“Belgrade is boring, there’s nothing to do there.” – the Dutch lad said as we were chatting about travel.
I’d told him my plan was to stay in Belgrade for two weeks.
Belgrade is the Serbian capital and is a city with a population of ~2,000,000. A city consistently said to be one of the best party capitals in the world.
Despite this, in the back of my mind, I was thinking about what this guy had said. The way he said the words really struck me. The mission? Prove him wrong and find a variety of things to do in Belgrade so I can encourage others to visit in the future.
- Take A Free Walking Tour On Your First Day
- Need Some Hills In Your Life? Avala Mountain Is For You
- Head To A Local Football Match (even if you hate football and sports)
- Have Streetside Shots Of Rakia On Skadarska Street
- Take A Wander (and eat) Around The Market
- Visit The ‘Electric’ Nikola Tesla Museum
- Stalk People Watch In The Parks
- You Probably Should Get Amongst The Local Cuisine
- Have A Big Night & Party On The Boats
- Run-About The Adventure Island, Ada Ciganlija
- Last Pieces Of Advice About Things To Do In Belgrade
- Adventure in You Recommendations: Where to Stay in Belgrade
Take A Free Walking Tour On Your First Day
If you haven’t taken a free walking in tour in Europe, put aside any grievances about guided tours (I have them), and join one. At worst, you wander off awkwardly halfway through if it isn’t your thing.
On the tour, I joined (the 4 pm Downtown tour with Belgrade Walking Tours we got to try homemade Rakia! Can’t complain about that. Despite the majority of history chat going in one ear and out the other for me, it’s helpful to understand some of the city history while you’re exploring on your own. Ignorance isn’t always bliss. Another benefit? Being able to ask the guide for pro tips on where to eat, drink, and party.
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Need Some Hills In Your Life? Avala Mountain Is For You
Technically Avala is a mountain (if the peak is 500 metres above sea level, it’s a mountain) but it’s more of a big hill offering epic 360-degree views of Belgrade and the surrounding area. You can get to the base of the mountain with public transport (16 km from the city), and hike to the top along the various trails. On the mountain, you’ll spot the massive TV Tower, a restaurant, viewing platform, and various war monuments. Belgrade has a relaxed vibe to the city, yet there is a lot of people, so this is the perfect city escape.
Head To A Local Football Match (even if you hate football and sports)
I find football culture fascinating, in particular, the hooligans’ ultras, the most dedicated of supporters. I saw both the top Belgrade clubs, Partizan and Red Star FC, play. Arriving at Partizan Stadium was airy. It was like walking up to a metal concert, so dark and gloomy (black and white are the team colours). On the inside, sitting by the ultras is insane. They’re chanting for 90 minutes, and more than likely you’ll see them light flares, and in general having fun in their own unique way. You can check out my full football experience here (along with a video)
Oh and you can watch some football. And the cost is just a couple of euros. Despite the presence of riot police (a norm for Eastern European football), I felt 100% safe and will definitely remember this. One of the biggest rivalries in football is Red Star FC vs. Partizan match.
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Have Streetside Shots Of Rakia On Skadarska Street
Trust me on this, it’s not as bad as it sounds. One of the popular spots to eat is the cobblestoned Skadarska Street. It’s lined with restaurants where you can have a bit of a banter with the waitresses convincing you to choose their restaurant (negotiate some freebies). After 5 pm you’ll see a table up on your left as turn onto Skadarska from Bulevar Despota Stefana Street. On the table are shots of rakia for 1€. The people serving them are up for a chat and can help you choose a good flavour.
This was better than going to the nearby Rakia Bar. If you make me choose a favourite Rakia flavour, I choose walnut.
Take A Wander (and eat) Around The Market
I had a morning routine in Belgrade. This involved a stroll to the market where they sell a bunch of random things (shoes, second-hand clothes, electronics etc.) and a large variety of fruit, veggies, nuts, and bread. My go-to breakfast was 100 grams of walnuts (~1€), 2 bananas (~40 cents) and a punnet of raspberries for 80 cents.
This was one of the best markets I’ve come across in Europe for the quality and price. I’d eat it over near the (sometimes friendly) cats in the adjacent park. The market is on the corner of Kamenicka and Kraljice Natalije.
Read: How I survived Europe on a Budget
Visit The ‘Electric’ Nikola Tesla Museum
I’m not going to lie, when I heard of this, I thought this was a museum about the car brand, Tesla. Silly, Jub. Turns out Nikola Tesla (the electricity guy) was born near Zagreb, however, Belgrade adopted him as their own and have curated 1,000’s of personal and working documents from Nikola’s life. Including a display where you can see electricity being made. You’ll want to spend about an hour here.
Stalk People Watch In The Parks
Easily, people watching is one of my favourite things to do in Eastern Europe as the parks are quality. Travelling gets hectic, so while some people choose cafes as their people watching place of choice, I choose parks (and ugh, they smoke inside cafes in Belgrade). If I’m alone, I’ll find a spot and will most likely be reading, meditating, and hanging out. One of my favourites was in the fortress, which is a local picnic/hang out and have a few beers place for the locals too.
In one park, I had a lovely chat with this lady north of 70, thankfully she spoke English. She needed a break to catch her breath before she went on to tell me lots of random stuff about how her pregnant daughter is never happy. 10/10 random.
Related: Tips for Traveling Europe
You Probably Should Get Amongst The Local Cuisine
Ugh, food isn’t my shindig (silly vegan), but I didn’t have much of a choice after reuniting with friends from Aussie & NZ. Two of the national dishes you must try are Pljeskavica and Cevapi, also suggested on the walking tour. They are both grilled meat dishes and found all over the city. Hey vegans, you might be fairly limited in traditional restaurants but if you can order something with Ajvar, you’re away laughing. I now buy bottles of Ajvar and eat straight from the jar, it’s that good.
Have A Big Night & Party On The Boats
Alright, this is probably what you’ve been waiting for. Belgrade has some epic nightlife, pretty much every night of the week. In the city, there are hundreds of bars, but once the evening starts getting closer to midnight, the core party area is the Sava River as the clubs are on boats in the river.
Depending on a bunch of variables, there might be just a couple of boats partying or you might be able to choose from the 20 or so that line the river by the Brankov Most Bridge. I went to a couple boats during my time there. The first boat wasn’t spectacular, to be honest. The beers were about 3 euro, not bad, but it was more of a pun with very minimal lighting.
During my last night in Belgrade, I went on board Shake’n’Shake. I felt like I was in Vegas as we paid an obscene amount to get a table and a bottle of vodka (150€) if I remember correctly and around 13€ for a gin and tonic! Although the flashy lights and fancy dress isn’t my style now, I have to say it was a good night. If you enjoy a good boogie, you’ve got to try one club at least. Ask your tour guide about the different boats is my advice, some you can even book a table in advance online.
Also, careful when catching a taxi on the way home. We almost got in a fight when they tried to charge us 40€ for the same ride that cost us 7€ to get there.
Run-About The Adventure Island, Ada Ciganlija
Ada Ciganlija is an island on the river 5km from downtown Belgrade. You can walk there via the waterfront, a glorious walk in itself, or take a bus. The island is an adventure spot that comes alive in the Belgrade summer. You’ll find lots of beaches, usually with pebbles. There are a few small sandy stretches but you’ll need to get their early. What I came down for was the 55 metre bungy jump from the top of a crane! Unfortunately, my research let me down though. The bungy jump is only open from May to end of August. Whoops. If heights aren’t your thing, there are plenty of water sports options to keep you happy.
Last Pieces Of Advice About Things To Do In Belgrade
Well, there you go. Belgrade might not have a tonne of OMG once in a lifetime attractions, but this is a cool city (every cool city has lots of street art) to include on your Balkans itinerary. We haven’t even crossed the bridge into the newer part of town (except to party) where you can visit a cafe owned by Novak Djokovic. If you love history you’ve got to visit the Museum of Yugoslavia. Appreciate religion? The Church of Saint Sava is one of the biggest churches in the world. In terms of day trips from Belgrade, the city of Novi Sad is an hour away, or you could even head south to Nis which is 2.5 hours away or so.
As for the Dutch lad, I’m going to call myth busted. There are 2,000,000 people to entertain so of course there are lots of things to do! Maybe he just needs a dose of travel inspiration.
Adventure in You Recommendations: Where to Stay in Belgrade
As in most big cities, there are heaps of option when it comes to accommodation. Here are a few recommendations on where to stay in Belgrade that will suit every type of travel budget.
Budget Hostels in Belgrade
Hostel Bongo– This hostel is a great choice for those that want to explore Belgrade while on a budget. It offers six modern bedrooms with spacious lockers, a common room, and high tech security system. Plus points for the fact that it comes with a backyard garden where you can chill with a pint of beer and have a barbecue.
Downtown Central Hostel– Centrally located with modern furniture, clean dorms and private rooms as well as a great common area, it’s no wonder why this hostel is very well rated when it comes to places to stay in Belgrade. Located near the bohemian district Skadalija, this place is a great option for those that want to explore the city without having to blow their budget.
Mid-Range Hotels in Belgrade
Bed & Breakfast Garden40- If you’re looking for something that is centrally located, this bed and breakfast is just a 5-minute walk from Belgrade Central Station. It offers clean rooms that have AC and wifi as well as a shared lounge for guests to use.
To compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com
B&B Garni Petrov- Again, if you’re looking for a clean, inexpensive place to stay, nothing beats the Guesthouse Petrov due to its location. Located right in the Center of Belgrade, it is a great choice for those who want to stay in the center of all the action without having to blow their budget.
To compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com
Luxury Hotels in Belgrade
Belgrade Art Hotel– If you want all the modern amenities of a luxurious hotel yet don’t want to break the bank, the Belgrade Art Hotel is one of our top picks. Situated on the famous pedestrian street and shopping zone, this Italian inspired hotel is edgy, comfortable, and very stylish.
To compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com | Agoda
Square Nine Hotel- Located right in the center of it all, the stylish Square Nine Hotel is a great choice for those looking for a modern stay while in the city. Apart from getting a comfortable nights sleep, the hotel also has a spa, wellness center, and free wifi throughout the property.
To compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com | Agoda
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