.
 
MORNING
Belgrade's dark buildings hide plenty of quirky attractions. The commanding Kalemegdan Fortress overlooks the Sava and Danube rivers and dates back to the 3rd century BC. It has a special place in Belgrade’s heart, not least because it’s the place where many young Serbs steal their first kiss. It’s easy to walk to from the centre of the city and entry is free.
 
Grab your lunch at nearby ?. That’s not a typo, by the way, but the full name of a smoky Serbian eatery, famed for its rustic style. It’s the city’s oldest restaurant, opposite the Cathedral (Kralja Petra 6), and serves traditional and good value Serbian food, like corn bread, slow-cooked sausage and beans, and lamb.
 
AFTERNOON
Then take a taxi out to Tito’s mausoleum, hidden in the hills. The memorial to the former Serbian dictator and leader of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia is sombre, all white marble and framed photographs of the revolutionary leader, so scoot round that quickly if politics isn’t your thing, and head to the museum at the back. It’s a fantastic insight into what it must be like to be a political leader, full of gifts he received from other world leaders, from daggers and Japanese hari kiri knives to a full witch doctor costume from Bolivia. It’s like all the world’s best souvenirs have been gathered in the same place.
 
Summer in the city is hot, hot, hot (temperatures reach around 30°C), and on days like that the only thing to do is head to the beach. Belgrade is around 600 miles from the nearest seaside – Montenegro – but Ada Ciganlia island, in the middle of the city’s rivers, is the perfect fix. There’s a pebbly beach, a safe swimming area and even a bungee jump platform set up above the river. Expect plenty of rollerbladers and mountain bikers too, and if you’re feeling daring, cool off on the dry ski slope. It’s not very long and not very good, being indoor and made of carpet, but good for a laugh.
 
EVENING
For dinner, head to rustic and romantic Skadarlija, with its classic Serbian restaurants, black railings and cobbled streets. Sesir Moj (Skadarska 21), which means ‘this old hat’, is the best of these, where you’ll be greeted by strolling minstrels in a restaurant decorated with paintings that wouldn’t look out of place on a houseboat. Expect mustachioed waiters, very strong Serbian coffee, plenty of meat, potatoes and stuffed peppers and a lot of smoke – the smoking ban hasn’t reached Serbia yet. A three-course meal costs around £15-20.
 
If that all feels a bit too twee, take a taxi out of the centre to Zaplet (Kajmakcalanska 2), which is cool, elegant and serves nu-wave food – that is, no heavy bread, pepper sauce or meat dishes. Local celebrities love this joint. Expect the likes of octopus salad, butternut squash risotto and delicate desserts. As with anywhere in Belgrade, tradition demands that you start your meal with a shot of schnapps – the local quince brandy is the best.
 
And then start your evening of fun on Strahinjica Bana street – otherwise known as Silicon Valley. No, it’s not the city’s technology capital; it’s an area of trendy bars, sharp-suited drinkers and some very buxom ladies – silicon-enhanced, hence the name.
 
Hunter bar, complete with retro wallpaper and huge elk antlers on the wall, is a funky spot, as is trendy Pastis, an unassuming and very popular French-style bar/bistro. Serbian beer – called Pivo – is about £1.20 a pint and is stronger than you’d expect. Bijoux nightclubs line the street here and stay open til the early hours; in the summer, they take to the water on barges around Ada Ciganlia, and are unmissable. Expect anything from regular Europop to Turbofolk, a local sound blending Serbian folk music with rock, which has to be heard to be believed.
 
STAY
Try the four-star Balkan Hotel in the centre of Belgrade. It's just a stone's throw from the main shopping precinct and walking distance from the Kalmadegan fortress. Or, if you're feeling daring, Hotel Mr President is a controversial boutique hotel taking world leaders and dictators as its theme. You could wake up in a room overlooked by a portrait of Stalin, Hitler or Lady Thatcher. Disturbing dreams guaranteed.
 
GET THERE
Fly to Belgrade with British Airways from Heathrow from £186 return.  
 

 

Save money on booking

flightshotelscar hire

by following our money-saving guides. They are written by our Simonseeks team of travel gurus.

More information on 24 hours in Belgrade:

Author:
Laura Dixon
Traveller type:
Travel Professional
Guide rating:
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)
Total views:
369
First uploaded:
9 January 2009
Last updated:
6 years 12 weeks 3 days 34 min 11 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Budget level:
Mid-range

What do you think of this guide?

Did it tell you what you needed to know?
Do you agree with the writer's recommendations?

Share your views by leaving a comment on this page.

Community comments (1)

Rating:
4
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Having visited Belgrade recently and reading the guide after the visit, I think the guide a useful insight into what is a lively city. Yes, Belgrade is mixed in terms of its architecture as a prior "Tito" city, but saying that there is a wealth of beautiful places to visit and see. Interestingly enough the cafe culture is widespread and you can simply sit back and watch the world go by, if that is your thing. The central area is compact, and easy to navigate, shopping is limited, and expensive if buying branded items. One of the main draws for me was the lack of tourists; like a lot of the old Communist countries Belgrade is currently off the beaten track. In short it retains its sense of being a working and living city versus the likes of Rome and Madrid that are geared to tourists, and to an extent have lost some of their charm. Decaying buildings and a rabbit warren of streets allow the visitor to lose themselves with the locals. Quirky city? Yes. Attractions I saw ranged from a lady draped in a snake, to the fortress, to the cafes, and men and women parading around in sunglasses.

Was this comment useful?