Recommendations and tips for a stay in Europe’s most underrated capital.
If you haven’t been to Belgrade in the summertime, you’re missing out. The weather is perfect, their outdoor café and dining culture is charming, the nightlife is excellent (including Belgrade’s famous riverside splavs), the women are gorgeous (and guys aren’t bad looking either), people are friendly, open, and many speak English, the architecture is beautiful, and it’s all incredibly cheap. This is a European capital that’s overlooked by far too many. And for people looking to travel prior to the end of Covid restrictions, Serbia’s borders have been open since May 2020.
Wanting to connect with my Serbian heritage, I spent three months in Belgrade during the summer of 2020, with a primary goal of studying the language. I loved Belgrade so much though that I’m hoping to revisit every summer. When I later convinced a friend to visit Belgrade and he asked for recommendations, I wrote up the following list. Hopefully it’s helpful for you as well.
Written together with my girlfriend Meena Sengottuvelu, who I discovered most of these places with.
- Franš — Romantic, fancy restaurant with a unique garden ambiance. Popular with Belgrade’s social elite including politicians and celebrities.
- Mokum — A romantic place with beautiful views and fancy food.
- Moon Sushi — Possibly the best sushi in Belgrade.
- Viva — Restaurant/bar on a splav (river barge).
- Kafeteria — Local café chain. The one on Knez Mihailova was great.
- Additional restaurants we liked: Balkon, Plato, Kalemegdanska Terasa (best aglio e olio I’ve had in my life), Mama Shelter, Baraka, and Angry Monk.
- Cheap eats: Walter, Cevap, and Hleb & Kifle (bakery with locations all over the city).
- Belgrade’s summertime outdoor café and dining culture is one of the highlights of the city, with endless good places where people will hang out for hours.
- Podrum Wine Art — Go to the rooftop wine bar.
- Hilton SkyLounge — Rooftop bar and restaurant with great ambiance and views.
- Boho Bar — Cool vibes, in Kalemegdan.
- Shisha Hill — Really cool place, try to go on a Friday or Saturday evening when it’s full of dressed up people (but on those days you’ll need to go early or make a reservation).
- Sinnerman — Rooftop bar popular with locals. A bit hard to find.
- Druid — Speakeasy with great drinks.
- Bar Central — Excellent cocktail bar.
- Slatkoteka — Donut shop with unique flavors and cronuts.
- Crna Ovca — Popular ice cream place.
- Ferdinand Knedle — Unique Serbian dessert. They also have savory varieties.
- Dolce Principessa — Delicious cakes.
- Princess Puff — Delicious puff pastries (and nothing else).
- Mandarina Cake Shop is a recommendation from reader the_windfucker.
- Kalemegdan Park & Fortress — Large, popular park. Also includes a zoo.
- Ada Lake (Belgrade’s beach) — Paddle boats, rollerblades, bicycles, cafés, etc.
- Great War Island — Military outpost and beach. During the summer the military builds a temporary bridge from Novi Beograd, and opens it to the public. Essentially a park and river beach, but the water there is not clean like in Ada Lake.
- Zemun (and Gardoš tower).
- Church of Saint Sava — Under construction since 1935. Only the underground crypt is finished and open to visitors.
- Avala Tower and the Monument of the Unknown Hero.
- You can walk between these two, and go up to Avala Tower’s observation deck.
- Avala tower is visible from the city but a bit of a drive out.
- Moskva Hotel — Make sure to try their famous Moscow Šnit at their outdoor café!
- Knez Mihailova — Pedestrian only major shopping street.
- Skadrska street, in the Skadarlija district — This is the bohemian quarter, with cobblestone streets and full of traditional kafanas. A bit touristy but definitely worth seeing.
- Srahinjića Bana — Belgrade’s “silicone valley,” so called because of its reputation as a spot where the city’s dressed up and chest-enhanced women go to be seen. It’s a great street with lots of outdoor cafés, hookah bars, etc.
- Nikola Tesla Museum — If you have an interest in Nikola Tesla, this might be worth checking out. However, it’s small and doesn’t have a ton of information, so it’s probably better to visit with a guide who can go into more details.
- Most museums can be skipped (none of the others I visited were worthwhile). The Military Museum in Kalemegdan park might be better, but it was closed due to Covid so I couldn’t visit.
- Kalemegdan catacombs tour — There are several tour operators that will do this, but some parts might be closed due to Covid.
- Ram Fortress. And it’s only a little further to Silver Lake and Golubac Fortress.
- We didn’t visit these, but some local recommendations were: Niš, Novi Sad, and Uvac Canyon.
- Serbian Language and Culture Workshop — Offers group and private language lessons for reasonable prices. Can be as intense as you want, or as little as one week with one 90 minute class a day. The teachers here are great.
- BeoArt House — Lovely place with evening sessions. They don’t provide actual classes, but they will help you with whatever kind of art you want to do (drawing, painting, sculpture, calligraphy, etc.) and give you all the supplies, so you can just show up.
- Shooting ranges — There are several shooting ranges in the city, but we never made it out.
- Tennis — Novak Tennis Center looks great, and there is also tennis in Kalemegdan park.
- There are basketball hoops in many public parks. Just bring your own ball.
- Skydiving at Skydive Serbia — Not far from Belgrade. We looked into doing this, but never got around to it.
- Clubs — Belgrade’s splavs (river barges) are super cool, and a famous source of the city’s nightlife. They were all required to close at 11 pm due to Covid, though, so we didn’t visit any.
- You are technically supposed to get a White Card at your local police station within 24 hours of arrival and anytime you change your address. Airbnbs and hotels are supposed to do it for you automatically, but make sure to check with them. You probably won’t get hassled without one if you stay away from the police, and they won’t check for it at the airport when you leave.
- Banca Intesa has no ATM fee (unlike Raiffeisen Bank which charges RSD 500 per withdrawal).
- Buy rechargeable bus passes at the kiosks, though passengers are rarely checked so you can mostly get away with riding for free.
- Google Maps is okay for bus routes, but it doesn’t include all of them. Download the Moovit app instead.
- Car:Go, Pink Taxi, and Yandex Taxi are their apps for rides (no Uber), but metered taxis are also plentiful in popular spots.
- Food delivery apps are cheap, but will require you to have a Serbian phone number. No Uber Eats.
- Stari Grad is the old town of Belgrade and the best place to stay, if you don’t mind paying a little more (prices are quite reasonable).
- Airbnb has lots of options, and there are often discounts for stays of 28 days or more. Much better than trying to get a local apartment rental, which might require a yearlong contract.
What am I missing? If you’ve been to Belgrade yourself (or live there!), share your tips and recommendations in the comments! I’d love to check them out during my next visit.