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News Alternative city breaks: what to see and do in Belgrade

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Alternative city breaks: what to see and do in Belgrade

From cutting edge street art to brutalist Yugoslav-era architecture, here are the best things to see and do in the beautiful Serbian capital, Belgrade.

Where is Belgrade?

Sandwiched between the Danube and the Sava rivers at the crossroads of southeast Europe, the Serbian capital has a rich and chequered history. As a result, Belgrade is an intriguing mix of architecture and cultures and has a dynamic energy flowing through its 1.2m fiercely-proud locals who have rebuilt the city many times. Belgrade is now an increasingly popular destination for tourists and is rivalling many of its Balkan neighbours.


Weather in Belgrade

Depending on the time of year, the weather can vary massively. In summer months temperatures soar to as high as 40°C, while in winter it can plunge as low as -20°C. May or September could be the best time to visit if you like mld but warm weather, say around 25-30°C.

Find cheap flight to Belgrade

Is Belgrade an expensive city to visit?

As well as an agreeable climate, Belgrade is cheap in comparison to other major cities in Europe. Beer costs around £1.50* or even cheaper in some bars, while a three-course meal can be yours from only £5. Taxis are also good value, as is accommodation.

Where to stay in Belgrade?

There are a range of hotels in Belgrade so you’re bound to find somewhere to stay that’s well within your budget. Choose from international chains to boutique b&bs – check out nearly 300 options and find rooms from as little as £40* a night. The centre near Republic Square is where most of the business hotels are located for convenience, but for something more authentic check out Dorcol or Savamala where boutique hotels and guesthouses can be found.

Art Deco apartment block, Dorcol

Top things to do see and in Belgrade

1. Take in the views from Belgrade Fortress

Top of your list should be Belgrade Fortress, the city’s oldest remains, perched high above Belgrade in Kalemegdan Park. They offer amazing views across Belgrade and from this vantage point you can explore many ancient monuments before soaking in the full spectacle of the city below.

Belgrade Fortress, Kalemegdan Park

2. Visit Tito at the Museum of Yugoslav History

For history and architecture buffs, the Museum of Yugoslav History is a short taxi ride from the centre. Wander through its magnificent main building discover everything you ever wanted to know about Yugoslav revolutionary, Josip Broz Tito, who is now buried here in the House of Flowers in the museum grounds.

3. Cycle around the city

The centre of Belgrade is easily navigated by foot or bike and many of the more popular streets are centred around Knez Mihailova Street and Republic Square. Here you’ll find plenty of shops plus an abundance of cafes, restaurants and museums. Just southwest of the centre is the picturesque river island of Ada Ciganlija, known locally as the ‘Belgrade Seaside’ and an ideal spot for a sunny afternoon cycle or swim. This is a real oasis of tranquility in the centre of the city, that is if the kids are in school – on public holidays the island is mobbed with picnicking families.

Cycle around the city

4. Indulge your sweet-tooth

To cool down, take a trip to Moritz Eis on Bulevar Mihajla Pupina and try some of the famous ice-cream flavours while relaxing in the cafe’s minimalist interior. What will your order be? Melon? Beetroot? How about hibiscus?

5. Rub shoulders with Belgrade’s bright young things in Savamala

The modern cultural scene is centred in Savamala, where Mikser House acts as an unofficial HQ for the city’s young urban creatives. The multi-use venue, housed in a former warehouse, hosts a bar, cafe, shop and events and exhibition space in its mezzanine. The beer garden is the prime people watching space to relax with a cold beer. Savamala is also home to many al fresco art galleries and impromptu event spaces during summer and an intriguing place to wander around.Bewildered by all this style? Let Beo Project Tours guide you through Savamala’s street art, created by locals and renowned international artists, and spot their beautiful works adorning the crumbling facades across the neighbourhood.

Street art, Savamala

6. Shop for art at the supermarket

Design lovers will lose track of time when they visit Supermarket, a modern concept store, art gallery and restaurant, selling everything from 3D printed bow ties and local jewellery to architectural city guides and top notch food and drink.

Supermarket concept store

7. Admire Belgrade’s architecture

If post-socialist architecture is your bag, you’ve come to the right place. Belgrade has more brutalist masterpieces than Novak Djokovic has served-up aces at Wimbledon. In addition to its many city centre residential and commercial structures, the Palace of Serbia and Museum of Yugoslav History are striking examples of the world-class architecture on offer. Admirers of classical Austro-Hungarian architecture will appreciate palatial turn-of-the-century homes which could easily double as Vienna or Budapest. Check out the derelict government buildings, including the former Ministry of Defence, the most striking symbol of the NATO bombings in the 1990’s. Rumours of Donald Trump wishing to turn the enormous building into a hotel have so far proved unfounded…

Former Ministry of Defence

Where to eat in Belgrade

The city centre can be a tourist trap during summer, so head to the more relaxed neighbourhoods in Dorcol and Savamala for a more authentic experience. On the banks of the river Sava, a row of new restaurants and bars with outdoor decks and stunning views across the river Sava. Iguana has an Asian-influenced menu and live jazz every evening. Ambar offers a modern twist on Balkan cuisine and a tasty unlimited brunch while Communale, a super stylish modern Italian, has the cool crowd. Belgrade has a growing number of new vegan and vegetarian restaurants such as Radost Fina Kuhinjica in Savamala which serves up delicious quesadillas and tacos on its cute outdoor terrace and is an ideal spot to cool down in a summer evening.

Street art, Savamala

Where to drink and party in Belgrade

They love to party here in Belgrade, so much so that they seem to have run out of space on dry land and have been forced to open bars and clubs in underground venues near the fort and on moored boats on the banks of the river Sava. First up, for a few ice-cold beers in Savamala head to Tranzit Bar on Braće Krsmanović or Prohibicija, next door to Mikser on Karađorđeva in the early evening before the crowds arrive. For outdoor dining in the summer, Dorcol is the area to be in, with many bars and restaurants boasting bright and comfortable outdoor space. As your night progresses (and the drinks continue to flow) head back up to the top of Kalemegdan Park and pay a visit to Barutana, a huge outdoor nightclub and home to an international line-up of famous DJs during the summer – don’t forget to take in the views while you knock back a rakija (fruit brandy) here. If you’re still feeling steady on your feet then Sindikat, a club on a boat by the Sava, is the place to be seen with the beautiful people.

What’s next for Belgrade in 2016 and beyond?

The city may be rapidly evolving but the pace of regeneration is not popular with everyone. A new waterfront development is proving controversial, with many locals protesting against the revamp of the riverside area, claiming it will benefit only businesses and not residents. However creative working spaces such as Nova Iskra now act as hubs for young urban creatives. with over 200 members using the space as a start-up hub and citing Savamala’s creative energy as a decisive factor.

Street art, Savamala

About the author

Sam Poullain // @sampoullain

Hi, I’m Sam and I’m based in Edinburgh where I work on social media and content across the EMEA region, having previously worked out of our Asia Pacific HQ in Singapore. I also write for our News site and co-host the Skyscanner Travel Podcast. Outside of work I’ll be spending some time with my little boy and probably planning our next trip. Drop me a line on Twitter with any recommendations!

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*Published August 2016. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

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