Wherever I go, Belgrade lives in a special place in my heart.
This wonderful city, nestled on the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, is home to an unbelievable history, on top of some seriously friendly locals. And yet it’s so underrated! Belgrade is relatively unexplored in comparison to major cities in neighbouring countries and remains untouched by mass tourism.
I’m Danijela — a writer for Never Ending Footsteps — and I was born in Belgrade. This city is my home and I still can’t get enough of it. I spent the first 24 years of my life in Belgrade, even going to university here, and I have so much I can’t wait to share with you. From hidden gems to the best of the best of this city, I’m going to be sharing all of my favourite things to do.
What I love about Belgrade is how you can feel the city’s pulse emanating from beneath the surface; almost like it’s alive. The energy here is amazing, and there’s so many ways for you to fill your time, from riverside walks to music festivals, pubs and bars to peaceful park retreats.
In this post, I am going to be sharing the best 22 things to do in Belgrade. Let’s get started.
First Things First: Belgrade’s Fortress
Okay, so if there’s only one thing that you do in Belgrade, it’s got to be checking out the city’s fortress. It’s the number one attraction for good reason.
Kalemegdan, or Belgrade Fortress, is one of those landmarks you can’t skip when visiting a new city. Not only do you have centuries-old stone walls to wander along, but there’s also a beautiful park inside. Combine the two of them and you’ve got yourself the perfect spot for relaxing, strolling, and soaking up some of the most beautiful views of Belgrade.
From the fortress, you can gain a clear picture of the meeting point of the Danube and Sava rivers, as well as Zemun, New Belgrade, bridges, and part of the old town.
If you want to do as the locals do, I recommend heading to the fortress at sunset. While you’re there, you’ll see couples, families, and friends sitting on benches along the walls, enjoying the views, laughing, and gossiping.
The fortress is over 2000 years old, with some sections being newer. The history of the fortress is filled with battles and wars, because of its geopolitical position. From Celts to Romans, and Ottomans, these walls hide history worth thousands of books. It is a place that every history buff would love to visit.
The best views from the fortress you will get below the Pobednik monument (Victor monument). It is a statue of a man holding a sword and a falcon on the top of a Doric column. The author of this beautiful piece is Ivan Meštrović, a Croatian sculptor who created many famous statues located around Belgrade.
My favorite part of the Kalemegdan fortress is Ružica Church, located on the northeast side of the fortress. It is the oldest church in the city and the whole area looks like it’s from a fairy tale. The entrance is free, like to the fortress. Only locations on the fortress where you pay the entrance fee are the Military Museum, and the Observatory.
The Belgrade Military Museum has on display mines, antique cannons, German panzers, weapons from ancient Greeks and Romans, armor from medieval times, and so much more. It covers the history of all the nations that passed this way in the past and the more recent history of Serbia, including the NATO bombing from 1999.
The Observatory is part of the oldest astronomical society in the Balkans, Astronomical Society Ruđer Bošković, established by a group of students in 1934. From only a few members it grew to over 700 astronomy lovers today. You can visit it during the day or in the evening and pay a small fee to use the telescope.
Wander the Streets of Skadarlija: the Bohemian Quarter
Skadarlija is the bohemian quarter where all the writers, artists, and intellectuals were spending time for the last two centuries. Nowadays it is a tourist location, but it is still filled with locals that love good food, wine, music, and a bohemian lifestyle.
It is a pedestrian area covered in cobblestones, where the first restaurants opened in the early 1800s. Some call it “Serbian Montmartre”. This place is not to be missed if you like experiencing local life, the best food in the city, seeing art on display, and listening to street performers.
You Must Check Out the Church of St Sava
Church of St Sava, or St Sava Temple as it is called in Serbia, is the largest Orthodox Church in the Balkan region, and the second-largest in the world. It is located on the Vračar plateau, right next to the National Library, overlooking the city. You can see it from almost every corner of Belgrade as it is taller than most of the buildings and also located high on the hill.
The location of the church is important to the Orthodox Church because it is where the Ottoman Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha burned St Sava’s relics after his icon had graced flags during a Serbian uprising in 1594. Construction of the church began in 1935, 340 years after that event, and ended in 1989. The inside of the church was finished just recently and it is open to visitors.
Love Shopping? Simply Stroll Down Knez Mihailova Street
Before shopping malls came to Belgrade this was the main shopping street. To this day locals love shopping here, strolling down the street from Republic square to the Belgrade fortress, and having coffee with friends in one of the cafes along the way.
Here you will find brands like Reply, Zara, H&M, Gap, and similar. At the end of the street recently has been open Rajićeva shopping mall with a beautiful restaurant on the top floor. On the ground floor, you will find the only Starbucks in Belgrade, but I suggest you go across the street to Kafeterija, a three-story coffee shop, rather than to a popular chain.
My favorite part of this street is all the bookshops and art galleries you can visit. One of the galleries that regularly has exhibits of Serbian and international artists in the gallery in the building of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. This building by itself is a work of art and if you look at the huge vitrage under the afternoon light you will be amazed by the colors and shapes you will see. The building was completed in 1924, and it was built in Art Nouveau style.
Knez Mihailova street is one kilometer long, and it was named after Mihailo Obrenović III, Prince of Serbia. The street was protected in 1964 as the spatial cultural-historical unit. The most beautiful architectural features are neoclassicism buildings and mansions built during the late 1870s.
I Love Zemun: Belgrade’s City Within a City
Zemun was a separate city until 1934 when it was absorbed by Belgrade. To this day it looks and feels different walking around Zemun than walking around the rest of Belgrade. The architecture resembles old Austro-Hungarian towns, and the location by the Danube river gives this place a special characteristic.
Locals love walking by the river, sitting in restaurants on the shore that in the evening turn into traditional places to go out, listen to live music, and have a good time with friends. Kej Oslobođenja (Quay of Liberation), or simply Zemunski Kej is a waterside promenade that takes you from Zemun to Brankov most (Branko’s bridge) where you can cross to the old town, or continue riding bicycles or walking further around New Belgrade shore.
Everything about Zemun is more relaxing than in the busy city center of Belgrade. Cobblestone streets, swans coming close to people wanting to be fed, pedestrian areas with cafes and shops, Zemun is like a city within the city.
Gardoš Tower is a landmark located on the hill above the river overlooking Zemun. The tower dates back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire when Zemun was the first line of defense against the Ottomans. Inside the tower, there is a small exhibit dedicated to the history of Zemun, and then you can climb to the top to see an amazing view of the city and the Danube river.
Celebrate Tesla at the Nikola Tesla Museum
Nikola Tesla Museum, as the name says it, is a museum dedicated to a great inventor and physicist, who was a Serbian national. The entrance to the museum and a guided tour in English is 800 RSD, and the opening hours are 10 am to 5 pm. There’s a rumor that the museum will be moved to a bigger building downtown in the near future, but for now, it is in Krunska street, 51.
The exhibit has two sections. The first one is about Tesla’s life, and the second one is about his scientific research and inventions. The second one is also an interactive exhibit featuring 3D renders or fully-functioning reproductions like an induction coil producing discharges at 500,000 volts.
Tašmajdan Park, or Taš, is a Beauty
Probably the best kept and most beautiful city park, Tašmajdan is located only 15 minutes walk from Republic Square and 5 minutes from the National Assembly of Serbia. Sit on the park’s benches and enjoy the smell of flowers and the sound of water fountains and children playing.
St Mark’s Church is facing the park and you can see it from any part of the park. It was built in place of the Small Palilulska church that was destroyed in the German bombing of Belgrade on 6 April 1941. Today’s church was built in the medieval Serbo-Byzantine style, patterned after the Gračanica monastery.
Don’t Forget Republic Square, Which is the Heart of Belgrade
This is the main square in the city and also “the center” of the city. If you are meeting with friends you would probably tell them “meet me by the horse”, meaning you will be waiting for them on this square by the statue of Prince Mihailo on a horse. Two of the most prominent buildings are here, The Serbian National Theatre and National Museum.
The National Theater is the best place in the city to watch a play, opera, or ballet. The price of one ticket is from 400 to 1000 RSD, which is still below $10. If you visit during the day, you can opt for a tour of the backstage and Museum of the National Theater.
The National Museum has amazing treasures on display, including an Egyptian mummy. You can see historical artifacts and artworks, covering periods from prehistory to the 20th century. The permanent collection is located on three levels, plus there are temporary exhibits year-round. A single ticket is 300 RSD for the permanent collection, and 500 RSD for the thematic exhibition. A guided tour for individuals or groups of up to 5 people is 3500 RSD.
Residence of Princess Ljubica
The residence of Princess Ljubica is one of only a few buildings that remained from Prince Miloš Obrenović’s rule. It was built in 1830 as a seat for the Serbian court, but it was never used for that purpose. For a while, Princess Ljubica, wife of Prince Miloš Obrenović, resided here, while he was in his residence located in the Kalemegdan fortress (cannot be visited inside, but you can see the outside of the building and take pictures).
The villa is a mix of Ottoman style and 19th-century European style, which can be seen in the permanent displays of furniture and art. Oriental style is presented on the lower floor, and western European style is on the top floor. If you plan ahead of time or if you are just lucky, you will visit this museum when the actresses are performing scenes from the life of Princess Ljubica. The entrance to the museum is 200 RSD.
Gain Some Epic Views From Avala Tower: the Tallest Building in the Balkans
Avala Tower is located on the mountain Avala, less than an hour drive from Belgrade city center. It is a communications tower and the tallest building in the Balkans. If you are going by bus catch a bus 401 from Karadjordjev park near St Sava Church.
The tower was completed in 1965 but it was severely damaged in 1999 during the NATO bombing of Belgrade. Since 2010 it is open again for tourists and the entrance fee is 300 RSD. Although the tower itself is 135 meters high, the observation deck is located at 122 meters. You also have the option to visit a cafe bar “Panorama” located 3 meters below.
Avala mountain is the best hike near Belgrade, and if you like nature you can spend the entire day here. The highest peak is only 511 meters and you will know you arrived when you see the Monument to the Unknown Hero, a World War I memorial designed by Ivan Meštrović. From there you can enjoy views of surrounding landscapes, have a picnic and rest before going back to the city.
There’s the Museum of Yugoslav History for History Buffs
The Museum of Yugoslav History is a controversial place that is most interesting to those who want to know more about communism in Yugoslavia and Tito. There are still some “Yugo nostalgic” locals who think of the communist period as something best that ever happened to Yugoslavia. Others, on the other hand, want to forget everything related to that era.
The museum is set up around the mausoleum of former authoritarian President Josip Broz Tito, in the early 2000s. You can see all the gifts that Tito received during his rule. There are over 200,000 artifacts and art pieces in the permanent exhibit.
Combine your entrance to the museum with an in-depth tour on communism in Belgrade (€25) — it lasts four hours and covers the history of Serbia from World War II to the 1990s. With nothing but five-star reviews from dozens of travellers, this is a no-brainer if you’re interested in learning more.
Nikola Pašić Square: the Center of Political Power in Serbia
Nikola Pašić was a famous politician from the period of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. His statue is located on the square, looking at the fountain and House of the National Assembly of Serbia nearby. The seat of Serbia’s National Assembly is known for its architectural beauty. Built in Beaux-Arts style it is often photographed by tourists day and night when the lights give it a spectacular look. Unfortunately, because it is the seat of the parliament, the building doesn’t offer any tours.
Across the street is Stari Dvor and Novi Dvor (Old and New Palace), which used to be the residence for two royal families, Obrenović and Karađorđević. These two buildings face each other across the small Andrićev Venac square.
The Old Palace was built in the 1880s in Beaux-Arts architectural style, with interiors imported from Vienna. Nowadays it is Belgrade’s city assembly. The New Palace meanwhile also has Revivalist architecture and was completed in 1922 after being damaged during World War I. Now it is used as the residence for the President of Serbia.
The Historical Museum of Serbia is also located on Nikola Pašić Square, and it is a must-see for history lovers. It doesn’t have a permanent exhibition, but it always has at least one temporary exhibit about the Serbian past. My favorite one was about a Serbian scientist
Mihajlo Pupin, “Pupin – From Physical To Spiritual Reality”. The admission is 200 RSD.
Catch Some Respite at the White Palace, Residence for the Royal Family
White Palace, a royal palace in the upscale Dedinje neighborhood south of the city, offers occasional tours in the summertime. To sign up for the tour you have to contact Belgrade Tourist Board (Tel: 011/2635-622, E-mail: email@example.com).
The White Palace was built with the private funds of King Alexander, and it took almost 4 years to finish. He wanted it to be a residence for his three sons, and later on King Petar and his mother, Queen Marija lived there before abdicating at the beginning of World War II. This beautiful palace has a library with 35,000 books, a large hall, and several gorgeous rooms in the style of Louis XV and Louis XVI with large Venetian chandeliers.
Spends Some Time at the Zeleni Venac Farmers Market
Zeleni Venac is an open-air market with a long tradition that locals love visiting to buy fresh produce. It is located in the center of the city by the biggest city bus stop by the same name. It is known as the “Queen of the Markets” in Belgrade, and it has the biggest variety of articles offered.
The market was first established in 1847 and hasn’t moved since. Although the metallic canopy was restored about a decade ago. The market is surrounded by bakeries that offer fresh pastries and cakes. But my all-time favorite pastry shop is just around the corner, “Slatko Srce” in Prizrenska street number 7.
Gain a New Perspective and Explore Belgrade From Underground
Belgrade Underground Tour is for those who love learning about history, myths, and legends, and also finding hidden gems. The tour included entering closed spaces with low lighting, so if you are claustrophobic this tour might not be for you. I enjoyed this experience very much because even as a local I learned a lot of things on this tour. At the end of the tour, you will get to enjoy a glass of local wine in an underground winery, and talk to others about the impressions.
You will hear the stories about the Roman Well, explore the underground military bunker, and see amazing archeological artifacts. The guide will tell you about Belgrade’s past, from the Roman empire to the modern-day. If you don’t know much about Serbian history this is the best way to start your learning experience.
Terazije street is in the city center and it covers an area from Sremska Street to Kralja Milana Street. Thanks to Prince Miloš Obrenović the street got its today’s shape in the 1840s, and some buildings still resemble that time.
The name Terazije comes from the Turkish word for a water supply because since the Ottomans were in charge of Belgrade there was a water fountain (Terazijska česma) at the beginning of the street. This fountain is still in function and it is a beautiful landmark in front of the Hotel Moskva, a symbol of the street.
Hotel Moskva was built at the beginning of the 20th century in the secession style and to this day it is one of the most beautiful places to have a coffee and chat with friends. Other famous hotels in Terazije street are Hotel Kazina and Hotel Balkan. Among all the restaurants and cafes in this street, my favorite one is just around the corner, pub “Samo Pivo” (the name means only beer) in Balkanska street number 13.
You Must Check Out the Nightlife Scene in Belgrade
Some call Belgrade “Bangkok of Europe”, and this reputation has followed the capital of Serbia for nearly two decades now. It all started with locals who loved going out, so numerous clubs opened in the city and along the rivers. When I was at the university in the 2000s I remember being able to go out every night. Not just that there was a good party every night, but it was also very affordable.
Compared to some other European cities Belgrade is still affordable, and even the pricier bars and clubs charge $5 – $10 per beer. If you drink Champagne or expensive cocktails your bill might be higher, but for simple drinks, you won’t spend more than $50 per night per person.
There are two main seasons for nightlife in Belgrade, winter and summer seasons.
In wintertime most of the clubs move to the city, and in summer they are situated by the river, and these clubs are called “splavovi”, translation is literally “rafts”. There is no rule, so some of these clubs stay at both locations the entire year, but the best way to find out what kind of parties are happening where is to visit websites like gdeizaci.com or kudaveceras.rs
The Museum of Contemporary Art Always Has Something Interesting on Display
This museum was under construction for a long time, but a few years ago, it finally opened. The first exhibition I visited since it reopened was a retrospective of Marina Abramović. The location of the museum is in a spectacular park in the Ušće area and offers incredible views of the Old Belgrade and the Belgrade Fortress.
The ticket price is 500 RSD and it covers temporary exhibits and permanent collections. Here you can see world-famous artists, domestic and international. Some of the exhibits that were on display here in the past are (Re)Evolution – Dragan Ilić retrospective exhibition, Solo exhibition Silent talk by Lana Vasiljević, Marina Abramović retrospective exhibition “The Cleaner”, and many more.
Take a Break From the City at Jevremovac Botanical Gardens
Now I don’t know about you, but I love wandering around a good botanical garden when I’m travelling, and Jevremovac offers up a stunning example.
The garden is located in Dorćol, which is one of the oldest parts of Belgrade, and was first founded way back in 1874 at the suggestion of Josip Pančić, a famous Serbian naturalist. The original location for the garden was beside the river, but when the surrounding area continually flooded, it was moved further inland. The king at the time, King Milan Obrenović, donated a property he’d inherited from his grandfather Jevrem Obrenović (hence the name) to the cause, and so a new botanical garden was built.
Jevremovac Botanical Garden is such a peaceful oasis in Belgrade, and one of my favourite spots in the city to picnic, rest, or simply admire the tropical plants. The garden itself consisted of a greenhouse, and outdoor area and a Japanese garden, which is particularly interesting.
The glass garden was built in 1892 in Victorian style, with a central dome and two wings. It is home to about 1000 different tropical, subtropical, and Mediterranean plant species.
In the outdoor space, the garden has system plots, rockeries, ferns, pools with water lilies, a bamboo labyrinth, children’s corner, etc. The outdoor section houses over 1300 species of plants, separated by ecological units and geographical regions. The Japanese garden is an especially beautiful section of the outdoor space, built in Japanese style with a focus on beauty, simplicity, and harmony. It is a great place to meditate or read a book. The entrance is 300 RSD.
Take a Sunset cruise to see Belgrade From Another Angle
Confession time: I’ve actually taken this cruise twice. The first time it was a gift from a friend, and the second time was just a few days later because I was amazed by the beauty I’d experienced. Even if you spend your entire life in Belgrade, seeing it from the water perspective is too special and stunning. The boat will go around the fortress, War island, Zemun, and more.
The cruise is about one hour long and it passes under the bridges, by the floating houses, historic architecture, and offers incredible sights. You also get to try local wines and beers or soft drinks while soaking in all the magical views. When the tour starts it is still a day and on the way back the sunset starts and the city lights up.
Topčider park, a picnic paradise
Topčider used to be covered in summer houses and vineyards, but as the city expanded it became closer to the center than ever. It is an excellent park that locals use for bike rides, picnics, and walks. To get there catch the 3A bus from the Savska bus stop, and in about 20 minutes you will be surrounded by greenery.
The name Topčider comes from the Turkish language, originating from Persian and meaning “valley of cannons”. This was the location from where the Turks attacked Belgrade in 1521. In 1831 prince Miloš Obrenović built a manor and a church here. Later on “kafana” was added, army barracks and the park.
Prince Miloš’s residence in Topčider was built in Ottoman style and the interiors were decorated in oriental style, and they are partially preserved. The museum works year-round and the entrance is 200 RSD. It doesn’t work only on Mondays, like many other museums, so it is good to check when museums are working before heading to some faraway location.
Belgrade waterfront, the newest part of the city
Belgrade waterfront is the newest addition to Belgrade, and it is a modern part of the city leaning onto the old city. The waterfront has a beautiful promenade where you can bike, walk, or enjoy views. Along the promenade, there are several restaurants and bars that you can visit as well.
The area is mostly business-oriented with few residential buildings and has one of the biggest shopping malls in Belgrade. The location of this area is great, being only minutes away from Slavija, Belgrade fair, Ada Ciganlija, Kalemegdan, and Republic square.
The idea of a waterfront built here was very controversial and exploring the stories behind it is like going down the rabbit hole, but the fact is that the Belgrade waterfront is here to stay and it is going to be a business hub for decades to come.
Belgrade is the Best!
Belgrade is the city that will invite you with open arms and that you will fall in love with at first sight. It is not huge but it is big enough so you can spend days exploring and not get bored. Its perfect location in the center of Serbia allows you to go on day trips and see the rest of this beautiful country.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Your Trip to Belgrade!
If you’ve read any other posts on Never Ending Footsteps, you’ll know that I’m a great believer in travelling with travel insurance. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
Travel insurance will cover you if your flight is cancelled and you need to book a new one, if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, if you suddenly get struck down by appendicitis and have to be hospitalised, have your camera stolen and need to buy a replacement, or discover a family member has died while you’re overseas and now you need to get home immediately. If you fall seriously ill, your insurance will cover the costs to fly you home to receive medical treatment.
I’ve used World Nomads as my travel insurance provider since 2012 and have nothing but wonderful things to say about them.
I’ve made two claims with World Nomads (once when my partner broke his brand new phone in Thailand, and World Nomads paid for the repair cost, and once when crashing a rental car in New Zealand, when World Nomads paid out the full $1,500 to repair the front bumper with no excess or fees to pay from my end). I wouldn’t consider using anyone else when I travel.