Belgrade, the ideal citybreak in the heart of Balkans

Dobro docli (welcome) to the city that never sleeps – the capital of Serbia!!

Belgrade comes out where Danube meets Sava river, and it is a city full of energy, monuments of great cultural value and, above all, joyful and hospitable people. Start your tour by walking down the most famous and bustling pedestrian street, Knez Mihailova, which is packed with grand buildings and mansions of stunning architecture that will remind you of both Budapest and Berlin. This is where the heart of shopping and market stores beats. Stroll around its backstreets to discover jolly cafes and neat places to eat.

Arriving at the end of the pedestrian street, cross over to a magnificent landmark, the imposing and iconic Kalemegdan Castle, which was built to protect the city, serving as a citadel fortress against hostile invasions. Wander through the huge parks and elegantly shaped gardens and visit the impressive military museum as well as the zoo with its juvenile dinosaurs. Just outside the palace, stand in front of the statue of the victor (Pobednik), a proud symbol of the city representing the battles won by Serbia against the Ottoman empire.

The fortress frequently hosts various cultural events, including concerts, theatre performances, artists’ exhibitions, funfairs and flea markets, making it even more fascinating. It is also a popular spot where both Serbians and tourists gather along its walls to relax and enjoy the sunset with panoramic views of the bridges connecting old and new Belgrade. If you actually find yourself on the hill overlooking the rivers during the sunset, you will become addicted to the combination of the castle’s lively atmosphere and the romantic colours of the dusk. Use your camera; the photos will really blow you away.

If you carry on by going downhill to the Sava’s riverbanks, you will arrive at the cosmopolitan Savamala area, with the glorious restaurants and modern cafes which rather follow the urban culture. In addition to the well-known walk alongside the river (promenade), the riverboats also offer attractive tours on the Danube. At the same time, a number of floating nightclubs (splavovi) welcome queues of people, while parties with loud alternative and all kind of music take place on the docks until dawn, justifying Beograd’s reputation for the vibrant nightlife and intense entertainment.

Heading back to the centre, very close to one of Belgrade’s many beautiful squares (Trg Republik), walk along the cobbled streets of Scadarlijia. This is the bohemian neighbourhood with a number of traditional tavernas (Kafanas), offering the national cuisine’s specialties alongside with an artistic touch of live music scenes. Keep walking and pass by Gospodar Jevremova, Gospodar Jovanova, and Kneginje Ljubice streets, jam-packed with fancy cafes and trendy bistros.

It really seems impossible to miss out the Church of Saint Sava, which is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world. Due to its size (82 meters high and 4000-ton dome), you can spot it in your vision field from various parts of the city, even from very far away, in a way that some people use it as a compass. Make an appointment with science at a special museum, the one of Nikola Tesla, where you can participate in the inventor’s experiments, an interesting activity for every visitor’s itinerary sightseeing.

The city spreads out to Novi Belgrade, which presents a monotonous building post-war architecture with socialist residential blocks. This zone area is definitely a lot less attractive in contrast to Old Belgrade (Stari Grad) where you can view with all the attractions and few of the bombed-out buildings.

Get a taste of Belgrade by drinking a glass of rakija at the end of a meal or when it is offered as a welcome drink. It is a spirit made from various fruits, most commonly plum, apricot or quince and the taste is stronger when home-made. Typical dishes of the Serbian cuisine:

  • Snickel Karadzorjeva, the dominant speciality
  • Pljeskavica, the national dish of Serbia (spicy burger with a mixture of beef, pork and lamb)
  • Burek made in one of the classic bakeries, probably the most common breakfast option, highly appreciated as an option especially after a stay up late night
  • Ćevapi, a famous Balkan dish (kebab with a mixture of beef and pork or lamb)

If you have spare time, break out from the centre for a while and visit the picturesque and mysterious Zemun. A lordly air is blowing there, like a fairy tale that harks back to its historic past. It is a charming district with a fusion of alluring views and spirit of antiquity that combines the neo-rich element and the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian era in an atmospheric ambient. Wander around and climb up the hill, where the Gardoš Tower stands. From this point, you can marvel at the sunset and the sunrise with a unique breath-taking view of the terracotta rooftops, alleys as well as the beautiful city of Belgrade. Take a rest at any of the beautifully decorated cafes by the Danube, or sit on a bench by the riverside and talk to the friendly locals or fishermen during the twilight.

The route to the unique Zemun quay is ideal for cycling or even a day’s walk on foot. After crossing the Brankov Bridge, a paradise of activity options will soon be unfolded: it’s lake Ada Ciganlija! A huge space for recreation and relaxation away from the noise of the city with countless alternative activities: basketball, volleyball, tennis, golf, paintball, roller skating, kayaking, wakeboarding, etc. The place is a green oasis, ideal for picnics and yoga classes under the trees, while the Great War Island and Lido Beach are the focus during hot summer days, options for swimming.

Recommendations for pleasant and nearby excursions
a) Hiking to Avala Hill (16 km from Belgrade)
b) Escape to Pančevo following the route along the Danube, passing by the oldest brewery in Serbia!
Suggested one-day or two-day destinations: Novi Sad and Timisoara (Romania)
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