Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Belgrade, Serbia, along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Belgrade, also known as Beograd, is the capital of Serbia and one of the oldest capitals in Europe. It is beautifully located right where the Danube river and Sava river meet, which has been a strategic location for centuries.
“The White City” features a rich history that goes back to at least 7000 years B.C. Since then, numerous civilizations and cultures have conquered and rule over this area, including Celts, Romans, Slavs, Ottomans, The Habsburgs.
Belgrade was also the capital of Yugoslavia from 1918 until its dissolution. Despite its cultural heritage and history, the city is often forgotten when talking about European city destinations. However, those who visit will be pleasantly surprised.
In this article, I’m sharing some of the best places to visit in Belgrade as well as activities and attractions that shouldn’t be missed.
St. Sava Temple
One of the spiritual hotspots of Belgrade is the St. Sava Temple. It is named after Saint Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox church and one of the most influential Serbians in the medieval times.
The church is a great example of the Byzantine Revival Architecture. An interesting aspect of the St. Sava Temple is that despite it being initially opened to the public in 1935, there is construction work being done.
In recent years, the Serbian church collected funds to finish the interior decoration of the church. When visiting, make sure not to miss the crypt of Saint Sava and the grave of the medieval Prince Lazar, both are located in the basement of this fascinating building. The white marble walls and mosaics are some other famous features of St. Sava Temple.
On the scenic confluence of the rivers Danube and Sava lie one of the city’s most visited tourist attraction, the Belgrade Fortress. Thanks to its location on a hill, 125m above sea level, it offers great views over the surrounding neighborhoods.
The construction of the fortress initially started in the first century BC when Romans, Celtics, Goths, and Huns fought gruesome battles to gain control of the region.
Over the centuries the fortress was destroyed and rebuilt countless times and stands as a great symbol for the history of Belgrade. Today the entrance to the Belgrade Fortress is free and visitors have access to the Upper and Lower Town of the Fortress, as well as the Kalemegdan Park.
Ada Ciganlija, a peninsula in the Sava river, serves as the city’s main recreational area. Immensely popular amongst residents and tourists alike, the peninsula feels like a true oasis and offers plenty of beaches, sports facilities, and inviting open-air bars and restaurants.
What makes Ada Ciganlija unique is that because of the strict protection of its thick forests, a protected wilderness can be found right in the middle of a major European metropolis. Ada, as the peninsula is commonly called, is a true getaway from the hustle and bustle of Belgrade.
Visiting museums and churches in the morning and relaxing on a beach surrounded by wilderness in the afternoon is something not many European capitals offer. If you enjoy a good adrenaline rush, you can also go bungee jumping or scuba dive!
Nikola Tesla Museum
The Nikola Tesla Museum is highlighting another aspect of the rich history of Belgrade. The famous engineer is best known for his contributions to the development of the alternating current electricity supply system and his invention of the AC induction motor.
The museum, housed in a historic villa, is an attractive destination for anyone with an interest in science. Many of the inventions and patents made by Tesla are on display in the galleries of the museum.
Visitors can also learn a lot about Nikola Tesla’s development as a scientist and person. The museum uses modern technology to present the exhibition that makes it even more enjoyable and interesting.
Avala Tower is an impressive example of Belgrade’s troubled past. The 204-meters high telecommunication tower was originally built in 1965 and is located on Mount Avala, a few kilometers south of the city.
What makes it so iconic is that in 1999, NATO bombings, aimed at stopping transmissions from Radio Television Serbia, the tower got destroyed. It was rebuilt five years later, and in 2010 it finally reopened for the public.
This makes the tower a great symbol of Belgrade’s revival. Today the highlight of visiting the tower is obviously the observation deck which allows fantastic views over Belgrade and its surroundings.
Other than that you can also make use of the newly opened tourist complex that offers a restaurant, a gallery, and even an outdoor gym. Even though the tower is not located directly in the city center, it is still easy to get here. You can reach the Avala Tower by bus or joining a guided city tour.
Visitors who enjoy opera, ballet, and drama shouldn’t miss the National Theatre. The theatre initially opened in 1869 and reminds of the famous La Scala in Milan. The theatre is located on the Republic Square, close to the National Museum and the statue of Prince Michael.
Remarkably, the National Theater remained open during the NATO-bombings of Belgrade. At certain times of the day, usually between 3 pm and 6 pm, residents of the city were able to watch ballet and opera for only 1 dinar (the currency of former Yugoslavia).
This made the National Theatre one of the only places where the residents could go to take their minds off the troubling reality during the air raids against Belgrade.
If you are interested in experiencing the excellent acoustics of the Belgrade National Theatre you can purchase tickets from one of the ticket vendors in the city or simply go online and order your tickets. Shows are available several times a week.
The Skadarlija neighborhood is one of the most charismatic areas of Belgrade. Many poets and artists have come to Skadarlija in the 20th century, making it a hotspot for culture.
Even today, the historic urban architecture is very well preserved. Few other places in Belgrade are as attractive for a leisurely stroll as the 400-meter long Skadarska Street.
If you wanted to, you could spend an entire day exploring the various art galleries and souvenir shops on this street. This area is also great for dining, and there are several excellent restaurant that serve traditional Serbian cuisine. Many well-known hotels are also located in this area. All this makes Skadarlija one of the best places to visit in Belgrade.
Belgrade Military Museum
The Belgrade Military Museum is another place in the city where you can learn more about its history. The museum is located in the Belgrade Fortress, which makes it a perfect stop when visiting this part of the city.
Not only does the museum depict military history dating back to the ancient times of the Roman empire, but it also gives some insights to the recent Yugoslavia conflict with its exhibition about the NATO-bombings.
The famous US stealth bomber F-117 shot down by a Serbian missile system, is also part of the exhibitions. Especially the more recent past makes the Belgrade Military Museum much more than just an interesting destination for history buffs.
Knez Mihailova Street
The Knez Mihailova Street is a pedestrian zone that connects the Kalemegdan Park and Republic Square. In 1979, the Knez Mihailova Street was included in the list of ”Spatial Cultural-Historical Units of Great Importance”.
This comes as no surprise considering the number of architectural treasures that can be seen along this famous street. The real draw of the Knez Mihailova however is the people that frequent this area.
Every day thousands of residents pass through the Knez Mihailova, making it one of the liveliest streets of Belgrade. The central location of the street and the many shops, cafes, and restaurants act make it a great meeting point for residents and tourists alike.
Museum of Illusions
The local branch of the Museum of Illusions offers a variety of visual, sensual, and even educational experiences that allow you to totally unwind and forget about the real world for a while.
Some of the illusions that can be seen here include a “clone table”, the “infinity well” and several holograms. Visiting the Museum of Illusions is one of the best things to do in Belgrade with kids.
Crkva Svetog Marka
Crkva Svetog Marka is an impressive representative of the Orthodox faith. It is located in the Tašmajdan-Park and is the second biggest church of Serbia, right behind the St. Sava Temple.
It is a great example of Neo-Byzantine architecture that was built between 1931 and 1940. A number of influential figures of Serbia’s history are buried here, including the Serbian tsar Stefan Dušan.
Residence of Princess Ljubica
The palace of Princess Ljubica is a place of great historical and cultural significance. The construction of the building was supervised by Hadži-Neimar, the chief builder of the Serbian Prince Miloš Obrenović, and ended in 1830.
The Serbian Prince intended for the building to act as a home for his wife and children. The design of the building is reflective of the typical Serbian-Balkan city-house design and offers visitors an interesting glimpse into the life of the Serbian monarchs of the 19th century.
Visitors can access the insides of the house and experience the well-preserved furniture and interior design of the palace. Due to its historical significance, the Residence of Princess Ljubica was designated as a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979.
Museum of Yugoslav History
The Museum of Yugoslav History is the most visited museum of Serbia and another main attraction in Belgrade. The grave of the famous Communist revolutionary Tito is located in one of its buildings.
Personal belongings and even the personal desk of Josip Broz Tito are also exhibited. The Museum of Yugoslav History is a great place to educate yourself about the history of the country.
The size of the museum (5253m²) alone makes it a very impressive monument of the times. It also features a 3.2-hectare park, which is also quite nice for a relaxing walk.
Stari Dvor and Novi Dvo
The Stari Dvor (Old Palace) is the former residence of the Obrenović dynasty. Today, however, the building houses the City Assembly of Belgrade. You can sign up for a visit inside the Stari Dvor at one of the numerous tourist stands that can be found all around Belgrade.
Together with the Novi Dvor (New Palace, the seat of the president of Serbia), this area is a must-visit during your time in Belgrade. The Novi Dvor also hosts a museum that can be visited from Monday to Saturday.
It is here that you can feel the political heart of the young Republic of Serbia. Next to the Stari Dvor and Novi Dvor complex is the Pionirski park, which acts as a great place to cool down and relax after experiencing the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of the city center.
Watch a local football game
Football fans will immediately recognize the name “Marakana” (related to the famous Brazilian stadium) and remember some of the exciting international cup finals that were played at the Rajko Mitić Stadium.
The stadium serves as the home of Red Star Belgrade and has a seating capacity of 53.000. Stadion Partizana is the city’s other football stadium, with a capacity of 29,775. This is where Partizan Belgrade is playing their home games.
Football in Belgrade and Serbia overall is a very passionate affair and attending a game is a great way to experience the football culture of the country. The pinnacle of this footballing madness can be experienced during the derbies of Red Star Belgrade and their rival Partizan Belgrade.
However, the football games are not the only attraction, but also the crowds in the stands cheering their team on with a passion and enthusiasm that is hard to find elsewhere in Europe.
Want more recommendations on things to do in Belgrade, Serbia? Leave a comment below!