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In November my friend and blogging friend Liv and I went to Belgrade in Serbia for the weekend. It was a City and Country I had wanted to visit for a while as I really love Eastern Europe. We saw flights to Belgrade from London Luton for £40.00 return with Wizzair and we knew we could visit Belgrade on a budget so we thought- let’s go!
(I use Skyscanner to book all of my flights and this is how I find great deals like this!)
I’m not going to lie, Belgrade didn’t hugely impress me, but at the same time I don’t regret going.
I guess I knew Belgrade wasn’t going to be a city with plenty to do and lots of icon’s and activities otherwise it would be more popular than it is. It’s a city to wander around, to take in the architecture, the history and imagine what it was once like as the booming capital of Yugoslavia.
It’s also a city to visit when you’re on a budget as it’s really cheap! I spent £90.00 there which included my accommodation for 2 nights in a hostel, meals for 1 and a half days, a taxi to and from the airport and museum entry. So with flights on top, that’s £130.00 in total for a European city break!
If you want my tips and tricks on how to go away on a budget see which I based on this trip – How to Plan, Book and Have a European City Break on a Budget!
I also think visiting Belgrade at the start of Winter made it less desirable. When we were there we kept being told how lovely it is in summer, especially when all of the bars on the river are open. On the note of bars, Belgrade is very popular for its nightlife, which Liv and I were too tired to experience so I guess we missed out on that too!
If you want another opinion of Belgrade, have a look at this post: Is Belgrade Worth Visiting?
We spent 2 nights and 2 days in Belgrade. In hindsight it would have been better to stay for another full day and a third night as that way we could have gone on a day trip to Novi Sad, (more on that below).
Anyway, I would still recommend going to Belgrade if it’s somewhere you have been thinking about going or you are travelling Eastern Europe/the Balkans, and if you are, here are a list of places to visit in Belgrade and things to do in Belgrade to keep you busy and occupied whilst you are there!
You’ll see Skadarlija as one of the top places to visit in Belgrade and that’s because it’s the bohemian quarter of the city and a little different to everywhere else in Belgrade. The main street is very pretty with a fair few restaurants lining it and it has a nice cobbled street. The restaurants are ‘tourist’ restaurants which show in the prices, although they are still very cheap! We went for lunch down here and also returned back one evening for a beer and to listen to some local music which was really nice. It reminded me a bit of Tbilisi in Georgia actually.
The fortress is located in the more modern side of the city. It’s a nice place to visit although quite random too. It’s a big area and from the top you can see where the River Danube and River Sava combine and go their separate ways.
The fortress is also home to lots of ruins as you would expect, plus Belgrade’s Gallery of Natural History Museum, a Military Museum, a Torture Museum and an Amusement Park. We also walked past an area that is filled with fake dinosaurs which were of a quality I would have expected to see in the 80’s or something but it entertained us that’s for sure.
It’s also home to a citadel and a beautiful gem of a church called Saint Petka. If there is one thing you do in the Fortress I would say it has to be visiting Saint Petka and the buildings surrounding it as its simply stunning! See pictures below!
If you want to see Belgrade on a tour to really understand the city, I’d recommend doing one of these:
Church of Saint Sava
I would say that this is the best place to visit in Belgrade and because honestly, what an icon it is! You have to visit the Church of Saint Sava when you’re in Belgrade!
On a map it looks quite far from the city centre and it is a bit of a walk but it isn’t that far and I would suggest walking as it’s interesting to see parts of the city outside of the centre area.
The Church of Saint Sava is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and apparently it ranks among the largest church buildings in the world! It’s really impressive from the outside but you need to make sure you go inside too. In November 2017 when I visited the inside of the church was not yet complete. Initially I was a bit disappointed although it was really interesting to see an empty dome and church still covered in plaster as I’d never seen this before. However, the downstairs part was open and it’s so impressive! There is gold and colour and murals everywhere! If the rest of the church is going to be anything like this it would convince me to go back to Belgrade for sure!
Church of St. Mark’s
Live and I walked past the Church of St Mark’s on the way to the Church of Saint Sava, decided to pop in and were totally surprised! It’s another very colourful church on the inside so if you’re passing by I would recommend heading into the Church of St Mark’s in Belgrade.
The Bombed Buildings of the City
There are a number of buildings in Belgrade that are still how they were after they were bombed in the 1990’s. These buildings are marked on maps of the city and at first I thought it was quite sombre and strange to be visiting them. However, firstly I am a history geek so I found it quite interesting to see, and secondly, I found out that the government has decided to keep them in the state that they are as a reminder of the past.
The Museum of Yugoslav History
We had to get a taxi here as the museum is located in the Dedinje district which is quite out of the centre of the city but it was really easy to catch a taxi from both sides, plus it was nice to drive out of the centre to see more of the city.
I would definitely recommend going here if you enjoy history and are interested in Yugoslavia.
The museum is essentially about Tito- the dictatorial Communist leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, from 1945 until his death in 1980. Tito is one of the most significant personalities of the time. The museum says that ‘Fateful Yugonostalgics and those who are not, visit the Museum of Yugoslav History with a single wish to revive the story about the country that doesn’t exist anymore.’ Tito’s grave is also on the site of the museum.
Personally I thought Tito was bad and always associated that name with negativity and although I do not know the whole history at all, my time at the museum showed me that although he may have done bad things he kept Yugoslavia together and looked after a lot of its people when they needed him.
For an extremely local experience head to Kalenic Market. It’s Belgrade’s biggest open air market selling all types of fresh produce. If you’re visiting in the Summer this would be a perfect place to visit to pick up some bits for a picnic. It’s also great if you want to take some jarred local food home. Or like it was for us, it’s interesting to walk around and purely observe local life. It’s worth noting and remembering that local life does seem quite hard in Belgrade, it’s not a rich city especially for the majority.
Day Trip to Novi Sad
As I mentioned above, in hindsight we should have spent our full day in Belgrade on a day trip to Novi Sad or stayed for a full day on our second day. Novi Sad is a city in northern Serbia on the banks of the Danube River. It’s fortress dates back to the 17th and 18th Century and I have heard it’s a city held back in time. The buildings there look beautiful and in some ways I would go back to Belgrade just to visit Novi Sad!
To prebook a trip to Novi Sad and visit some other nearby areas, check out these great tours there from Belgrade!
Drinks by the River
If you are in Belgrade in Summer or even in late Spring / Early Autumn for the best place to go for drinks in Belgrade I would recommend going down to the Rivers edge and seeing what bars are open. I didn’t get to do this but this is another thing I would love to do if I went back!
Check out the Nightlife
As I said, Liv and I didn’t experience any of the bars and nightlife in Belgrade but every blog post I read before going suggesting checking out the bars so it must be good!
If you’re travelling solo but still want to experience the nightlife or meet people to go out with, booking onto one these two tours would be a great idea!
The Botanical Gardens were closed for some reason when we went by but they looked really pretty and google days they are open every day so heading here for a walk around would be nice.
Take in the architecture
There are a lot of nice and interesting buildings in Belgrade, some of which are very much from the Soviet times which is interesting so always keep a look out to see what gems you can see!
In terms of food we didn’t have time to try many places but 2 places we ate at in Belgrade and I would recommend are:
We got recommended by 2 of Liv’s friends who have spent a bit of time in Belgrade to visit Walter Sarajevski Ćevap. The dishes are really local (although not great for Vegetarians!) and it was a nice atmosphere. Above all it was cheap! We had a beer each, a starter, main and side to share and a dessert each and it came to £11.00! They do have an English menu too so if they don’t give you one initially, ask for it.
We randomly found this place on the way back from the Church of Saint Sava and it was a good find. It’s good for lunch or brunch and looks like the ‘in’ place for brunch for the younger generation. It’s cosy and modern and offers a great selection of food. I went for the Shakshuka which was delicious! They also have English menus available.
I don’t like to be negative or put things down on my blog but I also want to be honest and ensure you see and do only the best so 2 things I would recommend NOT doing in Belgrade are:
Staying in the Hedonist Hostel – I saw this hostel recommended on another blog but honestly I wasn’t a fan. It was cheap at £10.00 each a night in a private twin room and the staff were nice and helpful but the beds weren’t great, the shared bathrooms were pretty manky, it was pretty cold, there was no atmosphere and overall it was quite old and dated, so I would book elsewhere if I was you. I did see lots of other accommodation options on Booking.com ranging from hostels to high-end hotels, have a look at them here.
Free walking tour – I love a free walking tour and generally I’ve always had good experiences but the official free walking tour in Belgrade was quite a let down. The guide was nice but he talked too much and weren’t visiting that many places. So much so that Liv and I left about half way through once we were in the fortress as we were so bored! I would save your time and money (money for the tip) and walk around yourself visiting the places I have mentioned above!
I hope that this post gives you some ideas of what to do in Belgrade and helps fill your time there!
There’s actually a lot of hidden gems in Belgrade and a lot of prettiness. You just have to relax into the fact that not everything you see will be exciting and iconic, so may be one day I will go back to Belgrade to visit Novi Sad, drink in the bars a long the river and see the inside of the Church of Saint Sava once it’s finished!
To look on their app instead, click here!
For accommodation in Belgrade for all budgets have a look on Booking.com.
If you’re looking for European City Break inspiration, check out some of my other blog posts!
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