One weekend in Belgrade

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Belgrade is the capital of Serbia. Also known as the “White City” Belgrade is called Beograd(Београд) by the Serbians. Due to Wizzair we got some cheap flights from Friedrichshafen to Belgrade. Our outbound flight startet on Friday at 8:00 am and the return flight on Monday morning at 5:40. Perfect circumstances for a weekend trip. Hand luggage is totally sufficient for such a weekend and the fine for additional luggage is easily saved.

3 days in Belgrade

We arrive at the Nikola Tesla Airport Belgrad in the early morning and we really feel like being on holiday. Everywhere are signs with cyrillisch letters, as well as in the Latin alphabet. Additionally you got a foreign currency (dinar) and a passport control and you are quite sure, that you really left the European Union.

The bus (number 72) into the inner city is located in front of the airport and for 300 Dinar per person we take seats and Belgrade is passing by the windows. Because our room at Hostel WakeUp will first be ready at 2 o’clock pm we take a good breakfast in the pedestrian area and afterwards we wander around the old Belgrade Fortress. The origin of the fortress hands back to the 15. century and is free of charge. Besides the historical site you can visit a military museum, a Dino park  and the zoo. The Fortress is directly connected to the pedestrian area. From the top walls you got a good view over a small natural reserve and the junction of the river Save and Danube.

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View from the fortress walls over Save & Danube

In the afternoon we join the free walking tour at the Republic Square.

I love free walking tours. The idea behind it is, that every participant pays, or tips, what he considers as appropriate. Based on this the tour guides are highly motivated to give their best. Moreover you got first hand experience from locals in friendly atmosphere with details, which didn’t make it into your travel guide.

We learned a lot about the different sights and visit the former Bohemia and artist district Skadarlija(Скадарлија). In the past the artists met at this district due to the many pubs and coffee shops. Today the district is still popular among the artist, even though it is very touristic. Most of the restaurants are touting for guests and in most cases you can enjoy life music inside. Even though it appeals very touristic we have dinner here after the tour.

We breakfast on Saturday in Skadarlija too and visit the connecting farmer’s market Bajloni. Afterwards we walk through Belgrade City to Church of Saint Sava (Храм светог Саве/Hram svetog Save), one of the famous landmarks of Belgrade. On our way we pass by the one or the other park and find a nice spot in the sun to check our travel guide. The parks are well frequented and we are able to soak in the Belgrade atmosphere.

Unfortunately the inner parts of the church are still under construction. But the crypt is accessible.

 

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Church of Saint Sava

 

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Inside the crypt

On our way back we visit the botanical garden, which is a nice diversion, but very small. In the oldest restaurant of Belgrade, the “questionmark”(Кафана Знак Питања / Kafana Question Mark), we round off the day.

In its origin the restaurant was called To the Shepherd, followed by To the Cathedral  after change of the owner. But the church didn’t like the new name. The owner, still in argument with the church, mounted a sign with a question mark. This “name” exists till today.

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Jogging Selfie at the “Selfie Wall”

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Sunday starts with an early Run along the Danube and through the Belgrade Fortress. Freshly showered but hungry we visit New Belgrade (Нови Београд/ Novi Beograd) and wander around this district until we arrive at the Ada-Bridge, a huge cable bridge over the Save and a modern landmark of Belgrade. The evening is again spent in the surrounding streets of Skadarlija and after a quick side trip to the fortress in darkness we prepare for our return flight.

 

 

 

 

 

View from the Belgrade Fortress to Novi Belgrad (In the back the Ada-Bridge and on the other riverbank the night club boats)

Things to know

 

The Serbian cuisine

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Pljeskavica, Rakija, Karadjordjeva, Baklava + 2 Piva

The Serbian Cuisine contains a lot of meat and sadly less alternatives for vegetarians/vegans. Therefor the meaty ones are to many to try them all in one weekend. You should definitely try Cevapcici (ћевапчићи), Pljeskavica (пљескавица) and if you are very hungry Karadjordjeva (Карађорђева шницла). Side dishes are often fries and potatoes, an additionally Shopska Salat suits very well.

To go with your dish beer, par example Jelen Pivo (Јелен пиво), or wine is recommended. As a tradition the serbs like to drink a shot (Rakija/ракија) before the meal. Even in Germany some kind of the spirit is well known: The slivovitz (шљивовица) made from plums. If you drink it before your meal, you will definitely feel its impact…

The prices for food and drinks in Belgrade are very low in comparison with middle Europe. The more you leave the touristic districts the cheaper it gets. We paid in Novi Belgrade at Salt and Pepper (со и бибер/so i biber) around 20€ for salat, main course, beer and coffee. Generally the main courses are around 6 to 10 €, special meals like beef filet are more expensive. Beer is, like in most eastern European countries, around 1 to 2 €.

 

Finances – How much money do you need

You can get cash by credit card or bei EC-card on every ATM. The exchange rate is around 120 Dinar to 1 € (2017). Beside the ATM there many exchange offices. We made a withdrawal of 20.000 Dinar and it was sufficient for the whole weekend, even though we eat breakfast and dinner in restaurants every day. You can get snacks at the market, the small bakeries or at the supermarket, as well.

In Hostels or restaurants it is often possible to pay in Euro. But my instincts tell me, that it would be cheaper if you pay with Dinar.

Tips are not expected (according to internet research), but welcomed by the waiters and considered as a compliment for good service. We were always giving a tip about 10% and sometimes more, if the waiter was very caring with translating the Serbian Menu.

 

Accommodation in Belgrade

We got a really nice double bed room at Hostel WakeUp. Research was very easy with  booking.com. The hostel was very modern and has a winter garden and a shared kitchen, which we didn’t use much. The WiFi ist really good and the stuff very nice and caring. They organized a airport shuttle for our very early return flight at 5:40 am. If you are travelling as a couple Hostel WakeUp is highly recommended. If you are looking for a party hostel, you should look for another one.

 

Traffic and public transportation

The traffic is as chaotic as in every bigger city. If you use traffic lights and take a look left and right before running over the street you are safe. In the historical district are no bike lanes. But Novi Belgrade has a well developed bike lane network.

Belgrade has a lot of bus lines and taxis and so on, but we didn’t use any because we walked everywhere. We didn’t make any experience to the taxi prices or which taxi company is reliable.

 

 

Things for the next trip to Belgrade

Even after our weekend trip to Belgrade there are some points on our todo list for the next visit. According to the very good weather we didn’t visit any museum and we missed the nightlife on the party boats (the so called splavs).

 


Resources

booking.com for accomodation, we spent 3 nights in a double bed room at Hostel WakeUp

free walking tour – The free walking tour we joined – highly recommended!

Travel Guide: We used a German one and are not 100% glad with it, so I don’t want to recommend an English one. If you know a good travel guide tell me 🙂

 

 

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