Belgrade is not a beautiful city. People from Belgrade will not be offended by this and even wholeheartedly agree and quote Le Corbusier, a French architect who was even harsher: ”Belgrade is an ugly city…” When I meet travelers saying they have been to Belgrade or want to go there, I always wonder what has gotten into their mind. I was there, and in a way, I liked the city and the people. But I visited Belgrade for an entirely different reason than being a tourist; it meant different thing.
I don’t remember much of what I saw on the street since I felt in a daze most of the time I was there. A local friend took me around showing me the city and giving me free lecture about this and that. She saved me the horror of navigating the big, polluted city all by myself. But she also walked very fast, and I was like being a pony strung along by a leash. “Cindy, stop. This is where so and so happened. Next. He did this and that here. Next. And next.”
Unless you are a male and in search for a south eastern goddess (I thought that the Bosnians and Croatians were very pretty, but the Bosnians said that the Serbians were even more so.) or have a friend to visit or a personal issue to resolve, I don’t recommend this city.
- Republic Square, also called ‘by the horse’, is the heart of the city, a favorite meeting place. Just tell the other person to meet you at the statue of prince Mihailo Obrenoic riding a horse.
- The National Museum is right at the square. But who visit the national museum anyway? I don’t unless it’s cold, rains or I’m completely bored out of my mind. Sit down in a coffeehouse on Skadarlija (Skadarska), a pedestrian street filled with restaurants and cafes having live bands performing in the evenings.
- The Residence of Princess Ljubica (Konak kneginje Ljubice) is another tourist attraction.
- For any reason, you have to see Kalemegdan Citadel, situated by the end of Knez Mihailova, the main pedestrian street in Belgrade. This citadel is more a local hang out than a tourist attraction, but that’s why it felt more special to me. You’ll find parents walking their small children, old men playing chess, lovers smooching oblivious to the bystanders. If you happen to be there in the evening, make sure you linger for a while longer to watch the sunset. It sounds a little bit cheesy, but sunset is still one-of-those things people want to do, and it’s even nicer when you do it in a foreign place. From the western lookout of the citadel, to the direction of the sunset, you can see the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.
- In the summer, you can ride bike, inline skate, swim, water ski, bungee jump at Ada Ciganlija artificial lake.
- Now, if you are interested in current events, you might want to visit the National TV, radio station bombed by NATO in 1998 as a punishment to Serbia’s war in Kosovo. The buildings are completely destroyed, burned walls, shattered glasses. The government wants to leave it as it is as an open-air museum to remind people not to forget.
Serbian cuisine, similar to other Balkan country, has a lot of grilled meats, sausages, local cheeses and bread. A small portion of fresh, healthy Balkan salad is usually served along with the main course. There are very few ingredients in the salad, mainly tomato, onion or cabbage, cucumber and Balkan cheese lightly soaked in light, non-packaged dressing prepared from olive oil and vinegar. Grilled meat in Serbia (and the rest of former Yugoslavia) is very tasty and not commonly available in other Western countries unless you visit a Serbian restaurant. But even so, the quality of the meat isn’t the same. Cevapi and pljeskavica are two types of grilled meat. They are made from a mixture of lamb, pork and beef, grilled with onions and served hot on fresh somun, a kind of pita bread. Some compare pljeskavica to American hamburger which I think is a huge insult, not to McDonald of course. One is freshly prepared from family recipes while the other is mass-produced and laced with chemicals.
My recommend to you, when in Serbia eat burek, cevapi or pljeskavica, Balkan salad before trying anything else assuming you want to eat anything else after that.
- Hostel: from €12 (8-bed room), €16 (4-bed rom). €25 (single).
- Apartment: from €25 for person, €35 for 2, €45 for 3.
- Budget hotel: from €30 / person (single room)
- Train from Novi Sad to Belgrade: 432RSD / €5- Single bus ride: €0.78Take note that few regular bus lines (such as 24 or 49) are operated by minibuses, but the tickets for them are the regular ones.
- Hamburger and Cheeseburger: from €2
- Sausage: €1.5
- Coke: €1.5
- Burek: 70RSD / €0.5
- Lunch/dinner in a restaurant: From €5 to 20, max depend on the restaurant. €10 euro is usually enough.
- Female haircut (short hair) in a chic salon: 650RSD / €6
- Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG) is 12 kilometers west of the city center, home base of Jat Airways, Serbia’s major airline. Low cost airlines, in the last few years, start to fly here. WizzAir has direct flights from London, Eindhoven, Memmingen, Gothenburg, Malmeo, Charleroi, Rome, Stockholm and Dortmund.
- The central train station, where all international and domestic trains stop, is only 1 km away, or 15 minutes on foot, from Republic Square.
- Belgrade’s central bus station is the next to train station. Lasta, Serbian Eurolines carrier, is a major bus company, which has services to Europe.
- Trams in Belgrade are very old; I was told they are donation or cheap buy from richer countries, Czech Republic as an example. When Czech upgrades their trams, they give away old ones to Serbia.
|Attention: Don’t accept any men offering taxis at the airport, train or bus stations because they will rip you off even if they are licensed. Licensed taxi is marked with a blue sign with the city coat of arms and a number on it. I read on another online travel website that some of these guys remove the taximeters or crank them up to tick at a dizzying rates.|
|Tips: Unlike in Western countries and Czech Republic, traveling by train in Serbia is often cheaper than by bus. Rail tracks in Serbia are old and used only by slow trains, thus lower the fares. However, this means you will sit in the train 3 times longer compared to the bullet trains in Germany or France for the same distance.|