I can’t find a belgrade thread so I thought I’d start one. Mostly because I’d like to read some dis approved recommendations.
Let Eddie Grant be your guide! From Electric Avenue to Serbia!
(In all seriousness I will do a better post tomorrow when I have time)
Arguably the best nightlife in Europe. It’s pretty wild and attracts clubbers from surrounding countries - Hungary, Romania etc
Outside of the nightlife, there’s some incredible churches, the House of Flowers - Tito’s mausoleum, Belgrade fortress, river cruises on the Danube and, my personal favourite, the Nikola Tesla museum.
2/3 days; that’s all you’ll need.
Have been a few times and it’s always a fun place to visit, although last went in March 2020 so it was slightly weird with the start of the pandemic. During that most recent trip we stayed for two weekends (went to Bosnia during the week in between) so we had 6ish nights I think, which felt about right. It’s an absolutely massive city, with fairly distinct districts, and there was loads going on all over the place.
Stayed in Dorcol which was pretty lively, lots of bars and cafes around there on basically every street. Dorcol Platz was cool, it has a brewery taproom and wine shop on site, a small art gallery, cafe, and other interesting places dotted nearby.
Cetinjska street had the best bars and places to drink, our favourites were Dim (dark and grungy, had DJs in the evenings) and April (great cocktails). There’s a large car park on this street with lots of places clustered together which was packed most nights. Also a couple of record shops selling old Yugoslavian indie stuff which were decent enough.
Clubs - Drugstore for heavy warehouse techno with lots of visiting international DJs. 20/44 is a club on a boat and more relaxed, still techno/house focused with local DJs as well as some known names.
Leila Records - nice cafe/bar and extensive (mostly) electronic music collection for sale, mixture of second hand and new stuff, from pretty cheap to really expensive.
Radost Fina Kuhinjica - vegetarian / vegan restaurant, in an old apartment building. One of the best places we ate.
Coffee - tonnes of third wave places all over the city, as well as more standard traditional cafes. Seems like a load of new places have opened in recent years, this website has a decent guide: Third Wave Near Me - Belgrade.
If you only have time to do one cultural thing would highly recommend the Museum of Science and Technology, it’s packed full of fascinating objects like collections of old musical instruments, old steam engines, vehicles, early technological things. Everything was in English and they had a floor of fun interactive displays (probably aimed at kids but we loved it).
The Botanical Garden are nice and calming, if quite compact. Both the Museum of Yugoslavia and House of Flowers also interesting and worthwhile visiting.
Art galleries - Salon of Museum of Contemporary Art, near the fortress was good. There are galleries pretty much all over the place, so we tended to pop in to anything which looked intriguing as we found it, rather than specifically searching anything out. Good overview here: An Extensive Guide to Belgrade's Art Scene • STILL IN BELGRADE
Novi Beograd’s brutalist housing estates and Zemun (old town with a 19th century tower, quayside, interesting churches etc) were fascinating districts to walk around, on the other side of the river to the main city (easily reached by bus). We used GPSmycity to find self guided walking tour routes for both places and spent a day exploring just these two districts.
Public transport was a bit of a pain sometimes and we ended up getting taxis a few times when we couldn’t figure out the journey - Pink Taxi were reliable and cheap-ish. Supposedly the trams and buses could be tapped with a contactless card but it didn’t really work very reliably. Struggled to find places selling travel tickets except a bunch of kiosks near one of the main squares in the centre. Might’ve all changed in the last few years though.
This could be a fairly rambling post with not so many concrete recommendations as I haven’t been to Belgrade for a long time. I’m actually a relatively competent speaker of the language these days and in order to achieve that I had to start avoiding the capital as the English level is so high amongst my peer group that it was hard to practice a lot!
Before I fall into a nostalgia trap I’ve set for myself I want to say that the contributions from the posters above are really good! Seconded on the architecture front- there’s no end of mid 20th C concrete if that’s your thing! Sadly I belive the Sava centre is now closed for refurbishment - the 60s/70s interior was a thing of beauty. I hope to God they don’t touch it!
The city has changed a lot since the mid noughties but enough of the energy and character that originally drew me in remains to make it, for me, one of the best cities in Europe. Belgraders have an irrepressible ability to conjure a good time out of almost nothing in a way I have never found anywhere else. The youth that came of age in the years just post Milošević had an incredible ability to harness the semi lawlessness into some incredible (and semi-legal) nightlife. I always joke that most of my favourite spots in Belgrade feel like you’re walking into a major drug deal before stumbling blinking into an ad-hoc jazz bar in the back of an old stove factory.
One of the greatest examples of this was called BIGZ Building. It’s a giant slab of concrete building which was the old Yugoslav printworks. After falling into disrepair it was bought by a lady who started renting out spaces as workshops etc which quickly morphed into multiple clubs alongside and pretty much zero working toilets. Again was eventually brought to heel by market forces (and mercenary vandals) and is earmarked for development into a Radisson I believe.
Of course the nature of these places meant that many of them didn’t last very long, moved around, changed names or decided to legitimise meaning I have very little in the way of names to give you. The Vučić years and the changing of the generational guard to a media savvy youth with visa free entry to Schengen has kind of smoothed many parts of the city into any other hot destination city - with all the third wave coffee and it’s exposed brick work you could want.
Some of the places I think embody what I love include:
Novi Bioskop Zvezda: A cinema that has been occupied by cinema lovers for almost a decade now. A London-based Serbian businessman made a numbe of bad faith purchases of cinemas in the past under the promise to keep them under their original purpose before promptly running the businesses into the ground throwing up his hands and then redeveloping them. A bunch of young Belgraders decided to occupy it and continue running it in defiance. Michel Gondry even made them a short film to support them.
Kazalište Pozorište Gledališče Teatar: A pretty far out theatre space built in an abandoned sugar factory. There is a bar as well I think.
Some kind of Fish soup place that also sells beers in Zemun, you have to kind of keep following the key until it feels like there’s not gonna be anything there any more and then there is (this is not helpful, sorry). Zemun is worth a mooch anyway, you can visit the Gardoš Tower, the southernmost point of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Magic Garden Pub - a dingy central bar near the republic square at the end of a kind of old shopping centre space. I’m not really selling it well but I love it.
Stray observation: Maybe the only place in the world with graffitti valorising both Vladimir Putin AND Only Fools and Horses
I forgot to ask, any good day trips out of town on public transport? I’ve read of Fruška Gora national park and i like the idea of being in Serbian wilderness for a few hours, but it’s so huge i think that I’m not sure where would be a good place to start.
Go and see the Rocky statue in Žitište
or the naive art museum in Kovačica (ethnic Slovak town in North Serbia because Austro Hungarian empire, innit?)
Although not sure how easy they may be to reach on public transport. Reckon getting there is doable then getting back to the city could be difficult!
I’m not sure what you’re into but around the Fruška area and a bit more south there are some wine tours - although I’ve never been on one. There’s a few distinct grape types. I like a white wine variety called ‘Tamjanika’ which I think is Serbian for frankincense and there’s another called Smederevka.
Speaking of which, Smederevo is another possible day trip. It has an old fortress and is positioned on the Danube about 40km from Beograd.