Of all the cities in the Balkans, Belgrade has a special place in both Stephanie and my heart. It’s the place we return to over and over again – I just wrapped up my third visit and Stephanie’s been twice – and each time, we find new reasons to fall in love with this special city.
Built on the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, Belgrade has views for days. And with a gorgeous fortress, an incredible food scene, several important churches, and a nightlife scene that rivals anywhere else in Europe – at rock bottom prices to boot – you’ll find yourself wishing you had more than one day in Belgrade.
But I know that many of us travel on limited vacation time, and maybe you’ve only allocated 24 hours in Belgrade. If that’s the case, here’s the perfect mini itinerary for Belgrade to see the best of the city — while still leaving yourself aching for a return visit.
If this Belgrade itinerary is overwhelming, you can also book a full-day tour that covers all the highlights of Belgrade – this is the day tour we recommend. It’s a little different than this itinerary below, as it also includes the neighborhood of Zemun, which we didn’t have time for on this Belgrade itinerary.
Below, we’ve mapped out our one day Belgrade itinerary on a Google Map you can use, though keep in mind that because we offer a few alternative ideas, not everything on this guide is represented on the itinerary.
Want to save this post for later? Pin it!
Start the day the Serbian way at a pekara
Serbia is famous for its hearty, flaky phyllo pastries called burek, and you’d be remiss if you missed out on the opportunity to try them while in Belgrade! You can find a pekara (bakery) virtually anywhere in Belgrade, so I recommend getting an early start, leaving your hotel, and scouring your eyes for the nearest sign that says пекара (oh – did we mention that Belgrade uses the Cyrillic alphabet? For a downloadable guide to it, sign up below!).
If you’re vegan you’ll probably want to skip this as most burek are made with butter and are not vegan. Vegetarians, opt for one with cheese (сир) or spinach (спанаћ). Bonus points if you’re lucky enough to find my personal favorite burek, a potato one (кромпир) – because you know, carbs need more carbs. Meat lovers, try one with ground meat (месо), “pizza” (пица), or ham and cheese (шунка и сир).
If you have more of a sweet tooth in the morning like we do, and prefer tasty sweet treats, a pekara should have those too!
If you really want a specific pekara recommendation, Trpković Bakery is considered to be the best in Belgrade (I’ve been there and it’s pretty awesome!), and it’s perfectly positioned for your one day in Belgrade itinerary as your next stop, Saint Sava Cathedral, is just a 10-minute walk away
Visit the largest church in the Balkans, Saint Sava Church
The Temple of Saint Sava is an Orthodox Cathedral, which is both the largest Orthodox church in the Balkans and one of the largest in the world. The church has an intriguing history — it was planned to be built in the nineteenth century, but the Balkan Wars and World War I paused construction.
Work began again in the 1930s, but World War II forced the construction to stop again. Construction did not start again until 1985, but the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 again caused the project to be put into question.
Finally, the dome was completed in 2017, over a hundred years after the initial construction began. It’s still in the process of being built, but it’s visible
Learn more on a Belgrade walking tour or Communist tour
If you only have one day in Belgrade, you should spend some of it getting a little historical context for the city you’re visiting.
While less important on the world stage now in the 21st century, Belgrade was once the heart of a huge empire. Even up until the 1990s, Belgrade was one of the most influential world capitals on the global stage, as the political heart of Yugoslavia. One of the most famous movers and shakers in the world, Josip Broz Tito, lived most of his life in Belgrade. His legacy is complicated, and there’s no better place to understand those complexities than Belgrade.
What tour I recommend you do depends on what your interests are and what day you’re visiting Belgrade. If you only have one day in Belgrade, you’re subject to the mercies of tour availabilities.
My favorite Belgrade tour is the Red Belgrade Communist Tour, which takes you a bit off the beaten path to the Yugoslav History Museum and Tito’s Mausoleum (also known as the House of Flowers, one of our favorite things to do in Belgrade), all whilst educating you on Belgrade’s communist history. If you’re intrigued by communist history, it’s a must-visit.
However, it only runs Tuesday through Saturday, with no tours given on Sunday and Monday, so it may not be available to you. You can check availability and the itinerary here. The tour departs at noon from Republic Square, which gives you plenty of time to have breakfast and explore Saint Sava in the morning before heading to the Old Town for your tour.
If you’re more interested in Belgrade’s history in general without the specific communism focus, I suggest the small group walking tour. This is also a good second choice if the Red Belgrade tour is not running on the day you are in town. This one leaves at 11:30 AM from the Serbian Parliament Building. Check itinerary and availability here.
However, it covers most of the next places on the itinerary, so if you do this, consider going independently to the House of Flowers on your own (we recommend going via taxi with Car.Go to save time since you only have 1 day in Belgrade and you probably don’t want to spend it figuring out buses) instead of the next few things on this itinerary.
Have a delicious Serbian lunch at Manufaktura
After going on a tour, you’ll probably be pretty hungry – especially if all you had was some pekara snacks for breakfast!
We strongly recommend eating at Manufaktura, our favorite Serbian restaurant in Belgrade. It’s located right in the Old Town just off of Knez Mihailova, the main pedestrian thoroughfare of Belgrade, and the food is delicious. We recommend the Fruska Gora cheese plate with local fresh cheeses, the ajvar, the stuffed red peppers, and the local white wine!
Head to Hotel Moskva for dessert
Hotel Moskva is a Belgrade institution and a popular tourist landscape. It’s hosted some of the most famous people to pass through Belgrade, from heads of state to inventors and celebrities.
But what not everyone knows is that there’s a delicious and beautiful restaurant inside which serves up their specialty dessert, the moskva schnit, a cherry and almond cake which pairs beautifully with the suggested white wine (though, if you’re not feeling as decadent as we were, you could also go for a coffee).
Stroll to Republic Square and visit the National Museum of Belgrade
After several years of being shuttered, the National Museum of Belgrade is now completely renovated and ready for visitors!
Unfortunately, Republic Square is now the target of the facelift, so the normally beautiful Belgrade square that is one of the centers of daily life is now a bit in tatters, but it’s still worth walking around this area anyway.
Walk down Knez Mihailova Street
The main pedestrian thoroughfare of Belgrade is Knez Mihailova. It’s a major shopping street in Belgrade and just a great place to get a sense of what life is like in the Serbian capital.
If you want to do a spot of shopping, this is your spot, but it’s also great for just wandering and people-watching.
Visit Kalemegdan Park & Belgrade Fortress
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.
Start your night with a sunset cruise through Belgrade’s rivers or a craft beer tour
For starting your night in Belgrade, we suggest either a sunset river cruise or a craft beer tour through the city.
For the sunset river cruise option, the departure time is 6 PM (may change when the days are shorter, so check times here!); meanwhile, the craft beer tour starts at 7 PM, so keep those times in mind while organizing your day
Take a taxi over to Novi Beograd via the Car.Go app (not sponsored – it’s just the easiest and most hassle-free way to get around, trust us – Belgrade taxi drivers run a tough bargain!) to Karađorđev Trg, where you can board your small-group cruise, as there’s a 10-person cap on the boat. Float down the Sava and Danube with a welcome drink in hand as you watch the lights come on in the Serbian capital. Check tour availability and prices here.
If you’re more interested in checking out the local craft brewery scene in Belgrade, there’s an awesome beer tour that covers the beer scene and one of the coolest neighborhoods of Belgrade, Dorcol! It covers seven beer tastings from three Serbian craft breweries, and it’s a great way to get introduced to the local bar scene. Check tour times and prices here.
Have dinner at one of Belgrade’s best restaurants
Having spent several weeks in Belgrade, we’ve eaten our way around the Belgrade culinary scene quite a bit and we have a bunch of recommendations!
For stellar Balkan cuisine, check out Ambar in the upscale new Beton Hala area. For actually delicious Mexican food in Europe created by actual Mexicans, visit La Taqueria and be sure to get the tacos al pastor or the carnitas. For satisfying an Asian craving, we love the upscale Istok which has pan-Asian cuisine but excels at bao buns, bibimbap, and the ginger pork (you can safely skip the dumplings though, which aren’t great).
Head back to your hotel or continue the night!
If you’re totally beat, at this point, it would be a reasonable thing to head back to your hotel.
But if you really want to make the most of your one day in Belgrade, you should head Novi Beograd and the banks of the Sava River for a raucous night out on Belgrade’s famous splavovi, party boats which dock on the banks of the river and go all year round.
Klub 20/44 is my personal favorite. If you are traveling solo or are just intimidated by the Belgrade nightlife scene, there is a Novi Beograd nightlife tour that will take you to some of the coolest clubs around town while keeping you safe and in the know.
Where to Stay in Belgrade
We have a huge post on all the best places to stay in Belgrade, but assuming you’re only there for one night, you probably just want the quick and easy version. Here are our top recommendations for each budget category.
$ – BUDGET – AVERAGE UNDER $50 PER NIGHT
One of the most popular hostels in Belgrade is Balkan Soul Hostel, located in Stari Grad and a convenient walk from all the hot spots like Kalemegdan Park, Belgrade Fortress, and the splavovion 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.
$$ – MID-RANGE – AVERAGE $50-100 PER NIGHT
For an affordable yet beautiful place to stay in Dorćol, check out Passpartù Home, a gorgeous boutique hotel in the heart of Belgrade’s hippiest quarter. The lounge areas are endlessly inviting, with plush leather couches and books for you to peruse. The rooms are warmly and richly decorated with unique touches that make the hotel feel not so generic. But best of all is the beautiful spa center, which makes you think the hotel should be much more expensive than it is. It features an indoor pool, sauna, spa, hot tub, and hammam for an affordable extra charge.
$$$ – LUXURY – AVERAGE $100+ PER NIGHT
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 in advance if possible and hope you get lucky!
Serbia Travel Resources
Headed to Serbia? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Serbia, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Serbia and local tipping customs.
If you’re a dedicated Instagrammer, you’ll probably want to check out our Insta guide to Belgrade next, and perhaps our 101 things to do in Belgrade massive guide if you are visiting Belgrade as well.
Next, you’ll want to read our guide to shopping in Serbia so you know which souvenirs are truly local gems.
If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan bus, road trip, and itinerary guides.
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Serbia and the Balkans, bookmark our Serbia and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
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. If you’ll be spending time in the city, driving, or doing any outdoor activities like biking or hiking, 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.
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.