Belgrade a place with a tumultuous history amidst a vibrant culture and exuberant nightlife. it is also one of my favorite cities on the planet. It has much fewer tourists than other Eastern European cities and a historic and edgy hipster vibe. The people are friendly although you can tell life has been hard to some. They are easy to talk to and want to talk about their past as a communist satellite state. This makes it easy to learn about people and tap into the local culture. You don’t have to live here to understand a bit about what it’s like to live here. And there are a million non-touristy things to do in Belgrade.
How Much Will it Cost?
Belgrade is very cheap in comparison to other major cities in Europe like Paris or Madrid. Beer costs around £1.50 or cheaper if you find a particularly non-touristy area. A three-course meal might cost only £8, taxis and accommodation are also a good value.
Where Should I Stay?
I always take the cheapest hostel I can find – I ended up with £6/night at Downtown Belgrade Hostel across the street from the train station. Looking for a hotel? You’re bound to find someplace to stay that’s well within your budget. Boutique hotel rooms can be as little as £40 / night while hotels worldwide like Holiday Inn cost £100. The famous Hotel Moskva is one of the most expensive options, costing £112. Most business and boutique hotels are located downtown near Republic Square. Boutique hotels and apartments are more authentic and can be found in Dorcol or Savamala.
Non-Touristy & Hipster Things to Do in Belgrade (cringey but accurate!)
Hike up to the Belgrade Fortress
Out of all the things to do in Belgrade, there is no question as to why the Fortress is the most visited attraction. The Fortress is the city’s oldest architectural remains, perched high above Belgrade in Kalemegdan Park. The architectural suffered further damage during the First and the Second World Wars. Things changed after the World War II when the area was revamped and the slopes of Kalemegdan were used by Belgraders for skiing! There’s no sports today but you can still look out at the amazing views of Belgrade city and the Sava and Danube rivers.
2. Take A Picture at the Moskva Hotel on Terazije Square
Moskva Hotel is one of the oldest and most famous buildings in Belgrade. The history of the building dates back to 1908 and has been a meeting point for celebrities for over a hundred years. Famous guests included Robert De Niro, Louis Armstrong, Alfred Hitchcock, and even Albert Einstein.
3. Take A Free Downtown Walking Tour
I love going on free city walking tours. I love that the tour guides genuinely love their city and will work hard to make sure you do too. They want you to get the best impression and have a great time! It’s also a great way to make friends with other solo travelers and get a local perspective on the city.
4. Try the Alternative Walking Tour of Belgrade
This tour takes you to the best off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods in Belgrade. The tour meets at Republic Square leads through the first legal murals to the recent creative street art. This authentic local experience teaches about the local way of life, unique graffiti scene, spooky urban legends, as well as landmarks of rock, reggae, and electronic music unique to the area.
5. Watch a Movie at Zvezda Rooftop Cinema
Zvezda was one of the first cinemas in Belgrade, although it was neglected for man years during the economic crisis in the late 90s. However, a group of enthusiasts decided to turn things around and started squatting in the long forgotten movie theater. Now, they screen movies and host debates with almost free admission! Watching Batman with a new friend while actual bats drifted through the sky behind the screen was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
6. Soak up the Sun at Ada Beach
Ada Ciganlija is a river island-turned-artificial-peninsula that has become a favorite for locals of all ages. Set on the man-made Sava Lake, there are seven kilometres of beach where you can enjoy a coffee or cocktail, have a swim, or just soak up the sunshine.
7. Chillax at Belgrade’s Chic-est Coffee Shop
Przionica Coffee Shop is situated in the former industrial zone of Lower Dorćol. This hipster coffee bar is a caffeine trifect – they roast, serve, and sell coffee. Cafe go-ers can witness the whole process in the open atmosphere of the shop.
8. Stroll through Trendy Lower Dorcol
Lower Dorćol has become a hipster haven complete with venues, clubs, and late-night hangouts. This article is a great resource for finding the greatest nightlife in Lower Dorcol.
9. Visit Jane Doe Vintage Shop
Jane Doe Vintage was the very first vintage clothing store in Belgrade, founded in 2008. This is a community that promotes creative and artistic people. They have a wide selection of rare vintage clothes, jewelry, home decor and unique designer items.
10. Experience the Interactive Exhibition at the Tesla Restaurant and Museum
Most people have heard of Nikola Tesla yet know very little about him. Important fun fact: Did you know he was especially a fan of apples? The Tesla restaurant is a unique culinary experience offering dishes inspired by different stages of his life (hint: many incorporate apples).
Below the restaurant is a museum where you can see some of his inventions and learn about his favorite activities and funky quirks.
11. Discover the Beagradski Night Market
Once a month, just after dark, one of the Belgrade markets reopens its gates for a few more hours. Step inside the Beogradski Night Market and you might just forget where you are. Aisles and aisles of homemade Italian pastas, French cheeses, sweets from nougat to truffles to cookies to waffles, spicy Mexican sauces, boozy fine wines and mulled brandy, German sausages, the list goes on. Not here for the food? You will find local artisans and designers displaying handmade metal jewelry, pottery, all natural soaps and wooden trinkets.
12. Walk through the Boho Heart of Belgrade
Skadarska Street reminds me of a different time – perhaps it’s the nostalgic street tunes or cobbled streets that remind me of horses and carriages. Today you can find street performancers with traditional harmonica and tamborines and hipster young-uns chatting in ‘kafanas’ or coffee shops. As with any beautiful place, there are are lots of tourists snapping pictures at the quaint, unique streetscape.
13. Check Out the Underground Railway Station
Located in the urban neighborhood Vukov Spomenik, this station was once described as “one of the most beautiful railway objects, built in the worst period of the state”. the interior is both sleek and stunning, with granite and lots of decorative detail. The station is embellished with reliefs and Cyrillic lettering as well.
14. Taste the “Best Burek in Belgrade”
Pekara Trpkovic is famously known as the best eastern European bakery in Belgrade (although a very contentious title). Burek’s are pie’s made with philo pastry – they can be sweet or savory, and are typically filled with meats, cheeses, apple, or cream. A quick and delicious borek is both a satisfying and budget-friendly choice for breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack.
15. Tour the Belgrade Synogogue
If you’re interested in learning a bit about Belgrade’s Jewish history it is worthwhile to visit the city’s Synagogue just a few blocks away from Kalemegdan and Knez Mihailova Street. The temple was remodeled after it was largely destroyed during World War II.
16. Walk through Knez Mihailova Street
One of the most bustling, pedestrian-only boulevards in Belgrade, Knez Mihailova is packed with creative street art, boutique stores, and people hustling from one place to another. No visit to Belgrade is complete without doing a bit of window shopping, strolling and people watching.
There are so many things to do in Belgrade despite the city’s economic and political struggles not so long ago. But despite these challenges there is rich cultural heritage, old-world architectural remnants, and vibrant social life. There is both a grit and an exuberance to Belgrade that I won’t soon forget.
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