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Belgrade (Serbian: Beograd) in Serbia isn’t on the usual European city break travel list, but not for the lack of tourist attractions. In fact, Belgrade has a similar set sights as other popular European cities and some which are unique to the city. So check out this list of Belgrade attractions worth seeing.
Want more practical information on Serbia? Check out my Travelling to Serbia post.
BELGRADE ATTRACTIONS: TOP 10
Surrounded on two sides by the National Museum and the National Theatre, Republic Square (Trg Republike) is Belgrade’s people-watching hub. It’s also the starting point of walking tours – Belgrade Free Tour (orange umbrella) and Belgrade Walking Tours (yellow umbrella) come recommended.
A long & varied history means plenty of historical sites with Kalemegdan Fortress dating as far back as Roman times. Locals say that this is the most important of the Belgrade attractions to see, given its 2,000 year history. The park where the fortress is located is perfect for a picnic and has great views of both the Sava and Danube rivers.
Knez Mihailova is the flagship shopping strip in Belgrade, complete with food vendors and performers, although smaller (and much cheaper) boutiques are dotted around the city centre.
SVETI SAVA CHURCH:
Sveti Sava is the world’s largest Orthodox Church. While I didn’t visit inside, the spectacular outside was sufficiently impressive for me.
Belgrade has two rivers as the city sits on the confluence of the Sava and the mighty Danube. The Sava River also flows through Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, and Croatian capital, Zagreb. The floating nightclubs (splavs) are located on the western side of the Sava.
The minute I saw the Hotel Moskva I immediately knew that this was/is the gathering point of the rich and famous/infamous. Even if its price is beyond your budget, a coffee in the terraced cafe is a must.
Dorćol, east of Knez Mihailova, has transformed itself from a Serbian mafia hang-out to an area with great artisan cafes, bakeries and bars. Given its proximity to the city centre and its laid-back vibe it’s an ideal place to stay.
As for the rest of Belgrade, you will not go hungry or thirsty. Every street has at least one café or bakery. Coffee, rakija (fruit brandy), pastries and 300-400g of meat are staples of the Serbian daily diet combined with ice-cream from pop-up parlours. But Dorćol did the cafe culture the best.
MUSEUM OF YUGOSLAVIA:
Josip Broz Tito ruled Yugoslavia from the 1940s until his death in 1980. His mausoleum in the House of Flowers is part of the Museum of Yugoslavia. It’s an area of quiet reflection with display boards detailing his life. The utterly fascinating part of the complex is the Old Museum which houses artefacts from his life, gifts he received and other post-Tito ephemera.
As for recent history, Belgrade & Serbia were subject to NATO bombing in 1999 and I’ve explored that in my Travelling to Serbia post.
Belgrade has many parks but Tašmajdan Park became my favourite. It had a great mix of ages, from elderly women chatting among each other, to perfectly-sculpted young men making use of the outdoor gym. The Church of St. Mark is located on the north side of the park and behind this lie the remains of the RTS building which was bombed by NATO in 1999.
The words communist and architecture usually find themselves in sentences with grey, concrete and monstrosity. However, Belgrade has managed to preserve some gems from bygone eras such as the Ottoman Bajrakli Mosque and the 19th century National Theatre.
BELGRADE FINAL THOUGHTS
Pariah state is a phrase commonly used to describe Serbia since the 1990s conflict and it’s a description the country is shaking off.
With popular European cities such as Dubrovnik and Venice experiencing over-tourism perhaps Belgrade’s timing is just right.
English is widely spoken among most young people, an outward-looking demographic focusing on tourism to build sustainable careers. Their prime wish is the arrival of Ryanair flights to Belgrade although I fear hordes of stag parties descending upon the city should their wish materialise.
Looking for accommodation in Belgrade? Check out the great selection of hotels booking.com has to offer.
MOVING ON FROM BELGRADE
I did a day trip to Novi Sad in the north of Serbia while staying in Belgrade.
From Belgrade, I travelled onwards to Montenegro via the spectacular Belgrade to Bar train.