From visiting Belgrade’s bohemian neighbourhood to the historic Belgrade Fortress or the Balkan’s largest Orthodox Church, there is certainly plenty things to do in 24 hours in Serbia’s vibrant capital!
Belgrade has a turbulent past and has seen many conquests and wars in it’s time. But despite this, Serbians are high spirited people who love life and love a reason to socialise and there is a really nice vibe in this city! Follow the itinerary below to ensure you uncover the best bits of Belgrade in 24 hours!
St Sava Cathedral
Start your day off by visiting St Sava Cathedral. Ontop of Vračar hill lies the stunning Cathedral – the Balkan’s largest Orthodox Cathedral and the second largest Orthodox Church in the world. It was built in honour of St Sava (1175-1236).
Sava was born a Serbian Prince but later chose to become an Orthodox monk. He is one of the most important people in Serbian history and was the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. He subsequently became the Patron Saint of Serbia. The site of the Cathedral has particular significance as it is built on the site where Sava’s relics were burnt by the Ottoman regime in 1595 in an attempt to break the Serbian spirit.
340 years after the event, construction began on St Sava Cathedral in 1935. However it was then stalled for years due to WWII. Eventually the central dome was finally completed in 1989. This dome, which weighs 4000 tons, was hoisted into place after being assembled on the ground.
St Sava Cathedral has a beautiful white granite facade and looks stunning from the outside both during the day and night. The interior is currently under construction however as it is still pretty incomplete inside.
The beautiful crypt is open downstairs though so make sure to not miss visiting it! You’ll see the stairs to the crypt on the left hand side once you enter the Cathedral. They’re pretty easy to spot seeing as the rest of the interior is boarded off. The crypt is open until about 3pm each day at the minute and entrance is free. See the first two pictures below for images of the crypt.
You can also visit the adjacent chapel of Saint Sava. It is much smaller but incredibly beautiful inside – the below right picture shows the roof of this impressive chapel.
View the location of St Sava Cathedral on Google maps here.
Nikola Tesla Museum
After visiting the Cathedral stroll to Nikola Tesla Museum, about a 15 minute walk away. Nikola Tesla is a National Hero in Serbia. He was an inventor, a physicist and an electrical engineer and the museum is dedicated to his life and work.
View the Google maps location of Nikola Tesla Museum here.
Stari Dvor and Novi Dvor
A 15 minute walk from the Nikola Tesla Museum leads you to Stari Dvor “Old Palace” and Novi Dvor “New Palace” on Andrićev Venac Square. These Palaces were built for the Royal families and lie adjacent to one another. Now though Stari Dvor houses the City Assembly and The President of Serbia resides in Novi Dvor. They both have absolutely beautiful architecture. Click here to see their location.
House of the National Assembly of Serbia
Just behind Stari Dvor and Novi Dvor lies The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. Previously home to the Yugoslavian Parliament, this iconic building is Belgrade’s most photographed building both during the day and when it is lit up at night so make sure to get a few snaps when you are here! Click here to see the Google maps location.
Zeleni Venac Market
Continue your stroll towards nearby Zeleni Venac Farmers Market for a bite to eat! Zeleni Venac is an excellent value for money outdoor market offering lots of fresh local produce. Farmers Markets are popular in Belgrade but Zeleni Venac is one of the most centrally located and has been running for over 170 years!
Saturdays are when the market comes to life so definitely stop by if you are here on a Saturday! It is open every day though, from 6am until 7pm. Wander around and take in the atmosphere and the unique architecture!
Try the local pastries such as baklava and krempita in the many bakeries located here! Beware most stalls take dinar only (no Euros or cards) and as the market is more of a local place, almost all the food signs are in Serbian Cyrillic. Click here for location!
After visiting the Farmers Market a 10 minute stroll will take you to Republic Square. Republic Square is a busy and popular meeting place for locals as lots of transport links are here. It holds some of Belgrade’s most important landmarks such as The Prince Mihailo Monument, The National Museum (both pictured below) and The National Theatre. Click here for the link on Google maps. From Republic Square you will find your way onto Knez Mihailova.
Knez Mihailova Street
Knez Milailova (properly Kneza Mihaila) is the main pedestrianised shopping street of Belgrade. It runs through the heart of the old town (“Stari Grad”) from Republic Square to the Belgrade Fortress. The street is named after Prince Mihailo Obrenović III (his statue is in nearby Republic Square). There are many high street stores, coffee shops and restaurants on Knez Mihailova as well as many exchange shops here – note Serbia is not part of the EU and therefore does not use Euros – it uses Serbian dinar! Also notice the architecture: the further you head towards the fortress, the more beautiful and Neoclassical the buildings become.
Towards the end of Knez Mihailova look for the street Kralija Petra on your right. Head down here and shortly on your right you will see the red umbrellas below, an installation by the Balkan food restaurant Manufaktura. This is a great place to experience some local Serbian food if you are still hungry! Click here for the location on Google maps.
St Michaels Cathedral
Literally just around the corner from the umbrella installation is The Cathedral Church of Holy Archangel Saint Michael. It was built in 1837 in a beautiful Neoclassical style. A few yards down the road is also Princess Ljubica’s Residence.
Evening river cruise:
After all the walking and food you’re probably in need of a little sit down, so what better way than to relax on an evening river cruise and enjoy the sights from a different perspective! Not far from St Michael’s Cathedral is the embarkation point for the river cruises.
At 6pm you can take a 90 minute evening river cruise along the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, which costs 1250 Serbian Dinar (€10). We used the company Klubkej and whilst there were many people on the top deck, we sat at the front deck downstairs so had it all to ourselves! There is also a bar downstairs so you can enjoy the views with a beer, perfect :).
The views at the beginning especially are really beautiful, as you can see the fortress, the old town and the Great War Island and later on St Sava Cathedral. You can also see all the moored boats and barges that are floating restaurants and bars (more on that later!). In my opinion 90 minutes did seem a bit too long as the boat did go very slow, but we still had an enjoyable time!
Boarding for the evening river cruise is at Concrete Hall infront of the restaurant “Ambar”. There are also some really nice bars and restaurants along the river here which you can visit later if you fancy! Click here for location on Google maps.
Do check the timing of the sunset though, as the best place to view the sunset is on the upper part of Belgrade Fortress and you definitely need to see the Fortress before it gets dark! If it doesn’t look like you’ll have time to do the boat and the Fortress, skip the boat and head straight to the Fortress, as it is the symbol of Belgrade. We did the boat tour in mid July so it didn’t get dark until about 9pm which gave us enough time after the evening cruise to explore the Fortress.
Belgrade Fortress – the symbol of Belgrade. An absolute must-see on your visit to Belgrade! The Fortress overlooks the points where the Sava and Danube rivers meet, rising over the city and protecting it. The fortress is over 2000 years old – it was originally built by the Romans, but it has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times over the years. It has also seen a lot of bloodshed throughout it’s time.
With the beautiful view of the river, a popular place to come and watch the sunset is near the monument of Pobednik (“Victor”) in the fortress. This bronze sculpture was erected in 1928 to commemorate Serbia’s victory over both the Ottoman Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I and The Balkan Wars. Click here to view the location on Google maps.
Along one of the ramparts at the fortress is the outdoor military museum which is free to visit. You can see war tanks and trucks. You can also see antique canons and deactivated mines here within the fortress.
The whole city used to be inside the fortress so it is quite large! There is lots to discover here so take time to stroll around the different levels of the fortress and also visit Kalemegdan Park located inside the fortress. You can even see the remains of old Turkish baths and ancient Islamic architecture here. There are also a couple of cafes if you wish to stop off.
Party on the splavovi
During the summer head down to the river and join the locals on the boats and barges permanently moored there. These boats are known as splavovi and many of them are floating bars and nightclubs, although a few of them are restaurants too. Some of the party boats play Serbian folk music, others have pop or dance music playing – there is a great deal of variety between the splavovi. You can even hop between boats if you fancy a change. Parties happen every night of the week here in the summer.
If you don’t want to head back down to the river and fancy discovering one last part of Belgrade, head to Skadarlija, Belgrade’s bohemian area.
Skadarlija is the bohemian area of Belgrade and is the perfect place to head for dinner and drinks to end the evening. It has long been the bohemian quarter of Belgrade and in it’s heyday in the early 1900s struggling Serbian musicians, singers and writers worked and lived here. To this day this spirit lingers on and the area has a lovely atmosphere in the evening.
Stroll down the pedestrianised cobblestone street and you’ll see the locals singing, dancing and enjoying life out on the restaurant terraces. There are several groups of street musicians who go round performing on the terraces for donations too. Their music is so lovely and everybody seems to enjoy it!
All the restaurants serving traditional Serbian food here are really good but one that I can recommend is Tri Sesira (“three hats”). Eat some traditional Serbian food for dinner such as Ćevapi. After your meal make sure to enjoy a shot of rakija – Serbia’s famous liquor! Click here to view the location of Skadarlija on Google maps.
When to visit Belgrade:
Spring, summer and autumn are pleasant in Belgrade, but avoid going during winter as it gets very cold. I visited Belgrade twice – once on a bitterly cold winter’s day and the next time on a beautiful summer’s day. Needless to say the latter was far more enjoyable, not least for the pleasant temperatures, but also because there was a lot more to do in the summer. Bars were open, people were out, it got darker later and there was a really joyous atmosphere in the air!
Whilst 24 hours in never enough to explore a city, you can cover a lot of ground in just 24 hours in Belgrade as the city is fairly compact and you can easily explore by foot. Nevertheless if you would like a taxi there are several taxi companies and taxi apps available in Belgrade. Uber is not available here so download Naxis Taxi.
If you enjoyed this 24 hour guide to Belgrade let me know in the comments below! Alternatively you can check out some of my other 24 hour guides in Europe such as 24 Hours in Paris, 24 Hours in Dublin or 24 Hours in Zurich!
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