Things To Do In Belgrade, Serbia, For Everyone
Written by Travel Writer Maggie Turansky from The World Was Here First and several writers at Chasing the Donkey.
Every year, more and more travelers are looking to get off the beaten track in Europe, seeking different, up-and-coming destinations to add to their lists.
Croatia and Slovenia have seen a massive increase in tourism, especially since joining the EU. Their fairytale castles, stunning coastlines, and pristine nature parks appeal to many foreign tourists and are now becoming just as packed as their western European counterparts. For this reason, traveling in the Balkans has become increasingly popular in recent years.
However, the influx of Balkan tourism seems to be concentrated in countries with untouched Adriatic coastlines, meaning that landlocked nations like Serbia fall short on the international tourism scale. And this is a shame because Serbia, notably Belgrade’s capital city, is one of the best destinations to visit in all of Europe.
For many, the thought of Serbia and Belgrade still provokes images of the devastating war, bombings, and destruction, but today, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The war ended in Serbia nearly twenty years ago, and while it has seen some hardships since, both the country and its citizens are resilient, forward-thinking, and overwhelmingly hospitable. And no city exemplifies this nearly as well as Belgrade – this capital that took me by surprise and quickly stole my heart. It is one of Eastern Europe’s great cities and a fantastic destination for the spring holidays.
Belgrade is easy and affordable, fewer than 400 kilometers from Budapest, and accessible bus and train connections between the two cities.
But there is more to see in Serbia beyond its capital (and to eat). So, read on and start planning your visit to Belgrade! With an extensive bus network or a car rental, getting from one city to another is straightforward and gives you a great taste of this undiscovered nation. In addition to the best of Belgrade for tourists, you’ll also find several fantastic day trips from Belgrade below.
What To Do In Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade, the former capital of Yugoslavia and Serbia’s current capital, easily ranks among my favorite cities globally.
There is no shortage of things to do in Belgrade, a truly fantastic city. One can see the main Belgrade attractions and “tourist sites” within the span of a few days. Though not nearly as beautiful as many other cities in the vicinity, a certain edge gives Belgrade undeniable energy and charm. Here are some of my personal favorite Belgrade things to do and see.
Best Churches In Belgrade
You can’t miss this huge church as it’s clear from the city’s center and over the River Sava. This church was built in the 19th century in neoclassic architecture, having survived Ottoman rule.
If you’re an architecture buff, this is a must visit spot for you, and the neighborhoods around the church are well worth exploring on foot to find further hidden gems.
Church Of Saint Sava
One of the most imposing landmarks in Belgrade, the massive Church of Saint Save, is the largest Serbian Orthodox church and one of the world’s biggest churches.
Located on the Vračar plateau, it’s visible from several locations in the city, dominating the cityscape. It’s constructed in a Byzantine-Revival style. A visit to this monumental structure is definitely one of the best things to do in Belgrade.
There are many historical churches in Belgrade, but Ruzica is the oldest, located close to the fortress. Not only is this church beautiful in architecture and interior decoration, but it’s a functioning church that often hosts weddings throughout the shoulder months of the year.
Best Historical & Cultural Sites In Belgrade
Most Balkan cities have some fortress, which varies in their state of dilapidation. And while parts of Belgrade are crumbling, the fortress is not among them.
Easily one of the best places to visit in Belgrade, the Kalemegdan Fortress rests over the confluence of the Danube and Sava, the two Belgrade rivers, and houses the city’s biggest and most lovely park.
It is the perfect place to spend a warm afternoon, drinking a beer and admiring the views of the city. The fortress is also home to one of the top museums in Belgrade and the Belgrade Zoo.
Underground Roman Tunnels
The lush, green land around Kalemegdan Fortress is a must-visit, but dare you to head underground and check out the old Roman tunnels?
A network of tunnels was built over a century ago by the Romans, and you can head underground and explore these mysterious caverns, with the help of a guide, of course!
This famous monument is called ‘The Victor,’ and here you’ll find stunning views over the whole city and the Danube.
The monument was built to commemorate the victory over the Ottomans and Austro-Hungarians.
Situated at the southern end of Knez Mihailova, Republic Square is arguably the most important square in Belgrade. As a business and cultural district, this vibrant area in the Belgrade Old Town is where you’ll find major Belgrade sights like the Serbian National Theatre and the iconic Serbian National Museum, the latter of which is definitely worth visiting.
It’s a popular meeting place among locals and expats and one of the key tourist attractions in Belgrade.
When searching for what to see in Belgrade, a surprising find may be the city’s abundant street art. There are several cities in the world where an alternative culture seems to thrive, and Belgrade is absolutely one of them.
Due to a high level of police ambivalence, the street art scene in Belgrade is comparable to that of cities like Berlin and London. Many incredible street artworks are torn down or painted over each day. Unfortunately, this may not last forever, as the government is attempting to clean up the city’s image with a new project known as the Belgrade Waterfront.
Best Museums In Belgrade
The Tito Museum
While probably the most famous museum in Belgrade is the Nikola Tesla Museum, it focuses heavily on science and innovation. That certainly comes with its own audience, although it’s undoubtedly considered to be among the best Belgrade has to offer in terms of museums.
If you want to delve into Serbia’s and former Yugoslavia’s history a bit more, head to the Tito Museum. I knew very little about Yugoslavia’s controversial former leader, but I found this museum to be both fascinating and informative and absolutely worth the visit.
It’s one of the important places to visit in Belgrade to learn more about the city’s and country’s history.
Nikola Tesla Museum
Located in the Belgrade city center, the Nikola Tesla Museum is dedicated to the life and work of Nikola Tesla, arguably the most famous Serb. This may be the best museum in the city, and a visit is definitely one of the best things to do in Belgrade, particularly if you like history and science.
The museum is home to more than 1,200 historical technical exhibits, over 2,000 journals and books, and an incredibly 160,000 original documents. It also has more than a thousand drawings and plans. Because of its exceptional wealth of items and the legacy of Tesla in terms of electricity-related inventions, it is part of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program Register.
Belgrade Military Museum
If you want to learn more about the military history of Serbia as a whole, the Belgrade Military Museum is a one-stop shop for everything you need to know. This museum is found in Kalemegdan Park, and you can visit it for free.
Best Streets, Neighborhoods & Districts In Belgrade
Skadarlija Bohemian Quarter
Skadarlija, or the Bohemian quarter, might be the most touristy neighborhood in Belgrade. This isn’t, however, a reason to avoid it.
The picturesque cobbled streets in Belgrade’s old city are lined with shops and cafés. Some of the best Belgrade restaurants are also situated in this area. A stroll through this charming quarter is highly recommended for anyone visiting Belgrade in winter, summer, and throughout the year.
Whether looking for the best food in Belgrade, spending the afternoon shopping, or simply going on a casual stroll, Skadarlija is a great place to go in Belgrade. If you only have one day in Belgrade, put this area at the top of your Belgrade top sights list!
If you want to return in time, you must visit Zemun. A district full of incredible architecture, churches, and houses, Glavna is the street to be seen on, which runs right down to the Danube River.
Don your comfortable walking shoes, as you can easily walk from the center of Belgrade to Zemun; it’s only 3km and a very picturesque walk along the river. There are also plenty of places for a pitstop coffee along the way.
Knez Mihailova Street
Another prominent street in the Belgrade city center is Knez Mihailova Street. In fact, this is actually the city’s main pedestrian and shopping street, one of the iconic places to see in Belgrade.
Lined by beautiful historic buildings housing stores of famous international brands like Sephora and Zara, as well as various restaurants, coffee shops, and bars, this wonderful street is officially protected as one of Belgrade’s oldest and most culturally valuable landmarks.
Best Tours In Belgrade
Who wouldn’t want to take a tram ride around the city and check out the main sights without walking? The Tram line that circles right around the city’s center, also known as tram 2, it’s also one of the most historic.
The tram ride takes an hour, and you can listen in English to the commentary. The other plus point? It’s free if you book in advance.
Food And Culture Tour In Belgrade
Of all of the tour choices in Belgrade, one stands out – The Food and Culture Tour in Belgrade. This tour is a great way to get to know Serbian culture, identity, heritage, and customs. You can look up what to eat in Serbia here to get a head start on the fun.
On this tour, you can taste various typical dishes, snacks, and drinks in authentic Serbian eateries.
Best Parks & Outdoor Recreation In Belgrade
It’s always great to find a chunk of green space in a busy city, and Belgrade is no different. Tasmajdan Park is a beautiful space with tall trees and plenty of flora and fauna to check out. If you’re visiting with the kids, there’s plenty of space for them to run off steam, as well as game spots and a swimming complex.
Also known simply as Ada, Ada Ciganlija is an island in the Sava River in central Belgrade. Nicknamed “Belgrade’s Sea,” it’s one of the city’s largest and most popular recreation sites, home to various sports facilities and beaches.
In summer, it’s not uncommon for visitation numbers to exceed 100,000 on weekdays and even reach up to 300,000 on the weekends. Activities range from kayaking, swimming, sunbathing, and rowing to playing golf, and tennis, relaxing in the shade of a tree and playing basketball.
Best Ways To Experience Belgrade Like A Local
Avala Tower is the place to go if you’re looking for jaw-dropping views. This is a modern TV tower with stunning architecture, but the views from the top really grab the attention.
You can see the tower from most spots in the city, and around the tower, you’ll find a famous place for picnics during the summer months.
Belgrade may be famous among young travelers for nothing, if not its infamous nightlife. And it is astounding. Even if you’re not a party animal, as I’m not, you will be hard-pressed to find something in Belgrade’s bar and club scene that doesn’t appeal.
In fact, hitting up some of the city’s bars is one of the most fun things to do in Belgrade. Especially after a long day of walking and Belgrade sightseeing, kicking back with a cold drink is fantastic.
Perhaps what makes the city’s nightlife unique to that of other European cities is its famous splavlovi, or river barges turned into nightclubs. Plenty of watering holes, bars, and clubs are open in Belgrade in winter and year-round. Though most of these are only open in the summer months, there is no shortage of late-night party opportunities elsewhere in the city. P
If you like to go out at night, ask a local where to go and be prepared to party until dawn. Belgrade certainly won’t disappoint.
Day Trips From Belgrade, Serbia
Only about an hour’s train ride north of Belgrade, Serbia’s second-largest city of Novi Sad, is an excellent option if you want to see a more mellow, laid-back side of Serbia.
Home to the country’s largest and internationally famous music festival, called EXIT, Novi Sad is already on the map for many younger travelers.
Easy to get to from Budapest or even as a day trip from Belgrade, Novi Sad is a can’t-miss city in Serbia. And don’t let the dingy, a grey area around the bus/train station fool you; Novi Sad is a lovely city once you venture into the Old Town!
Probably the highlight of Novi Sad is its massive fortress in the city center. The fortress is home to the Novi Sad City Museum, an observatory, and planetarium, and several restaurants and cafés. The Petrovaradin Fortress hosts the famous EXIT Festival every summer, but it is also a fantastic place to explore any other time of year.
The Old Town
While there aren’t many typical tourist sites in Novi Sad, a wander through the picturesque Old Town is an absolute must.
The city also has a thriving café culture, and one could easily spend a few leisurely hours sipping an espresso or Greek-style coffee while watching the locals go about their days.
Located a little more than 200 kilometers southeast of Belgrade, the Serbian city of Niš is a beautiful place to visit and a logical stop if you’re heading east toward Sofia.
The city particularly appeals to history buffs, as Niš was the birthplace of Emperor Constantine the Great. It also claims to have the country’s best burek (a Balkan filo pastry filled with meat, cheese, or potatoes).
It is a small city, you can easily explore it in one day, and it is a great way to see another side of Serbia.
The Skull Tower
Built initially in the 19th century by Turks, the skull tower is a fascinating place to visit in Niš. Filled with the skulls of Serbs slain in the battle of Cegar in 1809, this small tomb is creepy and fascinating and well worth a visit.
If you haven’t spotted a pattern, every large city seems to have a fortress in the center of town. Niš is no exception; its fortress is a lovely place to explore.
The fortress now surrounds a sizeable green park filled with several restaurants and cafes dating back to Roman times. It’s the perfect place to unwind after all the partying you did in Belgrade!
Way back in the Middle Ages, the fortified town of Smederevo was the capital of Serbia. Its star attraction is the imposing Smederevo Fortress. Built between 1427 and 1430, it is one of the most extraordinary military structures ever constructed in Serbia and one of the largest fortresses in southeastern Europe.
This mighty fortress on the Danube River’s right bank weathered several sieges by both Ottomans and Serbs and is now regarded as the last major masterpiece of Serbian architecture of the time. Currently, it is open to the public and actually is an urban park. A theater stands inside, which is a popular venue for concerts, fairs, and festivals.
The Smederevo Fortress is no more than 45 kilometers southeast of Belgrade, making it a top destination for short Belgrade excursions.
Fruška Gora National Park
Undoubtedly, one of Belgrade’s most popular destinations, Fruška Gora National Park, is named after Fruška Gora. The mountain is the park’s centerpiece, but there’s much more to it than that. This mountain used to be an island in the ancient Pannonian Sea.
This gorgeous area in northern Serbia is characterized by everything from rolling meadows and vineyards to waterfalls and natural hot springs. On top of that, there are also more than a dozen centuries-old monasteries. Serbia’s oldest national park should be among your first options if you want to leave the busy city behind and get back to nature.
The imposing Golubac Fortress, dating from the 14th century, is one of Serbia’s most remarkable historic structures. It lies on the banks of the Danube River in northeastern Serbia and on the border with Romania.
Its strategic location, the very spot where the river is at its most powerful as it squeezes through a majestic gorge in the Carpathian Mountains, known as the Iron Gates of the Danube, has made it a much-desired stronghold over the centuries.
Everyone from the Hungarians and the Austrians to the Turks and Serbs once controlled this mighty fortress. Its setting is unquestionably gorgeous, situated right at the entrance of Đerdap National Park.
If you spend more than a weekend in Belgrade, a day trip to this spectacular castle and national park is a must-do activity.
For even more ideas with Belgrade as a base, don’t miss these travel itineraries for a weekend trip in Serbia.
Serbia is still relatively undiscovered when it comes to a European country, but it is an absolutely fabulous place to travel.
Not only are the cities dynamic and exciting, but the people who live in them are also some of the most friendly and hospitable that I’ve ever met in all of my travels. So, if you’re planning on exploring the Balkans, make sure to add Serbia to your list. You won’t be disappointed!
With so many things to do in Belgrade in winter, spring, summer, and fall, what is getting added to your list first?
Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to write for your wonderful website! I hope that I can inspire Balkan travellers to explore Belgrade and the rest of Serbia, it really is a fantastic country :)
How safe is Serbia as a single female traveler? Did you go there alone, with Michael, or with friends? How safe did you feel?
Ms.Ana Brnabic is Serbian Prime Minister and she is lesbian, so it is open minded society and, like elsewhere in Europe, it is safe for single female traveler….go for visit