The Surprise of Belgrade

Begrade City GuideHave you ever been to a place that you weren’t overly excited to go in the first place, but then, it turned out to be so cool that you regret ever doubting it?

Well, say hello to my weekend in Belgrade. Thanks to Yvonne from Just Travelous, I was able to spend a long weekend in the city and man, did it ever surprise me.

I have to say that I really knew very little about Belgrade’s history. Yes, I knew of the horrible years of the war in this area and of course, I knew about the infamous Partizan loyality to their city. But other than that, my Belgrade knowledge was embarrassingly limited.

That being said, I was really surprised at the amount of things Begrade has to offer. Loads of history, great people, tons of meat, coconut baklava that puts Istanbul to shame, etc. Yes, Belgrade is one great city for a weekend away.

The Cathedral of Saint Sava

This beautiful Cathedral really took my breath away. It’s a new structure. So new in fact, that they’ve only just finished the exterior and the interior still has quite a ways to go. Modeled after Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, this church (more of a temple than a cathedral) is the largest Orthodox church in the world and is certainly one of Belgrade’s shining landmarks. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Tesla Museum

The Tesla Museum is a must see in Belgrade. Besides being a great little museum, the hourly tour was informative, interactive and very entertaining. Although I was trying to pay attention to the various displays, I was completely enthralled by the personable young tour guide, who was by far one of the cutest human beings I’ve ever encountered. You’ll have to take my word for it because I was too shy to take his photo!

Prince Mihailo Street and Republic Square

Much like Puerta del Sol, Republic Square is the epicenter of Belgrade. Used as the meeting point, protest point and general stroll starting point, the pedestrian area here is where all nights begin. There’s also a lot of good shopping and restaurants in the area and some incredible pastry shops.

The Fortress

On our first day in Belgrade, we took a walking tour around the city with a very informative guide. Our last stop of the day was the Belgrade Citdel located inside the beautiful Kalemegdan Park. With spectacular views of the intersection of the Danube and the river Sava, I can’t recommend this area enough. It’s a historically relevant area of course, but really, it was the old Serbian men playing chess that made my heart thump. Man, sometimes I wish I was an 80 year old man so I could wear snazzy hat/sweater vest combo and play chess with my buds in the park. Is that weird?

Belgrade's  ? restaurant on King Peter street
Outside the park, you’ll find the ? Restaurant on King Peter street. It’s Belgrade’s oldest tavern and the quirky name comes from a conflict between the owner and the adjacent church. Food was typical Serbian: meat and more meat. Pretty good and worth the trip to see the beautiful patio in the back of the restaurant.

The Zemun area

Although our hotel was not right in downtown Belgrade, we were lucky to be in the historic Zemun area across the river. There’s not a lot of things to do or see on this side of town, but its worth a trip if you want to take a nice walk along the river. The area has been getting more and more popular over the last few years and is known for the many floating restaurants and bars bobbing along the riverbank. The Gardoš tower (also known as the Millennium Tower) is in this area and is quite a hike up a steep hill, but again, the views of the Danube are quite impressive.

Skadarlija

“You just have to go to the Bohemian quarter!” was repeated to us over and over from the moment we stepped foot in the Serbian capital. I can’t say that Belgrade is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. A lot of the city is still a bit run down due to years of confict and war, but it does have its hidden charms and the Skadarlija neighborhood is exceptionally alluring. Yes, it’s a bit touristy, but the small area with its kafana (tavern) vibe still manages to be authentic and romantically pleasant all the same. There are some decent places to eat and overall, it’s a very quaint and ambient area, perfect for an evening stroll and stop for a few very inexpensive glasses of wine.

Partizan

Sports fan or not, seeing a Partizan game in person is an unforgettable experience. The fans are um … vivacious and passionate? If their non-stop thunderous chants don’t make your heart skip a beat, the stifling cigarette smoke in the stadium will certainly make your lungs burst. But, it’s all part of the Partizan ambience so just go with it. That’s just the Partizan way and the team’s historic connection to Madrid is something uniquely special.

So, yes, Belgrade was quite the pleasant surprise on many levels. Specifically, I was really taken aback by how nice the people were. Everywhere we went people struck up a conversation and gave us advice on what to do and see. The staff at the lovely Falkensteiner Hotel were essential in our daily planning and even got us tickets to the Partizan game. Even when the taxi driver tried to rip us off on the way back to the hotel, he apologized for trying when we didn’t fall for it. Never had that happen before!

This entry was posted in TRAVELS and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Surprise of Belgrade

  1. You’ve convinced me that Belgrade is worth a visit if I’m ever I that neck of the woods………but then there’s that Sarajevo and Szrebiniza thing from the Civil War. Maybe I still need a few more years.

    • Hamatha says:

      Hi Suzanne,

      Nice to hear from you! And yes, Belgrade is a lovely town. Maybe I wouldn’t have made the effort to go if I wasn’t relatively close, but I’m so very glad we got to experience the city. And yes, it’s always hard to decide on the best time to go to some of these places knowing that’s there’s been years and years of conflicts. In Belgrade, there’s a law that says that no building from the war years can be torn down. It has to be renovated. Well, that law means that the city is full of buildings with their entire front facade blown off and rubble all around. It’s certainly not pleasing to the eye, but in a way, it reminds you of what the city has been through and how they’re still trying to recover.

  2. Dulcinea Qui says:

    Hi Hamatha,
    Just to say I liked your post very much. As far as the history, there is a lot of it, not only in Belgrade but in Serbia, as well. Belgrade is the most destructed and renovated European city, from the Ottoman empire period until the recent NATO bombing in the late 90. It has a lot of charm even though it is not, as you have mentioned, the most beautiful city in the world. And definitely worth visiting.

    Cheers,
    Dulcinea

    • Hamatha says:

      Hi Dulcinea,

      Thank you so much for your nice words. I’m glad you like the post. Do you live in Belgrade? I really loved the city when we visited and would love to see more of Serbia. Hopefully, next time we can rent a car and do a little exploring. Please let me know if you have any recommendations as far as nearby cities or sights. Our tour guide told us that there are some impressive caves just outside the city, but we didn’t have much time to explore…

  3. Amanda says:

    Thanks for the info on visiting Belgrade. I will add it to my ever-growing list of places to visit.
    Amanda

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


one × 4 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>