I always foretaste with pleasure a visit to non-typical travel destinations, the cities and towns which are not so popular with the travelers. What will it bring to me? Is it worth a try? These questions were crossing my mind as I was waiting for my plane to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. I did not know what to expect from this ancient city, which witnessed many ups and downs during its rich history.
However, Belgrade satisfied and exceeded my expectations. What was the most pleasant, nice and unforgettable during this travel is meeting the Serbs. The people of Serbia have truly big heart and sincere soul. All I know about Belgrade and its secrets is due to their kind assistance. I have seen this city as a tourist and lived as a local with my dear Serbian friends, so, I would like to share my experience and make your travel to Serbia and Belgrade very comfortable.
Some travel tips:
Serbia and Belgrade are one of the cheapest venues I have ever seen. Here you can feel like you are a sophisticated and wealthy traveler even if you have just graduated from university.
Serbian is the official language in Serbia and Belgrade. Many of the Serbs speak English language, so, you can feel confident that someone will help you while you wander around the city. My Serbian friends know English, Russian and some other languages, which made it very interesting to practice foreign languages. During your sightseeing do not be surprised to see the names of the streets and pointers in Serbian, but in both Latin and Cyrillic letters. This is a very rare phenomenon called synchronic digraphia: Serbian is almost the only European language which uses two ways of writing: Cyrillic and Latin alphabet. I always liked to compare those two official ways of writing and think how different this small country between Europe and Asia is, how many cultures it sponged up.
Nikola Tesla Airport is located near the city of Belgrade. It is has a very convenient location and road junction. You can take a taxi in the airport or wait for the bus which will drive you to the city center. There are several buses: No.72, No.607 and some others. I used the bus No.72 which took me to Zeleni Venac, the major bus stop of Belgrade. But you can try a taxi, here it would be cheaper than in Western Europe. If you use buses during your visit to Belgrade, you can buy a Bus Plus card to pay for your travel. It will help you save your money.
Food. Street food!
What I really liked in Belgrade is its street food. You can find it everywhere: it is tasty, very big (really big) and cheap (remember: everything is cheap). I had a real gastronomic debauch there. McDonald’s is nothing compared to street food in Belgrade, although I love McDonalds so much and always eat it during my trips.
So, the main dish which I fell in love with is Pljeskavica. It is a grilled meat patty cake. If you visit a restaurant, pljeskavica will possibly be served with cabbidge, tomatoes, onion, cheese and other ingredients. It is a very tasty national dish, but I recommend you to try pljeskavica in fast food. What is the difference? Standing in a queue for a good pljeskavica is worth it: you will get a kind of a Serbian burger. Pljeskavica is served there in a pita with many other components, which you can choose yourself. For example, salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheese, kajmak (product from Balkan milk), any type of vegetables and sauce, there are too many to remember. Finally you will get an enormous hamburger which is almost impossible to eat alone. I could have been plied with pljeskavica for the whole day!
What to see.
So, once you know some interesting facts about the city, I would go forward with the sightseeing ideas. Here is my Top-6 list of Belgrade’s must-sees and dos.
Go for a stroll in Skadarlija.
The bohemian district in the heart of Belgrade touches the hearts of visitors with its cobbled roads, classical buildings and its artistic spirit. The so-called Montmartre of Belgrade, Skadarlija is famous for many artists visiting it since 19th The prominent artists of the past used to spend evenings in Skadarlija gathering together in the restaurants. Đura Jakšić, the Serbian painter and writer, used to live there. `Now in Skadarlija you will find those restaurants, as well asantique and souvenir shops, trees in spring bloom.
Knez Mihailova Street and the Republic Square.
Knez Mihailova Street (or Prince Mihailo Street) is also in the center of the city. It goes near the Republic Square. Being the cultural heritage of Belgrade, it is protected by law. It is a home to many cultural organizations such as Academy of Science and Arts, Instituto Cervantes and others. This pedestrian street is also a great venue for shopping, be it a luxury shopping or just souvenirs from Belgrade for your family.
As you go down along the street, you will reach the Republic Square, which is the main square in Belgrade. Look at the majestic Knez Mihailo Monument at the center of the square, visit the National Museum of Belgrade, have a cup of coffee in an outdoor café and take some photos.
Feel the ancient spirit in Kalemegdan.
If you go up along Knez Mihailova Street, you will see Kalemegdan in the confluence of Danube and Sava rivers. It is the oldest venue in Belgrade dating back to 3rd century BC. Kalemegdan fortress is located on 125 meter height and includes Upper and Lower Kalemegdan and the Park.
It has witnessed the conquers of the Romans, the Goths and the Huns during its long history. Here you can wander around the fortress for many hours exploring its different buildings and gates. Do not forget to stay until the sunset for amazing photos of the fortress, scenery and the rivers.
Tap into sacral: Ruzica Church.
There are many churches in Belgrade in Kalemegdan, but the Orthodox Ruzica Church, or Church of the Holy Mother of God, is my favorite one. It is the eldest church in the city dating back to 16th century and is included in the world’s unique churches list. Covered with greenery, it looks really fantastic.
The Church of Saint Sava.
Ranking among the largest Church buildings in the world, this church amazes with its grandeur. Its ground floor is 3500 sq.m., and the church itself can receive up to 10000 people at once. The figures shine through, however, its greatness can only be understood when you the church.
Danube and Sava rivers.
The riverside is something which could not be missed while you are in Belgrade. The Danube, the second longest river in Europe, and the Sava, the longest river in Balkans, cross the city in many areas. Due to them the location of Belgrade is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. You can have a stroll along their banks or take a boat tour.
Finally, Belgrade has much to see. Fortresses, churches, cobbled streets, wide and deep rivers, but the most amazing for me was exploring the way of life of sincere and kind Serbian people. Recollections come into my mind and my heart fills with nostalgia: Belgrade surprised me. I hope that you will also like it.