Philo's 360° Guide
IT MAY BE A MEAT-LOVERS PARADISE, HAVE ENOUGH SPLAVS (PARTY BOATS) TO FORM A SMALL NAVY AND BE WHERE EUROPEAN HISTORY PRACTICALLY BEGAN BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO BEOGRAD THAN THE GUIDE BOOKS WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE.
THIS GUIDE IS AN ATTEMPT TO GO BELOW THE SURFACE AND GIVE YOU A BIT OF INSIGHT ON THINGS THE GUIDEBOOKS DON’T HAVE SPACE TO INCLUDE. (I HAVE A HEALTHY OBSESSION WITH FOOD SO YOU WILL NOTICE MOST OF IT REVOLVES AROUND WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK!)
Fish soup is a local specialty, so be sure to try some before you leave our belgrade hostel. Two restaurants I can recommend are:
Saran (The Carp) in Zemun is famous for its seafood meals and does a mean fish soup. It is one of the oldest restaurants in the area and is located on the quay in the old town of Zemun, about a 20-minute bus-ride away. Maybe combine an afternoon sightseeing in Zemun with a meal here?
Address: Kej Oslobodjenja 53, Zemun
Vodenica (The Mill) below Kalemegdan, next To Kula Nebojša. It’s a splav located on the very delta of Dunav and Sava rivers, with fantastic view of Zemun and the islands. Though it’s not a five star restaurant, it’s a favorite place to many, including present President of Serbia, who has his Sunday lunch with family (when he has time). So if you spot divers and parashouters trying to look like passers-by, be sure to know President is there, eating delicious fish soup.
Address: No address
Burek is not recommended if you have an ongoing relationship with Weight Watchers or if you have an aversion to grease. BUT if you want to try a delicious and authentic Serbian snack then this is the meal for you. Burek is best eaten in the morning and accompanied by yoghurt. The best burek is slightly greasy, soft on the inside and has a crispy upper crust.
My recommendation is Pekara Kališ @ Rige od Fere 17 (just one block up from Cara Dušana). Options are traditional plain or with cheese, or the more modern options of meso (meat) or mushrooms. Do it Serb-style and grab a yoghurt and join the locals at the stand-up benches.
If there is anyone in your group of friends who is not as excited about burek for breakfast as you are, two doors down is the cheerily named 'Food and Love', who do two hot dogs for 100DIN or two palačinke (pancakes) for 150DIN.
Open 24 hours / 7 days.
There is no shortage of cafes in the centre of Belgrade so you will have no problems finding something that works for you. Here are a few suggestions to start you off:
Bordel @ Gospodar Jeremova 6 (one block from Kalemegdan). Serve Lavazza coffee, and moody red lighting and brick walls create a cosy ambience. Open 10-02.
Soul @ Rige od Fere 15 (just before Cara Dušana intersection). Small and intimate.
Stepenice (Stairs) @ Velike Stepenice 1, (which roughly translates as Great Stairs 1) is a brilliant place that doubles as a café/pizzeria and a music bar. They have a really beautiful view down onto the Sava River and across to New Belgrade. Access is via the long stairway that runs between Karađorđe and Kosančićev.
Grand Pleasure Café (four doors down from your Belgrade Hostel 360 toward Kalemegdan) offers good reliable coffee and the staff speak English. If you have a big caffeine intake or are in Belgrade for a while make sure you ask for their loyalty card.
Club Optimist @ Bulevar Despota Stefana 22 (opposite the top of Skadaska). Push open the heavy wooden doors to enter a place full of moodiness and atmosphere.
PERFECT FOR PEOPLE WATCHING
Watch Belgrade saunter past from these two great locations with reliable fare.
Choco Caffe & Snežana are diagonally opposite each other on corners of Knez Mihailova and Kralja Petra. Both do decent coffee, hot chocolate etc and Snežana also has a good menu with all the standard cafe fare witch will make your Belgrade accommodation even more pleasant.
HOT CHOCOLATE TO DIE FOR
Via del Gusto - If you feel like you are bouncing off the walls and have overdosed on caffeine, never fear as great hot choc nearby. Via del Gusto is on the right hand side of Knez Mihailova heading toward Kalamegdan after the white water fountain. The hot chocolate (topla chocolada) is more of a dessert than a drink. They also have a pancake (palačinke) window.
SMOKEY SERBIAN-STYLED CAFÉ/RESTAURANT
Kolarac, (the name is spelt in Cyrillic on the front of the cafe), is an old-world restaurant serving Serbian fare. Located at Knez Mihailova 46, they do good food at reasonable prices and their menu also comes in English.
The famous “?” is also worth a try. Really tasty traditional Serbian meals, and I was told by a local it is of very high quality. There is a funny story behind how it got its name. It is located opposite quite a major church and was originally called “Kafana” which means “bar”. The church users thought the name was a bit too disrespectful being so close to their place of worship, and so asked for the owner to change the name. The owner wasn’t sure what to call it and so named it “?” temporarily… and that is what it has been known as ever since!
Proleće is just around the corner. It’s a kind of time-machine which takes you right to the time of Tito’s communist Yugoslavia, when typical restaurant had to smell of rakija and cigarettes, and waiters hated you when you ordered anything. Today, Proleće is a place for tourists as well as locals, with tasty and classical Serbian-style food and one of the best gardens in the city.
A PIT STOP ON THE WAY TO ST SAVA
Need a coffee or snack on the walk to Hram Svete Sava (St Sava's Temple)?
About halfway along Kralja Milana on the left, are a handful of bars/cafes that are perfect to break the easy 1 ½ km walk. They are located opposite the Student Cultural Centre and the Yugoslav Drama Theatre on a side street that runs off on an angle from Kralja Milana. Most have outdoor seating so take the opportunity to watch Belgrade walk by.
Look out for Mania, Chameleon, Mama's Biscuit House, Vesele Domacice Cafe, Cafe Harizma, Le Petit Bar, Bacio ... and Uno Grill for a hearty roštilj (grill) or palačinke (pancake).
As and end note, yes, you can catch a bus to St Sava's but a walk there is WAY more interesting!
Fresco – A pizza and espresso bar that offers yummy fresh pizza, pancakes and filled sandwiches. Located in Čika Ljubina (near where it meets Knez Mihailova) and opposite Cervantes-Spanish Cultural Centre. Open 0800-2230 Monday-Saturday and 1200-2230 Sunday.
Peking Chinese Restaurant @ Vuka Karadžića 2, has a small fast food place just along from the main restaurant entrance. They do stir fry meals while you wait and serve in a noodle-box.
Kantina - opposite the Maxi Supermarket in Čika Ljubina does meals to go and also offers a really spacious dine-in area. While not typically Serbian, it does tasty quick meals that tend to be a little more wholesome than the street food. They also cater for Western tastes with bacon and eggs etc.
Bagel Park @ Nušićeva 14 has meals and snacks ranging from plain bagels (50DIN), to bagels with cream cheese for 95DIN and burritos from about 190DIN. Good fresh food and great herbal teas too if you are that way inclined.
Whether you have come to Belgrade to party hard or to check out cultural monuments, at some point you are going to be out and you're going to need to eat. Fortunately Belgrade has some really tasty and inexpensive options on the street to help keep your motor running.
Taze in Sremska just beside Mamut Bookshop. Tasty pljeskavica (hamburgers), palačinke (pancakes) and sandwiches. All hearty and great for lining the stomach.
Toma @ Kolarčeva 6-8, for delicious, fresh pizza you can't beat this well located bakery. They also do sandwiches and rolls, pastries, cakes and all sorts of yummy sweet stuff. It’s not fancy but is good, honest, fresh food AND they are open 24 hours. You will find them just along from the Tourist Info office at the beginning of Terazije.
Bakery in Skadaska – There is a small bakery (pekara) at the top end of Skadaska that has apparently been there for ever and a day. A Serbian friend of mine has goulash from there every time she comes back to Belgrade with lepinja sa kajmakom (fresh bread filled with kaymak cheese) on the side. If you want to try something that is Serbian and inexpensive, try this. They have a couple of tables if you want to sit inside, but it’s just as nice sitting out in Skadaska watching everyone walk by. Located on the corner of Skadaska and Zetska.
FOR THE ANIMAL LOVERS
Restaurant: I have not tried this one myself but there is a vegetarian restaurant called Joy of the Heart at Svetogorska 18 (down a few stairs off the street). The prices look reasonable and they have a lot of vegan options. The menu is in English and Serbian. Please email me and let me know how you found it. (email@example.com)
Snacks: Right next door at the corner of Svetogorska and Vlajkovićeva is a brilliant bio/vegetarian shop called Bio Market. (You’ll find a number of these scattered around town, but this is by far the best one). Great for snacks, a good selection of supplements and other health-foods, heaps of soy products and also a good place to pick up pre-made pies, falafel burgers and vegie-sandwiches.
Takeaway: A good fast food/falafel/giros place is located at Kraljice Natalije 66. The food is fresh and prices are reasonable. Falafels start from about 160DIN and giros from about 200DIN. (They also do delivery between 0900-1700hrs for a minimum order of 800DIN – Ph: 011 361-9240.
Cocktail Bar 1: Bar Central @ Kralja Petra 59 has a great atmosphere and you’ll find the bartenders here take their cocktail making very seriously. If you don’t know what you feel like, tell them what flavours you enjoy and they will tailor-make a tipple for you.
Cocktail Bar 2: Tijuana. If you are looking for a cool bar to start your night out in Belgrade check out this Latin cocktail bar. It’s not advertised anywhere so only those "in the know" will be there. The owner Victor and his right-hand-man Diego work behind the well-stocked bar and are both very chilled. The music is Latin, and the cocktails are pretty much anything you want but you’d be crazy not to try their divine mojitos and caipirinhas. There is no signage (which is just how they like it), so it’s not always easy to find but head toward the corner of Sremska 9 and Prizrenska 8, go to the stairs at the back of the building and you’ll find Tijuana on the 2nd floor.
Juice Bar: Elixir Juice Bar at Kralja Petra 42 offers delicious freshly squeezed juices and smoothies that are perfect for a morning-after pick-me-up. Try a Wake Up, Detox, Yoga, Botox or a Classic to get you back on track. Prices range from about 220DIN to 270DIN. (Oh and for die-hard caffeine addicts they also do coffee).
ALL THINGS IRISH
Yes, Belgrade does have an Irish Pub. For all those Ireland-files the Three Carrots Irish Pub is considered the original (opening 15 years ago) and the best. Located at Knez Miloša 16. STOCK UP
Grocery: Maxi Supermarket in Čika Ljubina, is open 24/7 has everything from booze, breakfast stuff, fruit and veg and for an instant meal you can't beat their pre-cooked chicken and potatoes at the back of the store. If you need something a little more obscure, there is a larger supermarket about 10 minutes walk away on the corner of Gospodar Jovanova and Višnjićeva.
Chemist/Pharmaceuticals: For any pharmaceuticals, beauty products, health products etc, there is a Lilly on the corner beside the Maxi Supermarket in Čika Ljubina. If you can't find what you want here, there is an even bigger Lilly on the left hand side of Knez Mihailova on the way to Kalemegdan Fort.
Whether you are after a splav or want somewhere on firm ground this page gives you a pretty good overview of the ever-changing Belgrade scene: www.residentadvisor.net/feature.aspx?1101
There is also a pretty good summary on: http://www.belgraded.com/entertainment/articles/belgrade-clubs
Zemun was once a separate town, but with population growth it has merged seamlessly with New Belgrade. The area has a very different feel to it with narrow, cobble-stoned streets particularly leading up to Zemun Tower (aka Gardoš Tower or Millenium Tower). If you like walking, then cross the Brankov Bridge, come off the end and turn right along the river and just keep walking. It’s a flat walk alongside the Sava and then Danube Rivers and takes about an hour to Zemun Quay.
If you want to save your energy until you get there the 706 and 704 buses leave from Zeleni Venac every 15 minutes or so and cost about 42DIN each way.
Enjoy a walk through the charming backstreets to Zemun Tower – there is a café right next door that has an amazing view back to the city centre. Also worth checking out is the main pedestrian mall of Gospodska and the markets that run off either side of it.
CHECK OUT ADA
Ada Ciganlija is Belgrade’s equivalent of a beach, and it really works! It can get a little crowded with between 100,000 and 250,000 visitors daily in summer but it is something that is uniquely Belgrade-ish. Hang out at the beach, at one of the cool bars or cafes or rent a bike or roller-blades on the island and explore.
If you are feeling a little more adventurous, hire a bike in town and ride out to Ada using the bike track – it’s a great way to get a bit of exercise and see a bit of Belgrade at the same time.
To hire in town: Walk to the end of the Knez Mihailova on the Kalemagdan end and turn right into Pariska. Continue all the way down the hill (and through the tunnel) until you reach the Danube River. Turn left and walk along the river/bike track and you will see Marconi Bike Shop about 100m along on the left. You can get a day-hire for about 400DIN.
If you need a pick-me-up, whether caffeine or alcoholic at this point, there is a really great little bar next door to Marconi run by a guy called Miroslav.
Once you have your bike, turn left onto the bike track and follow the Danube River around to where it meets the Sava River. It will take about 30-45mins to get to Ada and you will pass under Brankov Bridge, Zemunski Put and Gazela Bridge on the way there.
There are two open-air flea and food markets nearby. You can buy almost anything here— gloves, jeans, underwear, fruit and veg, parts for motors, and even antique jewellery.
Zeleni Venac Market is down Prizrenska Street and only five minutes walk from Knez Mihailova and Terazje. It is one of the major bus terminal stations of the city's public transport and also has an open air market. Great place to stock up on fresh food and veg plus also has a decent butcher.
Bajloni Markets are at the bottom of Skadalia St (Skardaska). At the back is a place where you can buy corn bread and kaimak and watch all the hustle and bustle around you. If you want to buy someone a special present there are booths that sell real antique filigree jewellery at fantastic prices. I’ve also seen jeans for 1000DIN and even stalls where you can tell people have had a good clean up at home and are trying to make a bit of extra cash from it.
The famous Kalenić Market or Kalenićeva pijaca (past Trg Slavia) is a little further away but is much bigger than the other two and so has a much wider selection of goods. Worth the visit if you like exploring markets.
SHOP ’TIL YOU DROP
Usce Centre - opened in 2009 and is the largest shopping mall in Belgrade. It has all the big brands, a food hall and a modern multiplex cinema. If you are after a cultural experience this is NOT it, but if you are after some retail therapy or a movie on a rainy day, you have come to the right place. Located in Block 16, New Belgrade. Take any bus from Zelani Venac.
Delta City - is smaller than Usce, but when it opened in 2007 it was Serbia’s first true shopping mall. Like Usce it has most of the big brands, a food hall and movie theatres. Located in Block 67, New Belgrade.
Immo Outlet Centre - over 70 local and foreign fashion brands at a minimum 30% discount. Block 64, New Belgrade. Take the #95 bus from Zeleni Venac.
If you want to avoid shopping malls there is good street shopping to be had along Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra and Svetogorska.
You won't find this in many of the tourism leaflets but it is definitely worth walking by. Belgrade was subjected to a 78-day bombing campaign by the NATO forces in 1999, and the former military headquarters were a prime target. Walk down Knez Miloša from where intersects with Kralja Milana. The buildings will be on your left about 200m down the road. This street is also where many of the foreign embassies are located.
If you need to see a doctor who speaks English while you are in Belgrade, Bel Medic has two offices about 10 minutes away by taxi. They are not cheap but are a good option when you need to see someone quickly. Their website has address details and a pricelist. www.belmedic.com Phone: (011) 309 1000
Sunsets: Belgrade has some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. If you are somewhere in the city centre and see the sky starting to turn pink, make a bee-line for either Kalemegdan or Brankov Most (Brankov Bridge) and be amazed at how many shades of pink and orange can be conjured up.
Street Art: Belgrade’s street art is up there with the best. You’ll see it pretty much wherever you go but some good key spots to check it out are:
In the park just before Brankov Most
Around the Engineering Faculty of Studentski
Trains at central train station
St Marks: Built between 1932-39 this Orthodox church holds the tomb of Tsar Dušan 1308-1355. Also known as Dušan the Mighty, he is famous for building the Serbian empire to its greatest size ever, for creating a legal code and for being the tallest man of his time at almost seven feet tall! Look on the right when walking in. Most Belgraders don't even know he is here! Also be sure to check out the amazing central chandelier and the concrete dome above that rises 52 metres.
Hram Svete Sava (Cathedral of Saint Sava): Famous for being the largest Orthodox churches in the world... it is also famous for being under construction for nearly 75 years. Ok, so that’s not entirely true – construction did begin in 1935 but with wars and other assorted bombings work has been constantly interrupted….but they are getting there. And it is worth a visit.
Belgrade National Theatre: A great place to see plays, opera and ballet at the fraction of the cost you would normally pay at home. There is a timetable in English on the wall outside (opposite the Serbian one) telling of upcoming events. The ticket office is just inside and the person working there generally speaks reasonable English. Tickets often start at 500-1000DIN.