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With so many awesome European capitals to explore, you might wonder ‘Is Belgrade worth visiting?’. Although Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, might not be the most famous European city, it still has a lot to offer!
In this post, I will tell you why Belgrade is worth visiting. I’ve travelled around the Balkans and Europe extensively and I’m so glad I added Belgrade to my list. It’s full of unique surprises and stunning hidden gems that you can read about below.
But what’s most memorable about Belgrade is its distinctive and fun atmosphere. Belgrade has an authentic spirit that feels miles from the tourist facades and ‘theme park style’ attractions that have taken over its more famous counterparts!
That said, Belgrade isn’t my favourite European capital. And while you shouldn’t let that put you off visiting (there are so many iconic places to choose from, after all), I’ve also detailed the small downsides of a visit to Belgrade. While these cons are trivial, I hope their inclusion helps you make a decision.
Here’s everything you need to know to decide if Belgrade is worth it for your next trip…
Is Belgrade worth visiting? 6 reasons why it is!
Belgrade is a hub for modern and medieval history
Belgrade has a fascinating history, stretching back to medieval times, and more recently playing a key part in the break up of Yugoslavia. So no matter what historical period piques your interest, you’re likely to find a museum or attraction that interests you in Belgrade.
Belgrade is a good place to visit for the fascinating mesh of architecture, from medieval and Byzantine to modernist and brutalist styles. You can explore Belgrade’s varied, historic past just while walking around.
Things to do in Belgrade
- Temple of St Sava – one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world with a dome weighing a colossal 4000 tons. And honestly, it’s BEAUTIFUL – both inside and out! So don’t miss this during your visit to Belgrade.
- Kalemegdan Fortress – founded by Celts in the 3rd century BC, this fortress has seen a heck of a lot of history! Whether you go for an epic sunset or to learn about the many civilizations that have controlled Belgrade (including Roman, Byzantine, Hungarian, Turkish and Bulgarian!), this historic site is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Belgrade.
- St Mark’s Serbian Orthodox Church – only 100 years old, but with an incredible interior and cultural significance.
- Bajrakli Mosque – the last remaining of Belgrade’s 300 destroyed mosques has a stunning design and captivating history.
- Nikola Tesla Museum – visit this fascinating science museum to learn about Tesla’s part in the history of innovation and technological advancements.
Yugoslavia Museum – did you know that Belgrade was the former capital of Yugoslavia? This museum is labelled essential to learn about one of the most turbulent times in modern European history. That said, I wasn’t super impressed – I’ve seen much better museums about the Balkan Wars in Sarajevo.
And a bonus reason to visit Belgrade? Most of the city’s main attractions are walkable. You can explore alone or via a free walking tour. If you only have a day or two in Serbia, it’s an excellent way to make the most of your visit as your local guide can answer any burning questions and recommend all the best spots.
Explore the unique and arty vibes of Skadarlija
The vibrant Bohemian quarter of Skadarlija is one of my favourite parts of Belgrade – and it seems I’m not alone, as this trendy district seems to be a must-do on many a Belgrade itinerary!
Not only is it gorgeous – think tree-lined streets with impressive architecture – Skadarlija is also best known as the most artistic, free-spirited area of Belgrade, which means it has a distinctive atmosphere compared to the rest of the city.
Make sure you grab a riverside coffee and brunch in a trendy cafe or taste your way through traditional Serbian food in one of the centuries-old pubs. Delicious! This ‘hood also makes Belgrade worth visiting for party people because there are bustling clubs and stylish bars with live music.
Belgrade has so much beauty when you look beyond the surface
Belgrade is much more than its troubled past, and these days there are a lot of beautiful and natural attractions that bring peace and calm to the city.
If you’re into pretty, outdoor places, these attractions are why to visit Belgrade:
- Jevremovac Botanic Gardens – with cute koi fish ponds, a charming greenhouse and miles of pathways to explore, this is the perfect way to escape the city centre’s crowds and take in the greenery.
- Kalemegdan Park – the beautiful Fortress takes centre stage within this park, which is Belgrade’s largest green space. Between the fantastic views over the river and beyond, historic fortress walls and relaxing park vibes, this is perhaps the prettiest place in the city.
- Topčider Forest Park – enjoy this park before exploring the historic Residence of Princess Ljubica.
- Ada Ciganlija – on a warm sunny day, there’s nothing like chilling out on a manmade beach along the Danube.
- Novi Sad – one of Belgrade’s easiest, and prettiest, day trips is Novi Sad. Make sure you explore the stunning fortress and walk along the city beaches.
- Riverside walks – go in summer or shoulder season to experience Belgrade at its best, when you can enjoy walking down the Save and Danube Rivers, take a boat cruise or picnic along the riverside like the locals.
If it’s too rainy to enjoy Belgrade’s pretty outdoors, head to the Museum of Contemporary Art to get your fill of aesthetic attractions. With quirky exhibits and unique sculptures, alongside contemporary paintings, Belgarde is worth visiting for culture vultures.
Great food and cafe culture
Some say that Belgrade was home to the first coffee shop in Europe. Although this fact is up for debate (other contenders include cafes in Venice and my home city of Oxford), it’s documented that a coffee shop opened in Belgrade in 1522.
So it’s safe to say that the Serbians know how to make good coffee! The local coffee is similar to Turkish coffee – very rich and delicious. These days you can also find speciality coffee including all your favourite espresso and milk blends.
The only downside of Serbia’s coffee culture is that it’s legal to smoke indoors… my advice is to head to modern joints to avoid the smoke!
Besides coffee, there’s lots of great food in Belgrade. I loved my food tour with Taste Serbia. Go with an empty stomach if you choose the Foodie Belgrade tour as you’ll end up eating A LOT of delicious, carby cuisine! However, they also offer craft beer tours and coffee tours if you’re not up for eating your way around Belgrade.
If you don’t opt for a tour, then look out for some of the classic Serbian dishes such as cevapcici, burek and moussaka.
However, if you’re a vegetarian wondering is Belgrade worth visiting?, you may struggle because the traditional food is very meaty. Luckily, modern cafes are popping up these days like Bloom and VegANGELov where you’ll have options.
From sushi to tacos and yummy brunch food, there’s an increasing amount of international food in the Serbian capital.
You can have a European city break on a budget!
If you’re desperate for a Euro city break but don’t have the funds for a Paris or Rome adventure, then Belgrade is a great city to visit on a budget.
Not only does it share some of the historic European architecture the continent is famous for (albeit with some less aesthetic communist-era buildings thrown in), but you can see a lot for free just by walking around the city – no taxis or public transport fees necessary.
Many of the main attractions are free, too, such as the must-visit Church of Saint Sava and the epic Kalemegdan Fortress. You can also visit interesting museums and gorgeous parks, and walk along the iconic Danube and Sava Rivers.
It has lively nightlife (also on a budget)
If you’re looking for the same thriving bar crawls and nightlife other European cities are known for, then Belgrade is worth a visit. And, of course, a drink is MUCH cheaper than in Western Europe!
From the many bars in Skadarlija to the quirky boats-turned-clubs (also known as splavs) docked alongside the embankment in New Belgrade in the summer, it’s a fantastic place to enjoy the nightlife on a budget.
If you’re visiting solo, not only are Serbs generally super friendly, but there’s a great backpacker scene. Join a bar crawl or stay at a sociable budget hostel like El Diablo if you want to make friends!
If you prefer to spend your evenings doing cultural things, check out the Serbian National Theatre. While you’re not likely to see a hit musical like you would on London’s West End, you can’t complain about the prices – you can see a show for just €10 here!
It’s easy to get to from other places in Europe
Flights to Belgrade Airport are easy to find from around Europe. Check on Skyscanner to find flights for just €15.
It’s also easy to reach Belgrade by bus. Usually, my top recommendation for buses in Europe is Flixbus, however, it isn’t so common in the Balkans and only connects Belgrade with Zagreb (Croatia), Podgorica (Montenegro) and Skopje (North Macedonia).
That said, it’s easy to use local buses in the Balkans. I reached Belgrade on a local bus from Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and later left on a local bus to Pristina (Kosovo). You can book tickets online in advance with the help of your hostel or hotel, or just arrive at the bus stations 30 minutes in advance.
Read next: Is Sarajevo worth visiting?
Once you’re in Belgrade, you can also take trains or local tours from Belgrade to other key destinations in Serbia, such as the stunning Novi Sad.
Overall, if you just want to get a taste of Serbia or the Balkans region in general, then Belgrade is a really easy option due to its connections with the rest of Europe – especially if you’re travelling by plane!
Read next: is Albania worth visiting?
Is Belgrade worth it? These are the CONS of visiting Belgrade!
- Not the most glam city break – in general, some accommodations can be a bit more run-down compared to some Western European capitals – however, that’s to be expected considering you’ll be paying a fraction of the price. That said, Serbia might not be the destination for a luxury traveller who wants the same bells and whistles they’d find in a top hotel in Paris or London.
- Day trips are limited – there aren’t many other destinations in Serbia popular with international tourists aside from Novi Sad. However, you can book onto one of these top-rated tours if you want to explore further afield with ease.
- Belgrade’s central hub is quite bland in my opinion. The city centre is home to a main square and commercial shopping street (Knez Michailova) which is ok if branded stores and chain restaurants are your thing, but personally, I didn’t find it had a lot of character.
- Mixed architecture – while Belgrade is home to some truly stunning architecture, the communist-era buildings won’t be everyone’s cup of tea! However, don’t let this put you off. Other parts of Belgrade are full of charm and character (such as the arty Skadarlija) so there are plenty of gems to find, plus the brutalist architecture is interesting in its own way.
- Smoking is allowed in cafes… however, the more modern and trendy joints are less likely to have people smoking inside.
Conclusion: Is Belgrade worth visiting?
Yes, Belgrade is absolutely worth visiting.
It’s less touristy than other European capitals, meaning it’s less crowded and feels more authentic. While the museums and hotels aren’t as upmarket as other cities, there are plenty of unique places and hidden gems to captivate you during your visit.
Thanks for reading!
Read more Balkans blogs:
- The ultimate Balkans itinerary
- 2 day Sofia itinerary
- What to do in Tirana, Albania
- Hiking the Theth to Valbona trail, Albania
- Is Albania a good place to visit?
- Things to do in Pristina, Kosovo
- What to do in Skopje, North Macedonia
- The top attractions Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
- 2 week Albania itinerary
- Romania itinerary
- Things to do in Kotor, Montenegro
- The perfect itinerary for Montenegro
- 1 week Croatia itinerary
- What to do in Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar and Zagreb, Croatia
TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING SERBIA
Getting around by air – I use Skyscanner and search by month to see the cheapest dates.
Driving in Europe – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in European countries (and all around the world).
For buses around Europe, I use Flixbus. It doesn’t connect cities in Serbia but it does connect Tirana to other European capitals.
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
Browse tours and Belgrade activities on GetYourGuide and Viator.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!