Belgrade.. A guide to the unheard wonders of the Balkans.
Belgrade, the city known best for its beer and music. Or perhaps not known at all? Across the many people that I have come across through-out the past few years, only a few were aware of the existence of Serbia. I too were never quite aware of its true existence until I experienced its beauty unfold before me.
I have traveled around, encountered a number of different things that took my breath away, but never has a city captured my eye the way this city has.
Rich with culture, tradition, nature and architecture, Belgrade proved to be a city for all.
Regardless of where you’re staying, finding a bus should be easy (stations are typically located next to a kiosk where you will purchase your ticket from). With a destination in mind, ask the kiosk owner which station you should exit at. If the kiosk owner speaks no English, simply tell him your destination and he’ll reply with the name of the station. There are two types of buses, one that has recently been introduced, that being the small, white one (has comfortable seats and AC in) and the other being the big yellow or red bus that has its destination written on it. Both cost approximately the same but use different routes.
If you decide to use a taxi, ask a local to call it for you. Alfa-M should be your best choice since if you call them first, you’ll get a 20% discount on your fare (9807).
Must Do 1:
Now that you have your transportation tools, head to Knez Mihailova. It’s the main shopping zone, as well as central Belgrade. It’s a elongated street with a number of Cafes, Bars and restaurants for you to enjoy your morning cup of coffee or for you to go bar hopping at night. Walk through till you reach the end of it and cross the street and into the garden. Once you’ve found yourself within the garden, you’ll know you’ve made it into the Fortress of Kalamegdan. Kalamegdan consists of the citadel and is located on the confluence of the River Sava and Danube. Prepare your camera, you’re up for one hell of a view! Or perhaps a show? Sometimes you’ll find individuals playing different instruments whilst enjoying their morning beer. The music played is often traditional and is done using the accordion (their cultural instrument).
Get as lost as you can within Kalamegdan, there’s something to explore around every corner. Through-out the mornings, sellers set up a number of booths that offer a variety of things to purchase. From silver, souvenirs to hand-made clothing. If you do choose to purchase anything, don’t hesitate to bargain, some can surprise you and drop down their price to half! Also, there are a number of snack stalls and kiosks that can be found around the fortress.
But then again, you haven’t come all the way to simply find a flea market. Kalamegdan is home to one of the oldest churches found in Belgrade and it’s by far the most beautiful church I had seen.
Ružica Church was severely damaged during the First World War and thereby was renovated during the year of 1925. The church was once used as a gunpowder magazine during the 18th century. Covered in what makes it look like the church of nature, it is even a treat for the eye at night as they light it up with different colors.
As you continue walking through the fortress, you will find a number of landmarks that are worth visiting.
Must Do 2:
After you had finished touring around Kalamegdan, head backwards and cross the street back to Knez. Once you’re in Knez take the first left, right after the ‘ICE BOX’ restaurant. Keep walking straight till you find a fairly small metal gate written on it “Smokvica”. This is by far my favorite spot! This is not a place you should miss going to. Smokvica, which translates to the name of the fruit ‘common fig’ is an outdoors Cafe, decorated with trees, plants and freshly planted common fig, is the perfect spot for you to have breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s ambiance suits everyone’s preference. With a nature loving atmosphere, delicious food and unique drinks, Smokvica never fails to satisfy you. It also offers Bed & Breakfast services for a reasonable price considering its location and high-end rooms which suit the expectations of any traveler. You can reserve through the link below:
SMOKVICA D.O.O Omladinskih brigada 90a PHONES: Kralja Petra: 069 44 64 056 Airport City: 069 44 64 054 Savograd: 069 44…smokvica.rs
P.S Don’t leave without trying their home-made wine!
Finding Book shops that sell English books is pretty tricky in Belgrade. Across the street from Smokvica, there’s an English book shop that sells all genres of books as well as the ones you might typically struggle to find, such as Mein Kampf by Adulf Hitler.
Must Do 3:
Keep Smokvica on your left hand and walk straight ahead then take the first left. On your right side you’ll find the only mosque present in Belgrade out of the 273 that had existed. Named, Bajrakli Mosque, the mosque was damaged after being set on fire during 2004’s unrest in Kosovo but was later repaired.
You’ll be asked to pay 200 Drs. as an entry fee, the fee is taken and used for charity funds.
Must Do 4:
You’re in for an artistic street! Brace Krsmanovic 4 is THE place for any artist or art admirer to be in. One of my favorite areas in the city. It’s a narrow street covered with art graffiti, worth a walk through and there’s a number of great bars and pubs where you can sit for a cold beer, a nice meal or simply for a great night out to bar hop.
Take a bus from Knez towards USCE mall, the bus will make a stop right before it crosses the bridge, that’s your cue to step out. Find the stairs and go downwards. Once you do, keep the bellow building on your right and turn left to enter the street of the arts.
If you do get lost, don’t hesitate to ask for directions, the street is one of the most famous ones in the city.
Must Do 5:
BEST PLJESKAVICE IN THE CITY! Belgrade isn’t known for its burgers but it’s known for its greasy, delicious, buds treating Pljeskavice! Head to Voždovac, one of the urban neighborhoods in Belgrade. The bus will stop at a round about in Vozdovac. Once you get off the bus, look for the garden (it’s the only garden in that area). Right next to it you’ll find the best meal waiting for you! Odds are, the smell will direct you to it.
If you find the below building, keep it on your right and walk straight ahead till you find the Pljeskavice place on the corner of the street, on your left.
Can that possibly be it?
Among the many other things that you shouldn’t miss out on would be visiting:
Must Do 6 — The Avala:
Which is a known mountain in Serbia, overlooking the city of Serbia. I have only visited the Avala once, almost five years ago and although I do not remember it quite vividly, I do remember the beautiful architecture and sights that it had to offer.
- Avoid taking a taxi to the Avala, since it’s uphill, its distant from the core of the city and you will be charged for an expensive fare. Find a bus that goes through the up-hill route and hop on it till its last stop and from there you can take a taxi.
Must Do 7 — Ada:
is a river island that has artificially been turned into a peninsula, located in the Sava River’s course through central Belgrade. There are a number of different things you can do in Ada, including:
- Bungee Jumping
- Rent a bike or roller-skates
- Swimming and getting the cinnamon tan we all long for
- Enjoying a nice walk
- Having a tasty break-fast, lunch or dinner.
Note & Tips:
- You don’t necessarily have to go to Ada during the morning since it’s fairly beautiful at night as well (Some restaurants have live performances).
- Keep in mind that it is a public beach, if that bothers you, you may consider going to private pools. There’s a number of them located around the city.
Must Do 8 — Ski Straze
Is one the most under-rated places yet one of the uniquest spots in Belgrade. It’s a restaurant located uphill, overlooking Belgrade. During summer it is one of the few perfectly located places where you could simply sit back, have your break-fast and bottle of beer whilst simply enjoying the view. During winter, it offers skiing opportunities for the sport lovers!
Whether I’m looking to spend a relaxed morning somewhere or a chilled night out, Ski Straze had always been my winning choice.
- Last food orders are taken at 11PM so make sure to order your meal before-hand. The restaurant is separated into two areas, the lower part offers food whilst the other, located on a higher hill side only offers drinks. It does get pretty crammed at night so if you’re feeling hungry but want to take advantage of the best spot, reserve a table, have your dinner and come back to your spot!
LAST BUT NEVER THE LEAST
Although I have previously lived in Belgrade for four years, I had never gotten the chance to attend a beer fest until the summer of 2015. Beer Fest takes place on an annually basis and lasts for 5 days. YOU SHOULDN’T MISS OUT ON IT. The Beer Fest offers free entry, a unique music program and an amazingly wide range of both, local and international beer brands which are purchased at a considerably low price. If planning your trip to Belgrade, make sure you don’t miss out on it. Drink your beer, jiggle your belly for 5 days in a row.
You can follow the link bellow on more information as to when the upcoming Beer Fest will be held, as well as the music program to be offered:
The festival has received numerous awards. One of them is the recommendation of the British newspaper "The Independent…www.belgradebeerfest.com