During my first trip to Belgrade, I was sad to learn that the National Museum (Narodni Mujez u Beogradu) was being restored and that it wouldn’t be open for another year. Further, I was told that it had been closed for years!
Thankfully, on my latest trip, Serbia’s National Museum in Belgrade is finally reopened! Now that it is welcoming visitors once again, here’s what you need to know before visiting so you can make the most out of your museum visit.
How to Get to the National Museum in Belgrade?
You may have heard that the National Museum in Belgrade, which is located on Republic Square behind the Prince Mihail statue, is finally open! After you make your way to the square though, you may find yourself dismayed. Where there once was a beautiful public square, there is now just a pile of rubble. You see, Belgrade is currently undergoing a reconstruction project of Republic Square that will last over a year. This is a controversial move by the city and has met with fierce opposition. From Independent Balkan News Agency:
In the written statement, Jovanovic also asked Vesic whether the reconstruction represents “a revenge against the citizens of Belgrade and, if yes, for what.”
“How is it possible that the makeup of the Republic Square will unbelievably take 420 days and that this central square in the city would be unapproachable for the citizens all this time? Constructing Empire State Building and Belgrade’s Sava Center took 420 days”, Jovanovic stressed, adding that the previous city government reconstructed the two central streets in Belgrade in less than 200 days.
Thus, while the city redoes the square, getting into the museum might look a bit strange. While the official address of the museum is Trg Republike 1a, you can enter on the side on Vase Čarapića. If you choose to enter at the front despite the construction, just snake your way behind the barricades and the door will most likely still be open. At first, I was confused about how to get in, but there are signs up for those who get lost.
The museum is open six days a week, and it stays open a bit later on Thursday and Saturdays. Note that the museum is closed on Mondays.
- Tuesday: 10 am – 6 pm
- Wednesday: 10 am – 6 pm
- Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
- Friday: 10 am – 6 pm
- Saturday: 10 am – 8 pm
- Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm
- Monday: Closed
Since the museum is located in the middle of the Old City (Stari Grad) on Republic Square, it’s easy to get to via public transportation.
Station Trg Republike:
- Buses: 24, 26, 27, 27E, 31, 32E, 35, 37, 43, 44, 96;
- Trolleybuses: 19, 21, 22, 22Л (22L), 28, 29, 41;
- Mini Buses: E2, E8
Stations Dom omladine and Skadarska:
- Buses: 16, 58, 95;
- Mini bus: E6
There is no on-location parking available for the National Museum. If you arrive by car, you will need to park it in a public garage nearby.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit the Museum?
Tickets are extremely economical. For 300 RSD (about $3 USD) you can access the entire permanent collection. If you want access to a temporary exhibit, the cost is 500 RSD (about $5 USD). You can purchase a ticket for both the temporary exhibits and permanent collection for 600 RDS (about $6). Groups of twelve or more can arrange for group ticket prices which are discounted. To arrange a group tour, you will need to contact the museum ahead of time. Most children and students can get tickets for 50% off, but certain kinds of students and children seven-years-old and younger can get in free of charge. To see which students can visit for free, check the museum’s website here.
The Museum is Free of Charge on Sundays
If you’re a cash-strapped backpacker (or anyone looking for a good deal), the museum is free for all to visit on Sundays.
The Museum Collections Cover Serbian History and Art
With a title like “National Museum,” it can be a little tricky to figure out exactly what you’ll see at the museum. Galleries cover the history of Serbia as told through archeology. After the middle ages, the exhibits are focused solely on Serbian and European art from the Renaissance through the 20th century.
Pro Tip: The museum has large signs in Serbian and in English throughout all the permanent exhibits!
National Museum Collection Highlights
While everyone who comes to the museum will leave with their own favorite sections, here are my favorite exhibits in the permanent collection of the museum.
20th Century Yugoslav Painting
The 20th century rooms show Serbia and Yugoslvia’s emergence as a nation with their own artistic vision.
Serbian 18th and 19th Century Painting
In the 18th and 19th-century Serbian art galleries, you can see both local Serbian themes and traditions, along with how the country was affected by art movements from the rest of Europe.
Since so much of Serbian art was influenced by movements from the greater European art world, it’s wonderful to see some of these foreign paintings after exploring Serbian art.
The Ancient Roman and Greek Collections
While there are more extensive collections of ancient Greek and Roman artifacts in other countries, the National Museum shows artifacts from Serbia and tells the story of how these cultures influenced and at times controlled ancient Serbia.
Can I Go on a Guided Tour?
Yes, the museum organizes guided tours that operate on Saturdays at 6 pm. However, you may wish to contact the museum ahead of time to check prices and ensure the tour will be conducted since they don’t have very much information about these tours available on their website.
How Much Time Should I Expect to Spend at the Museum?
This depends on how closely you want to view each item. I have a friend who reads every caption on every object when she visits a museum. For her, the National Museum could easily be a four or five-hour affair! For me, I enjoyed spending about an hour and a half at the museum, but I skimmed some of the sections that I was less interested in. If I hadn’t been locked into a battle of wills with the security guards over my backpack (see below), I probably would have stayed a bit longer. All in all, two hours is enough for most people to see what interests them, although there is certainly more to see for those who want to take more in.
Pro Tip: There is no wifi available at the museum, and I found cell reception spotty. If you do need a data plan for your time in Serbia, here’s what you need to know to purchase a Serbian sim card.
Will Children Enjoy Visiting the Museum?
Honestly, the renovations are lovely, with descriptive signs in English for visitors. However, I didn’t see any kids while I was there, and I don’t know if a child who can’t read would find that much to do here. This is definitely not geared at kids. The website lists the possibility of arranging tours for classes and groups of children (12 or more), so they clearly have some kind of program that children would enjoy. But unless your kids appreciate quiet grown-up places and portraits of nineteenth-century aristocrats, they may find this place less than thrilling. If your child wouldn’t enjoy a typical art museum, then the history section here probably won’t be enough to save it for them.
Security and Coat Check are More Difficult than Necessary
I came with a small backpack, and the security guards told me I had to wear it on the front. This hurt my back and made walking through the museum cumbersome. Overall, I found this very unpleasant and it subsequently affected my enjoyment of my visit. When I tried to put it back on my back partway through my visit, a different guard came up and told me I had to put it back. This despite the fact that I saw men with larger backpacks wearing them on their back with no issue.
Even though I let both guards know that I was unhappy (and in pain) wearing it on the front, neither one mentioned to me that there was a coat check available. The room for coat check was not easily visible from the entrance where I bought tickets. The situation would have been much better, and my trip more enjoyable, had either guard mentioned to me that I could check my bag at the coat check. Or if they just let me wear it on my back normally, since the museum is not crowded and there are no reasons to make people switch their bags. It was frustrating and unnecessary.
Pro Tip: Don’t bring a backpack so that you don’t have to wear it on your front like an awkward woman pretending to be pregnant.
Are Concessions Available?
There is a cafe area on the second floor, but it was not operating during my visit. It doesn’t look like it has opened yet.
Final Verdict: Should the National Museum in Belgrade Make it on Your Itinerary?
Yes, I think that this museum is worth the visit and the small price of admission, and it is an even better value if you can arrange to go on Sundays when the museum is free. This is a museum for anyone who loves art museums, ancient Rome, Balkan history, religious artwork, or numismatics. The collection is large and comprehensive but laid out in a way that allows you to pick and choose which sections to see based on your personal interests. Whether you want to dedicate an hour or five, there’s a lot to appreciate here. Plus the museum is accessible to English speakers who don’t know any Serbian (always a plus at any Balkan museum).
Where to Stay in Belgrade
Budget: One popular choice is Balkan Soul Hostel, located in Stari Grad close to the National Museum and a convenient walk from all the hot spots like Kalemegdan Park, Belgrade Fortress, and the splavovi on the Sava River. Every bed has its own charging area and lights, which are essential to me when picking a hostel. It has a social atmosphere and friendly staff who can make your stay in Belgrade even more charming. Check out availability and reviews here.
Mid-Range: For a hotel in the center near the National Museum, 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 (don’t miss the moskva schnit cake – we love it!), 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!
Planning a Trip to Serbia? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Make sure you always travel to Serbia with a valid travel insurance policy. While the country is safe, accidents can happen anywhere. If you experience an accident or theft, travel insurance will help you recover your costs and enjoy the rest of your trip.
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.
Have you visited the National Museum in Belgrade, Serbia? Planning a trip to Belgrade soon? Leave your best museum tips and any questions below!
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.