Belgrade is one of the most interesting and beautiful cities in Europe. This city represents a blend of western modernism and the Eastern way of life. It has a rich history and culture, pleasing places to visit, bustling daily life, great food (there is a reason why Serbia has an adverb “good food country”) and above all, hospitable people with warm hearts. Great prices, too. Here you will find the best travel tips when travelling to Belgrade for the first time.
Located on the estuary of the Danube and Sava rivers, Belgrade is the type of place you can return to again and again, always coming across something new to enjoy. If you decide to take a trip to Belgrade, even a short one, you can’t go wrong. How do get to Belgrade? Where to stay? What are the main ways of transportation? I know these questions are going through your mind. But, do not worry. Pieces of advice from “locals” are always the best, right?
History of Belgrade
Like any other European city, Belgrade has a lot to offer. Only in this part of Europe, you can feel a little bit more of historical ambience. Due to 500-year-long Turkish empire, Belgrade is an intriguing combination of Western and the Eastern life. Its geographical position, basically at the crossroads of the West and East, had brought many battles over the past centuries. Although battles damaged the city several times. “white city” (literal translation of the name) had always managed to stand up again on “his feet”.
How to get to Belgrade?
So, you have decided to take a trip to this city? In case you are travelling to Belgrade by plane, you should know that Belgrade’s airport “Nikola Tesla” is approximately 30-40 min far from the city centre (where are located the most important things). You should be aware of that in Belgrade there are no subway or metro (yet and unfortunately), so ways of transportation can be limited:
There are 2 bus lines that lead to city center:
Line A1: Rounds go every 20 min from the airport and the final destination is Slavija Square from where you can get a taxi or bus to a further place. The bus ticket is only 300 RSD (around 2,5 EUR) and you can buy it ONLY from a bus driver. A bus is the cheapest way of transportation and it is the best for those who do not travel with lost of luggage. Bus schedule you can check here.
Line 72. The ride starts from the airport and it will take you Zeleni Venac plateau – the main bus terminal in the city and very close to Knez Mihailova street and Republic Square. A ticket is around 90 RSD for 90 minutes, but first, you will need to buy a BusPlus ticket, available at most corner shops and newsstands. You buy an empty card for RSD 250 (2 EUR), and then add up the rides to that. Bus schedule you can check here.
There is a taxi desk at the airport, located in the baggage reclaim area, wherein you can approach and tell where do you wish to go. You will be given a voucher for the taxi waiting near to the airport exit in a queue. Enter the first available, give the driver the voucher, and on the drop-off, you will pay the amount.
Price can vary from 1400-6000 RSD (12- 50 euros) depends on the desired destination. Be aware of unlicensed taxi drivers circulating around the airport, because they might try to offer you a ride and charge you more than needed, so my advice is to better to take a taxi via info desk.
Travelling to Belgrade by Railway can be a good option too, as Belgrade has railway connections with several European cities. This way of transportation is popular among students or young people. However, trains are not fast nor too comfortable, although the railway can be really cheap. For more info, you can check here.
Moving around Belgrade
When it comes to getting around Belgrade, my advice is to avoid taxis as they can be quite expensive. You can easily use public transportation. Standard ticket price when riding public transit (buses, trolleys, trams) in Belgrade is RSD 90 for 90 minutes (during those 90 minutes you can change as many buses or trams as you like).
At night, there are no frequent buses and a price of 150 RSD per ride is fixed. Do not be afraid to ask people on the street in case you need a “space orientation” as pretty much everyone is willing to assist a stranger. Renting a car is an available option too but, note that traffic is not really good organized and that Serbian drivers can be….hmmm…” nervous” during pick time (around 5PM). Or simply just go by foot everywhere. It is healthy and it gives you the insight of the city.
Where to stay when travelling to Belgrade?
Next question that will come up is where to stay in Belgrade? Booking accommodation or hotel in Belgrade is not a challenge as there are all sorts of it and prices aren’t too high. Good deals you can find on Trivago.com or Booking.com. Price of hotels can be slightly higher if you are staying over in renowned areas such as Vracar, Dorcol, Old Town, Novi Beograd. A
If you are travelling to Belgrade on a budget, my advice is to rent an apartment instead of a hotel. It might sound contradictory, but renting an apartment can be cheaper than a hotel. Good choice of offers of apartments you can find on Booking.com or Stannadan.com. Price can be around 25 euros or more per day for even a luxury apartment with no additional taxes! With service equal to hotels and tons of space you will get, you can’t go wrong with it.
Food and nightlife in Belgrade
I do believe that you have heard already somewhere that nightlife is great and that food is even better in Serbia. Yup, it’s a truth. If you are a fan of a good bite,
Good choice of restaurants you will find in Skadarlia street. If you are a fan of loud and crazy music, nice places and good (and affordable) drinks there are plenty of nightclubs as well. Did you know that Belgrade has nightclubs floating on Sava river? How cool is that! Check the best places to go out here.
The main attractions in Belgrade
As a historical place, Belgrade has a fair choice of attractions:
Kalemegdan is the attraction number one for tourists and the most important historical monument in the city. Kalemegdan is an area surrounding Kalemegdan Fortress, Kalemegdan park, and Nebojsa’s tower. Belgrade fortress is located above conjunction of two rivers Sava and Danube. In history, represented important strategical and geopolitical point between Western and Eastern forces. At the beginning of the 20the century has been re-built in today’s shape. Nowadays, Kalemegdan, its romantic park and Belgarde zoo (in the down part of the fortress) is the epicentre of a gathering for old and young people.
Knez Mihailova Street
This is one of the main pedestrian zone and shopping street in Belgrade, between Kalemegdan and Republic Square. It is one of the must-see places when travelling to Belgrade. It was named by Serbian prince, Mihalo Obrenovic who ruled in the 19th century. As you go along this one-kilometre long street you will be able to see many buildings as treasurers of 19th-century architecture.
At the beginning of the street and on the left side, it is located “Obilicev
Skadarlia or Bohemian Quarter
Skadarlia is next on the list of main attractions in Belgarde. It is located right below of Republic Square or just a few hundred meters from Terazije Square. Skadarlija street managed to maintain its old look with cobblestone asphalt, a more or less identical facade and bars that stand in the same place for more than 150 years.
Skadarlia had became popular at the end of the 19th century when represented the main place of gathering Serbian poets, artists, painters and all those who like to drink, discuss politics and enjoy the atmosphere of a tavern.
Do not skip this area as there are the best restaurants and “tavernas” serving Serbian traditional food. Most of them have bands playing Serbian traditional music live. Having dinner in a nice “taverna” while the musician is playing on “tamburica” (music instrument) just for you is a special experience just by itself.
Sent Sava’s temple
Just one 100 meters from Slavija Square, located on Vracar plateau there is as St. Sava’s temple -Serbian Orthodox Church. It’s one of the largest churches in Europe, dedicated to St. Sava-founder of Serbian Orthodox Church. On the left side, you will See National Library while in front of it is a beautiful plateau, crowded with many people chilling on the sunny days.
Kalenic Pijaca is a most popular food market in the city, located in Vracar Municipality and around one kilometre far from Slavija Square. Belgrade citizens often go to the food market to buy fresh vegetables and fruits. Cooking and eating freshly made meal every day is a “must” here. Many vendors on the market are growing and selling by themselves, so you might even find a food that is purely organic. But you need to ask if there are any pesticides used! Those who want to see how authentic Serbian life looks like do not miss this place when travelling to Belgrade for the first time!
Ada Ciganlija is a river island that was turned artificially into a peninsula in the past century. If you are coming to Belgrade over the summer, you should definitely check up this place! It is commonly known as “Belgrade’s sea” as Ada is the very visited recreational zone, popular for its beaches, sports facilities, fancy cafes. You can try bungee-jumping, bike ride, rent a motorcycle or seat in one of the plenty of cafes stretching along the river, have a coffee with friends and catch a Sun. Totally relaxing!
Whoever comes to the idea of travelling to Belgrade, it will be as surprised by all the beauty of the place. I am very happy to hear from many foreign people talking about food, nature, good prices, culture in Belgrade with excitement in their voice. Finally, foreign people do not associate anymore Serbia only with wars, NATO bombarding or considering Serbia as a part of Russia (nop, Serbia and Siberia are not the same things, ok?). As often happens, a treasure can be sometimes hidden and you need to look for it.
If you want to read more about my travels to another European cities check out my previous post Travel guide for a weekend trip to Milan.