Belgrade is indestructible. Built where the Sava river meets the Danube, the city now known as Belgrade has had its fair share of would-be conquerors. The city has been razed to the ground more than 40 times throughout history, but Belgrade has always risen from the rubble and put itself back together, better before.
That invincible spirit has given rise to a city that revels in the good times with festivals, drink and camaraderie, but also knows the value of quiet moments and has a fondness for a good cup of kafa, or traditional Serbian coffee.
At the heart of Belgrade stands the Belgrade Fortress, a citadel that has graced the banks of the city’s two mighty rivers since before Belgrade had its name. Since as far back as the 3rd century BCE, the Belgrade Fortress has stood in one form or another, drawing attacks from such mighty armies as the Celts, the Roman Empire and the Huns. And yet, where those armies have fallen to history, the Belgrade Fortress still stands.
These days, the Fortress is still a central part of daily life in Belgrade, although thankfully for different reasons than it was then. Now surrounded by verdant parks that include archaeological sites, sculptures and the Belgrade Zoo, the fortress is more a reminder of the history that was and the importance of enjoying the good times while they last. In that spirit, Belgrade is often a city of great cheer and hospitality.
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What is a good time to visit Belgrade?
Many travellers find that springtime in Belgrade, from April to June, provides the best experience in the city. The winter chill is typically gone, and Belgrade exudes a positive energy, as the city’s residents are excited to resume life in parks and in streetside cafes. Spring and early summer also mark two of the most exciting days of the year for Belgrade: May is when Belgrade holds its annual Night of Museums and June is when Serbians celebrate Vidovdan, the most festive and important day of Serbia’s national calendar. Travellers visiting in the summer will want to pack light clothing and sunscreen; temperatures have been known to rise upwards of 40 degrees Celsius during this period.
How do I get around?
Belgrade’s transportation system features a fleet of buses, trams, trolleys and city trains that cover most of Belgrade and is serviced by both private and public transportation companies. Belgrade also features around 65 kilometres of dedicated bike paths for cyclists to enjoy. Visitors can rent bicycles from one of several private merchants. It is not recommended to cycle in the old city, however, as unpredictable traffic and narrow sidewalks result in less-than-ideal conditions for cyclists.
What currency should I bring to Belgrade?
The official currency of Serbia is the Dinar (RSD), and while most restaurants and hotels will accept major credit cards, it is a good idea to keep some cash on hand. Travellers can use international bank cards at ATMs to withdraw local currency. Many banks outside Serbia do not exchange Dinars, so it’s a good idea to exchange or spend any currency before leaving.
Belgrade is a city that knows how to celebrate: a multitude of festivals take place all year round, including the Night of Museums, where the city’s museums are thrown open over the course of a night in mid-May for interested gallery-goers to explore; the October Salon, dedicated to exploring the latest and greatest international achievements in the visual arts; and the Belgrade Beer Festival, a massive and raucous event taking place at the end of August, the largest festival of its kind in Southeastern Europe.
The character of Belgrade can’t help but to be informed by the history of Serbia, and the wars of the past are still a touchy subject in the city. Knowing the history of the place, however, and seeing the traces of it still evident as one wanders through the city streets only makes the celebrations that much more potent and the joy that much more beautiful. See it for yourself: book your flight to Belgrade today!
Attractions in Belgrade: multifaceted culture and history
Belgrade has been razed to the ground 44 different times, and it has always rebuilt itself. That resilience and fortitude has created a culture unlike anywhere else in Serbia - and possibly anywhere else in the world.
- Skadarlija Street
- The Belgrade Fortress
- The National Museum of Serbia
Paved in cobblestones and bordered by leafy trees, historic Skadarlija street is home to quaint cafes, shops and historic taverns. Any Belgrader will tell you: there’s probably no part of the city more beloved than this.
The Belgrade Fortress
Since Celtic times, the Belgrade Fortress has stood watch over the city. Destroyed more than 40 times over the course of its history, the fortress has always managed to come back stronger and more imposing than ever.
The National Museum of Serbia
Serbia’s National Museum is located in the historic centre of the city and houses masterpieces of artists from around the world—including Picasso, Monet and Bosch, as well as the world-renowned Miroslav’s Gospel.
To see what else awaits you on your travels to Belgrade, check out the information we have collected for you in our Belgrade guide.
What to eat when in Belgrade
Belgrade is famous for its kafanas, or traditional Serbian coffeehouses, but the delicacies that Belgrade has to offer don’t stop there. From delectable kafa to bracing rakija, traditional Balkan fruit brandy, Belgrade has plenty to offer hungry and thirsty visitors.
Putting some meat on the ribs
Serbians have a special place in their hearts for Barbecue, they make sure that their meat is prepared the right way, the wood firing the grill is the right kind and that bread and sauces will add to the harmony of the concept. The best-known Serbian food is Ćevapčići, minced meat rolled to little sausages, served with ajvar. In Belgrade, you may choose between several regional variations. Very traditional is Sarma, rice, garlic, beef, bacon and paprika rolled in a cabbage leaf. Pasulj is a national treasure for many Serbs, a soup made of several sorts of meat and white beans. Đuveč is another traditional dish made from rice, meat and vegetables.
Shopping: Take home a piece of Belgrade life
Belgrade has proven itself indestructible — make sure that it’s unforgettable too. Find yourself the perfect souvenir at one of Belgrade’s many antique shops or galleries. The Belgrade Design District initially opened as a high-end shopping mall in the 90s, the complex that would eventually become Belgrade Design District was abandoned and left to crumble. Thankfully, it has since been taken over by local artists and designers and the space is now filled with art exhibitions, local produce and unique merchandise.
There is much more to discover in this remarkable city — find out more in our guide about eat and drink Belgrade.