EUROPE'S HIDDEN JEWEL
Belgrade is located on the banks of Danube and Sava rivers and is geographically on the crossroads between East and West. After the war and the bombings of the 90ties, Belgrade is finally back on its feet. The amount of travelers continues to increase each year, and the city is finally back on all tourists' radar.
Belgrade is a fairly small city, and most of the attractions are walking distance from each other. Visitors can use public transportation or move around with many taxi companies that operate in the city. It is easy to hail a cab on the street and most taxi drivers will understand where you want to go (but it is always best to write down the address just in case).
Airport transportation is mostly done by taxi and it can be arrange at the baggage claim area. There are at least 2 stands and info desks where you can arrange and be directed to taxi station. Be aware of many hustlers – they will approach as soon as you leave the baggage claim area, and this is very common tourist trap. These drivers are illegal and can be very expansive. The cab ride from the airport to any hotel/hostel in downtown area should not exceed 1800-2000 dinars ($18-20), and by law taxis are required to use taximeters for fares. If you need recommendation of honest taxi drivers, text us.
In recent years, Belgrade opened many new boutique hotels in downtown area. There are some brand hotels like Marriott, Crown Plaza, and some are coming in near future (Sheraton). Here are some examples of hotels we recommend due to service, location and price:
River Sava divides Belgrade into the Old Belgrade and the new Belgrade. The old part of town has more to offer sightseeing wise, while the new part hosts most shopping malls, restaurants and bars on the rivers, and business.
The downtown area has a lot to offer, from the Tasmajdan Park and St Mark’s Church, country's Parliament and the main Post Office building (both built between two World Wars), to Terazije and the Square of the Republic from which you can either towards the fortress throughPrice Michael’s Street or toward the Bohemian part of town called Skadarlija. Knez MIhajlova (Prince Michael’s) Street is a long pedestrian street with many boutiques, restaurants and cafes. The street is always packed no matter the time of the year, especially during afternoon and weekend hours. All these interesting attractions are very close to each other, and are within a walking distance. Same as the statue of the horseman on the Square of the Republic, it is named in honor of Prince Michael who managed to get back the control of some cities throughout Serbia from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.
Skadarlija or Skadarska Street is the main attraction that you must visit. It dates back to the 17th century and it continues to be the Bohemian part of town. This stone covered street was once place where city's poems and intellectuals met for drinks and food. There are many good restaurants with live music playing daily, and it’s a great place to start tasting Serbian food. The Serbian cuisine is a mixture of Turkish, Greek, and Austro-Hungarian cuisines, as cultural influences of these countries/empires were present throughout the history. Lunches and dinners usually time and are mostly designed for customers to enjoy the food at their own pace. You will have to ask for a check, no one will just give you one in hopes you leave soon.
The cuisine is predominately based on grilled meat, with some vegetables and fresh seasonal salads. The traditional local drink “rakia” (rakija=brandy) is going through a revival phase and there are few bars in town that focus on serving a wide variety of this drink only. It is served mainly as aperitif and is made of different types of fruits- traditional one being plum, but apricot, pear, grapes, and quince are equally as popular. The alcohol content is around 40% and it's served in small elongated glasses that look like a mini vase called "cokanjcic" (cho-kahn-chich).
Kalemegdan Park or Belgrade’s fortress is located at the end of Knez Mihajlova Street (Prince Michael’s Street), and it's overlooking the confluence of Sava and Danube rivers. The current fortress dates back to the 13th century but the location itself was inhabited before, even during the Romans. The entrance is free, with only few paid attractions such as the Military museum.
In recent years, Belgrade offers free walking tours of the city, and we highly recommend taking them as it gives you enough information to learn about the city without being overwhelming. We took http://www.belgradewalkingtours.com and they meet every day, come rain or shine at 11am and 4pm at the Republic Square. The tours are mainly free which means they earn their living through tips, so be generous. Also, there is an open bus tour operating during the summers season. National Gallery and Ethnography museum are just few things that might be interesting to visit.
Lastly, Belgrade's most famous attraction that annually brings thousands of young visitors is its very unique Night Life. Considered the best in Europe by many renowned writers and bloggers, Belgrade's nightlife scene is an absolute fun. The clubs are all over town, but the most fun ones are on the rivers. The nightclubs are stationary floating vessels that are open every night and close at dawn the following day. The cooler temperatures by the river make this a perfect spot for those hot summer nights. Dress to impress as many clubs are trying to keep Soho-type standards. Serbs love listening to live music, so many clubs and restaurants feature great bands that play both the most popular international hits or local music, both pop and folk. Whatever your taste it, you will find something you like here.
This is not to say that Belgrade is not a cultural city. On the contrary- the city has its opera, balletand several theatres that preform daily from October to June. The Philharmonic Orchestra plays every Friday at the “Kolarac” trust building, so if you are staying longer, you can buy the season tickets.
Serbian cuisine, history, nigh life, hospitality and overall zest for life of its inhabitants make Belgrade a definitive must-visit-bucket-list kind of place. The city that never sleeps will offer you some unforgettable experiences for sure.