On February 2015 I took my first trip to Eastern Europe to visit a friend in Belgrade and I was very lucky to have a personalised trip around the city.
In the morning of the first day we started by visiting the Tesla museum. Located at the heart of the city, this is really cool and totally worth the visit.
I must admit I had no memory of Tesla from history classes – I was never into history before traveling – and so visiting the museum was twice as interesting. First you do learn about him and his life but mostly the museum has a set of interactive experiments with models of Tesla’s experiments. My favourite was definitely the wireless electricity.
From the museum we walked to the Church of Saint Sava. One of the largest churches in the world and the largest in the Balkans. This was the first Orthodox church I ever visited and because I was raised Catholic it was very different and so interesting to me.
In case you wonder, in front of Saint Sava lays a statue of a Serbian revolutionary who led the struggle for his country’s independence against the Ottoman Empire, Karadjordje.
From Saint Sava we walked down the Nemanjina ulica to the train station – for me to take pictures to add to my collection of trains from around the world. – In Nemanjina Ulica you will pass by some remains of the army headquarters, a ghost of World history still present in Serbia.
I’ve decided to mention the train station building because I feel it’s such a nice a building but terribly unappreciated. It feels a lot like Lisbon before we had the means – money acquired from, and invested for, tourism – to recover our plazas.
At the afternoon, we visited, on the other bank of the Sava river, new Belgrade. I must admit I don’t quite remember much of what we saw; I think I was too immersed on our girl chat.
But I do remember we finished our day with a very nice mid afternoon lunch in the river side and a climb to the Kula Gardos tower for a night view over the neighbourhood.
On my last day in Belgrade we visited the Kalemegdan park and fortress. The oldest part of the city, dating from before the Roman empire,when it served as a great strategic point against the tribes of central Europe.
Since those days the Fortress changed from a city fortification to a very nice city park with a great view over the confluence of the two rivers.
Nearby we visited the military museum, an outdoor exhibition of several war tanks, weapons and mines.
Finally, to finish my trip, my friend took me for a walk outside the city to Ada Ciganlija. Ada is a river island, artificially connected to the main land forming a huge lake that has become a very popular spot.
We walked around and eventually stopped for a hot chocolate to properly end my 4 day trip. Next day I would be back in Portugal, back to my 9 to 6.
Belgrade does not feel as a tourist packed city, which I think makes it extra charming, and still there is a lot happening. Both times I was there I felt the city was very welcoming and I think it’s even getting better.
Anywhere you go in the city you will find street signs written both in Serbian Cyrillic and English. Also, I did not have a problem speaking with people in English.
If you arrive by plane you will land at Nikola Tesla Airport and from there you can take the mini bus A1 which will take you to Slavija Square in 30-40 minutes. You can buy a ticket inside the bus and it will cost around 300 dinars, 3 euros.
From Slavija square, you can easily access the train and bus stations, down Nemanjina street and through the military headquarters, but also the old town and both the Tesla museum and the Saint Sava’s Church.
Entrance to the Saint Sava’s Church is free and it’s just a 10/15 minute walk from Slavija. Across from this church you can find a park with a monument honouring a Serbian mathematician Milutin Milanković.
The Tesla museum it’s open between 10 and 8pm and the ticket costing 5 dollars already includes a tour of the exhibition and experiments.
Moving on you will find the Bulevar kralja Aleksandra, the city’s longest street. Take it towards the fortress and along it you will find a park, a church and the state government office.
Eventually you will get to Trg republike the meeting point of the city and the place from where you can visit the centre of the old town and night out places.
At the Kalemegdan fortress you will find a park with river view and the open air military museum.
Taking the bus or tram to the other bank of the river to new Belgrade, will reward you with a more modern part of the city.
Besides, if you head towards the park facing the Kalemegdan you will get the postcard picture of the city and fortress.
We went to Zemun, a municipality of Belgrade that is already on the banks of the Danube and where you can find a really cosy neighbourhood.
I’ve marked on the map some interesting spots: a chapel from the 19th century, the tower of Gardos, built to celebrate a thousand years of Hungarian settlement and the area with restaurants by the river.
To get to Zemun you can take busses 15, 17, 84, 701, 704 from Zeleni Venac, Зелени венац.
To get to Ada the artificial lake and properly escape the busy city life, you can catch buses number 23, 52, 53 or 56 from the city center’s street Kneza Miloša кнеза Милоша.
What would I do differently
Belgrade is the only city outside of Japan and Portugal that I have visited twice. Despite this, even reading more about the city as a research for this post, I feel both trips were way too short to fully appreciate it.
There’s so much to see and so much history to learn here, that I feel a 3-day trip was not enough.
Zemun is distant from the center but worth the travel for the different atmosphere. I wish I had taken better pictures, but still, sometimes you really just need to girl chat.
More Japan coming up on the following weeks. It was Spring time and I really needed to see those Sakura in full bloom. I promise many pink toned pictures coming up.
Hope you’re all doing well. Have a nice week.