Scintillating Serbia – a guide to Belgrade

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I spent 1.5 days in Belgrade, capital city of Serbia.  It lies where the Danube and Sava rivers meet and is a financial, political and cultural hub of the country, a rapidly developing city. If you’re pressed for time, a couple days is enough to explore. An extra day is a good idea if you want to take advantage of the amazing nightlife here and stay out partying until morning! Most of the sights are within walking distance of the city center and Republic Square. If they’re not, it is relatively easy to take public transit.

 

Belgrade City Hotel – we stayed in the back part of the hotel; smaller rooms for those on more of a budget. My room was almost like a large closet, but it was fine for 2 nights. The main part of the hotel is much fancier.  It is located right across from the train station, so it’s very handy if that is how you’re arriving.  It is around a 30 min walk north to get to Republic Square.

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http://www.bgcityhotel.com/

 

Things to See:

IMG_9894Kalemegdan Park and Belgrade Fortress – MUST SEE. One of the most visited sights in Belgrade.  It’s been around since 3rd century BC. Check out the clock tower, Ruzika church, the many other towers, statue of The Victor, fountains and much more! Also a nice place to watch the sunset.  Admission is free.

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Republic Square– MUST SEE. It’s easy to end up here; lots of cafes for eats and drinks and it’s fun to just hang out and people watch

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House of the National Assembly – definitely worth a look from the outside; general public is not allowed inside.

 

Historical Museum of Serbia – a small museum, with no permanent exhibits. There were two when I went.  Interesting, but check if the exhibits interest you before going. Admission fee applies

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St Marks Church – MUST SEE. Beautiful Serbian orthodox church.  Free

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Church of Saint Sava – MUST SEE. The most famous church in Serbia. Stunning.  Free

 

IMG_1008House of Flowers– the final resting place of Josip Broz Tito, famed leader of Yugoslavia. Also on the grounds, the Museum of Yugoslav History.  Approximately 20 min ride on transit from city centre.  Admission $6

Tesla museum

Nikola Tesla Museum – small museum dedicated to famed inventor Tesla.  The guided tour lets you see the Tesla coil in action. Admission $7

 

 

Things to Do:

 

 

IMG_9889Mihailova Street – the main pedestrian shopping streetGreat for souvenirs and your typical shopping mall stores

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Bohemian Quarter (Skadarlija) – MUST DO. Another place to sit and have drinks and eats, people watch.  There’s traditional live bands playing, people dressed in national costume, stalls selling rakija(fruit brandy).

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Splav – river barge nightclubs. MUST DO.  Situated on the Sava River, there are many to choose from and they stay open very late. Serbians know how to party, so prepare for a sleep-in the next day!

 

Places to Eat, Things to Eat:

 

IMG_9906Question Mark – MUST DO. The oldest restaurant in Belgrade, established in 1824. Great atmosphere, traditional food. A bit pricey, but it’s a hot spot!

Boutique – a chain of restaurants.  Chose the one in Republic Square for breakfast, it was great. Patio seating, people watching

Toma

Toma – a bakery close to Republic Square. A great place to try burek and other traditional pastries

zavicaj-restaurant

Zavicaj – a cute cottage style restaurant serving traditional Serbian eats. Loved the atmosphere and service!

 

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Cevapi – minced meat in a skinless sausage, served on its own or with flatbread

Kajmak – a clotted cream. I tried it with cevapi

Ajvar – a red pepper spread, to be eaten with cevapi. It’s delicious!

Burek – a flaky phyllo pastry traditionally filled with meat. The cheese filled variety is also yummy

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Pljeskavica – a burger patty with onions on top. Flatbread comes separate, so you can make it a sandwich if you want.

 

 

Things to Drink:

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Jelen – a light pale lager brewed in Serbia

Lav pivo – another Serbian brewed beer

Rajika – a very potent fruit brandy. The most popular drink in Serbia

 

Things to Buy:

I’m a bit of a souvenir freak, so here are a few things I found that I think are cool…

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Licider hearts – boys would give these heart shaped cakes to the girl they were in love with. The cakes had a small mirror, so you know it’s you they like! Now you can buy non edible hearts as a trinket to hang on your wall

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Rakija holder ( cocanjce) – like a tall skinny shot glass, sealed with a cork

Ajvar – red pepper spread, goes perfectly with cevapi

Rakija cauldron – a mini replica

Pirotski  kilim – a traditional blanket – full of different colors, symbolism and meanings. Everyone in Serbia has one, so should you!

 

Things I missed, but would do the next time in Belgrade:

Zemun – a municipality of Belgrade.  Most known for the Gardos Tower, for amazing views of the city. Walk along the riverside and the park, check out the restaurants.

 

In conclusion, while Belgrade is not one of the most exciting cities I’ve visited, I still found plenty of things to see and do. It seems as if it would be more fun if you know someone who lives here. This is one place where I was eager to feel like a local, rather than a traveler!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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