Belgrade - the 'White City' - has a rich, but tragic history. Both are visible in the Belgrade of today. Although the city recovered remarkably quickly from the battle after the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the wounds are yet to heal. But don't ponder too long on this: Belgrade has beautiful, historical monuments, a lively nightlife and exceptional museums.
To start with those museums: the National Museum. Yes, we know, every capital of every country has a National Museum, but the one in Belgrade is absolutely worth a visit. It has over 400.000 of great masters like Titian, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Renoir, Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Rubens, Rembrandt, Picasso, Cézanne, Mondrian and Chagall. And these are just a few examples of the collection... The Ethnographic Museum (art, utensils, costumes, musical instruments, antique furniture and more) gives a good idea of the various ethnic groups in Serbia.
Belgrade was founded on the spot where the river Sava flows in the Danube. Those origins of the city can still be seen in Kalimegdan. In the park you can see the remains of the citadel. For centuries the people of Belgrade lived inside the walls of the fortress, which was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The name of the town refers to the white walls of this very fortress, which overlooks the Sava and the Donau at an altitude of 125 meters. Several panoramic telescopes have been placed to enjoy an even better view.
Housed inside the fortress is the Military Museum. You will learn how the citadel has been defended in ancient times, but there is also a section dedicated to the latest conflict in the Balkans.
Further in the Kalimegdan Park you can find the Zoo of Belgrade and a Planetarium. You won't go hungry in the park, because there are several food stalls, restaurants with terraces and ice cream shops.
From the tennis courts in the south of the park you can walk towards the Knez Mihailova, or the Prince Michael Street, a long pedestrian street with shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. It is busy day and night.
Less cosmopolitan, but very cozy is the pedestrian street Skadarska Ulica, paved with bumpy cobbles. Here too are shops, restaurants and cafes with terraces left, right and center. You could say it is the Serbian version of the Plaka in Athens.
The Cathedral of Saint Sava is dedicated to the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It is a marvelous building with a facade of marble and granite. In this church there is space for no less than 10,000 believers!
In and around Belgrade
Zemun used to be an independent town west of the Serbian capital, now it is a district of Belgrade. Zenum has a cozy city beach on the Danube, where many sports are practiced in the summer. There are several eateries which have mainly fish dishes on the menu. And of course delicious local wines. A very cozy atmosphere, where even many birds feel at home.
More popular is the peninsula Ada Ciganlija, in the Sava, southwest of the city center. On the south-side of the eight kilometer long peninsula lies a beach that is populated by thousands in the summer. Many water skiers are active on the water. There are sport grounds scattered over the island: for football, basketball, tennis, golf, badminton and more. You can also rent inline skates here. Another option of course is having a picnic and there are designated places where you can fire up a barbecue. If you don't want to self cater; there are many cafes and restaurants too.
Belgrade's nightlife is comparable to that of the bustling Buenos Aires, according to experts. It happens mainly in the floating cafes and nightclubs along the banks of the south-side and the Danube. And there are - typical for Belgrade - many underground bars.
Belgrade has a reasonable offer of accommodation. There are about fifty pensions and an equal number of hotels. Furthermore, there are options to camp around the city. In the 'New Belgrade' - across the Sava - are some higher end hotels.
There are three parking zones in the center of Belgrade. In the red one you can park up to an hour, in the yellow up to two hours and in the green zone three. You can pay at ticket machines or by SMS, or buy a ticket at a kiosk. There are six car parks in Belgrade, the one under the old palace being the most centrally located. Pay attention to the yellow marked lanes when driving around in the city: they are solely for public transport. Sometimes this applies only for a part of the day (rush hours), this is indicated on the signs.
The Nikola Tesla Airport is located eighteen kilometers west of the center of Belgrade. The airport is easily accessible by rental car via the highway E70 (Belgrade - Zagreb). The exit to the airport is clearly signposted.