Belgrade is the capital of the Republic of Serbia and is, as such, the country's largest city with a population of about 1.7 million people. It lies on the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. The city has a long history, dating back to the 4th century BC, when the area was settled by Celtic tribes. Later on, it became the Roman city of Singidunum, and relics of that era can still be seen in the city, particularly at Kalemegdan Fortress. During the middle Ages the town became a Serbian stronghold until the Ottoman invasion. In 1878, when Serbia got its independence, Belgrade became the capital of the new country.
Belgrade city core is not too big. Everything between Kalemegdan, Knez Mihajlova street and Skadarska street is best viewed by foot. Other than that, it is recommended to use other means of transportation. Note that many of Belgrade's museums are closed on Monday. It may be wise to check before making a visit.
Weather in Belgrade
The best months to visit Belgrade are May, June, July and September.
What to see in Belgrade
- Kalemegdan - Belgrade Fortress. Once important military fortification, it now serves as the central park of Belgrade. Accessible from the end of the Knez Mihailova street, it offers beautiful views, especially during sunset. Most part of it is a park and the fortress walls, with several cafes, tennis and basketball courts, museums and observatory. Don't forget to take a look at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, and the statue of Pobednik (Winner), one of the symbols of Belgrade.
- Knez Mihailova Street (Serbian Cyrillic: Knez Mihailova ulica). Main pedestrian street in Belgrade. Crowded during the day and night. Mostly shopping and numerous cafes.
- Republic Square (Main Square). Main meeting point in the city (also called kod konja - "by the horse"), right next to statue of Mihailo Obrenovic (riding a horse), National Theater, National Museum and Knez Mihailova Street. Best place to arrange a meeting.
- Skadarlija (Skadarska street). Pedestrian street filled with restaurants and cafes, most in the spirit of old Belgrade. Live bands playing old Belgrade music can be heard here in the evenings. The street is paved in cobblestone so ladies are advised to avoid wearing high heels, unless highly experienced. Blank-walled buildings on the south side have been painted with impressive 'trompe-l'oeil' paintings to add to the atmosphere.
- Srpskih vladara (Kralja Milana) street, connecting Belgrade Fortress, Knez Mihailova street and Republic Square with Slavija Square and The Temple of Saint Sava dominate the view as you walk towards it. Notice Terazije Fountain, Hotel Moskva (Former Palace of Russia), The Old Royal Palace, following the New Palace, and theater Jugoslovensko Dramsko Pozorište, as you wander around.
- The Old Royal Palace (Serbian Cyrillic: Stari Dvor), at Nikola Pasic Sqaure, built in 1881, it was residence of Serbian kings, now used as Town Hall.
- The White Palace - (Serbian Cyrillic: Beli dvor; English: White Court or White Palace) is a mansion located in Belgrade, Serbia. The mansion is part of the Royal Compound, a real estate of royal residences and parklands located in Dedinje, an exclusive area of Belgrade
- The National Assembly of Serbia (Serbian Cyrillic: Narodna Skupština Srbije), located across from the Old Royal Palace, at Nikola Pasic Sqaure.
- Gardosh (Serbian Cyrillic: Gardoš / Latin: Gardoš) is an urban neighborhood of Belgrade. It is located in Belgrade's municipality of Zemun. Gardos the hill, located on the right side of the river Danube, is a historical and authentic cultural environment with narrow streets, houses and historic churches. At the top of the hill, there is a tower "Sibinjanin Janko" (or Millennium Tower) - height of 36m, which opened in 1896, with a gallery and a beautiful view of the river, and Belgrade. On the hill and near by the river is a large number of restaurants with local food, seafood restaurants and floating (splav) restaurants.
- Belgrade Zoo, Mali Kalemegdan 8. Summer: Daily: 8:00AM–8:30PM, Winter: Daily: 8AM – 5PM. , located inside the Belgrade Fortress
- The Cathedral of Saint Sava (Serbian Cyrillic: Hram Svetog Save). Serbian Largest Orthodox Temple, built from 1935 in several phases. Interior decoration is not yet finished, however visitors have access to the north aisle which is complete and in use. From the quality of the marble and plaster work already in place, it will be stupendous when it is finished. It is located near Slavija square, easily accessed from Bulevar Oslobodjenja.
- St. Mark's Church (Serbian Cyrillic: Crkva Sv. Marka) built from 1931 to 1940 located in the Tašmajdan park in Belgrade, near the Parliament of Serbia. There is a small Russian Orthodox church right next to it.
- Church Ružica (Crkva Ružica) and Church Sveta Petka (Crkva Sv. Petke) are located on Kalemegdan fortress, near observatory (easy to miss, ask for directions). Ružica is first mentioned in the 15th century, and destroyed in the early 18th century. After that it was rebuilt in its present location, and it is the oldest church in Belgrade. It was once again destroyed in WWI by Central Powers, and then rebuilt again in 1925. At this time the church received its unique bronze soldier statues and the unusual chandeliers made out of bullet shells, swords and bayonets.
- Niklajevska crkva (Serbian Cyrillic: Nikolajevska Crkva), built 1745. Located at the foot of the hill known as Gardos (Gardoš), near the Danube, in the municipality of Zemun, Belgrade.
- Historical Museum of Serbia (Serbian Cyrillic: Istorijski Muzej Srbije), Square Nikole Pasica 11 (Tel. +381 11 3398 018; 3398 335). Working hours: Every day except Mondays. The museum is located next to the National Assembly of Serbia. Museum has a rich collection of materials related to the Serbian nation and Serbia from ancient times to the present.
- Nikola Tesla Museum, Krunska 51, ☎ +381 (0) 11 24 33 886 (email@example.com, fax: +381 (0) 11 24 36 408), Tu–F: 10AM–6PM, Sa–Su: 10AM–1PM. Museum dedicated to the man whom Serbs revere. Nikola Tesla (Nikola Tesla) made significant contributions to the development of electric engineering, pioneering alternating current (making long-distance high-energy transfers possible), radio (making base work for today's mobile communications) and AC motors (widely used today, e.g. blenders, vacuum cleaners and elevators), among other numerous inventions. Entrance fee is RSD 150.
- The Residence of Princess Ljubica (Serbian Cyrillic: Konak kneginje LJubice / Latin: Konak kneginje Ljubice), Knez Sima Markovic No. 8 in Belgrade (center). The residence is now managed by the Museum of Belgrade and is used to display the museum material and painting exhibitions. The permanent exhibition at the Residence consists of original furniture, made in Oriental-Balkan style and other styles of the time (Classicism, Biedermeier, neo-baroque).
- Ivo Andric Museum, Andrićev Venac 8. edit Memorial Museum of Ivo Andric, is dedicated to our writer, Nobel laureate. Closed on Mondays.
What to do in Belgrade
- Ada Ciganlija, a river island on Sava River with an artificial lake in the center of the city. The lake has an 8 km long gravel beach, which is visited by thousands of bathers during the summer. This is a great place for sports and picnics (barbecue is allowed in the allotted space) . It also contains a lot of cafes and restaurants, river rafts (bars-restaurants), some of which are opened whole year round. In summer, it is swamped with people wanting to cool down in the water. Beaches in Ada Ciganlija, with restaurants, cafes on the beach, as well as umbrellas, beds and water sports, reminiscent of many sea beaches, and are the right place for swimming, recreation and enjoyment. You may rent bikes or inline skates at several points near the entry to the island. Lanes for pedestrians and bikers are separated. You have over-the-water bungee jumping facility, as well as water skiing. There are terrains for football, basketball, beach volley, golf and tennis. If you are coming from the direction of New Belgrade or Zemun, consider using small boats from Block 70a edge, New Belgrade, which can take you over the river for around €1. During summer season they go every 15 minutes or less, and offer bike transportation as well. There are also many regular bus services from the city center and other districts to Ada Ciganlija. Additional facilities: Adventure Park is open during summer season (usually from beginning of May until the end of September) +381-64/8210-218, +381-63/1679-787. Price for one go through the park is RSD 800 (~€8).
- Go to Avala mount for a day in nature. During summer, bus 400 will take you there from Voždovac terminus. Climb the Avala Tower - the view from the top is magnificent.
- Public Observatory (placed at Kalemegdan fortress). There are four panoramic telescopes installed for daily observations of the city's panorama. This is the unique place in Belgrade for panoramic observations.
- National Theatre. Watch opera, ballet and plays, the main hall is simply amazing. Decorated with gold and artworks.
- Zemun quay, if you have spare time to spend riding a bike, inline skates or walking next to Danube river. For a break just hop on one of the raft bars or restaurants (most of them near the former hotel Jugslavija, and a little further next Gardos).
- Strahinjića Bana street (Serbian Cyrillic:Strahinjića Bana ulica)-known as the Silicon Valley (because of lot of girls with silicon parts:) ) is located in downtown Belgrade, at the end of Skadarska Street (popularly Skadarlija) laterally, and extends to the Kalemegdan fortress and the zoo. Along the streets of a large number of popular bars, restaurants, cafes, gardens (with a slightly higher prices)
Top Events in Belgrade
- BITEF, Belgrade International Theater Festival, mid-September
- BEMUS, Belgrade Music Festival, mid-October
- Belgrade Jazz Festival, around October
- Belgrade Tango Festival, around November
- Rakija fest, mid-December, festival of traditional Serbian distilled alcoholic beverage
- Nova godina, 31 December
- Street of Open Heart, mini carnival held on 1 January, starting at noon, on streets of Makedonska and Svetogorska
- Guitar Art Festival, mid-February
- International Wine Fair, around February, Belgrade Fair
- Belgrade4Youth, last weekend in february
- Belgrade Tango Encuentro, around April
- Festival of new and improvised music – Ring Ring, around May
- FERAM, Belgrade Early Music Festival, mid-June
- Belgrade Light Music Festival, around June/July
- Summertime Jazz Festival, around July
- BELEF, Belgrade Summer Festival, around July–August
- Belgrade Beer Festival, around August
What to eat in Belgrade
Serbs are very proud of their food, which is heavy on grilled meats and sausages, local cheeses and bread. Salads are primarily tomato, cucumber, and onion, or cabbage. Local produce is fresh and organic.
Belgrade has hundreds of restaurants specializing in local cuisine and a few international restaurants. On the whole, prices are cheap compared to Western Europe with main dishes ranging from €5–20 per person.
Snacking and eating on the go in Belgrade are easy and cheap. Bakeries – called pekara – are ubiquitous in the city center, and you will find a wide assortment of breads, sweet and savoury pastries, sandwiches and pizza on offer. Some are open 24 hours. A snack or light meal of pastry and drinkable yoghurt (similar to kefir) will give you an added healthy boost when walking about the city center. For good taste of Sarajevo pie try Fofa (Cyrillic: Fofa) at Kralja Petra 75. Nice gesture is that Fofa does not charge to pregnant women.
Foods that vegetarians and meat eaters alike should try include kajmak (something between cream cheese and butter) and ajvar, a savory spread made out of roasted red peppers.
Most of the fast food restaurants in Belgrade are local and sell baked goods, pizza, sandwiches, and pancakes (crepes). Some may go beyond that, selling Turkish delicacies such as baklava, tulumba and other Greek/Turkish treats.
Walking about the central areas of the city you will find sprawling terraces and cafés, serving all types of coffee and sweets, particularly Viennese type cakes and local specialties. Be sure to try Serbian Turkish style coffee, and chestnut purée with whipped cream, a local specialty especially at Republic Square (available mostly during winter).
However, the most famous dish in Serbia is ćevapčići. Also called Ćevapi, they are a traditional Serbian food that is also eaten throughout the former Yugoslavia. It consists of different types of minced meat mixed together, shaped like small sausages, and then put on the grill. It is usually eaten with diced onion, and is very tasty.
Do not forget to taste the Karađorđeva Šnicla. It is meat that is filled with kajmak and bacon, and then also grilled. It is another traditional Serbian dish that honors the leader of the first Serbian uprising.
Try other traditional Serbian dishes, such as pečenje (roast pork or lamb), veal soup...
Shopping in Belgrade
The stores work into late hours during work days while on Saturdays they normally close around 15.00 and most of them are not open on Sundays. Therefore, finding an activity for the weekend must be thought of beforehand. Exceptions to this rule are shopping malls, usually working every day including Sunday until evening hours (usually 10:00 PM).
Belgrade has many flagship stores, mostly located on Knez Mihailova Street and the Terazije square, or the pedestrian zone, representing assorted high-fashion brands.
Belgrade has 3 shopping malls in the city - Delta City, Stadion and Ušće Shopping Center, as well as more than 30 shopping centers like Merkator, Immo Centar, Millenium, Piramida, City Hall, Zira and others.
Cheaper clothes (among various stuff) can be found all over the city, especially in Buvljak (flea market) and Blok 70 shopping center, colloquially known as Kinezi (meaning the Chinese) because of the ethnic structure of the neighborhood. Both places are located in Novi Beograd zone.
Multi-brand store concept is catching on very quickly, so it's not going to be a problem finding all types of clothes. Best concept stores are Buzz (Knez Mihailova street), chain of street-wear stores called Urban and Avanguardia.
Nightlife in Belgrade
At night, there are bars, cafés and discotheques that are open, selling cheaply priced drinks. Belgrade is reputed to have some of the best night life in Europe.
Belgrade has a reputation for offering a vibrant nightlife; many clubs that are open until dawn can be found throughout the city. The most recognizable nightlife features of Belgrade are the barges (splav), spread along the banks of the Sava and Danube Rivers.
Many weekend visitors—particularly from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia—prefer Belgrade nightlife to that of their own capitals, due to a perceived friendly atmosphere, great clubs and bars, cheap drinks, the lack of language difficulties, and the lack of restrictive night life regulation.
Famous alternative clubs include Akademija and the famed KST (Klub Studenata Tehnike), located in the basement of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Electrical Engineering. One of the most famous sites for alternative cultural happenings in the city is the SKC (Student Cultural Centre), located right across from Belgrade's highrise landmark, the Beograđanka. Concerts featuring famous local and foreign bands are often held at the center. SKC is also the site of various art exhibitions, as well as public debates and discussions.
A more traditional Serbian nightlife experience, accompanied by traditional music known as Starogradska (roughly translated as Old Town Music), typical of northern Serbia's urban environments, is most prominent in Skadarlija, the city's old bohemian neighborhood where the poets and artists of Belgrade gathered in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Skadar Street (the centre of Skadarlija) and the surrounding neighbourhood are lined with some of Belgrade's best and oldest traditional restaurants (called kafanas in Serbian), which date back to that period. At one end of the neighbourhood stands Belgrade's oldest beer brewery, founded in the first half of the 19th century. One of the city's oldest kafanas is the Znak pitanja
In the Lonely Planet "1000 Ultimate Experiences" guide of 2009, Belgrade was placed at the 1st spot among the top 10 party cities in the world.
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