Belgrade Mini Guide
Wasn’t Belgrade the Capital of Yugoslavia?
It was but following the break-up of the country during the Balkan Wars it’s now the capital of Serbia. It’s an interesting city being for much of its life a Middle Eastern city changing to a European one only in the twentieth century. Not much remains of the old city for it has been fought over in more than a hundred wars and has been completely destroyed 44 times in its history. It was the home, eight millennia ago, of Europe’s largest prehistoric civilisation and has been Roman and Greek in history.
So, for a City With so Much History There Must be a lot to see and do?
There are dozens of important historic buildings dotted across the city although the oldest building from the Turkish occupation is considered unappealing. Head instead for such sights as the city’s two cathedrals or the Saint Sava temple which looks stunning with its night-time illumination. There’s also the mausoleum to Yugoslavia’s infamous ruler, Tito, known as ‘the house of flowers’. For an insight into Belgrade’s royal past, the White Palace is a good place to spend a day. There, amongst opulent surroundings, you’ll see great works of art commissioned by the royal family. If you’re feeling fit, climb the hill to the Avala Monument for a view out over the city.
What’s the Best way of Getting to Belgrade?
You have two long distance options which depend on the time you have. You can fly into Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla International Airport on a number of carriers including Serbia’s national airline, JAT. Some budget airlines operate there including Wizzair and Germanwings. A more interesting way to arrive is by train. You can catch a train from as far away as Moscow
and many other major European cities. Some of the trains are direct requiring no changes.
What is There to Tempt my Appetite?
Quite a lot really. Try the local speciality, borek, a filo pastry parcel, often cigar shaped and crammed with sweet or savoury fillings. The Serbians eat this for breakfast with yoghurt and accompanied with strong coffee. At night try rostilj, a platter of grilled meat of different types served with salad, chips or potatoes. For those with a sweet tooth, the Adore chocolate shop is a must visit highlight. There, the delicious chocolates are hand-made and renowned across the country for their quality. To drink you should try the Serbian version of ouzo called rakija. The aniseed flavoured drink is accompanied by water as it is so potent.
What Should I buy to Take Home?
The best place to shop is the flea market in Novi Beograd. Here, just about anything is available for purchase and the chances are that instead of buying souvenirs for friends back home you’ll buy something unusual you think they need!
Does Belgrade do Festivals?
Yes, a great many of them. They’re mostly held in the summer months and are music, food or alcohol based such as the rakija festival, the wine fair or the beer festival. The chances are that whilst you’re in Belgrade there’ll be at least one event happening.
Belgrade is a great city for a weekend break, it’s lively and has a lot for the visitor to see and do. Until nearly a hundred years ago it was part of the Ottoman Empire and there’s still a feeling of the Middle East to parts of the city.
For a great view of the city take your hire car to Belgrade Fortress. Today the interior is set out as a park for all to enjoy but the main reason for visiting is the view out over the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers below.