Find yourself in Belgrade for a couple of days without a plan? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Whether you’ve planned in a visit to this awesome Balkan capital or you find yourself here as an unexpected stopover, here’s our guide to making the most of the city in 48 hours.
If you’re arriving in Belgrade, chances are you’re arriving in the evening due to the rather slow trains connecting nearby cities. Dump your bags, meet your new roomies and head out to check out Skadarska – the old bohemian quarter lies just on the doorstep of our hostel. Nowadays this street, although beautiful, has become a bit of a tourist trap. So when you’ve snapped the colourful buildings and pretty flowers, head around the corner to Cetinjska to find some real Bohemian spots (don’t forget to get some Serbian denar on the way!). Walk down this road and on the right you’ll find a large courtyard area with a selection of cool bars and cafes. Snack on burgers or Balkan Cevapi, drink local beers for less than a Euro and be thankful for finding yourself in Belgrade.
First thing: (as early as you can make yourself get up)
Head up to Belgrade Fortress while the light is at it’s most gorgeous – you’ll be in for a treat with panoramic views of the old part of the city, Belgrade Waterfront and all the way across to Novi Belgrade. At this time of day you’ll have the place to yourself, with only the odd dog walker for company. We did this at 7am having just come off a night bus – the perfect way to shake off the early morning cobwebs.
Had your fill of viewpoints? Head back to the Main Street for a coffee and breakfast at Koffein, just off the Main Street. This coffee bar has plentiful delicious blends to choose from, as well as snacks, smoothies and excellent free wifi to boot – so we can forgive them for the slightly surly service (I mean you are in Serbia…).
Feeling re-fuelled and re-energised, check out the Jewish historical museum, where you can find out about the history of the Jewish people across former Yugoslavia. Alternatively, join up with the free walking tour which starts every day at 11am at the Republic Square (Trg Republika) behind the monument. You’ll learn more about Belgrade’s downtown area and just tip the guide whatever you feel you can afford.
Lunch – get yourself over to one of the many street cafes for a long and traditional Serbian lunch. Most Balkan countries take their biggest meal in the middle of the day, when it’s too hot to be out in the sun. Enjoy gorgeous meats fresh from the grill, served with roasted Peppers and fresh bread. If you’re not feeling that, try Sopska salad for something lighter. It’s a Balkan classic: onion, fresh tomatoes and cucumber topped with grated feta. Simple but delicious – especially washed down with the local tipple, Jelen!
Wander over to the Serbian National Bank, where you can get your face printed on a Denar note. Why, you may ask? We really aren’t sure. But it’s free and pretty entertaining. You’re also able to look around the exhibition and beautiful old bank building while you’re there. Plus you get a free souvenir! Bargain.
Take a gentle stroll over to the Nikola Tesla Museum. Here you can check out the discoveries of Serbia’s most famous and influential engineer. He basically invented electricity, so he’s a pretty big deal! Even if you’re not big on scientific stuff, this museum is well worth a look.
While you’re in the area, swing by the Temple of Saint Sava, one of the most important and largest Orthodox Cathedrals in Europe. It’s white domed exterior is stunning in the evening sunshine, and well worth the visit even while the interior is currently being renovated.
Enjoy a relaxed dinner and some beers in the Bohemian quarter.
Head back to the hostel to get ready for your night…
Start with a few drinks – if you like craft beers then Miners Pub is a great spot just around the corner. Alternatively at the opposite end of Skadarlija street from the hostel you’ll find a range of bars which are worth checking out. After something with an edgier feel? You’ll find plenty of bars in the Samvala district with a more bohemian, local vibe. Check out Industrija or Garden for a great start.
Once you’re suitably lubricated with beverages, it’s time to head down to the world famous Sava waterfront to check out the unique bars. Cross over the Brankov bridge (take any bus going towards Novi Belgrade) and you’ll find a row of incredible floating bars and clubs literally in the river. These range from chilled to extremely flashy; Belgraders take their nightlife seriously and tend to dress to impress. If you want to head out to any of the fancier clubs, you’ll need to do the same and match their dress code. If you’re sticking to bars there’s no need – our personal favourite is Zappa Barka, a barge-bar inspired by the rock ledgends of the 20th Century.
10am: Time to say goodbye
If you’ve got time before your departure, make an effort to head to the market in Savamala. It’s on your way to the bus stop and is the perfect place to spend the last of your Dinar on tasty local snacks. This area is quickly becoming the new hipster hub in Belgrade, with loads of creative regeneration bringing the area to the attention of students and artists.
Make sure you get some delicious Burek, tasty local veg (Serbian tomatoes are the best) and goey baklava. Not only will they fill you up for the long journey ahead, but the market itself is a fascinating insight into Serbian culture and every day Belgrade life. Plus, it’s on the way to the bus and train station… so you may as well right??
Belgrade is one of our favourites and, we think, one of the most underrated capitals in Europe. Think Budapest before it got famous. This city has it all: awesome nightlife, beautiful buildings, tons of modern and ancient history and an arty undercurrent that’s just about ready to go mainstream. There are so many things to do in Belgrade, why not check it out on one of our trips? Our Eastern Trooper is always a favourite, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, follow The Balkan Trail down to Europe’s most fascinating region.
Fancy exploring in a group? Why not join like-minded backpackers to explore the Balkans with our 2 or 3 week Balkan tours!