If you’re on the fence about visiting Belgrade in winter, we’re here to tip the scales in Belgrade’s favor.
A thriving go-all-night party scene. A beautiful setting on the confluence of two mighty rivers, which turn gorgeously icy in winter. Delicious food and cozy coffee shops everywhere you look. Why wouldn’t you want to visit Belgrade in winter?
OK, yes, it can get damn cold — average lows in December are 32° F (0° C) and average highs aren’t much better at 43° F (6° C). Temperature averages are roughly the same in January and February. That said, big dips in temperature can occur, and the coldest day on record in Belgrade was -1° F / – 18° C!
Despite the cold, though, we do believe you should visit Belgrade in winter. Why? Well, we love Belgrade so much that we literally wrote what could well be a book on it, our ultimate guide to 101 things to do in Belgrade. But in case you’re wondering specifically what to do in winter in Belgrade, we’ve handpicked 9 of the coziest winter ideas to make your Belgrade winter trip a memorable one!
A quick note if you’re planning to spend Christmas in Belgrade… Serbia is primarily Eastern Orthodox which means that Serbia follows the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian one. What that means for you is that most Christmas festivities happen around the 7th of January, not December 25th like you may be used to. That means that the Christmas season lasts even longer in Belgrade!
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Best Things to Do in Belgrade in Winter
Shop and snack at the Belgrade Christmas Market
Belgrade is home to an annual Christmas market, and what better way to spend the days leading up to Christmas in Belgrade exploring these festive, adorable markets? Even better, the Belgrade Christmas market has an even more adorable name – Trg Otvorenog Srca, or Open Heart Square!
If you visit Belgrade in December, this is the perfect place to shop locally for Christmas gifts. You can meet the artisans and perhaps purchase a Serbian souvenir to remember your winter trip to Belgrade with.
The Christmas market is located around Republic Square, spanning out into Knez Mihailova. You’ll find standard European Christmas market fare here, from ornaments to mulled wine to hot punch, as well as Serbian food.
I couldn’t find exact opening dates of the 2019 version, but if past years are any indication, it should run roughly from December 16 to December 30.
Spend hours away from the cold in Belgrade’s fantastic museums
Belgrade is a city full of culture, and one of the best ways to sample that culture is through its excellent museums. We visited a handful of museums in Belgrade during our many visits to the White City, and here are three of our favorites.
National Gallery: Newly opened after several years of extensive renovations, this place in the heart of Republic Square is where you want to go if you are looking for Serbian and foreign art. We’ve written about it here.
Nikola Tesla Museum: If you’re interested in the Serbian inventor or just science in general, you’ll love this interactive museum with fun exhibits such as a working Tesla coil. We’ve written more about it here.
House of Flowers & The Museum of Yugoslavia: If you’re from the West, you likely think of the Communist era as a time of deprivation and suffering – not so in Serbia, where Yugoslavia meant a thriving economy and a huge amount of international importance. Visiting Tito’s mausoleum at the House of Flowers and the adjoining Museum of Yugoslavia is an important way to deepen and add nuance to your understanding of the Communist era in Europe, and to realize that not every story is as simple as we make it out to be.
Spend the night hopping around Belgrade’s chill watering holes
Neither of us is a huge partier, so we loved the relaxed bar scene in Belgrade. The buzzy neighborhood of Dorćol is the best place in Belgrade to go out and enjoy the nightlife of the city — without necessarily staying up until the crack of dawn (and then some!).
There are several places where you can go out and enjoy some drinks in Dorćol without necessarily committing to a wild free-for-all of an evening, and here are a few of our favorites.
Note: Be aware that Serbia permits smoking indoors, and people will be exercising that right in full force during the winter, so if you are sensitive to tobacco smoke, you may have some issues in Belgrade.
Meduza: Chill café by day and cozy bar by night, Meduza is unpretentious, laid-back Belgrade at its best.
Rakia Bar: Not far from Belgrade’s popular Skadarska Street, Rakia Bar has a wide selection of Belgrade’s most loved and hated beverage, rakia (a fruit-based moonshine), all in a lovely and relaxed ambiance.
Krafter: Focusing on craft beer, with a great selection of local Serbian craft beers, this bar is low-key and never gets too rowdy.
Prefer some guidance of the craft beer scene, or just want some people to go out with and a local guide to tell you the best spots? This affordable craft beer tour is an excellent choice!
Or pop off all night in one of Belgrade’s splavs
Belgrade is famous for its river boats (also called
Hit up one of the most popular splavs, as many of the smaller ones may close for the colder months. I recommend Klub 20/44, which runs even in the winter. Between the sweaty dancing and the indoor heating, you don’t have to worry about the cold outside… until it’s time to stumble out and hail a taxi home, that is.
Ice skate at one of the city’s open-air rinks
During the winter, Belgrade’s Nikola Pašić Square opens up its own small ice rink which is perfect for kids — or adults! — who fancy lacing up their skates and hitting the ice.
You can also head to Ada Ciganlija, Belgrade’s island which is crowded in the summer but peaceful in the winter, for some skating, or you could also check out skating along the Belgrade Waterfront along the Sava River promenade. If you’re staying in Novi Beograd or Zemun, then check out the Zamak theme park by the Zemun Quay.
Opening times vary, so check operating hours before arriving. Skate rental is generally 2-3 euro per hour, and most have free admission with the rental of skates.
Wander through a winter wonderland at the urban Košutnjak forest
Nature and city meet frequently in Belgrade, as this city is banked on two rivers, has its own islands and lake, tons of green spaces, and even its own forests.
While the city parks are lovely under a coating of snow, the forests are even better. Hop in a cab and make your way to Kosutnjak forest, which is gorgeous under a dusting of fresh snow and almost completely away from the tourist crowds.
Check out the Christmas decorations on Knez Mihailova Boulevard
Knez Mihailova boulevard is the center of Belgrade life no matter what the time of year, and that doesn’t change just because it’s winter in Belgrade.
Knez Mihailova is where most of the Belgrade Christmas Market action takes place, but even if you happen to arrive before or after the market ends, it should be decorated for winter regardless!
In the weeks leading up to Christmas (and well afterward), Knez Mihailova gets all glittered up for Christmas with lots of lights sparkling up the boulevard and getting you in the spirit to shop. Lucky for you, this is Belgrade’s main shopping street, so it’s the perfect place to snag some Christmas presents you may have forgotten about!
Wander around a snow-covered fortress
The Belgrade Fortress is magical at any time of year, but I think that its magic gets brought to an entirely new level when it’s all dusted in snow.
The Belgrade Fortress is open day and night to the public free of charge, and it’s one of the best sunset spots in the city. I recommend catching as many sunsets here as you possibly can, especially if you’re staying nearby.
You can even take a tour of the passageways and tunnels underneath Belgrade Fortress and learn about their macabre history — it may not be warm beneath the ground, but it’ll be sheltered from the wind, rain, or snow! Check tour availability here.
Eat some hearty Serbian food!
Serbian food is… well, not light… which means it’s perfect winter food! I’m not normally crazy about Balkan cuisine, but when it gets that cold outside, I’m all about the hearty stews, rich roasted meats, and delicious baked beans.
A few things you shouldn’t leave Serbia without trying: pasulj, a bean soup which often includes sausage, Karađorđeva šnicla, a thin-pounded pork steak stuffed with kajmak [a soft, unpasteurized cheese], rolled up, and fried, and sarma, cabbage rolls stuffed with minced meat and rice covered in a tomato-based sauce.
What to Pack for Serbia in Winter
We have a full Serbia packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!
A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. Lonely Planet Western Balkans is the main guidebook we recommend for Serbia, as it covers the country well plus others in the region.
Plenty of winter clothing: You can check our packing list above for our full winter packing suggestions for men and women. At a minimum, you’ll want to bring a warm winter jacket (I love this North Face parka), cozy snow boots, warm wool socks, touch-screen friendly gloves, a scarf, and a winter hat.
Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up in the best of times — and winter travel in addition to skiing will really do a number on it! If you use a moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside in the cold all day.
Where to Stay in Belgrade
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, since you’re visiting Belgrade in winter, the lowest of the low season, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could snag an awesome deal on an upscale hotel!
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.
More Belgrade Travel Resources
Hopefully, you can get a good idea of what there is to do in Belgrade in winter from this post, but if you want more inspiration, we have a ton more resources!
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 – just keep in mind that all might not be available in the winter months.
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, it’s a good idea to travel with a valid travel insurance policy, so that you will 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, fall (a big winter risk!), or cancellation or trip interruption.
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.
Originally from California, Allison has been living in Bulgaria for the last two years and is obsessed with traveling around the Balkans. She has been published in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, Matador Network, and the Huffington Post. She loves befriending dogs, drinking coffee, geeking out about wine, and cooking food from around the world.