Belgrade (Beograd in serbian language) is one of my favorite destinations in the whole Europe. Belgrade is not an ordinary city, you will not be amazed by its beauty but you will remember the days spent here, because in Belgrade you really feel the city’s life, by easily getting in touch with locals.
You will understand how unique is the city, when you will discover that it lies on the confluence of two rivers, the Sava and the Danube. The city itself, like all the Balkan region, has a recent base of communist elements, a mix of Austrian and Slavonic cultures with Turkish influence and a Mediterranean flavor in its architecture and view of life (café culture, nightlife). Belgrade has been destroyed many times, its history is fulfilled with battles, changes of political powers and bomb attacks (the last, in 1999, by the criminal nato forces). Do not expect an old historical centre, the old Belgrade’s spirit is however well preserved by the citizens…
– Join the Free Belgrade walking tour
Probably it’s the best walking tour available in Europe, and you will fully understand about the city and its incredible history.
Everyday, starting at 11, from the republic square, the young guide will wear a yellow t-shirt. It will take 3 hours but you won’t get bored!
The tour will show you the very city centre, with many interesting, funny and historical details.
A friendly shot of local rakia will make the tour even more interesting…(in the picture, the guide Zeljko, was incredibly prepared, lots of info about the city)
Serbs are very proud of their food, based on grilled meats and sausages, local cheeses and bread. Local produce is fresh and organic. Most Serbian restaurants offer roštilj, a large plate of various unseasoned grilled meats. Serbian cuisine is famous for its heavy use of varied vegetables, fresh or cooked.
Snacking and eating on the go in Belgrade is easy and cheap. Local hamburger are called cevapcici, available in many parts of the city for a very cheap price. Bakeries (pekara) are everywhere and you will find a wide assortment of breads, sandwich, sweet and savoury pastries. The most common is called burek, a light snack and meal to be consumed together with a drinkable yoghurt (similar to kefir). Some of the bakeries are open 24 hours.
– Sleep at El Diablo hostel
The hostel is a clean apartment turned into a cozy hostel, with a roof terrace where to chill-out.
The owners, Nigel and Dragan are incredibly nice and helpful, always happy to talk and give suggestions to guests. You will feel like at home.
Location is probably the best you can have in Belgrade, in the heart of the former bohemian quarter, skandarljia, where famous restaurants for tourists are (expensive though), many other affordable restaurants and bars are close by. The biggest city market, where you can buy their organic veggie, meat and cheese, is only 2 minutes walking, same for 24hrs a mini market and local fast food stands.
At night, there are plenty of bars, cafés and discotheques that are open, selling cheaply priced drinks. Belgrade is reputed to have some of the best night life in Europe.
Part of local culture are kafana (in the picture of of the oldest in town), a cafe’/pub with serb music and drinks. ‘Kafana is a place where sad lovers cure their sorrows in alcohol and music, gamblers squander entire fortunes, husbands run away from mean wives while shady businessmen, corrupt local politicians and petty criminals do business’. Usually you get in sober and get out drunk and happy…
In summer nightlife moves to the splav, river boats turned into restaurant/bars/disco located along the Sava and Danube rivers.
Best way to enjoy the city is to make a friend, a local one, that will show you the best places and things to do. So I did! 🙂
Since many years I’m lucky to have met and known so many wonderful people in this city. This summer I was even invited to a serbian wedding and, believe me, it is something that I will remember for long…!!!! 🙂
Serbians are naturally welcoming and warm-hearted people, full of nice sense of humor, together with brave and proud attitudes.
If you are going with a local friend, be sure that you will visit/see/eat/drink the best…
Serbs are crazy for sports, not only, they are VERY good at sports! Tennis, basket, water polo…are only few of the sports where this little country is at the top.
The local football derby, between Partizan and Red Star Belgrade (Crvena Zvezda, my second favorite club, after Napoli) is also known as the ‘eternal Derby’ and it’s considered to be one of the most intensive football events in European football, for the incredible supporting atmosphere, despite the poor quality of football. Due to the intensity of the rivalry, it is not recommended to wear either team’s colors outside the stadium during match days between the two sides.
The two clubs have teams in other sports, basket for instance is very popular too. If you have time visit the Belgrade Arena, New Belgrade. It is the second largest arena in Europe and the largest in the Balkans. You will definitely be impressed by the architecture.
In summer is usually very warm and humid, enjoy Ada Ciganlija, a river island on Sava River with an artificial lake.
The lake has an 8 km long gravel beach, which is visited by thousands of bathers during the summer. This is a great place for sports (area for football, basketball, beach volley, golf and tennis) and picnics.
It also contains a lot of cafes and restaurants. In summer, it is swamped with people wanting to cool down in the water; Another option is the great War Island (Veliko ratno ostrvo), a river island at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, for picnics and bird spotting.
Again, shortly, few pictures from my 2 days spent in the serbian capital, reached by a night train from Sofia, in Bulgaria.
Belgrade at 6 am is probably the best way to discover this busy city full of caracther. The view from Kalemegdan, old city fortress, where you can see the two rivers Sava and Danube intersection always brings me positive mood.
I feel at home in Belgrade.
The main reason for it are the good friends and their intense sport life and passion. Belgarde is the city of Red Star – Crvena Zvezda – and partizan, two main clubs that are competing in many sports, from football to basket, from ice hockey to water polo.
Of course I could not miss a match of CZ even if I stayed only 2 days in the city, an important one, the quarter final of water polo Champions league, to qualify for the final four, in Belgrade by the end of this month.
After meeting friends, sightseeing, watching a sport event, what else I like the most in this city? …
Eating! Burek with local yogurt is a must to try, at breakfast.
See you soon Belgrade!!!