Should I visit Zagreb or Belgrade

Belgrade: Interface between Orient and Occident

Belgrade, the Balkan metropolis is often compared to Berlin: Serbia's capital has a young, wild art scene, a mix of cultures and is open to everything and everyone. We give tips for the city on the Danube

Belgrade at a glance

General country information:
Belgrade (Serbian "Beograd") is the capital of the Republic of Serbia, a mountainous country in the heart of the Balkans, which Karl May called "the land of the Balkan gorges". With its almost 80,000 square kilometers, Serbia is roughly the size of the Czech Republic or Austria.

Best travel time for Belgrade:
The Serbian capital Belgrade shows its most beautiful side in spring and autumn. It gets hot in the city from June to September, temperatures over 30 degrees then invite you to jump into the water of the Sava at the "Belgrade Lake" on the island of Ada Ciganlija. From November to March, Belgrade is mostly gray, the ailing beauty of the baroque facades is drowned in a gray veil. Winter temperatures, depending on the winter, from minus 20 to plus 15 degrees.

City history:
The Ottomans ruled central Serbia for almost 500 years, and the Habsburgs in the fertile north of Vojvodina. Up until the Balkan Wars in the 1990s, Serbia was part of Tito's Yugoslavia, and after the fall of Milosevic, the country began to become democratized in 2000. Serbia has been the EU candidate country since 2012, whether and when it will be that time is questionable.

Two million people who, it seems, are always on the move, live on twenty Belgrade hills. The whole of Belgrade is bustling and colorful and lively. There are pita, bourek and pizza on every corner, bars, bistros and restaurants as well. With Ethnosound and Brassorchestra, the legendary nightlife has no curfew: on the Sava and Danube rivers, people partying, dancing and drinking until sunrise.

Belgrade's history: Celts, Goths, Ottomans and other lords of the Kalemegdan fortress

The former fortress Kalemegdan, the original core of Belgrade, has seen many rulers in the last 2000 years: Celts called Belgrade "Singidunum", and that was 2000 years ago. The Romans were followed by the Huns and Goths, Slavs and Greeks came in the 7th century and named their settlement "White city"," beo-grad ". The Ottomans stayed for almost 500 years.

Thanks to its liberal religious policy, Belgrade remained an open city. Sephardic Jews came in the 14th century when they were driven from the Iberian Peninsula by the Inquisition. Swabians and Franks, which Empress Maria-Theresa had settled in the Pannonian Plain, only had to cross the Danube and they became citizens of Belgrade.

For centuries, Belgrade was a sought-after trading city, but also a city where war and peace often alternated quickly. Hitler's bombs came in 1941, the last time NATO bombs fell on Belgrade in 1999, in response to the war in Kosovo. The oppressive years of the Milošević era have been over since 2000 and Belgrade is developing into a self-confident European metropolis, is vibrant, full of relish and affirmative.

Knez Mihajlova - the most desirable street in Belgrade

The boulevard of the old town of Belgrade is the Knez-Mihajlova. It is located in the heart of Belgrade, where history and present are intertwined. Greetings from Viennese melancholy and Trieste's grandeur in splendidly decorated Art Nouveau buildings. In the immediate vicinity there are oriental traces on the minaret of the Bajrakli Mosque from the 16th century. Stars of David on houses in Judengasse are reminiscent of Belgrade's long Jewish tradition, the golden towers of the Orthodox Cathedral church are witnesses of the state religion.

Belgrade's shopping street and strolling mile is full of people at any time of the day. Begins at its end Kalemegdan, Belgrade's largest park. The old Turkish fortress watches over the rivers that embrace Belgrade. Here, under the castle, the thick Sava rolls into the mighty, sluggish Danube, the view is magnificent.

Culinary en route: restaurant tips for Serbia's capital

The structural contradictions that seamlessly merge into one another in Belgrade make the Balkan metropolis a successful mix: Belgrade is European, Oriental and Mediterranean at the same time. And even if Belgrade is gorgeous and dingy at the same time, the daughter of the Sava and Danube has an intoxicatingly positive energy and that is also reflected in the food. The scent of roasted chestnuts wafts along the roadside in Belgrade, a few steps further corn on the cob are cooked.

Strolling, strolling, window shopping, all of Belgrade lives on the streets, munching and smacking pitas, bourek and pizza, which you can buy every few meters. If you want to eat exquisite in Belgrade, go to theKniževnika club (Literary Club), near Knez Mihajlova, or walk down from Kalemegdan to the harbor promenade. Here in Concrete hala (Concrete hall), directly on the banks of the Sava, a first-class food mile is housed in the former storage facilities. Tapas, sushi, pasta, but also Serbian national dishes can be enjoyed at sunset.

No market without "kafana"

"Kalenić pijaca"is just one of 30 Belgrade markets that take place every day. Everything your heart desires can be bought here: goat cheese young and old, pickled green tomatoes, half pigs and fresh fish. The heavy, greenish-yellow olive oil is stored in old wooden barrels, But there is more: lightbulbs, nails, antique and imitation - a daily flea market is part of it. Farmers' markets are not only the belly of the capital, but also the soul of Belgrade right market.

Kafana? A pub? A bistro? A restaurant? Kafana is all that - a place where you can choose: reading the newspaper and drinking coffee, or enjoying the Balkan blues with bean soup, Ćevapčići and slivovitz. Originally a Turkish coffee house that only served coffee, Kafana has become a Balkan institution, a place where people don't just eat, dance and sing. Kafana is still a meeting place today, conspiracies were forged, weddings were celebrated and the dead were mourned here. These traditional places are unfortunately disappearing, Orašac or Stara Hercegovina are still there, who knows how much longer.

The creative heart of Serbia

Recently the BBC Belgrade named one of the five most creative cities in the world. According to the BBC, it is above all the young art scene that makes Belgrade so exciting. Events like October Salon, (Oktobarski salon) honor young artists every year, galleries and show rooms are on every corner in Belgrade.

The Contemporary Art Museum (Muzej savremene umetnosti) in Belgrade is one of the most important cultural buildings in the country and shows Yugoslav and Serbian art from 1990 to today, including exhibits by Marina Abramović, the world-famous artist from Belgrade.

The Scepter Museum, housed in one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau houses in Knez-Mihajlova, guards the most important works of modern Serbian art. And anyway: Every day there are vernissages, concerts and rock concerts, book presentations, theater and cabaret, as far as the art scene is concerned, Belgrade can easily compete with Berlin.

Architecture: Brutalism dream in Belgrade

The streetscape of Belgrade does not impress with its beauty. While Wilhelminian style houses adorn the old town of Belgrade, some are falling into disrepair, some are "pretty", shining New Belgrade with "Brutalism", a movement in art and architecture. Brutalist architecture means above all: a lot of raw concrete. Unplastered exposed concrete gave the bulky architectural style its name. The pioneering thinker was the famous architect Le Corbusier.

Between the 1960s and 1980s, public buildings, but also residential complexes and monuments in the brutalist style were erected across the country, including in Belgrade. Sava centar, a temple of culture and Genex tower, an office building, is a must-see in New Belgrade. The New York Museum MOMA In 2018 even dedicated a large exhibition to Yugoslav "brutalism".

Nightlife: Hip bars and clubs in Belgrade

Belgrade nights are long too, no curfew, morning can come. "Splavovi" are the name of the party houseboats that lie on the banks of the Sava and Danube and dance the night away.

  • Splav freestyleris opposite the concrete hall, in New Belgrade, and is famous for its cocktails. The party only starts at half past eleven at night and lasts, well, as long as your feet and your head carry it.
  • The Savamala district the old town is full of clubs, especially on Karadjordjeva Street. Mladost (youth), Ludost (madness), Radost (joy) are the hottest.

As diverse as Balkan rhythms

Belgrade is so diverse, so bizarre, so contradictory. There is Zemun, formerly a border town between Habsburgs and Ottomans, today a Belgrade district, a sleepy princess on the banks of the Danube. There is the huge chinese market in New Belgrade, which sells Chinese vegetables and glittery fabrics.

Belgrade cemetery can compete with Pere Lachaise in Paris for statues and mausoleums. At the weekend in Belgrade weddings take place in all corners and churches, the whole city sounds like Balkan rhythms, which are accompanied loudly by countless Roma trumpeters.

How to get there: How to get to Belgrade

  • By plane
    Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Airport serves 250 airlines. From Germany, the flight to Belgrade takes between one and a half and two hours. Buses and taxis run into the city from the airport. A bus ride costs around 3 euros, and the bus goes to downtown Belgrade every 30 minutes. A taxi ride costs between 20 and 25 euros. Attention: It is essential to take a voucher for the taxi ride into town at the "taxi stand" in the baggage claim hall.
  • By car
    There are two ways to get to Belgrade from the north: either from Zagreb or from Budapest. For the old "Autoput" and for the 400 kilometers between Zagreb and Belgrade you need about three hours, for the second variant and 380 kilometers you need longer. Yes, the Pannonian Plain through which you drive is worth a break.
  • By bicycle
    The "EuroVelo 6" is available for cyclists, it follows the Danube from the Hungarian border to Belgrade and on to the Black Sea.

Further information: immigration, health insurance, ATMs

Entry into Serbia and Belgrade is easy for EU citizens: show your passport and go through customs. You do not need a visa for a stay of up to three months. Detailed information on the website of the Federal Foreign Office will help. A confirmation from the statutory health insurance is recommended, however, all medical bills must be paid immediately. If the worst comes to the worst, go to a private doctor's practice, the state-run ones are completely overrun. There are ATMs everywhere in the city, important: The Do not convert conversion, that is usually the worse course. You can find "Menjačnica" (exchange office) on every corner, the exchange rate is usually better than in the bank.

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