Whilst most people wouldn’t think of Belgrade as a weekend travel destination yet those who have ventured into this historic city have been pleasantly surprised on what it has to offer the adventurous traveler.
The city is well served by Nikola Tesla airport (most national carriers and some budget airlines fly from here) it is just a short 30 minute taxi drive or 45 minute bus ride away from the center of the city. Public transport is plentiful, regular and cheap on the traveler purse. The optimum months to visit Belgrade would be from May to September recognizing though that the temperature can reach up to 40c in July and August. However, Belgrade offers year round attractions making this an ideal destination at any time during the year.
Accommodation in the city is plenteous and caters from the luxurious to the budget end of the market. My advice would be not to be put off by budget accommodation as it is generally cheap and of a good standard. A lot of the accommodation will be situated within people’s homes and this will give the visitor the opportunity to sample genuine Serbian hospitality at its best.
The first place to visit would be the imposing Kalemegdan fortress with it majestic fortifications and pleasant parks situated within its structure. The fortress offer one of the best views in the city overlooking Novi Beograd (New Belgrade) where the Rive Sava and Danube meet. Belgrade City Zoo is also situated within the complex and would provide an inexpensive diversion.
Next would be to walk through the Old Town known as Skadarlija, whilst admiring the architecture and browsing through the many curiosity shops that line the way. If shopping is on top of your agenda then head towards the main shopping area in Knez Mihailova, where you will be treated to many internationally recognized brands. This part of town really caters for all tastes whether it is jewellery, sportswear, designer clothing and art or antiques. There are also two main shopping centers within the city called Ušće and Delta City although this would require public transport to reach them.
There are also many museums and art galleries that the more artistic natured traveler can browse through at their leisure. Also the city has several parks where you can relax and watch the world go by whilst enjoying the temperate climate. The city has a vibrant club scene which caters for all tastes. There are well established club venues that only get starting after 10 pm or later. Prices are good both for entry and drinks. You will find a young, hip and friendly crowd with the latest tunes who want to party the night away.
My now you should be feeling hungry and ready to take the weight off your feet. Choose from the numerous cafes and restaurants in the center that cater for all tastes and pockets. If you are looking to sample some traditional cuisine then I can personally recommend Sarma (stuffed mincemeat encased in cabbage leaves), Paprikaš (slight spicy pork and paprika stew), Ćevapčići (mincemeat sausage) or Pljeskavica (hamburger) but please don’t mistake the last two for something you would be served at any fast food establishment in your country. These dishes are tasty, substantial and easy on the wallet.
You may like something to drink with your food. Fresh coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages are available at very reasonable prices. If you fancy a tipple then I would suggest Rakija as an aperitif. This is a strong brandy traditionally homemade made with plum, apple, pear, apricot or grape flavor. The two best local beers to drink would be Jelen pivo (Deer beer) or Lav pivo (Lion beer) and they are really cheap on the wallet.
This has been just a snapshot of what the avid traveler can hope to encounter in a relatively undiscovered city in the Balkans. The Serb people are friendly, welcoming and hospitable. Any attempt from you to speak the language will be greeted with a smile and will open many doors. This city rewards those who wish to try something different but don’t wait too long. I remember travel writers writing similar things about Riga, the capital of Latvia a few years ago, the same can’t be said about it now. Belgrade a city steeped in history, a vibrant, lively center that offers all age-groups something and filled with people who are happy to see you.