A little while ago, I lived in Serbia’s capital for a few months. So in this guide, I’ve brought you all my favorite things to to in Belgrade.
Now before we get going, here’s the most important thing you need to know: Belgrade isn’t a typical tourist city, cos it doesn’t really have any ‘sights’. I love the city, but there’s not much to tick off here (if ticking sights off is the way you like to travel).
In Paris, you have loads of ‘must-sees’. Same in London, or Istanbul, or Berlin, or whatever. But in Belgrade, that’s not the case. Yeah, there are a couple of things to see. But I prefer cities where you can get into the atmosphere of the place, rather than going to ten million art galleries just cos TripAdvisor said you should. And that’s exactly what Belgrade is.
Anyway, in this guide, I’ve covered all the best things to do in Belgrade. Some are sights, some are things you need to experience, and some are just things I enjoyed when I was there.
Best Thing to Do in Belgrade if You Like Nightlife: Visit Some Splavovi
Any ‘best of Belgrade’ list that doesn’t put this first is a crap list.
In Belgrade, you have ‘splavovi,’ which is plural for ‘splav’.
These are clubs and bars on the river. See the boats above? They’re splavovi. You’ll find the best ones on the western side of the northern part of the Sava River, near Brankow Bridge. My favorite is Zappa Barka, but there are LOADS more.
On splavovi, you’ll find raves, DJ sets, live music, and late-night parties that are some of the most fun events I’ve ever been to.
Do Loads and Loads of Partying
Alright, you’ve got splavovi. But you’ve also got loads more amazing nightlife venues.
Most of Belgrade’s best bars and clubs look like abandoned buildings from the outside, but they’re packed with fun, music and cheap drinks on the inside.
You’ll find parties that go on until 5am, and beers that cost around $2. The nightlife scene in Belgrade is great, because it feels grungy, underground and weird, but also really welcoming. People party here at every age, and sleeping isn’t a popular pastime.
My favorite places are Strogi Centar, the entire Cetinjska area, and anywhere that’s tucked away and hidden.
If you’re not drinking in Belgrade, you’re not really in Belgrade.
Best Thing to Do in Belgrade if You Like Outdoor Adventures: Say Hello to Ada
Belgrade has two rivers: the Sava and the Danube.
The Sava, to the west of the city center, has an island inside of it, just south of central Belgrade. This island is called Ada Cignalija, and it’s packed with fun (assuming you’re visiting during good weather). It’s around 3.5 miles (6km) long, with paths all around its perimeter, so it’s a good place to run and cycle.
But inside the island, there’s loads more fun, including mini golf, tennis courts, cafes, bars, restaurants, football pitches, basketball courts, mini beaches, watersports, and loads more.
Belgrade doesn’t have a beach, but this is pretty much the same thing. When I was living in Belgrade during warm weather, I spent loads of my weekends here.
Best Thing to Do in Belgrade if You Like People-Watching: Wander Down Knez Mihailova
The most famous street in Belgrade is a pedestranized zone packed with cafes, bars, restaurants, buskers, shops, smiling faces and loads of people to watch (in that curious ‘I’m in a different city and I want to see life in the place’ way; not like some sort of lecherous pervert).
On summer evenings, this place is massively busy with people eating, drinking, walking, and chatting with friends.
If you like a bustling city-center atmosphere, it’s the street you want to be on.
Ride a Tram
If you’ve never been to Eastern Europe, you won’t yet know that lots of it looks like it hasn’t changed since Yugoslavian times, when all buildings were giant commie blocks, and all the transport was like something from a movie about the Cold War.
Lots of countries in the Balkans have loads of relics of that past, and Serbia is one of them. In Belgrade, there are lots of massive, crumbling apartment blocks, and trams that look like they’ve been chugging along since about 1672. Ride one of them, and you’ll see what I mean.
Visit St. Sava
St. Sava is a big white Orthodox church. Grand on the inside, imposing from the outside, it’s a nice place to visit. It’s nothing special, but you should go. Here’s the place from the outside…
And here’s the place from the inside…
Visit St. Mark’s
Another church. Less impressive than St. Sava, it’s still worth a visit.
It’s more impressive on the inside than from the outside, so make sure you have a wander in.
Walk to (and Through) Kalemegdan
This place is sort of halfway between a big park and an old fortress, and I spent a lot of time here. I used to visit Kalemegdan to meet friends, run, play chess with old men, drink beers, enjoy sunshine, and plenty more.
It’s absolutely massive, it’s green and pretty, and it’s always busy, no matter what time of day or night you come.
And if you’re interested in history (I’m not), there are signs, museums and installations inside the park, with information on the history and heritage of the area and its people.
Best Thing to Do in Belgrade if You Like Weird Stuff: Visit the Torture Exhibition
Here’s one museum I am interested in.
In this place, there are loads of exhibits about torture, and dozens of (I think) genuine devices that were actually used to torture people back in the grisly days of the distant past. The Torture Exhibition is inside Kalemegdan Park, and it’s a great place to visit if you’re into creepy stuff and gory stories and all that.
You’ll see chairs with spikes. Clamps used to crush skulls. Pictures of people with sharp wooden poles up their bumholes. Scissors used to chop off nipples. And to add to the atmosphere, the place is all gloomy and dank, and has a constant blared-through-the-speakers soundtrack of people moaning, begging and screaming. Not a place for kids (unless you want your kids to become murderers).
Entry is 300 dinars (around $3) per person.
Note to readers: if you’re into museums, you don’t just have to look at pictures of people in severe pain. There are a few more in Belgrade. The most popular and well-renowned are the Nikola Tesla Museum, the Museum of Yugoslavia, and the National Museum of Serbia. I don’t know which ones are good, cos I’m only interested in museums where you can learn about people being burned to death. But some of my friends went to the Tesla one, and they thought it was good. I hope that’s helpful.
Eat, Eat and Don’t Stop Eating
Serbia’s food is massively underrated.
I won’t say much more about it here, because I’ve written a whole post on the nation’s cuisine in this guide. But here’s a picture of me eating some Serbian food, just to give me an excuse to pad out my word count with this sentence:
You’ll always find the best Serbian food in informal non-touristy places.
If you get tired of Serbian stuff (though I don’t know why you would), you can get food from all over the world (cos Belgrade a capital city). My favorite non-Serbian place in Belgrade is Istok, one of the best Asian restaurants I’ve been to outside of Asia.
For a good brunch, go to Kafeterija Magazin 1907 (which is also one of the best places in Belgrade for remote workers).
Drink Loads and Loads of Coffee
Where’s the best coffee on the planet? Ethiopia? Jamaica? Italy? Vietnam? Australia?
I reckon it’s in Serbia. If you don’t like that, stick a complaint in the comments box below, and we can have an argument or something.
Some of the best coffee is in Kafeterija Magazin 1907, which I’ve just mentioned above. Kafeterija is a Serbian chain, which puts some pretentious people off. But it’s not a crap chain like Starbucks (see, I’m pretentious too). It’s actually a great chain with great coffee, so all of the Kafeterija branches in Belgrade are great.
But the best coffee in Belgrade (I reckon) is in D59B. A tiny little place packed with top-knotted hipsters, arbitrarily-assembled decor, and occasional DJ sets, it’s self-consciously trendy, but the staff are friendly, there’s always a decent crowd, and the coffee is incredible.
Wander Down Skadarlija
You know if you go to Rome or Paris or some Greek Island, and there’s those real-but-not-real areas where it looks purposely old, and there are musicians playing live music in the restaurants, and there are waiting staff with menus, asking you to come into their eateries?
Well, Skardarlija is Belgrade’s version of that.
Yeah, it’s touristy, and yeah, it’s full of overpriced places, but it’s a cute little area with homely restaurants, cobbled streets, ancient buildings and live music (where old men will come to your table and play music right in your ear when you’re trying to eat). And when I say ‘overpriced,’ it’s still only around $8-$10 for a good meal.
So no matter whether it’s geared towards tourists or not, you should visit. When I was living in Belgrade, my house was a 1-minute walk from Skadarlija – and I never fell out of love with its charms.
See Some Bombed Buildings
Back in the late 1990s, Serbia was at war over Kosovo. Even now, there are struggles and skirmishes over who Kosovo really belongs to, but in 1999, the conflict was at its peak.
NATO stood with Kosovo in opposition to Serbia. And as part of that stand, they dropped bombs on Belgrade, blowing some buildings to pieces, and massively damaging others.
Some of these buildings are still in Belgrade, and tens of thousands of people walk past them every day, like it’s all really normal. I don’t know if they’ve been preserved as a reminder of the past, or just out of laziness, but loads of them are still in and around the center of the city. Here’s the sort of thing you can expect:
Things to Do in Belgrade: Final Thoughts
There you are – all the best things to do in Belgrade!
If you want to know anything else about the city, have a look at my guides on the best cafes for remote workers in Belgrade and what it’s like to live there. Or if this has been helpful, you can throw me a little donation below (don’t feel obliged though, cos I probably wouldn’t either):
If you have anything else to add, stick some comments below. Thanks for reading, you sexy person.