While backpacking Eastern Europe, Lee and I had the pleasure of visiting Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia; and former capital of Yugoslavia. Dating back to the 4th century BC, the “White City”, is the largest metropolis in Serbia with 1.7 million people.
It is situated where the Danube and Sava rivers meet and it has a long history, dating back to the 4th century when the area was settled by Celtic tribes. These days it is an attractive, youthful and interesting city offering visitors a lot of fun things to do. Here are five ideas of what to do while exploring Belgrade:
1. Check Out the View from the Belgrade Fortress
This military fortification, built during the Neolithic period, is now the central park of the city and it offers great views over the river, especially at sunset. It was a valuable site to the Romans and the Byzantines and many of the main structures you see now are from the 18th century. The park includes basketball courts, tennis, an observatory, museums and several cafes. It is free to enter the fortress and explore the towers and gates.
2. See the 14 Metre High Naked Man
The Pobednik, (translates as “The Victor”) is a monument located at the Belgrade Fortress. It was constructed to commemorate the victory of Serbia over the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires during the First World War and the Balkan Wars. It was constructed in 1928 and it is one of the most well-known sculptures of Ivan Mestrovic.
The statue is a naked man, holding a falcon in one hand and a sword in the other. It is one of the most powerful symbols of the city of Belgrade and one of the most visited attractions.
3. Go Shopping on Knez Mihailova Street
This street has been called one of the most beautiful pedestrian streets in Eastern Europe and it is the main shopping thoroughfare in Belgrade. You will find many of the main popular fashion brands there, or you can stop for a coffee in one of the many cute cafes.
4. Marvel at St. Sava Temple
When we first saw Saint Sava Temple we thought it was built during the Serbo-Byzantine era and was just remarkably well preserved. However, construction began only in 1985 and the temple was designed to resemble Serbo-Byzantine architecture.
The temple was constructed on the site where the Turks burned the remains of Saint Sava. It was still under construction when we were there, as the process has been drawn out by poverty, wars and communist rule. The temple is known for its huge polyphonic bells, so make sure that you visit on the hour so that you can hear them ring.
5. Have a Drink of Rakija
The national drink of Serbia is a brandy called Rakija and it has a huge significance in Serbian culture, so tasting this beverage is a must during your visit.
One of the best places to drink is in Skadarlija, which is the bohemian street filled with restaurants, bars and live music. Be careful though, it’s very strong! Also, make sure that you look your drinking mates in the eyes while toasting them – it’s a sign of respect. Say “Živeli!” (Cheers!) and enjoy.
These are just five fun things to do in Belgrade, while staying in the city, but don’t stop there as this city has a lot more to discover.