One Day in Belgrade

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.

Saint Sava Church
What to do in Belgrade Church of Saint Sava, 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.

One Day in Belgrade, what to do!
One Day in Belgrade, what to do!

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.

Jim making electricity - the Nikola Tesla Museum is a must see even when you only have one day in Belgrade

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

Only one day in Belgrade, make sure eating this stuffed red pepper and prunes wrapped in bacon is on your to try list.
Delicious local fare is something that you have to try while in the up and coming city. The cafe and restaurant culture is growing quickly in Belgrade.

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.

Belgrade Fortress

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
One of the major tourist sites and things to do in Belgrade is the Belgrade Fortress overlooking the city.

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.

Interior of Saint Sava Church
Visiting the Saint Sava Church is the thing to do in Belgrade, even if you are there for a short time.

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.

One Day in Belgrade, what to do!

Practical Information:

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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14 thoughts on “One Day in Belgrade”

  1. Isabella Wise

    Yugoslavia was never in Soviet Block. They said NO TO SOVIET BLOCK in 1946 and never became part of it. You never learnt history in your school, not your fault. Belgrade was bombed 6 times in history and last time NATO bombed it in 1999. They don’t have enough money as westerners do to rebuild like other European cities did it but hospitality of the people is unmatched and Belgrade is great city to visit, it has first class delicious food, many attractions. People are very tall and very beautiful so gorgeous nation. And they are impeccably dressed. Many world brand stores are in world class Malls, amazing restaurants offer Royal treatment, bohemian Skadarlija is just jewel and so many gems are worth to visit. I was treated like Royalty. I will remember for ever beautiful Serbian people and amazing hospitality. Hopefully you will visit to experience unmatched hospitality. I am Jewish and Serbs saved so many of us so l wanted to visit this amazing people as my way of saying thank you. Treat yours and travel to Belgrade you will be thrilled just like l was. Best regards, lsabella.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out Isabella. You’re right on both counts. As American’s we tend to put all of the communist controlled states in one group, but there were certainly differences among them. We definitely enjoyed the short time we had in Belgrade and just knew one day wasn’t enough. We’ll absolutely go back some day!

  2. Yes, we were there in January, our last day of our six weeks in Europe. I have to say it did not disappoint, even if it hadn’t been the only place to snow during our whole trip I am sure we would have loved it. The fortress and the back streets, feeling like stepping into an eastern block isolated city, and then there was the amazing hotel in Republic Square, the Theatre and the Christmas markets. After an 8hr train ride from Budapest we were pleasantly surprised and definitely want to return.

  3. We’re headed to Skopje (Macedonia) in less than a week. We had to decide between Skopje and Belgrade and Lake Ohrid kind of decided it for us. But Belgrade is about an hour’s flight from Split so we’ll get there someday soon, it’s a place I’m curious about.

    Frank (bbqboy)

  4. Such wonderful images, so much color and with both natural and man-made beauty in Belgrade.. The umbrella picture is so much like Chinatows but a practical solution I would say…

  5. I haven’t been since it was in Yugoslavia. It doesn’t look like the city in my memory. Thanks for reminding me that things are really changed and a visit to the former soviet block is long over due.

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