Belgrade, a place that is steeped in World War history, is the capital city of the European country of Serbia, located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. Belgrade is also the largest city in Serbia. The climate in Serbia is similar to that of other south-eastern Europe countries, with warm summers (June to August) and cold winters (December to February).
Winters are not recommended for visiting unless you are planning on a skiing adventure / holiday. The best time to visit will be somewhere between late spring and early autumn (April to October). Alternately, if you are a music lover, you can plan to visit around July / August when the EXIT Festival and Dragacevo Trumpet Festivals are held. The public transport system in Belgrade is extensive and you can move around easily using the trams, buses, public minibuses, and trolley buses.
Here are some great places not to be missed when visiting Belgrade:
1. Belgrade Fortress & Kalemegdan
Belgrade Fortress is at the centre of the city and is also the oldest place in urban Belgrade. At one time, the city’s population was located within the walls of the fortress. The fortress overlooks the two rivers of the Sava and Danube. The name Kalemegdan means either the remains of the fortress or green city park.
These two places can easily be reached by Knez Mihailova Street (read below). You also have Belgrade Zoo in the premises, so it makes for some fun activities for locals and tourists alike. You can enter the Belgrade fortress from different gates, although the main entry is at Stambol Gate where there is a display of military tanks and cannons. There are several important landmarks in this area and history enthusiasts will love visiting this place.
There are no admission fees for either Belgrade Fortress or Kalemegdan, although charges may apply for some attractions inside.
2. Ada Ciganlija
Popularly referred to as Ada, Ada Ciganlija is an island that has been artificially converted into a peninsula. It is a popular recreation spot for locals and tourists visiting Belgrade, attracting anywhere between 100,000 to 300,000 visitors during the summer and on weekends. There are beaches with a lot of sporting facilities, attracting many visitors. You can reach this spot easily via public transport.
3. Avala Tower
Avala Tower, located on Avala Mountain, is actually a TV tower that measures about 204 metres (669 feet) in height. The tower was destroyed due to bombing by NATO in 1999; it was reconstructed and opened once again in 2010. It is open every day from 9 am to 8 pm during the summer. The hours change during different seasons, and make sure you check the opening hours for public holidays. The tower is accessible by public transport; just hop on bus lines 401, 403, 405, or 408 to reach it.
4. Nikola Tesla Museum
This museum is dedicated to the life and work of Nikola Tesla, an inventor and engineer who is perhaps most famous for his work related to the modern alternating current electricity system. The museum holds a rich collection of the legacy of the scientific genius, Tesla. There are tons of documents, journals, and books, as well as technical exhibits. It is a great activity for students and science enthusiasts in particular. The museum is open from 10 am until 6pm, and closed on public holidays. Admission costs 250 RSD (2.30 USD), including a guided tour in Serbian. Admission with a tour in English costs 500 RSD (4.60 USD).
5. TRG Republike & The Old Bohemian Quarter of Skadarlija
TRG Republike is also referred to as Republic Square. It is the central town square of the city of Belgrade. As the name suggests, this place has many of Belgrade’s important buildings and monuments, including the National Museum, a statue of Prince Michael, and the National Theatre. It is one of the busiest squares in the city; on one side it extends to Knez Mihailova Street, while on the other side you can see the first glass-structured shopping mall of Belgrade, called Staklenac. One more interesting place that begins right below the TRG Republike is the old bohemian quarter of Skadarlija. This street is known for its vintage look and is said to be similar to the Montmartre district of Paris.
6. Knez Mihailova Street
If you love shopping, you’re in luck! Belgrade gives you a good shopping fix – you just need to head over to Knez Mihailova Street. It is the main shopping area and pedestrian zone in Belgrade. It is named after a Prince of Serbia and is sometimes also referred to as Prince Michael Street. There are lots of famous buildings on this street, so you’ll have your shopping remedy as well as some sightseeing hotspots. It is also said that, property wise, this street is among the costliest in Belgrade.
7. Gardos, Tower of Sibinjanin Janko
Also referred to as Millennium Tower, this is a memorial tower located in the Zemun municipality of Belgrade. This tower used to serve as a lookout for firemen in Zemun for decades. Today, this tower is a protected monument. There are exhibitions at the bottom and you can climb the steps inside to enjoy amazing views over the surrounding rural areas and beyond. Admission costs 200 RSD (1.80 USD), and the tower is open between 11 am and 8 pm.
8. St Sava’s Temple
St Sava’s Temple / Cathedral is a Serbian orthodox church, dedicated to St Sava, the founder of the Serbian orthodox church. It is located on the Vracar Plateau in Belgrade, and stands on the site where St Sava’s remains are thought to have been buried. Home to beautiful frescoes, it was completed in the year 1989 and is said to be among the largest orthodox churches in the world. There is no admission fee, although donations are appreciated. It is open daily from 8 am to 9 pm.
9. Bajrakli Mosque
This mosque is located in the Dorcol neighbourhood of Belgrade. When Austria occupied Serbia in the early 1700s, this mosque was converted to a Roman Catholic church. Later, when the Ottomans occupied Belgrade, it was changed back to its original function. The mosque displays Ottoman architectural styles. It is among the most popular locations in Belgrade, visited especially by those who are of the Islamic faith, for its heritage. It is also the only active mosque in the city. It is open to visitors outside of prayer times, although visitors are reminded to dress and act respectfully.
10. National Museum of Serbia
The National Museum of Serbia is the oldest and also the largest museum in Serbia. It is located in the central area of Belgrade, near Republic Square. It has a large collection of objects, art, textiles, and more. At present (September 2016), the museum is closed for renovations. It has been closed for a lot of the past ten years due to problems with funding, although they do open parts of the museum on occasion, providing access to certain galleries.
It can easily be reached by public transport. When it is open, the entrance fee is 200 RSD (1.80 USD).
Plan a quick getaway to Belgrade!
Serbia is such a lovely country in the Balkans, and the capital of Belgrade has so much history behind it. All those who are interested in seeing some historically important places, some great natural beauty, and also enjoying great summertime weather, you must head to Belgrade. The Danube River is of great importance, since it is known to touch the borders of at least 10 countries, and flows through 4 capital cities, including Belgrade. Don’t forget to check out some of the city’s great restaurants and bars too! Enjoy a getaway to this lovely city in the Balkans region and don’t miss the many wonderful sights.