Belgrade: Serbia’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Which country do you think of first when hear someone talk about the Balkans? For most people, the answer is probably Croatia. If that’s the case for you as well, then we’re here to help you broaden your horizons and explore some of the region’s other countries. One of our favorite destinations is Serbia – especially its capital, Belgrade.
After all, Belgrade is rich in historical buildings and has an interesting past, but it’s also a great place for partying, swimming, and shopping. In addition, it’s still something of a hidden gem, so you’ll never have to fight your way through large groups of tourists here.
To help you plan your trip to Belgrade, we have compiled a list of our 10 favorite sights in the city. But first, here’s a brief introduction to Serbia in general. Are you ready?
Belgrade in a Nutshell
The Republic of Serbia is home to approximately 7 million people. The country is located on the Balkan Peninsula, and what it lacks in coastline it makes up for in its large number of neighbors. Serbia borders Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Northern Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, and Croatia. This constellation is still fairly recent, however, as the country used to be part of Yugoslavia and only became independent in 2006 following the end of the Yugoslav Wars and the Kosovo War in the decade before.
The capital of Serbia is Belgrade, which translates to “the white city.” Until the 16th century, the city was known under a different name, Alba Graeca. Belgrade is much older than that, though! People have been settling at the confluence of the Danube and the Sava since the Paleolithic Age. The earliest archaeological finds from the area stem from the Vinča culture – around 7,000 years ago – and make Belgrade one of the oldest cities in Europe!
Nowadays, Belgrade is no longer the site of battles, but of culture, education, science, and media. The “gateway to Central Europe” is also one of the largest transport hubs in the region and, with a total population of 1.3 million people, an important commercial center. Belgrade is also an increasingly popular travel destination. Tourists come to the capital for the locals’ laid-back attitude as well as the city’s many sights and party venues.
The period from May to September is generally considered to be the best – and therefore the most popular – time to explore Belgrade. If you’re visiting the city at the beginning of summer, we recommend bringing some waterproof clothes, as it rains quite frequently during this time. But even if it does rain, you can always find a table in one of Belgrade’s many great restaurants and try the local specialties. Don’t miss out on having some of the world-famous ćevapčići! Other dishes we can recommend are sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls) and djuvec (stewed rice with vegetables).
Why not also attend a festival while you’re in Belgrade? The capital is home to a lot of cultural events, such as the Belgrade Summer Festival in July. Another great option is the popular Beer Fest, which takes place in August and allows you to taste your way through all of Serbia’s best beers. But even if you’re not here during the summer, you’ll still have plenty of events to choose from. We can especially recommend the FEST Film Festival in February and the International Theater Festival in September. The choice of events in Belgrade is simply endless!
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Belgrade
Now it’s time to check out Belgrade’s most interesting sights. Here are our 10 favorite places in the city!
The Belgrade Fortress
Let’s start with the city’s most famous landmark, the Belgrade Fortress. It’s also called Kalemegdan and is located on a 50-meter-high limestone rock, towering above the confluence of the Danube and the Sava. You can probably already imagine how spectacular the view is from up here.
The 15th century fortress is in excellent condition, especially considering that it was the sight of numerous battles, including some in the Ottoman wars. You can learn more about the history of Kalemegdan in the Military Museum that is also located here. It’s home to a lot of interesting exhibits, including some real tanks. In addition, the museum’s architecture is also very impressive, with its memorials, old walls, and two churches.
Pobednik and the Monument of Gratitude to France
The bronze statue of Pobednik – or “the Victor” – and the Monument of Gratitude to France are probably the two most famous monuments in Belgrade. Both of them are reminders of Serbia’s fascinating history.
You might be surprised the first time you see Pobednik – he is completely naked, save for an eagle in his left hand and a sword in his right. The impressive monument is especially beautiful at sunset, when the fortress is also illuminated. Pobednik is located on a small square, from where you’ll also have a great view of the city. The statue commemorates the Serbian victory over the Ottoman and the Austro-Hungarian Empires.
As its name suggests, the Monument of Gratitude to France is dedicated to the country of France. The 4-meter-tall bronze statue depicts the personification of France as she is rushing to support Serbia in World War II. It’s a really special monument and one with a lot of room for interpretation.
The Temple of St. Sava
The Serbian Orthodox church of St. Sava with its ten towers is an absolutely unforgettable sight. The fascinating emerald green domes, which have golden crosses on top of them, are especially beautiful. The temple is one of the largest religious sites in the world, covering an area of almost 5,000 square meters!
It’s located at 130 meters above sea level on the edge of Vračar hill and offers a great view of Belgrade’s main street, Ulica Kralja Milana. The site holds special meaning, as it’s the place where the body of St. Sava, the revered archbishop of Serbia, was burnt on orders of the Albanian commander Koca Sinan Pasha.
Of course, you can also admire the Neo-Byzantine interior of the church. Once you’re standing beneath the dome, look out for the magnificent golden mosaic depicting Jesus, his apostles, and other religious figures!
St. Mark’s Church
St. Mark’s Church is another great example of Neo-Byzantine architecture, but its exterior differs greatly from those of St. Sava. Its floor plan, for instance, is more angular. The church’s construction finished in 1940. It was built to replace its predecessor, which was destroyed in World War I.
You can find St. Mark’s Church in Tašmajdan Park. We highly recommend coming here in the evening, when the church looks the most beautiful, thanks to the dozens of lights illuminating it. The Church’s interior was sadly never completed, because its construction was interrupted by World War II. The same fate befell the Temple of St. Sava.
The Republic Square has three main attractions – the National Museum of Serbia, the National Theater, and the Prince Mihailo Monument. The latter is a sculpture of a 19th century Serbian prince, whose reign lasted a total of 11 years. The statue depicts him as a proud horseman.
If you want to learn more about the history of Serbia, then the National Museum is the place to be. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about missing it. The museum stands out from the other buildings on the Republic Square due to its magnificent foyer, columns, and domed roof. Not only the museum’s exterior is impressive, however, but also its interior. It houses more than 30 different collections for you to see!
The National Theater is also a great activity for a rainy day. Any of the 600 performances on the main stage and the smaller Raša Plaović stage are an unforgettable experience – something the more than 150,000 audience members who come to the theater every year would surely agree with.
Despite its impressive architecture, Republic Square isn’t Belgrade’s main square. This title belongs to Terazije, which you can find in the city center. This square used to be central to ensuring Belgrade’s water supply, which is also how it got its name – Terazije roughly translates to “water balances.” The square is home to some lovely fountains as well as several imposing buildings. It’s also the perfect spot to start your sightseeing tour.
Nikola Tesla Museum
Nikola Tesla was the greatest inventor of his time. His research concerning electrical engineering was groundbreaking. He also happened to be Serbian, which is why you can find a museum dedicated to his life in the country’s capital. You can see thousands of his documents, printed works, pictures, and machines here, as well as his actual urn.
Knez Mihailova Street
Every capital city has its own large shopping street, and Belgrade is no excpetion. Welcome to Knez Mihailova Street! Of course, you’ll not only find shops here but also some other interesting buildings, such as several beautiful private homes from the 1870s as well as the Progres Palace.
Knez Mihailova Street is the perfect place for strolling around and trying some Serbian dishes. Once you’ve had a look around, you can make your way to nearby Terazije or the Belgrade Fortress. Sounds like a good plan, right?
The Floating Clubs of Belgrade
Belgrade is also well-known for its exciting nightlife. Whether you prefer classic bars or clubs like the Tilt Club and the Freestyler – Belgrade has them all. Alternatively, why not try out one of the floating clubs you can find on the Danube and the Sava? These “splavs” are among our favorite places in Belgrade, so we just had to include them! After all, how many people can claim to have spent a whole night dancing on a boat? Just thinking about these clubs puts us in a party mood!
As you already know, Belgrade is located at the confluence of the Sava and the Danube. In 1967, two dams were built on the outskirts of the city, creating a lake that is about four kilometers long. The Sava Lake, or Ada, as it’s also called, is famous for its lovely pebble beaches. So, if you’re in the mood for a refreshing swim but don’t want to leave the city, Sava Lake is the place to be! But if the water is too cold for you, it’s also just a nice place to go for a walk and have a drink.
Belgrade is the perfect destination for your next city trip! There aren’t that many tourists around, so you can enjoy the city’s sights in peace. The capital is attracting more and more travelers every year, however, and won’t remain a hidden gem for very much longer. It’s no surprise, really, as there is just so much to discover here!
The most popular sight is, of course, the Belgrade Fortress, with its well-kept park and impressive monuments. Don’t forget to visit the Military Museum and its tanks while you’re here! Speaking of museums, we highly recommend checking out the exhibitions at the National Museum of Serbia and the Nikola Tesla Museum. No matter where you go, you’re sure to get your money’s worth.
Don’t miss out on strolling around Republic Square and Terazije either! Afterwards, why not go shopping on Knez Mihailova Street? If you’d rather do something more relaxing, then we recommend spending a day at Sava Lake.
Did you expect the capital of Serbia to have so many fantastic sights? Either way, it’s time to book your tickets and start planning your trip to Belgrade!