Belgrade has over thirty farmer’s markets, but the most famous is the centrally located Zeleni Venac Pijaca, or the Zeleni Venac Market. Just a quick five-minute walk from Hotel Moskva or Terazije Square, this is a great place to stop if you’re looking for fresh produce or other local Serbian foods like ajvar or Fruska Gora cheeses.
Like most Balkan cities, local markets are a common way for city residents to purchase their fruits and vegetables. However, not all markets can boast about the unique and colorful architecture that Zeleni Venac offers visitors.
The History of Zeleni Venac Pijaca
Dating back to the early 19th century, Zeleni Venac Pijaca is the oldest green market in Belgrade that is still in operation. In 2017, the market celebrated its 170th anniversary. The market’s name is the same as the name of the neighborhood. Meaning “Green Wreath,” the neighborhood was named Zeleni Venac after the wreath that a local kafana owner placed on the door of her shop. While this kafana is now a McDonald’s, the neighborhood’s market is still open.
The current distinctive building was built in 1926. It was recently renovated to look like it did historically, and it is a protected cultural landmark.
What Zeleni Venac Market is Like Today
Today the market feels like a typical European farmer’s market, with aisles of fresh fruits and vegetables, jars of pickles and other homemade foods, stalls with flowers, deli and cheese stops, and a few spots for souvenirs. The market is not very touristy, so despite its central location, you will see many more locals shopping than tourists. It reminds me of Sofia’s Zhenski Pazar – a great local market that tourists seem to overlook despite great locations and interesting history. However, this means that for those that decide to visit there’s a ton of local culture to experience without having to fight other tourists for the privilege and without ruining the experience for locals.
How to Get to Zeleni Venac Market
The market is centrally located and is easily accessible via public transportation. It is directly connected with BAS, which is Belgrade’s main local bus station. Thus, regardless of where you’re coming from in Belgrade, it’s connected by public transit. The market is on bus lines 15, 16, 18, 63, 71, 75, 95, and 704.
The market is also a quick walk (less than ten minutes) from most of Belgrade’s most important sites in Stari Grade (the Old City) like the Hotel Moskva, Terazije Square, Branko’s Bridge, Republic Square, Knez Mihailova Street, and Holy Archangel Michael’s Church.
If you are staying outside of the city center and do not want to use public transportation, taxis in Belgrade are reasonably priced. We use the local CarGo app, which is similar to Uber. If you use a taxi app, put in “Zeleni Venac Pijasa” as the destination.
For updated information about the Green Markets in Belgrade, check the official website.
Photos of Zeleni Venac
While I love taking photos all over Belgrade (it really is just an amazingly Instagrammable city), I think this market is a really fun place to explore and photograph. Between the funky red-and-white architecture, the people watching and opportunities for street photography, and the gorgeous produce, there’s a ton here for photographers to explore.
The red-and-white building is hard to miss when you pass by, but it’s even weirder and cooler up close. This great view from inside the market was one of my favorites.
Fruits and Vegetables
I love photographing the textures of the different produce, especially when they’re lined up for display and deliciously ripe. Occasionally I’ll even buy some fruit instead of just photographing it and then getting tacos.
Delightful Candies – Just Don’t Call them Turkish
While I wanted to gobble up the locally made candies, I restrained myself and came back with a photo instead. I’m still drooling over this sugar-covered ratluk (Serbia’s version of Turkish delight). I can practically taste the powdered sugar from this batch of vanilla ratluk melting on my tongue.
The People at the Market
People watching is one of the best reasons to visit the market. Between the men and women who work as vendors and the mix of locals and tourists coming to shop, there is always something to learn about Serbian culture here if you pay close attention.
The Flower Stalls
The flowers at the market are so fresh that I literally have to tone down the color saturation on the photos or they look oversaturated. The pinks and greens of these roses were almost too much to handle.
These dried peppers make a delightful souvenir from Serbia, but they last longer if you also snap a photograph before using them!
Here are a few more things to know before you visit the market:
It’s a Cash Economy
Bring cash to pay for items from the vendors. The stores on the edges, like the Shop & Go, take credit cards. However, you can pay the vendors only in Serbian dinars (no Euros, etc).
The market is open daily from 6 am until 7 pm. These are the same hours for every Green Market in the city.
More than Just Produce!
Don’t skip the fancy Charcuterie and Cheese shop, the deli, and other stalls on the edge of the market.
Cyrillic reigns supreme
This is not a very touristy market, so English is not widely spoken. Furthermore, virtually all of the signage is in Serbian, written with their version of the Cyrillic alphabet. We recommend downloading this handy guide to the Serbian alphabet before your trip!
Where to Stay 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: There are so many great options in this price-range — Belgrade really excels at providing great value when it comes to accommodations in this price tier. One fun option is a floating hotel on the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers, San Art Floating Hostel & Apartments. While it’s located in Novi Beograd and therefore a little out of the action, I love the floating deck where you can have sunset drinks, and I like the that the décor is a little bit nostalgic, with details like rotary phones and old radios. You can check it out here.
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 just a stone’s throw from Zeleni Venac and is a Belgrade institution. 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!
Finally, Don’t Go without 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 Zeleni Venac Pijasa or other Belgrade Green Markets? Are you researching Belgrade for an upcoming trip? Leave your best Belgrade market tips and any questions you have 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.
Can you tell me where to find the “Yugoslavian” carved-wood shepherds or wedding cups? These were a popular tourist souvenir beginning in the 1960s. I would like to know more about their origin and history; where they were made, who made them, what do the different designs signify, are they still made today, etc? I have collected about 50 different cups and would like to know where I can find more. (We are planning a trip to the Balkans in September of 2020.)
Thanks for your guidance!
I actually don’t know for sure! I suggest you join the Facebook Group: Travel to Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR. Someone in the group might know!