Yes today it’s a look into the Serbian and former Yugoslavian capital of Belgrade. It’s a long time now since the war over Kosovo and the split of Yugoslavia into different countries, and indeed it’s some fifteen years since I went to Belgrade myself. However, I must admit it’s not a city I see a lot of people writing about, and I don’t hear a lot of people saying they have or would visit there. Let me pose the question though – Why not consider Belgrade?
In 2004, which is not so long after the conflict over Kosovo, I was surprised to find I did not need a visa to visit Serbia. It seems today many nationalities can still visit Serbia without a visa, which is makes it easier to visit. Belgrade is reasonably well connected to other Eastern European capitals, I entered from Romania in the north, leaving from Timisoara. I then travelled on after a few days in Belgrade southwards into Montenegro, which at the time was part of ‘Serbia & Montenegro’ – one country. Today it’s its own country – a great place to visit with great beaches and great summertime weather!
But back to Belgrade. Not a lot of people were passing through in 2004. In 2017 I found a figure of just over 3 million tourists, and another figure of over 8 million from a different source in 2018. What this means in real terms, I don’t know. But still, you will find that Serbia is not a country where you will see foreigners everywhere.
I know this is a prerequisite for me sometimes, and probably shouldn’t be. But I have to say, I found Belgrade to be a great city to experience. It’s really walkable, and has a population of 1.4 million, but that is I believe just the centre of the city. Walking around the city, which is a bit hilly, is a pleasure. You can get around on trams and buses/trolley buses too. There are some great shopping districts nowadays, and hopefully a bit of a ‘buzz’.
Belgrade is situated on the mighty Danube River, which I’m pretty sure I didn’t even realise until I got there! It’s actually a really picturesque city, especially around the Danube. There are a number of parks, and some beautiful Orthodox Churches. Museum-wise there are plenty to choose from (as well as galleries) but I think you would want to try out the Tesla Museum. I didn’t… not sure it was open back in 2004, but I do like museums which are a bit ‘different’. The Ethnographic Museum is well worth a visit too.
The Park Prijateljstva is right on the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers, and is huge and features some impressive gates and fortifications. There’s a military museum in there too, and a church or two, and of course great views of the confluence of the two aforementioned rivers.
Across the way is the amazing Belgrade fortress. It’s the best spot in town!
But all these places, and there are many more including towers and other things I never discovered or weren’t open 15 years ago, is just a back drop for a city which is surprisingly friendly. I was wondering around in the middle of town looking a bit lost, someone came up to help me and we became friends, went to a few places and even out clubbing! All the locals I met in the hostel were very friendly too. It might surprise you to know, but I found Belgrade probably to be the friendliest European capital I have ever visited!