5 free things: Belgrade

On a budget in Serbia’s capital


Associated Press

Belgrade today is known for nightlife, clubbing and a fun-loving lifestyle, but its past is scarred by war. Over the centuries, it was conquered and demolished dozens of times, standing at the historic crossroads between two mighty empires, Turkish to the east and Austro-Hungarian to the west. Even at the very end of the 20th century, the city was bombed by NATO.

But Belgrade’s citizens like to compare their city to the mythical phoenix bird that always rises from the ashes. Here are five things to see and do — all free — that illustrate the Serbian capital’s poignant history, mix of cultures and contemporary easygoing lifestyle.

•  Kalemegdan: Perched on a 410-feet-high cliff, the ancient Kalemegdan Fortress was built to fend off conquerors. Its ridge overlooks the confluence of the Sava river into the Danube, and offers a magnificent view over the new part of town and the plain that lies ahead. Over the centuries, at least 100 battles have been fought over this site, and parts of it have been erased 44 times. What remains today has been rebuilt many times. The fortification has massive gates and bridges. Kalemegdan hosts a military museum with a collection of tanks, cannons, guns, and other military vehicles.

•  River banks and Ada Ciganlija: A stroll down the hill from Kalemegdan leads to the rivers. There is a cycling and walking path upstream along the Sava River, which is a wonderful way to explore this side of Belgrade. The path first passes the tourist port, a popular area that is dotted with old warehouses turned into restaurants and cafes. Under the Branko’s bridge, next on the route is the Sava Mala area, a historic center turned into a design and nightlife hub. An industrial zone by the Belgrade Fair then leads into Ada Ciganlija, a lake resort that is Belgrade’s favorite relaxation and picnic area. The water in the lake is clean and there is a 4.3-mile route around it, again filled with cafes and restaurants that stay open late into the night in the summer months.

•  NATO Bombing ruins: Going back into the city, Kneza Milosa street, one of the busiest traffic arteries, hosts Serbian government buildings and some embassies. As the capital of the former Yugoslavia during the communist era, Belgrade was the seat of both Serbian and Yugoslav governmental administration. This country broke up in the early 1990s in a series of conflicts largely blamed on the nationalist policies of then-Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. Serbia became an international pariah and was bombed in 1999 by NATO to stop the war in Kosovo. Ruins of Serbia’s military and police headquarters in central Belgrade are still standing unrepaired. The authorities say there is not enough money to clear them.

•  Skadarlija: Skadarlija is the old Bohemian quarter of Belgrade and dates back to the late 19th and early 20th century. The cobblestone street testifies to the relaxed way of life in Belgrade, largely centered around the kafane — local restaurants. Skadarlija’s kafane always have been a meeting place of prominent poets, politicians, sportsmen. The restaurants here offer traditional cuisine, most notably the rostilj (grilled meat) and rakija (fruit brandy) as live bands play traditional songs.

•  Green markets: Several green markets are scattered throughout the city, the best known being the Kalenic market in the residential area of Vracar. The time to visit a green market in Belgrade is either Saturday or Sunday morning. This is still Belgraders’ favorite way to shop for fruit, vegetables, eggs and dairy products, even though dozens of cash and carry supermarkets have sprouted recently. Usually, families have favorite vendors from whom they buy fresh white cheese and a local specialty, kajmak, a dairy product that resembles cottage cheese and is best eaten spread on a piece of bread. Market vendors will chat with you and let you taste their products.

Read more Travel stories from the Miami Herald

This mural is a collaboration between New Zealand artist Tanja Jade and Australia artist Dabs Myla, on the wall and alleyway of a car dealership in Kakaako, in Honolulu.


    Street art is the draw in Honolulu’s Kakaako

    Honolulu is famous for gold-sand beaches and big waves. But the city’s warehouse district, called Kakaako, is famous for a different sort of attraction. You won’t find kitschy Hawaiian souvenir shops or hordes of tourists here, but you will find a thriving urban arts scene, with colorful street murals so big they stretch across walls and sometimes entire sides of buildings.

A scene from Las Fallas festival in Valencia, Spain.


    Lessons learned abroad: studying in Seville

    Things don’t start to feel real until you drag your two empty suitcases into your bedroom and start to pack for your semester abroad. That’s when you realize your life for the next six months will have to weigh less than you do.

  • The travel troubleshooter

    What happened to the repair records for my damaged rental car?

    Q: I recently rented a car from Europcar in Brussels. I declined the collision damage waiver (CDW) provided by Europcar in favor of the CDW on my Capital One World MasterCard.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category