Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia, with a population of close to 1.7 million. In recent years Belgrade has become increasingly popular as a traveler hotspot thanks to its rich culture, history, and cuisine.
Serbia is a welcoming and hospitable country that is considerably more affordable than other countries in Europe. Belgrade also makes for an excellent interrailing destination thanks to its easy rail connections with Budapest.
Belgrade, or Beograd in Serbian, is known by the locals as the white city, thanks to the limestone walls of the city’s fortress, which look white when seen from further away. Both the Danube and Sava rivers run through the city and the city itself is one of the oldest in Europe. 48 hours in any city isn’t long, so here’s a useful itinerary for how to make the most of two days in the heart of the Balkans.
Before anything else, we recommend starting off the first day with a delicious Serbian-style breakfast. There are many options, though Serbians are known for enjoying many foods that have Turkish origins, including Turkish coffee, brewed fresh from ground beans, and Burek sa sirom, which is a kind of pastry pie, typically filled with cheese and served hot with cold yogurt. There are different kinds of Burek, some filled with potatoes and meat. It’s a Balkan favorite, also being enjoyed in Croatia. There are a lot of cafes and bakeries in Belgrade, so you won’t have to search high and low to find a decent place for breakfast.
Visit The Belgrade Fortress
After breakfast head up the hill to the Belgrade Fortress, which is actually the original centre of the city and its oldest part. Belgrade is actually made up of the old city and the new city, which is separated by the Danube. The fortress is located in the Stari Grad neighborhood and provides visitors with a stunning view across the city, thanks to it being 125 meters above sea level. There are also excellent views of the Danube and Sava. The fortress is divided into the lower and upper section and there’s even a drawbridge.
Visitors to the fortress can also enjoy the surrounding parkland, Kalemegdan Park, which is the largest park in Belgrade and an important historical landmark. The fortress is free to enter and is considered a “Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance”.
Spend The Afternoon In Skadarlija
Skadarlija is also in Stari Grad, the old town, so it won’t take you long to find it. It’s known as the city’s bohemian quarter and is largely well-preserved in terms of its architecture. If you’re eager to learn more about the city’s rich history, we recommend organizing a walking tour through the neighborhood.
The area became known as the bohemian quarter in the early 1900s when artists, writers, and actors began moving to the area due to its affordable living costs. The Serbian painter and writer Đura Jakšić lived in the area at this time when it became known as a cultural and artistic hub, much like Montmartre in Paris during the same era.
Walking along the cobbled streets, visitors can enjoy traditional Serbian cuisine in one of the many restaurants and cafes, while enjoying some live Serbian folk music, which is often played in the cafes and the streets in the neighborhood. It’s an excellent place to enjoy a glass of wine, a coffee, or lunch, as well as having lots of art galleries, antique and souvenir shops, and other small, independent shops selling artworks and handicrafts.
Enjoy The Nightlife On Knez Mihailova Street
Later in the evening, we recommend heading over to Knez Mihailova Street, which connects with the fortress and is next to Republic Square. It’s known for its nightlife with many clubs and bars along the street. We recommend sampling Serbian rakija, the local wine. Plus, a night out in Belgrade can be considerably cheaper than in more central European destinations.
National Museum of Serbia
On the second day why not visit the National Museum of Serbia, which will give you plenty of insight into the historical, cultural, and artistic heritage of the country, stretching back to Greek, Turkish and Roman influences in the region.
If it suits your plan, visit on a Sunday since entrance will be free.
Zeleni Vanac Farmer’s Market
Zeleni Vanac market is an excellent place to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as Balkan pastries and other specialties, such as Burek, flatbread, goulash, cabbage rolls, and grilled meat.
Nikola Tesla Museum
If you have time, definitely check out the Nikola Tesla Museum, which pays homage to the famous Serbian-American electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, futurist, and inventor. Tesla is widely regarded as a genius and the museum makes for a fascinating exploration of his life and works. Tesla’s remains are actually held at the museum and exhibitions include interactive works that specifically explore Tesla’s interest in electricity.
Final Evening By The River
The banks of the Danube and Sava make for an excellent location for your final evening. Both rivers are lined with barges and boats, many of which house bars, nightclubs, and restaurants.
It’s a beautiful way to enjoy the sunset, especially in the summer months. There are also lots of live music venues along the riverfront, so enjoying some folk music could be an option.
Belgrade: An Affordable And Culturally Rich City
Belgrade makes a great destination for any traveler interested in culture, history, and nightlife. If you’re visiting other European destinations, consider getting the night train to or from Budapest, which can be quite an adventure. Ultimately, Belgrade is a very beautiful and affordable city, and even though two days is far too short a time, you’ll still be able to get a taste of this Balkan gem.