So you have a long weekend to spend in Serbia’s capital, and you want to make the most of it? Well, we have you covered! This guide to planning the perfect Belgrade City Break covers everything you need to have a relaxing and enriching quick trip.
Belgrade City Break Guide
Here are our seven steps to planning the perfect Belgrade weekend break.
How to Use this Guide
While we have big, exhaustive guides for each of these topics (and we’ll link to them in case you want to read them), the whole point of a city break is to have a simple, rejuvenating experience. That kind of weekend doesn’t usually start with reading twelve thousand words about what to do. So instead, we’ve pulled the most important pieces of information and our top tips and recommendations. Consider this the cream of our Belgrade travel tips crop, if you will.
Step 1. Book Your Accommodations
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Belgrade. Generally, budget means hostel beds for around $10 a night and singles/doubles for around $30, mid-range is from about $40-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night. However, note that availability, time of year, and how much in advance you book will play a role in how much accommodations cost in Belgrade.
Budget: If you want a cozy feeling hostel, Hostel Home Sweet Home in the Savamala neighborhood of Belgrade is a fantastic choice. Its central location close to Knez Mihailova Street and other Belgrade must-sees makes staying here ultra-convenient. It’s sunny and open, with options for dorm rooms as well as affordable single and double rooms for travelers who want a little more privacy without paying a fortune. It’s one of the best-rated options in town, so we recommend you check out availability and book in advance here.
Mid-Range: If you want a more traditional accommodation option, we recommend the affordable four-star Zepter Hotel on Terazije, one of our favorite streets in all of Belgrade. It has all the amenities you’d expect from a 4-star hotel, like a gym room, in-room coffee machine, and a fantastic daily breakfast. Rooms sell out often, so check out availability and book in advance.
Luxury: We’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest the classic luxury option in Belgrade, Hotel Moskva – one of our favorite buildings in the city and a classic haunt of famous politicians, musicians, actors, and other celebrities who pass through Belgrade. It’s also surprisingly affordable for its caliber! With a renowned spa, delicious restaurant, and beautifully designed rooms, it’s one of our favorite places in Belgrade and the location is unbeatable. However, it’s almost always sold out, so be sure to check availability and book well in advance and hope you get lucky!
Still looking? Check out our full guide to Belgrade Hotels and Hostels.
Step 2. Plan Your Itinerary
We can spend weeks in Belgrade without getting bored, but if you just have three or four days, you’ll want to balance seeing the city’s main sites with enjoying your vacation. Here are the top ten things to do in Belgrade.
Belgrade Fortress is connected with the city center by Kalemegdan Park and gives the fortress an air of public space rather than museum space. In fact, there is no entry charge to visit Belgrade Fortress – you can simply stroll right in, right from the main pedestrian street of Knez Mihailova.
There are several important points within Belgrade Fortress, including Ružica Church, an astronomical observatory tower, the Victor monument, and the Gratitude to France Monument.
Centered around Skardarska Street, Skardarlija is the historically Bohemian neighborhood, turned into a pleasant tourist district full of restaurants, hostels, and bars. No trip to Belgrade is complete without at least passing through here, and first-time visitors will find themselves drawn to the delightfully touristy atmosphere mixed with a bit of old world Belgrade.
Knez Mihailova Street
One of the busiest pedestrian ways in the city, Knez Mihailova is lined with shops, street art, and places to relax and enjoy the buzz of the city. No visit to Belgrade is complete without popping into one or more of the stores here or simply walking along and people watching. This is also a great place to pick up a Serbian sim card if you want to have local data.
Knez Mihailova roughly stretches from Palace Albanija / Hotel Moskva all the way down to Kalemegdan Park, so you can see several important sights in the city on your way down this famous stretch of Belgrade.
House of Flowers
Many Serbians look back fondly on the days of Yugoslavia, where they enjoyed relative wealth and power compared to their present-day situation.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder that so-called “Yugo-nostalgia” is a common phenomenon. Josip Broz Tito, who ruled Yugoslavia for nearly 40 years, is widely regarded in a positive light in Serbia, and you can pay your respects to him at the House of Flowers, where he is buried. You can visit his mausoleum from 10 AM to 6 PM daily except on Mondays by purchasing a combined ticket with the Museum of Yugoslav History nearby, which cost 400 Serbian dinars ($4 USD).
The gift shop here is a great place to find Yugoslavia kitsch if you want to bring home a few souvenirs from Serbia.
The start for many of the city’s tours, it is possibly the single most famous landmark in the city. It’s also got a long (and dark) history, as it was used as the Gestapo headquarters when Belgrade was under Nazi Occupation during World War 2.
Branko’s Bridge with Views of the Stari Grad
An extension of Brankova street, this bridge crosses the Sava river and connects the center of Old Belgrade with New Belgrade. During the communist era, this was officially named the “Brotherhood and Unity Bridge,” but locals never truly adopted the name and it was dropped after the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The pedestrian lanes were closed for several years for repairs but reopened in 2018.
Crossing Branko’s Bridge is a great way to get some great views of the city from the river, and there’s a river path to walk on both sides.
Church of Saint Sava
Translated from Serbian as the Temple of Saint Sava, this Orthodox Cathedral is one of the main symbols of the city. It is the largest Orthodox church in the Balkans, and one of the largest in the world. The planning for this temple began in the nineteenth century, with building commencing at the beginning of the twentieth. However, the Balkan Wars and World War I forced the construction process to cease.
Work began again in the thirties, but the bombing of Belgrade during World War II forced the construction to stop again. Both the Nazis and the Soviet Armies used the construction site as parking lots, Construction did not start again until 1985, but the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 again caused the project to be put into question. The dome was only completed in 2017, over a hundred years after the initial construction began. The church is a testament to the Serbian people’s resilience in the face of war caused by both foreign invasion and their own government’s failings.
Gardos Tower & Zemun
Seeing the views from the top of this tower is one of my favorite Belgrade memories. Built atop previous ancient Roman and Ottoman fortresses, the Hapsburg Empire constructed Gardoš Tower (Serbian: Кула на Гардошу) or Millennium Tower, (Serbian: Миленијумска кула) in 1896 to celebrate one thousand years of controlling the area.
Interestingly, this is the same exact development project that brought Budapest its Fisherman’s Bastion and Vajdahunyad Castle, as the Zemun part of Belgrade actually used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. This is why while Zemun is now a suburb of Belgrade, it looks so different and distinct from the rest of Belgrade – it was historically part of a different empire, not just a different city!
Gardoš tower is constructed in the Gothic style. The climb to the top is a quick sixty-four stairs, and you’ll be rewarded when you get there with stunning city views without the crowds.
After climbing the tower, give yourself time to wander around Zemun. This brightly colored neighborhood is full of charming houses.
Zeleni Venac Market
Zeleni Venac translates as “Green Wreath” and was named after a long-gone kafana in the neighborhood. The open-air market has endured, however, celebrating its 170th-anniversary last year in 2017.
This is a great place to buy edible Serbian souvenirs like ajvar, fresh cheeses, produce, and rakija. It’s also a great place to indulge in some street photography.
Sajmishte Spomenik is located on the banks of the Sava river in Novi Beograd on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp. It commemorates the victims of the Sajmishte Concentration Camp, where over 20,000 Jews, Serbs, Roma, and other Nazi targets were murdered. It is believed that half of all Serbian Jews died here during the Nazi occupation.
While the monument itself is notable for its status as a prominent work of social realism in Belgrade, remember that it commemorates the victims of an atrocity, so be respectful during your visit.
Want Something a Bit Different?
We picked our top ten as a mix of the city’s most important sites and a few of our favorite places that are a bit more off-the-path. However, if you want more ideas check out our guide to 101 Things to Do in Belgrade and Belgrade’s Most Instagrammable Places.
Step 3. Book City Activities
If you want to dig deeper into Belgrade but are short on time, we recommend booking a few organized city tours. This way you will leave the city feeling like you have a better understanding of what you’re seeing, and you can ask questions about the places you visit. We have an entire guide to our favorite Belgrade tours, but here are our recommendations for the top three tours that show off what’s unique about the city.
Communist Belgrade Tour
One of the most popular tours in Belgrade, the Red Belgrade Tour includes some of Belgrade’s most interesting sights related to the Yugoslav era.
The tour begins in the heart of Belgrade, Republic Square, where you’ll get a brief interview of the 50 years of Yugoslavia before its downfall and messy breakup. As you walk around Stari Grad, your guide will point out monuments from the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Other important sites on the tour include the ruins of the 1999 NATO Bombings and the House of Flowers.
The tour lasts three hours and begins at noon. It runs Tuesdays through Saturdays with no tours on either Mondays or Sundays, so plan in advance if this is key to your Belgrade experience (and it should be!)
Food Tour of Belgrade
We love going on food tours in new countries since food is one of the best ways to get an introduction to a new culture.
There are two food tours of Belgrade we recommend: the first is called Taste Belgrade. It is a little more expensive, but it covers far more, lasting five hours and including traditional Serbian coffee, a visit to a local green market, a stop at a local bakery, a cheese tasting, and a sweet tasting at a pastry shop… and then finally ending with a big sit down lunch, literally an 8-course meal where the chef visits the table and explains each dish and its inspiration. Given all that you get, the price is quite reasonable, but it is not the cheapest option.
If you’re on a tighter budget but still want to explore the Belgrade food scene, there is an option for you. This Belgrade food tour includes more snacks than a full-on meal and will take you around the vibey neighborhood of Dorcol. You’ll make four stops in this neighborhood: a traditional Serbian pastry, a fast food pljeskavica (aka a “Serbian hamburger”), a homemade ice cream and finally a delicious traditional chocolate cake.
Belgrade Boat Cruise
A Belgrade boat cruise is a fabulous way to experience Belgrade. With two beautiful rivers, the Sava and the Danube, coming together in a beautiful dance in front of the Belgrade Fortress, it’d be ridiculous not to spend the time to take a boat cruise at some point during your trip to Belgrade.
A sightseeing cruise is very relaxing and a great way to rest your feet while you still take in the beauty of Belgrade and its history through an audio guide, spending 90 minutes up and down this beautiful set of waterways and getting to take in the beauty of Belgrade from a fresh set of eyes.
This specific boat cruise departs every day except Mondays from the beginning of May until the first of October at 3:30 PM, and it requires two people when making a booking.
Step 4. Plan a Day Trip
If you only have two full days in the city, then we recommend sticking to Belgrade. However, if you have three full days, you can either spend all three in Belgrade (which, trust us, there’s enough to do here for way more than three days) or you can go on one of the city’s amazing day trips options.
We have an exhaustive list of twenty-one awesome Belgrade day trip ideas, but you only have one day. So here are our top three recommendations.
This historic city is just beginning to get on the radar – it was #3 on Lonely Planet’s list of places to go in 2019 and it’s been named one of the three European Capitals of Culture for 2021 (in fact, it’s the first non-EU Capital of Culture!). We love Novi Sad so much and since it’s only one hour away from Belgrade, it’s our top recommendation for a day trip to add. You can easily go by bus (we recommend this over the train, which is often delayed) or on a guided tour.
We went on this tour which includes a wine tasting and a visit to Sremski Karlovci. It was a delightful day, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. You can check prices and reviews here.
Who knew Serbia had fantastic wines? Not us until our most recent visit! We highly recommend a visit to the Fruska Gora region of Serbia if you’re a wine lover. You can visit some of the area’s many monasteries, national park, and delightful wineries. If you want to DIY your day trip, we recommend renting a car in Belgrade so you can see as much of the area as possible.
However, if you don’t want to go on your own, you can combine a day trip to Novi Sad and Fruska Gora on a guided tour. The tour we recommended above is this one which includes a wine tasting in Fruska Gora, a monastery visit, and a few hours exploring Novi Sad. You can check prices and reviews here.
The Art Nouveau town of Subotica is the stuff of dreams and we think it just may be one of the most beautiful towns in the Balkans. It’s small and compact, easily walkable, and can be visited in a day! We recommend going by bus or driving if you’re comfortable (we have a guide to renting a car and driving in Serbia). Again, skip the train as delays are frequent.
As of now, we can’t find any options for visiting Subotica as a guided tour from Belgrade, but hopefully, that will change in the future so more people can experience this beautiful city!
Step 5. Three Can’t-Miss Belgrade Restaurants
Belgrade is a tasty city full of great restaurants, but these are the three that show off the best of Serbian and Balkan cuisine.
Manufaktura offers a modern take on traditional Serbian food that is seriously delicious. it’s also the restaurant with the best Instagram game in town, as its garden roof is made of red umbrellas. During warm months, eating in the garden is one of the liveliest places to be in the city. With a great selection of local wines and a Fruska Gora cheese plate, you can taste the absolute best of Serbia in a beautiful city garden.
Located on the waterfront, Ambar is probably the most surprising dining experience I’ve had in Belgrade. The food is traditional Balkan cuisine but completely updated for modern tastes. Served on small plates, Tapas style, you can enjoy tasting many different traditional dishes. I highly recommend the lamb, but we tried maybe seven or eight plates and loved every one of them.
Most tourists who come to Belgrade are sure to see the gorgeous white-and-green Hotel Moskva building from the outside, but give yourself time to enjoy their homemade Moskva Schnitt. This famous cake (which pairs delightfully with white wine) is a Belgrade delicacy and a great way to enjoy a quiet hour during your trip. We went as the final activity on our last trip to Belgrade, and it was a great way to unwind and enjoy the city before leaving. Think the class of a Vienna cafe paired with the coolness of Belgrade (and at Belgrade prices).
Step 6. Plan What To Do in Belgrade at Night
For a typical city break, we would expect you would have two or three nights in town. While you might choose to retreat to your hotel room at night to relax, if you do want to go out and explore the city at night, here are two great options.
if you’re looking for one of the most unique things to do in Belgrade, partying on a floating barge has got to be one of them! These riverside clubs, called splavovi or splavs, are a Belgrade institution. Located on the banks of the Sava, these clubs go all night and well into the morning. Allison really enjoyed the scene at Klub 20/44, but Splav HotMess is another great option.
Most splavs are located north of Brankov’s Bridge on the Novi Beograd side, and south of the Old Sava Bridge on the Old Belgrade side. Most don’t open until 11 PM or midnight and don’t really get going until 2 AM, so prepare for a late night!
Belgrade is notorious for its crazy dusk-til-dawn nightlife. Even though we’re the kind of travelers who like to be in bed by midnight (and not out of bed until noon if we can help it), Belgrade brings out our wilder side.
Great for solo travelers, groups of friends, and even couples who want to meet fellow travelers and get to see Belgrade nightlife firsthand, a pub crawl is a fantastic way to get an insider look at Belgrade nightlife. There are a few different crawls in Belgrade – we recommend this local beer crawl or this craft beer crawl.
Step 7. Trip Planning Logistics
Now that you have picked out what you want to do while you’re in town, there are a couple of logistics you need to think about. If you want to go further, check out our entire Serbia Trip Planning Guide and what to know before traveling to Serbia.
Book Your Tickets
If you’ll be flying to Serbia and haven’t booked your tickets yet, we recommend using Google Flights to get the best deal. You want to look for flights to Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport.
If you’re traveling to Belgrade by bus or train, research your travel route ahead of time. We have a guide on how to get from Sofia to Belgrade.
We use the app Car.Go whenever we’re in Belgrade. It’s a local company that works like Uber. If you arrive at the airport, you can use the wifi there to order a taxi on the app to avoid the overpriced airport taxis.
If you arrive in the city by bus or train and don’t have data, ask a local restaurant or hotel to call a taxi for you. This way you don’t risk a taxi scam.
Once you’re here, you can use Car.Go to go to most places in the city for less than the equivalent of 3 euros. You can also choose to use the city’s great trams and buses. However, if you’re only in town for three or four days, it may not be worth figuring out public transportation.
Money in Belgrade
In Serbia, the currency is the Serbian Dinar. It is divided into one hundred Para. You cannot use Euros while in Belgrade. Each Dinar is about 0.01 EUR. To get cash, we advise using the ATMs so that you get the best exchange rate.
You can use credit cards at most of the businesses in Belgrade. If you book your tours and hotels online and use the Car.Go app for transportation, you can get away with needing very little local currency.
When dining in Belgrade, tip 10-15%.
The Serbian Language
In Belgrade, you can get by 99% of the time on English alone. However, you may want to learn Cyrillic so that you can read the signs. If you can’t read Cyrillic and don’t have time to learn, we have a free downloadable Serbian alphabet guide for you to use. Just keep it handy on your phone or print it out.
5 Things to Pack for Belgrade
- A Lonely Planet guidebook, to help you plan when on the ground
- Good shoes for walking long days in the city
- An unlocked smartphone, so you can buy a cheap Serbian SIM card and stay connected
- A back-up charging bank so you can keep your phone charged all day
- A sturdy but stylish day bag to carry your things. One that transitions from day to night will be the best option.
Belgrade Travel Resources
Hopefully, you can plan your entire city break in Belgrade just from this post, but we do have ton more Belgrade Travel Resources if you need them.
For activities in the city, check out our guide for things to do in Belgrade, the most Instagrammable spots in Belgrade, and the best Belgrade street art. We also have a Serbian souvenir guide if you want to do some shopping.
If you love guided tours, we have more than what’s listed above. Here are eleven great Belgrade tours to pick from.
If you want to get out of the city for a day, here are our guide to Belgrade day trips and what you should know before renting a car in Serbia. We also have lists of our favorite places to visit in Serbia and the best Serbian towns and cities if you need more day trip inspiration.
Headed to Belgrade? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
If you’re planning a trip to Belgrade, make sure to travel with a valid travel insurance policy. You need to be covered in case of an emergency. Travel insurance covers you in case of theft or an accident, which can save your trip if there’s an incident.
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.