How to Spend One Day in Belgrade


Fortress in Belgrade

I was apprehensive about visiting Belgrade. Before arriving, I expected the city to be gritty and grey. I expected it to be covered in graffiti and filled with communist architecture.

Belgrade was the place I knew least about in Eastern Europe and I wasn’t all that keen on spending much time there. It was more of a convenient stop off point between Bosnia and Romania, the two countries I was most excited about visiting.

We therefore gave ourselves just 24 hours to explore as much of Belgrade as we could.

After eight countries on this Interrail trip, I had been changing currencies every few days and Serbia brought a brand new exchange rate to memorise and some pretty coloured notes to try not to lose.

Serbian money

And like the currency, it was time to get used to a new language too.

Belgrade signpost in Cyrillic

I was surprised to find that while plenty of the buildings in Belgrade were indeed grey, there were a lot of brightly coloured ones too. The streets were clean, there was hardly any graffiti and it didn’t feel scary and unwelcoming like I had expected.

Streets of Belgrade

Our first stop was a visit to Belgrade’s beautiful fortress, arguably the most picturesque place in all of Belgrade and a calm refuge from the busy streets running alongside it.

The fortress was huge with tennis and basketball courts, restaurants, museums, an observatory and even a zoo!

As the fortress is located on a hill, there are also some incredible views from the top. We spent an hour or two sitting in the shade of a tree looking out at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers in the distance. One of the things I loved about the view was being able to see the overall greenness of the city. While the centre of the city sometimes feels quite grey and dull, when you look at it from above you can actually see more trees than buildings!

Belgrade Fortress

Fortress in Belgrade

Views from Belgrade Fortress

Entrance to Belgrade Fortress

Belgrade Fortress tower

Motorbike in Belgrade

After a quick beer at one of the overpriced cafes next to an angry sheep that bleated extremely loudly every five seconds, we wandered down to the Old Town to explore.

Belgrade architecture

Belgrade architecture

Belgrade architecture

The real reason for me wanting to visit Belgrade was so that I could get my physics on and check out the Nikola Tesla museum. 

I’d heard great things about this museum, but sadly ended up sorely disappointed. After hearing that the museum had over 160,000 artefacts, I was surprised to discover that the museum consisted of just a few rooms on a single floor. It was tiny! There was a room full of Tesla’s clothes and letters, a room of Tesla coils and transformers where you could watch a short presentation on Tesla’s life and a room containing an urn of his ashes.

I don’t know if it was my background in physics that caused me to feel underwhelmed, but it just wasn’t all that interesting. After ten minutes, we were off again.

Belgrade cafes

To my delight, we stumbled upon Skadarska street, a quaint cobbled street lined with cafes and restaurants. Like much of Eastern Europe, the locals in Belgrade seem to be perpetually on a coffee break and it didn’t take much convincing for us to join them.

For the next few hours we snacked on kebabs and drank coffee and beer. We could have made the effort to see more of the city – the gorgeous St. Sava Temple for example, but we were content with talking, drinking and people watching for the rest of the afternoon.

I didn’t fall in love with Belgrade and I can’t call it one of favourite cities in Eastern Europe. It didn’t really invoke any feelings in me. I had an enjoyable day there but I didn’t leave wishing I had longer to spend there, or feeling desperate to return.

It was a convenient stopover location to break up the journey from Bosnia to Romania.

 

My trip through Central and Eastern Europe was made possible by the lovely people at Interrailnet.com.

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18 Comments

  1. dragan
    November 5, 2012
    Reply

    ..and that has been the hottest day in Belgrade this year…

    I know that you didn’t liked Belgrade, but I’m glad that you grasped what we consider the single best thing in BG: a pure enjoyment. A possibility to relax and enjoy a moment, any moment.

    • November 6, 2012
      Reply

      I definitely enjoyed relaxing at the fortress! :)

  2. November 5, 2012
    Reply

    It’s a shame about the Tesla Museum, but Skadarska Street looks gorgeous.

    • November 6, 2012
      Reply

      It was a wonderful place to chill out and have a drink! :)

  3. November 6, 2012
    Reply

    Looks like a lovely city with a cool fortress! Too bad about the Tesla Museum.

    • November 14, 2012
      Reply

      Yeah, it was a shame! But the rest of Belgrade made up for it :)

  4. Sal
    November 6, 2012
    Reply

    Never heard of Belgarde before. It looks so clean and perfect for holiday. I’d like to explore this tourist spot in Eastern Europe soon! Thanks for sharing this and encouraging me somehow to be in the place.

    • November 14, 2012
      Reply

      You’re welcome Sal! It was a cool place to visit for a day or two.

  5. Steve Whitty
    November 6, 2012
    Reply

    I had been thinking about visiting Belgrade. Thanks for the post, it given me food for thought. The photos are great.

    • November 14, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Steve! Glad my post could help.

  6. November 8, 2012
    Reply

    Beautiful photos. I’d be interested in visiting Belgrade, though I must say that I’d prefer to see Romania first as I have friends from there :-)
    It really is a shame that Tesla is so under appreciated, and that the museum was a dissappointment.
    Ithink it’s important to take the opportunity to relax, visit with friends and people watch – to study the local culture, of course. Thanks for the great photos of a place I’ve yet to see and have added to my ‘someday’ list…

    • November 14, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Gayla! It’s definitely important to relax when you travel – I think I’d have had a nervous breakdown if I’d kept travelling like I did in the begging for all this time!

  7. nomadic translator
    November 8, 2012
    Reply

    just looking at these pictures makes me want to do exactly what you did, so don’t feel bad ;) relaxation during travel is totally okay. Doesn’t have to be sightseeing and go go go all the time

    – Maria Alexandra

    • November 14, 2012
      Reply

      Yep, I definitely agree! Some of my best memories are hanging out with friends, relaxing and doing nothing all day!

  8. I’m glad you got to visit Belgrade even for a day, but I gotta say that you can’t actually get to know Belgrade for that little time. Considering that you went to Belgrade with couple of prejudices and pumped up expectations about one of just three locations you visited, including Belgrade fortress (which really is beautiful), Skadarska street and Tesla’s Museum, you can’t say you went to the right locations to get to know Belgrade, and maybe to get to like it. Of course you did your best having just a one day. :)

    Must see in Belgrade is old, urban part and “cultural happening” center of the city called Savamala, below the Brankov bridge; amazing Ada Ciganlija (Sava Lake and its surrounding beach, sport facilities, beach bars and clubs); Zemunski kej (old town of Zemun and Zemun promenade besides Danube river filled with authentic river rafts which are used as cafes and bars and many other things.

    I really hope that you’ll give Belgrade another chance, and if you do, I suggest you to get one of the free tourist guides available in Belgrade, and to find your accommodation in Belgrade’s downtown, where I happen to work, and because all of those locations are easily reachable from there by foot or public transportation.

    If you need any more info, feel free to ask. All the best.

    • November 22, 2015
      Reply

      Thank you so much for the kind recommendations! I hope to visit again in 2016 :-)

  9. Marija
    March 8, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    thanks for sharing your thoughts about my hometown, I enjoyed reading it. I am sad that you stumble upon a couple of disappointments during your stay but I am sure that Belgrade would come up for it next time you come. :) What makes BG so different from any other city is its incredible positive vibe and energy, spirit more than monuments. If you come back, feel free to contact me. All the best,
    Marija
    http://www.apartmani-u-beogradu.com/

    • March 9, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks so much for the offer, Marija! I hope to return later this year :-)

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