When I found an affordable flight to Belgrade, Serbia, I wasn’t sure whether to take it. However, after reading about the multitude of things to in Belgrade as well as the lively atmosphere of the city, I was in.
I stayed longer than three days in Belgrade while enjoying my time lazing at the many cafes of Belgrade prior to having fantastic craft beer at the many cafes around the city. If you’re doing a trip around the Balkans, I’d say to savor Belgrade for a bit longer as it struck me immediately as the kind of city that I could call home. Keep reading for a Belgrade itinerary, including the best things to do in Belgrade.
Included in this guide of what to do in Belgrade
Why visit Belgrade
Where to stay in Belgrade
When is the best time to visit Belgrade
What to do in Belgrade: 3 day Belgrade itinerary
Day 1: One day in Belgrade classic Belgrade itinerary
Day 2: Museums and New Belgrade
Day 3: Other parts of Belgrade
Why visit Belgrade
Unlike some cities in the Balkans, Belgrade is a mishmash of different architectural styles and cultures. Although many people visit Belgrade for the lively atmosphere, they rarely stop to enjoy the rich cafe culture and the fantastic Serbian food that you’ll find here. Belgrade is really just a small taste of what Serbia has to offer, so don’t underestimate your time here. You’ll want to stay here–and live here.
Where to stay in Belgrade
There’s a wide disparity in terms of Serbian salaries and salaries in Western Europe, so I recommend not telling every Serbian that you meet how cheap Serbia is like some foreigners I met. That said, you’ll find a number of reasonable accommodation options in Belgrade. Summer is peak season, so book ahead as the backpacker accommodation fills up.
For around 20-40 euros per night, you should be able to rent an apartment in the city center although nicer hotels in the 4* range can cost 40-70 euros per night. (The most famous hotel is Hotel Moscow, which is stunning piece of architecture.)
I stayed at two hostels, both located in the city centre as I traveled to Serbia solo. I loved Hostel Bongo, which is entirely run by local Serbian women with a heart of gold. As they were booked up after I returned from Subotica, I booked a room at Balkan Soul, a popular hostel even closer to the city center. Both were great experiences, but I loved the small boutique feel of Bongo.
Getting to/from Belgrade
I was impressed with the bus infrastructure on Serbia, which was very advanced and on time. The bus station is a short walk (15 minutes) from the city center. If you purchase your bus tickets to your next destination a few days ahead, you should be fine. I ended up booking a bus to Novi Sad (another city in Serbia) on the spot as soon as I got to the bus station.
Serbia also has trains that go to some cities as well as neighboring countries although they weren’t recommended by most Serbians that I met and the train that I took was delayed by three hours.
As I flew in and out of Belgrade, I flew out of Nikola Tesla, which not too far outside of the city center (30 minutes). I took the A1 bus one way and ended up sharing a taxi with a Serbian who was also waiting for the airport for the same cost as the bus. At the time that I took the bus, it cost 300 RSD and I was able to obtain this cash at the airport.
When is the best time to visit Belgrade?
I visited Belgrade in February, which was a great time to visit as the crowds were minimal and it was still warm enough on many days to wear a light jacket. I didn’t experience any snow. I heard that fall was one of the prettiest seasons to visit Serbia in general as the leaves on the trees are changing and when taking day trips from Belgrade, you can experience the magic of the turning leaves in the many forests nearby.
I heard from the many friendly locals that I shared a beer with that it’s best to avoid peak season, which is summer to get more of the typical experience. Belgrade has been exploding in terms of tourism and the Exit Festival (mid July) brings thousands of foreigners to Belgrade. If you’re planning your visit in summer, book your accommodation ahead.
What to do in Belgrade: A three day Belgrade itinerary
Although many travelers pass through only spending one day in Belgrade, this strikes me as too little as Belgrade is a modern metropolis with more than enough to keep you occupied. In the sake of time, the first day of the itinerary should be enough to whet your appetite for this diverse Serbian city.
One day in Belgrade: Classic Belgrade
Start off this day properly with some burek. This popular Balkan breakfast differs slightly in each Balkan country and I have to admit, I loved the greasy/delicious burek that I started off most of my mornings with. It also motivated me to walk enough to burn it off. 😉
But, first coffee! Serbians love coffee and I don’t think a visit to Belgrade is complete without visiting one of the amazing coffee shops in Belgrade. Although breakfast is a great excuse to start with coffee, I must say that my caffeine addiction was happily indulged by some of the best coffee that I’ve ever had in Belgrade.
Even if you’re lactose-intolerance, you won’t have any difficulty finding great lattes at boutique coffee shops. Click for my guide to coffee shops in Belgrade.
If you visit Belgrade, you must visit the fortress that is the reason why Belgrade has its name. Many people don’t realize that the name for Belgrade is derived from the word “white city.” The reason was Belgrade’s fierce fortress that you can still see today.
Belgrade’s fortress is the oldest part of Belgrade, dating back to the 279 B.C. For many years, people lived strictly within the walls, however it’s changed hands many times with Belgrade’s history. From the top of its walls, you can view the Roman ruins below. The fortress has been rebuilt several times with the most recent additions dating back to the mid 1700s, however you truly feel the history here.
The fortress itself is within a park that is free to visit, so feel free to take in the stunning views or simply hang out like many locals were. Within the walls of the fortress, you’ll find several attractions, including a well, bunker, and dungeons below. (You can take a guided tour to learn more about the history.)
Lunch at Manufactura
This Serbian restaurant which sources all their food from local farms and grandmothers outside of Belgrade. I think that it’s a great place to get an introduction to Serbian food as their menu, in English, explains the different specialities from different regions. Although I had great Serbian food at smaller restaurants, it was the most recommended restaurants to me by Serbians that I met. Make a reservation for dinner.
Knez Mihajlova is one of the most grand streets of Belgrade. Here, you’ll find stunning Serbian buildings that make you want to slow down. Just off of Knez Mihajlova, which has many lovely cafes to step into, you’ll find the National Bank of Serbia, my favorite building in Belgrade. Consider turning off to see one of the adorable shopping streets of Belgrade with independent shops!
Cara Lazara for boutique shopping and cake
Be sure to stroll along Cara Lazara, one of my favorite street in Belgrade. This street is full of adorable boutiques and coffee shops that you’ll want to step into. In particular, I loved Apropo, a bookshop with friendly cats, tea, and translated Serbian books.
For a coffee, step into Koffein 2 prior to heading to Manadrina for the best cakes in Belgrade. I also liked browsing in Dechkotzar, a store producing Belgrade souvenirs. After this, cut back towards Knez Mihjalova and towards Skadarlija.
Skardarlija is one of the neighborhoods of Belgrade famous for its bohemian history. From Republic Square, you’ll wind down this hilly street with cobblestones that will instantly transport you back in time. For many years, it was most famous for its kafanas, which attracted Serbia’s most famous writers with the promise of rakija (the national beverage).
One of the most famous inhabitants of the street was Dura Jakšić whose house has been preserved. It is said that he challenged to stop drinking for a brief period…however the location of his residence, his love for rakija, and his friends did little to help him stay sober. You can see his statue in front of his house.
Be sure to note the factory, which used to be used for beer production and is now used for various clubs/bars. (I ended up visiting a great craft beer bar here!)
Around this point, I encourage you to search out dinner. There’s lots of quick places to get a pizza or another bite to eat in this area although I’d encourage you to take a nap if you intend to stay out late. If you’re a meat eater, I encourage you to try Pljeskavica. This Serbian specialty is made with beef and onions…and it’s pretty hearty!
One of the staples of traditional Serbian life are kafanas. These cafes are the local watering hole where you can chat, eat, and drink in a cozy setting. Many have live music in the evenings. You’ll find quite a few along Skadarlija, including Три шешира (Tri Sesira)
One of the most famous is Kafana Question Mark, which has a beautiful interior. It’s not the place to order craft beer, but you’re here for the atmosphere, a coffee, and maybe a bite to eat.
If you’re looking to get a bit more riled up, head to one of Belgrade’s many fun bars in Savamala, one of the neighborhoods of Belgrade. This area is very popular for nightlife, pre-splavovi, you’re likely to have fun at places like Berliner and Prohibicija.
Prohibicija is a hip bar, not too far from the splavovi, with a great cocktail and beer selection that perfect for getting ready for a crazy night out. (I was impressed with the craft beer and cocktails in Belgrade!)
If you’re crossing the river, you’re going to cross Branko’s bridge. This bridge has a pedestrian crossing, which allows you cross to reach the splavovi. The view is really nice around sunset if you’re here earlier.
Belgrade’s nightlife is famous and to experience the the best of it, you need to go to the river experience the splavovi, the river barge clubs. Although the nightlife in Belgrade used to be more centralized, the main nightlife in Belgrade, which mostly starts late (think 11pm onwards), has shifted as residents in the city centre have complained about noise.
If you’re visiting Belgrade alone, consider taking a nightlife/beer tour, which is a great way to meet people and go out in Belgrade.
Dress up and be prepared to dance the night away. Klub 20/44 was recommended for indie music although I recommend checking online to see the music offerings for the night that you’re going. If you’re visiting Belgrade in off season, save this for a weekend night.
New Belgrade & History
Good morning (or afternoon) if you went out all night. Today is meant to be an easier going day to help you recover. First, start off with a greasy burek and a large coffee. After that, head towards Republic Square, one of the main thoroughfares of the Belgrade to visit the National Museum.
I really wanted to visit the National Museum when I was in Belgrade, however renovations have been going on for years. Every Serbian I know kept telling me that it should be open and I should go, however it wasn’t open in time. I task you to visit in my place.
The National Museum focuses on Serbian history and art. It showcases the best work of Serbian painters, artifacts from various points in Serbian history, medieval manuscripts (including one recognized by UNESCO) and numerous masterpieces work by Dutch, Italian, French painters. It is widely considered one of the best things to do in Belgrade and the building is stunning!
Afterwards, take a bus towards New Belgrade. In theory, you could walk, but the locals said it’s better just to take the bus. New Belgrade represented a new place for Yugoslavia create a city without the obligations of history that fit with the vision of socialist ideals. Unlike Belgrade, which is a mishmosh of different styles, you’ll find a more modern feeling to New Belgrade, which is full of communist architecture.
At least give it a shot. Be sure to admire the Blokovi, enormous housing projects intended to house thousands of residents in one carefully planned building. If you’re looking for off the beaten path Belgrade, come here. There are free walking tours of New Belgrade with a local guide if you check with your hotel or hostel.
At minimum, visit for the food and the cafes, which many of the locals that I met recommended as authentic. One of the best things to do: find a lovely cafe by the river and order fresh fish. Fresh caught fish with a view of the river is a speciality here.
Take in stunning views of Belgrade from the top of Gardos park prior to heading down for a drink at one of the cozy cafes. Staro Burence came highly recommended to me for its atmosphere and live music.
Off the beaten path Belgrade
Бурегџиница Сарајево (Burekyria Sarajevo) is one of the most famous places to start off your morning with burek. As someone with a mild burek addiction, I asked around–and this cozy cafe came up multiple times as one of the best places for burek in Belgrade.
Stroll down Kralja Milana
London is a neighborhood of Belgrade with a lot to offer. One of its most well known streets if Kralja Milana, which has many shops and cafes.
Nikola Tesla Museum
Honor Serbia’s most famous scientist by visiting the museum dedicated to his innovative innovation and his life. Tesla’s work is incredible and it’s crazy to think what happened if we had implemented his most brilliant ideas…
Lunch at Hummus Bar …and drinks somewhere unique.
Be sure to have some cash on you to visit Hummus Bar. This vegan friendly spot has incredible falafel and other specialities. I was really impressed by their sandwiches, which are affordable and delicious.
If you’re feeling thirsty afterwards, head towards Besna Mačka for one of the most unique cafes that I’ve seen in a long time. I recommend their healthy smoothies and tea.
Revisit history in London
As someone fascinated by history, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia. For me, visiting Serbia, particularly Belgrade, served as an important reminder that we need to look beyond our countries’ actions to experience places for ourselves.
Notably, I felt that I had to visit the Yugoslav Ministry of Defence building to confront the legacy of my own country’s intervention in other countries’ affairs. (Address: Кнеза Милоша 26, Београд)
Bombed in 1999 by NATO, the Yugoslav Ministry of Defence has been preserved as a monument symbolizing the suffering of Serbia. No photos are allowed and it’s best not to linger here too long as there are soldiers who will tell you to move along, however it was a humbling place to visit.
Cathedral of Saint Sava
The Cathedral of Saint Sava is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and you can admire it from quite a distance away. Although it’s fairly new, it’s an impressive building although be warned: you must be dressed appropriately to enter and renovations were still ongoing when I visited in February. It’s still worth a peek! Afterwards, consider catching a bus back to centre!
Craft Beer & Dinner
On your way back to centre, stop off at Samo Pivo!, a local craft beer bar. They have a selection of some local favorites. Afterwards head to Mikan Restaurant, one of the cafes back towards center, for traditional Serbian barbeque food.
Things that I forgot to include, but are worth mentioning if you prefer to skip some of the things mentioned here: Exploring the hipster Dorcol area, which has lots of cute boutiques and cafes. The Jewish History Museum has a great overview of the history of Judaism in Serbia. The Bajrakli Mosque is one of the most historic mosques in Belgrade dating back to the 1600s although it’s still in use!