As we travel through Eastern Europe, it amazes me every time we cross a border to find what’s on the other side is such a stark contrast to the country we’ve just left. It seems that every place that was once held captive by Soviet, or some other communist dictator’s rule, for those forty years has emerged from it in its own unique manner. While some cities have really started to make their appearance on a tourist itinerary, others are still hoping for that same honor. This was apparent in each country we visited on our epic Eastern European Train travel. We were surprised how many tourists, especially American tourists, we came across in Serbia’s capital city. Our goal was to discover everything we could do in one day in Belgrade.
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Belgrade, The White City
Getting off the train, the station was as dilapidated as they come. Replete with graffiti, eroding plaster, fountains with no water, it really wasn’t the perfect intro to Belgrade. We were approached by a more persistent than usual crowd of taxi hawks, even for eastern Europe. However, we quickly found the tram ticket kiosk and bought our way into the center which is much more ready for visitors than the train station. We were surprised at the number of modern cafés (where we couldn’t wait to try one out with a cool drink) and restaurants that lined the walking areas, and as it turned out there were plenty of things to do in Belgrade.
What To Do On Your One Day In Belgrade
Our entire train trip to explore the Eastern European capitals was amazing, but short. We really had to learn how to see the sights we wanted to see in each city in just one day. All it did was whet our appetite for more, which I guess is a good thing. We loved Belgrade, and what we saw made us want to stay longer. We think we saw the most important things to see in Belgrade, but we still can’t wait to go back and do more.
Nikola Tesla Museum
Only having one day in a city makes your pre-visit research more important. I had no idea that Nikola Tesla was Serbian, but Jim did and he was more than anxious to check out the museum about his life and accomplishments. This was our very first stop! Jim was right. The museum was all about Tesla’s life and accomplishments, but it was done with extremely well. I would highly recommend it, and especially for families as the curators took special care to include the children in every demonstration. It was fun and informative, and I must say I learned a lot.
Nikola Tesla Museum Address: Krunska 51
Opening Times: Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 – 8:00
Cost: 250 RSD for adults, and 150 RSD for children or students
After the museum, we headed to lunch at the Lovac Restaurant where we were assured to have some local Serbian dishes. We loved the stuffed peppers, the prunes wrapped in bacon, and for dessert some great fruit wraps. They had a wonderful patio, so we ate outside enjoying the summer weather.
In the afternoon we were chomping at the bit to get up to the fortress. The Belgrade fortress has been there for over 600 years and sits in a very strategic location, at the meeting point of the Sava and Danube rivers. This beautiful park is situated perfectly with views overlooking the city and museums that house military weaponry from various eras.
Belgrade Fortress Address: Kalemegdan
Opening Times: Monday through Sunday, 11:00 – 7:00
Cost: 120 RSD for adults, 60 RSD for children or students
Saint Sava Church
Our last stop of the day was the iconic Church of Saint Sava near the university, which was beautiful on the outside. However, the inside is only scantily finished and looked rather empty. The church is new and not quite finished yet, so your sure to see some new section completed each time you visit. Construction started before World War Two but was put on hold for decades. Construction finally began again in the 1980s. While the building itself doesn’t hold too much longevity, it is built upon the ground where the relics of Saint Sava were burned by the invading Ottoman army and therefore is considered sacred by most Serbs.
Saint Sava Church Address: Krušedolska 2a
Final Thoughts on Belgrade
As we wandered around Belgrade that day, taking public transportation everywhere we went, we came to the conclusion that they have a long way to go to reach Prague or Budapest status. However, as far as being on the tourist route, it is on its way to being a popular destination. We loved the contrast of the seemingly neglected and ramshackle building tagged with everything from beautiful street art to just downright graffiti. Then again, there were also many parts where entrepreneurs are moving into the downtown to spruce it up and make it a welcoming spot for visitors. Finally, we decided we’ll have to return in a few years to gauge its progress.
Getting there: All of the usual low cost airlines fly into Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport. There are cheap flights from all around Europe. Travel from the airport, 18 km from the city center, includes city bus 72, an airport bus – Mini Bus A1 (about US$3.00), taxis (around US$15), or an arranged shuttle through your hotel. Trains arrive and depart Belgrade’s central station to and from Sofia, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Skopje, and Thessaloniki with pretty affordable rates.
Getting Around: Belgrade has a comprehensive network of buses, trams, trains, and street cars that will get you pretty close to anywhere you want to go. You can buy a 24 hour BusPlus ticket that is good for any transportation option for 280 dinar (about US$2.50).
Where to stay: For the best access, try to stay in the city center. There are a number of good options for Belgrade hotels ranging from cheap hostels to 4 and 5 star hotels. We liked our stay in the Garden Hotel Srbija, a short tram ride and walk from the central station and on the edge of the old town. We enjoyed easy access to all of the sites and the hotel was reasonably priced, comfortable, and friendly (this was a non-sponsored stay).
Garden Hotel Srbija
Brankova 13-15, Brankova, Belgrade, Serbia
+381 11 2633323
Have you been to Serbia? To Belgrade? Where is your favorite site?
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