“This year, I’m definitely going to visit you in Belgrade.”
I’d been saying that to Sonja for about four years, so a visit to the Serbian capital was well due. I finally found some cheap flights and went over for a few days this July.
I’m not going to sugar coat this: Belgrade isn’t a pretty city. It has a certain “heaviness” about itself, perhaps owing to its recent past. But that heavy backdrop is what sets the scene for its cool vibe.
If I had only one word to describe Belgrade, it would be lively. Locals are out and about, filling up the outdoor seats along leafy streets. Grey buildings have been spruced up with blasts of colourful decorations. No matter what time of day, you’ll find the locals enjoying their city.
I imagine Belgrade is what Budapest was like 10 years ago – colourful, raw, inexpensive and devoid of tourists.
Sure there is stuff to see in Belgrade – like Kalemegdan fortress and the Cathedral of Saint Sava – but you don’t go to Belgrade for sightseeing and instagram shots. You go there to eat and drink your heart out. The Skadarska district (pictured above) is Belgrade’s Bohemian quarter. It’s a must-visit. As is its “Silicon Valley” i.e. the Strahinjica Bana street. And of course you have to stroll around the pedestrian streets in the centre. Some of the spots I was taken to by my lovely host and her friends included Manufaktura, Bajloni Bar & Beyond, and Mikser (all pictured below along with the lovely Sonja).
Another reason I was visiting Belgrade was to write a feature for the European Coffee Trip on Belgrade’s rising third wave coffee culture. I met up with the lovely guys from Šoljica and Pržionica D59B (pictured) and was pleasantly surprised to see a flourishing coffee scene in this city. You can read my feature here.
So if you are looking for a cool place with endless dining options, go to Belgrade. And go there before it’s overrun by tourists.
Top tip for British readers: Only Wizz Air flies to Belgrade on a budget. I had the genius idea of flying into nearby Timisoara and taking a mini bus across the border to Belgrade. Don’t do it – just spend the extra £50 to fly in and out of Belgrade.