But once I got to know it a bit better I think this is a pretty cool destination, albeit not the most obvious one. With so many great things to do in Belgrade, you can spend there a few days without getting bored and actually enjoy the capital of Serbia.
I’ve been a frequent visitor to Belgrade for some ten years now as this is often the easiest entry point to the Balkans. While at first I was a bit reluctant when visiting Belgrade, now I’m always trying to add a day or two in the city to spend some time there and enjoy all my favorite spots.
Belgrade reminds me a bit of Warsaw or Bucharest, the capitals where the recent history wasn’t easy on them and where you can still feel its impact, making the cities not the easiest one to visit (especially if you are looking for Insta pretty places) but once you dig deeper into the layers they all turn out to be pretty amazing.
And so it’s time I put together this Belgrade guide with all the best things to do in Belgrade. As you will see there are not too many typical tourist spots and monuments but the list of Belgrade attractions can get really long! Read on, give the city a chance, and plan your own trip to Belgrade soon.
Table of contents
- 1 Why visit Belgrade
- 2 How much time for visiting Belgrade
- 3 How to get to Belgrade
- 4 How to get around Belgrade
- 5 Things to do in Belgrade
- 5.1 Explore Kalemegdan Fortress
- 5.2 Walk down Knez Mihailova Street
- 5.3 See grand buildings in the downtown
- 5.4 Admire the beauty of Hotel Moskva
- 5.5 Enjoy the bohemian side of Belgrade
- 5.6 Find the Belgrade’s version of Sebilj
- 5.7 See the impressive Saint Sava Church
- 5.8 Reminisce about the past at NATO bombed buildings
- 5.9 Enjoy the street art scene
- 5.10 Enjoy the cafe scene
- 5.11 Try local food
- 5.12 Enjoy the riverside
- 5.13 Admire the spectacular brutalist architecture
- 5.14 Visit museums
- 5.15 Visit Museum of Yugoslavia
- 5.16 Go to Zemun
- 5.17 Go for day trips
- 6 Final thoughts on visiting Belgade
- 7 Where to go next
- 8 Travel Resources
Why visit Belgrade
The main reason why many travelers visit Belgrade is to start their journey in the Balkans. But the city is pretty interesting too and offers a variety of attractions.
There are some old remnants like Kalemagdan fortress or beautiful architecture from the turn of the 19th and 20th century as well as quirky concrete masterpieces. But most of all Belgrade is a vibrant city with some amazing restaurants, bars and nightlife.
How much time for visiting Belgrade
You can see the main attractions in Belgrade, especially those located downtown, in one day but I think Belgrade deserves more time to feel the vibe of the city.
With two days in Belgrade, you can also explore areas located further away like Novi Beograd or Zemun. But of course, the more time you have, the better.
How to get to Belgrade
The local airport is the main hub in the region therefore you can easily fly to Belgrade from numerous destinations in Europe and beyond. The national carrier, Air Serbia, is the main airline serving Belgrade airport but other companies fly there too (I usually take direct flights from Warsaw with LOT).
You need to take the bus to get from the airport to the center, either bus no 72 to Zeleni Venac (ticket costs 150 RSD, paid to the driver) or Minibus A1 to Slavija Square (300 RSD).
If you arrive in Belgrade by bus the main bus station is located in the center, a short walk (uphill) from the major attractions.
The situation with the train station complicated a bit recently when the old one, located next to the bus station was closed in 2018. Now you need to go a bit away from the center to either Beograd Centar station to take the train to Budapest or Novi Sad or to Topčider station for trains to Bar, Skopje or Nis.
How to get around Belgrade
While many of the attractions are located in the central part of the city and you can walk to them there are a few spots (like Zemun, Museum of Yugoslavia or numerous brutalists buildings) that you need to take the local public transport to get to. I usually use Eway website to check the public transport routes and so far it never failed me in Belgrade.
To use public transport in Belgrade you will need tickets. The most useful will be a 24-hours ticket – it costs only 250 dinars + 40 dinars for the card. You can get them at Moj Kiosk stands, they are located all over the city. Since the controls are frequent I recommend always traveling with a valid ticket.
Things to do in Belgrade
And now, without any further ado, let me tell you about all the best things to do in Belgrade.
Explore Kalemegdan Fortress
The Kalemegdan fortress is probably the biggest highlight of Belgrade and it is popular for a reason. This is one of the best places in the city to relax and enjoy beautiful vistas of the Serbian capital (especially around sunset time). It is also full of history and attractions.
Located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, the first fortifications were built here already in Celtic times. What you can see today dates to the 17th century and later and is an impressive example of defensive architecture.
It’s a really vast area and you should take your time to explore it properly as it hides some really great attractions on the Upper and Lower Fortress. My favorite part is the promenade on the Sava riverside and the part near the Victor Monument but the whole place is really great.
The best way to get to Kalemegdan is from the pedestrian Knez Mihailova street, you just need to cross the traffic lights at the end of it and you are already in Kalemegdan park.
Walk down Knez Mihailova Street
Knez Mihailova Street is the main pedestrian lane in Belgrade that stretches for around a kilometer between Terazije and Kalemegdan Fortress. This is one of the oldest and most valuable parts of Belgrade, lined with beautiful buildings from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
It’s always busy with people shopping in the numerous places along the street or chilling in any outdoor cafes. This is probably the best place in Belgrade for people watching. You should walk Knez Mihailova street in the morning, when it’s still fairly empty, to admire the beautiful architecture around and then return later on to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the place.
Some of the most interesting buildings here include Srpska Kruna Hotel (at number 56), The Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts’ building (at 35), Ruski car restaurant (at the corner of Knez Mihailova and Obilićev Venac streets) and numerous residential buildings (especially at numbers 46, 48 and 50).
See grand buildings in the downtown
Belgrade might not look like a beautiful city at first but it has some beautiful grand buildings in downtown. The center of the city is a peculiar mix of architecture, and while some of the newer additions to the scenery don’t really fit into the image of the big capital, there are still plenty of buildings that are worth looking at.
You can find some of them in and around Trg Republike, Terazije, Kralja Milana street or Trg Nikole Pasica but wandering around the downtown will reveal even more random beauty around.
If you can, step inside the buildings and gates too as you can find some real wonders there. My favorite find was the interior of the Main Post Office with a beautiful retro design.
But downtown Belgrade hides some real gems too and you can find them when wandering the backstreets, especially near Kneza Mihaila street. Some of the buildings there are really neat and can surely impress you!
Admire the beauty of Hotel Moskva
Of all the beautiful buildings in downtown Zagreb, Hotel Moskva must be my favorite one. This is one of the oldest operating hotels in Serbia, it was opened in 1908. The stunning art-nouveau building really stands out among other Belgrade architecture.
Due to its importance, location, and high standards Hotel Moskva welcomed numerous well-known guests over the years, including Albert Einstein, Alfred Hitchcock, or Richard Nixon, among many others. It also played an important role in the local history (i.e. it was the Gestapo headquarter during World War 2) and culture.
Today it is still a popular place among travelers but even if you are not staying there you can enjoy Hotel Moskva a bit – there is a fine cafe you can sit at and get a glimpse of the place and its vibe.
Enjoy the bohemian side of Belgrade
The neighborhood of Skaradlija is known as the bohemian side of Belgrade, so much different than the rest of the city. Its heart is Skadarska street – a 400-meters long cobbled lane full of attractions.
You will find there numerous restaurants, art galleries, or antique shops – Skadarlija is known as Belgrade’s Montmarte, and you can surely feel the artistic vibe there.
This is a perfect place for a slow wander around and the benches lined along the street welcome visitors to sit down and relax.
Getting to Skadarlija is rather easy, the street is located a short walk away from Trg Republike.
You can read more about Skadarlija here, in the article I wrote about this area only.
Find the Belgrade’s version of Sebilj
What many people don’t know is that you can find Sarajevo Sebilj’s replica in Belgrade. It looks almost the same, just the color is a bit darker than the one in Sarajevo. This is one of the very few Sebiljs you can find outside of the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and it was donated to Belgrade by the city of Sarajevo in 1989.
You can see Belgrade’s Sebilj when visiting Skadarlija, it’s located at the corner of Skadarska and George Washington streets.
See the impressive Saint Sava Church
One of the most recognizable attractions of Belgrade, clearly seen from many places all over the city, is the enormous Saint Sava Church, dominating the scenery with its round domes. This is actually one of the largest churches in the world and often compared to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (due to its shape) or Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (since both are still not fully finished).
Works on Saint Sava Church started in 1935 and finished only in 2004, and the interior is still very much under construction. Still, this is a beautiful place to visit and a must-stop during your Belgrade sightseeing, it can impress everyone with the fine details and impressive architecture.
If you can visit only one church in Belgrade, Saint Sava is the one (with Saint Mark’s being the close second).
Reminisce about the past at NATO bombed buildings
The 1990s Yugoslav War was the tragic episode in the region’s history and the Serbian contribution to it is a pretty well-known fact. But politics aside, as always in the wars the biggest victims are regular citizens, no matter on which side.
While the war took place mostly in the other parts of ex-Yugoslavia (with Sarajevo, Srebrenica or Vukovar being the most-known cities that suffered in the conflict), Belgrade bears some scars of that war too and you can see them in the NATO-bombed buildings that used to be the Yugoslav Ministry of Defence. Over 20 years about the bombing the damaged building still reminds about the uneasy past in the Balkans although construction works are taking place there.
You can find the building at the corner of Nemanjina and Kneza Miloša streets.
Enjoy the street art scene
Belgrade has one of the best street art scenes in the Balkans and you can find numerous works all over the city. Many of them are just random tags and graffiti on the walls, but you can also find some decent stencil, stickers or murals.
The one that is best known is by the world-famous artists from Italy – BLU. He painted a giant man eating a tree and his work showcases how we all hurt the environment. You can find it near Brankov Most, on Pop Lukina Street.
When wandering around in search of Belgrade street art you will also quickly notice that many of the works commemorate late people, often connected to the local football teams – painting their portraits on the walls is a way to remember them.
The best areas to find street art in Belgrade are the areas of Savamala and Dorcol in the center as well as neighborhoods of New Belgrade across the Sava river.
Enjoy the cafe scene
The Balkans are known for its exceptional cafe culture and Belgrade, being the largest city in the region, has some really cool cafes that you can enjoy during your trip there. They make a perfect getaway to relax during the sightseeing or find some well-needed shadow during hot days.
There are so many good coffee shops in Belgrade, not only serving amazing drinks but also having some cool and hip interiors. You will find them all over the city, I used Foursquare and European Coffee Trip website to find the best one and they didn’t disappoint.
Of all the cafes I visited in Belgrade during my numerous visits there my favorite ones were Kafeterija Magazin 1907 (at Kralja Petra 16, just off Kneza Mihaila – it’s worth visiting for the interior itself as the whole townhouse was changed into the cafe), Kafeterija at Trg Nikole Pašića, Aviator Coffee Explorer at Terazije near Hotel Moskva and Uzitak Coffee at Hilandarska 4.
Try local food
I must admit I’m not the fan of Serbian cuisine, mostly because it is very much meat-oriented and I’m a vegetarian. But since the first bite I fell in love with burek and this affection continues for years.
This local pastry with various fillings (meat, cheese, spinach or potatoes) is to die for and you can find it all over the Balkans, in every bakery as well as in the small shops specializing in burek only (and these usually serve the best burek). You can also find many of them in Belgrade and I definitely recommend trying a burek fresh from the oven at least once during your trip.
If you are looking for a typical Serbian you will get it in numerous restaurants all over the center. The best-known is the restaurant Question Mark (Znak Pitanja) which is the oldest traditional tavern in the city, operating since 1823. You will find it at Kralja Petra 6, not far from Kneza Mihaila street.
Enjoy the riverside
With the location at the confluence of two important European rivers, Danube and Sava, Belgrade has a pretty long riverside that you can enjoy in numerous ways. You might wander around or ride a bike in the green areas, relax at the beach or spend time in some cool and hip bars and restaurants. Those are located below Kalemegdan fortress, between Brankov Bridge and the place where Sava and Danube meet.
The so-called Beton Hala is where you will find some of the finest restaurants in Belgrade and the place is vibrant all day long since it’s a popular lunch and coffee area during the daytime and in the evening it changes to one of the main hotspots in the Serbian capital. There is something really cool and funky about combining the raw concrete architecture with the mighty river and the vibrant atmosphere hence you can’t really miss this place when you visit Belgrade!
On the other side of the Sava river, across from the Beton Hala, you will find numerous boats that host nightclubs and restaurants too.
Admire the spectacular brutalist architecture
Belgrade is, hands down, one of the best European cities when it comes to brutalist architecture. If you are a fan of funky concrete masterpieces you are in for a treat as you will find plenty of them all over the city, including some iconic buildings like Genex Tower or the building that looks like Toblerone chocolate.
After World War 2 when brutalism was at its peak of popularity Belgrade developed rapidly as the capital of Serbia. The row between the leaders of Yugoslavia and Soviet Union lead to finding its own way for the Tito-lead country and that applied to architecture too. That’s why the brutalist style you will find in Belgrade (and other cities of ex-Yugoslavia) is slightly different than anywhere else but nevertheless amazing.
You can read more about Belgrade brutalist architecture and where to find it in this guide I published.
Even if I personally didn’t visit all that many museums in Belgrade I know that some of them are supposed to be pretty good and worth going to.
Some of the best Belgrade museums include the Nikola Tesla Museum, the Historical Museum of Serbia, the Museum of Science and Technology, the National Museum of Serbia, the Military Museum, the Aviation Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, or Ethnographic Museum.
Visit Museum of Yugoslavia
I believe this museum deserves special attention, especially for those who like me are interested in the 20th-century history of the region.
The Museum of Yugoslavia focuses on this part of history, showing the period of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Socialist Yugoslavia as well as the life of its iconic leader Josip Broz Tito. In fact, you can find the grave of Tito in the special building called “House of Flowers”, located behind the main museum’s premises.
This place is such a great place to learn about the recent history of the region and to understand why Tito is still kind of worshipped in the countries of former Yugoslavia.
The museum is located a bit away from the center, the best way to get here is by trolleybus no 40L or 41L from the center.
Go to Zemun
Zemun, part of Belgrade located away from the center, at the Danube riverside, is a perfect area to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy capital. Until 1934 it was a separated city and part of the Habsburg Empire when it existed (the border between Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Empire was on the river Sava). This is why Zemun feels and looks so much different than downtown Belgrade.
You can find here the architecture typical for the Habsburg Empire, with lower houses and red rooftops, similar to the cities of Central Europe. The vibe of Zemun is also a bit different, more laid-back and it feels like life goes by slower here.
Zemun is such a pleasant place to visit, its waterfront is a popular recreational area where on the weekends you can expect many locals to stroll down and relax.
One of the biggest attractions of Zemun is the 19th-century Gardoš Tower from where you can admire the beautiful panorama of the surroundings and Belgrade in the background.
There are several city buses going to Zemun from the center and New Belgrade so getting there shouldn’t be a problem.
Go for day trips
The city can be a very good base to explore more of the country and some of the best places to visit in Serbia can be seen as day trips from Belgrade. There is a good network of public buses covering a big part of the country and you can use it when exploring Serbia, other places are better visited by car or with the tour.
The most popular day trip from Belgrade is to Novi Sad, the capital of the Vojvodina region, located around 100 km away from the capital. Novi Sad is very different from Belgrade, it’s this typical Central European city with grand architecture, numerous cafes, and an impressive Petrovaradin fortress.
While, as a big fan of Novi Sad, I believe the city deserves more than a day to fully enjoy it, you can still see its main attractions in a few hours. You can also combine visiting Novi Sad with seeing more of the Vojvodina region.
Another interesting place you can visit is Golubac Fortress – an impressive 14th-century masterpiece located at the Danube river, at the border with Romania, some 130 km away from Belgrade. When there you can also visit Đerdap National Park with some of the most beautiful views you will find in Serbia.
You can also go to Uzice (200 km away from Belgrade) and the nearby Zlatibor mountains and combine this place with a visit to Drvengrad – the ethno village created for Emir Kusturica’s movie “Life Is a Miracle”.
Final thoughts on visiting Belgade
As you can see, Belgrade is much more interesting than it seems at first and offers many great things to do. It is also a great place to learn more about the region and feel its vibe. When planning your Balkan trip be sure to give Belgrade a bit of your time too, you might actually enjoy it much more than expected!
Where to go next
The Balkans are one of my absolute favorite regions that I visit often hence you can find lots of information about the are here on the blog. If you are planning an onward journey from Belgrade you might find these articles useful and interesting:
- How to get from Belgrade to Sarajevo – a detailed guide
- The Western Balkan discovery – Your Ultimate Balkan Itinerary
- The best things to do in Sarajevo
- 23 Amazing Places to Visit in Bulgaria
- 23 Amazing Things to Do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Belgrade to Bar by train – one of the most beautiful railway journeys
- 15 Wonderful Things to Do in Kotor, Montenegro
- Is Montenegro safe to visit? Travelers’ opinions on Montenegro safety
- What to do in Skopje, the kitschy yet cool capital of North Macedonia
- and many more!
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