The Best Things to do in Belgrade, Serbia

This post is about the best things to do in Belgrade Serbia. Belgrade wasn’t exactly on my bucketlist of cities to visit. I couldn’t think of any exciting things to do in Belgrade Serbia. Neither did I consider the capital of Serbia as a holiday destination.

I ended up in Belgrade during a stop over on my way to Lebanon. The cheapest ticket to Beirut was with Air Serbia with a long lay-over in Belgrade. I wasn’t expecting much, but that is maybe why it was such a pleasant surprise. I found that there were actually a lot of interesting things to do in Belgrade.

Eating at one of the restaurants in Skadarlija neighbourhood is among the top things to do in Belgrade Serbia
There are plenty of things to do in Belgrade Serbia

Why visit Belgrade Serbia?

I must be honest that I was maybe a bit biased against Serbia. My first visit to the Balkans was to neighbouring Croatia and Bosnia. Back in the early 2000’s, stories from the civil war after the dissolution of Yugoslavia were still fresh in the minds of the people.

More than 20 years later, the war is obviously long over and what I found was a new youthful spirit combined with old Eastern European traditions. Belgrade is a vibrant and dynamic city that offers a unique mix of history, culture, and nightlife and there are plenty of things to do in Belgrade.

More and more, Belgrade feels like a hip and trendy European capital. Old industrial buildings from Belgrade’s past as a communist city under Tito’s rule have been transformed into cultural centers. In addition there is beautiful architecture, green parks and a lively fresh produce market right in the centre.

I couldn’t imagine a better way to spent a long transit. Was it enough for Belgrade? Did it taste like more? In one day I could only see to the most important things to do in Belgrade, but it was just the tip of the iceberg. Two years later I returned for a longer visit to do the city justice.

In this post I will share with you the best things to do in Belgrade Serbia.

Belgrade City center
Socialist architecture in Belgrade

The best things to do in Belgrade Serbia

Sava cathedral

The Sava cathedral is actually not a cathedral, but the largest and biggest Eastern orthodox church in the world. Therefore it is among one of the best things to do in Belgrade.

St. Sava Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Sava, a medieval Serbian prince who later became a monk and played a key role in establishing the Serbian Orthodox Church. The cathedral is an important symbol of Serbian Orthodoxy and a place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians from around the world.

The construction of St. Sava Cathedral has been a long and complex process, with work beginning in 1935 and continuing intermittently over several decades.

The cathedral’s striking exterior features a central dome that rises to a height of 70 meters, as well as four smaller domes and a bell tower. The interior is more modest with a simple iceonostasis.

Sava Cathedral is among the best things to do in Belgrade Serbia
The Saint Sava cathedral

Knez Mihailova street

From the Sava cathedral I walked through Belgrade’s main shopping street. Knez Mihailova Street is one of the most famous and beloved streets located in the heart of Belgrade’s Old Town. It is named after Prince Mihailo Obrenović, who played a key role in the city’s history.

Knez Mihailova is always busy and there is a lively atmosphere with lots of shops, restaurants and cafes. You will often find street performances of musicians playing their latest songs. The street is lined with elegant Austrian Hungarian buildings painted in pastel colours. In general, the architecture reflects different styles such as Baroque that makes this also one of the most beautiful streets in Belgrade.

Knez Mihailova street is the main shopping street in Belgrade Serbia
Musicians on Knez Mihailova street

Zeleni Venac market

Just around the corner from Knez Mihailova lies Zeleni Venac. In this neighbourhood you will find one of the oldest green markets in Belgrade that is still functioning.

It’s a great place to look for fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whatever is in season. Despite its central location it is often overlooked by tourists and a very local affair.

If you want to try some Serbian food this is the place to go. Jars with homemade ajvar (red pepper spread), kajmak (cottage cheese spread), pickled peppers and local honey make great souvenirs. You can also try some local cheese or ratluk (the Serbian version of turkish delight).

Zeleni Venac market is one of the best things to do in Belgrade Serbia
Fresh fruits at the Zeleni Venac market
Zeleni Venac market is one of the best things to do in Belgrade Serbia
Nuts and dried fruits at the Zeleni Venac market

Kalemegdan fortress

One of my favourite places in Belgrade is the Kalemegdan park and the Belgrade fortress. It’s a popular place for both young and old. Old men are playing chess while young couples are exploring their new found loves.

The Kalemegdan fortress has a very long and interesting history. The Romans were the first to built a fortification on this site after they conquered the land from the Celts that lived there before. After that the fort was damaged, rebuilt and strengthened by barbarian tribes, the Byzantines, the Ottomans and the Habsburgs. The fortress was again damaged in World War 2 and later restored.

Nowadays it is home to is home to numerous cultural attractions, including the Belgrade Fortress Museum, the Military Museum, and the Museum of Natural History. The best thing that the Kalemegdan fortress has to offer is totally free though. Being on a hilltop, there are stunning views over the surrounding city and the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers.

Insider tip: Come here in the afternoon for a beautiful sunset

Kalamegdan fortress is among the best things to do in Belgrade Serbia
Kalemegdan fortress

Danube river

The mighty Danube river is one of the reasons why Belgrade is such a great city. The best views on the river are from the Kalamegdan fortress.

Another great way to enjoy the Danube river is to go on a Danube river cruise or walk through the Park of Friendship and the neighbouring Usce park where you will find several restaurants on the river bank.

Danube river in Belgrade Serbia
Danube river

Skadarlija, the bohemian quarter

One of my favourite things to do in Belgrade was exploring Skadarlija. This small vintage neighbourhood is full of young people, nice cafe’s and colourful restaurants.

The history of Skadarlija began with the settlement of gypsies in 1830. In the nineteenth century several inns and cafe’s opened up that attracted prominent writers and actors. The car free cobblestoned street is still lined with art galleries and has a creative spirit. There are also a number of great restaurants where you can soal up the easygoing atmosphere.

Skadarlija is one of the most artistic neighbourhoods in Belgrade Serbia
The colorful neighbourhood of Skadarlija

Republic square

Republic square is the main city square in Belgrade and a great place for people watching. It is also home to some important landmarks such as the National Theatre, the National Museum, the Serb Army house and the monument of Prince Mihailo on his horse. Therefore the square is known among locals as kod konje (by the horse).

Belgrade City center
Republic square

Marcus church

The Marcus church is a serene place. I found it more beautiful inside than the more famous Sava cathedral.

The church was built between 1931 and 1940 on the site of a previous church that was destroyed during World War I. The construction of the new church was initiated by King Alexander I of Yugoslavia, who wanted to build a grand church to commemorate the 1918 liberation of Belgrade from Austro-Hungarian rule.

The church was designed by the prominent Serbian architect Petar Popovic, who drew inspiration from Byzantine and Serbian medieval architecture.

Marcus church in Belgrade Serbia
St. Marcus church in Belgrade
Marcus church in Belgrade Serbia
St.Marcus Church interior

Zemun

Zemun competes with Skadarlija for being Belgrade’s most charming neighbourhood. It is a quiet suburb that is a world away from the concrete appartment blocks that dominate the newer parts of the city.

Zemun was actually a seperate town with a long history and it was once part of the Roman, the Byzantium, the Mongol, the Ottoman and the Habsburg empires. It only became part of Belgrade in 1934, but for many it is still a distinct and unique place.

Zemun has plenty of interesting things to do. It is home to a number of beautiful and historic buildings, including the 18th-century Town Hall, the 19th-century Zemunski Kej promenade, and the 17th-century Madlenianum Opera and Theatre.

The location is also quite scenic on the riverbank of the Danube river. I can recommend climbing Gardos hill. The Gardoš Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Zemun. Built in the 19th century, the tower offers spectacular views of the city and the Danube River.

Free walking tours

The young people of Belgrade are quite proud of their city and are happy to guide tourists around to show the alternative side of Belgrade or the remnants of its communist past under Tito. There are several excellent free walking tours offered by Belgrade the Alternative Guide, Belgrade Free Tours and Belgrade Walking Tours. If you want to explore the alternative side of Belgrade on your own I can really recommend this Hipster guide to Belgrade.

Belgrade City center
Socialist architecture in Belgrade

Visit a Museum

Belgrade has a number of interesting museums such as the Tito museum, the Nikola Tesla museum, the Museum of Yugoslav history and the National museum.

I’m not a big fan of museums myself and I found that there were so many other things to do in Belgrade that I never found myself visiting one of them, but I heard that the Tito museum and National museum are worth a visit.

Buying quirky souvenirs

Belgrade is also the place to buy quirky souvenirs. Tito magnets and unfortunately also a lot of nationalistic stuff that shows Serbia still hasn’t given up on its expansionist dreams. In line, it is also supporting Putin. A tshirt claiming Alaska belongs to Russia with Putins stern looking face on it. It can be yours for a few euro’s.

Souvenirs in Belgrade Serbia
Souvenirs in Belgrade

Try Serbian food

A visit to Zeleni Venac will probably make you hungry. Luckily, Zeleni Venac is also home to some cheap local restaurants and bakeries. Serbian cuisine is quite similar to neighbouring Croatia or Bosnia. This means lots of meat and fresh salads.

For lunch I tried out the Balkan version of kebab called cevapcici in which they stuff the pieces of meat in a breadroll with raw onions. It was served with ajvar (red pepper spread) and kajmak (milk based cheese spread). Both dips are delicious with the grilled meats you find in Belgrade.

For a true Serbian meat feast order a rostilj, or a Serb grilled meat platter. This often includes cevapcici, pljeskavica (Balkan hamburger) and homemade sausages. Another Belgrade favourite is the sopska salad that I almost always ordered as a side dish for the necessary greens.

When I was in Belgrade it was cherry season and the market of Zeleni Venac was full of them, so my dessert was cherries as much as I could eat. During my other visit I had Tufahije, A Bosnian dessert of apple in sweet syrup, cream and walnuts.

Cherries at the Zeleni Venac market
Local cherries at the market

Things to do in Belgrade Travel tips

Where to eat in Belgrade Serbia

There are plenty of places to eat in Belgrade Serbia. In fact, Belgrade is a great place for foodies with cheap restaurants serving huge portions of Balkan delicacies.

There are restaurants everywhere in Belgrade. If it comes to location the riverside restaurants in Usce are a winner with beautiful views over the Danube river. Charming Skadarlija or Zemun are also great places to eat.

For cheap eats go to Zeleni Venac. Either buy local delicacies at the market or try some of the fast food eateries. One of my favourite Serbian restaurants on a budget is Mala Gostionica.

The best cevapcici in Belgrade is available at Walter Sarajevski Cevap. The menu also has some other Bosnian foods. I can recommend Tufahije for desert. Apple stuffed with walnuts and cream.

Restaurants in Belgrade Serbia
Belgrade has lots of nice restaurannts

Where to sleep in Belgrade Serbia

Budget dormitory: Belgrade has lots of cheap hostels in its city center. Some recommendations with excellent reviews are Good people design hostel & Balkan Soul Hostel. If you prefer to stay in charming Zemun I can recommend Hostel 1910.

Budget rooms: K43 rooms has private rooms for a reasonable price close to the city center.

Budget apartment: Apartman Rale & Royal suites offer appartments that are a great option for longer stays.

How to get to Belgrade Serbia

Belgrade has a central location in the Balkans and there are frequent buses to other big cities in Serbia such as Nis, Novi Sad and others. There are also frequent buses to neighbouring countries, for example to Sarajevo (6 hours), Sofia (6 hours), Timisoara (3 – 4 hours), Zagreb (5-6 hours) and Budapest (4-5 hours).

Train lovers should not miss one of the most scenic rail journeys in Europe. Read more about this trip on my post about the train from Belgrade to Bar

Belgrade station

How to get around in Belgrade

Many of the city’s main attractions are located in or around the city center, and can easily be reached on foot. Walking is a great way to explore the city and get a feel for its unique atmosphere.

Belgrade also has a well-developed public transportation system that includes buses, trams, and trolleybuses. You can purchase single ride tickets or multiple ride cards at kiosks or on board the vehicles.

When to visit Belgrade

Spring (March-May): Spring is a pleasant time to visit Belgrade, with mild temperatures and blooming nature. The city is not too busy, and prices are lower than during the peak season.

Summer (June-August): Summer is the peak tourist season in Belgrade, with warm temperatures, long days, and many cultural and music festivals taking place. However, it can get crowded and prices are usually higher during this time.

Fall (September-November): Fall in Belgrade brings cooler temperatures, colorful foliage, and fewer tourists.

Winter (December-February): Winter in Belgrade is cold and snowy, but the city is still beautiful and festive. Christmas markets, concerts, and other holiday events take place throughout the city.

Disclaimer: This post about the best things to do in Belgrade Serbia contains affiliate links. If you buy any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me to keep Backpack Adventures alive! Thanks for your support!



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