Let me spell it out quite clearly from the beginning – I was absolutely amazed by Belgrade in Serbia.
Honestly, I had quite limited expectations about this city (and Serbia in general), which were almost entirely due to the fact I’d failed to do any research and was therefore appalling ignorant about the whole place!
But while there’s no excuse for this, there are some benefits to having no – low expectations of a place – namely that it can result in a massive and delightful surprise when you get there!
And so it was with Belgrade, the riverside vibrant capital of Serbia, which is literally awash with photogenic streets, cafes from another era, gorgeous views, next-level nightlife and the best city public park I’ve ever been to.
Plus it’s CRAZY cheap.
What’s not to love?
Here’s my list of the 13 best things to do in Belgrade…
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My stay in Belgrade was kindly sponsored by ArkaBarka Hostel but, as always, all views are my own.
#1 Take in the Views from Kalemegdan
Probably the most touristy part in untouristy Belgrade, and therefore still not very touristy at all, I was delighted to head to this city’s historic fortress and find, not an entrance fee to a worthless and stuffy museum, but a FREE hilltop park, surrounded by ruins, gorgeous views and lots of locals chilling and walking their dogs!
While there are several exhibitions here you can pay to see, this is exactly the sort of fortress I’m all about personally – one that combines history with living use and a nice place for some Instagram snaps on the side!
As such, heading to the location of 115 battles (apparently) that has been destroyed 40 times (seriously) and where the Celts, Roman, Turks and Austro-Hungarians have all left their marks, is definitely one of the best things to do in Belgrade.
#2 Espresso it Up in Character-Filled Cafes
While I love a hipster café as much as the next millennial with a flat white and avocado addiction, but one thing I did find delightfully refreshing about Belgrade was the lack of identikit cafes that all offer good seating and exposed lightbulbs but little soul.
Instead, what you find as you wander the streets of the Serbian capital are an amazing range of coffee shops that look like they’ve changed little since the times of communism in this part of the world.
Atmospheric Centrala had to be my favourite, where a double espresso is the order of the day.
And while you can get fresh juice here, you can forget non-dairy milks and cortados!
In fact, you can forget these in Serbia all together, making this country all the more charming for it!
And if you’re not a smoker, then can I suggest taking a table outside at every Serbian café – there’s not even a whiff of a legislated smoking ban here!
#3 People Watch in Many Parks
Belgrade is an amazingly green city and hanging out in one of the well-tended parks and gardens during your time in the city is certainly one of the best things to do in Belgrade.
And, of course it’s free, which always helps!
It’s also very relaxing and offers great people-watching opportunities, summer or winter, when locals descend out of their apartments to grab some fresh air and catch up with friends.
I loved the Student Park, situated on the edge of the Dorćol part of the city, which had a lively atmosphere and even some free English info boards about the trees and plants in the garden – oh lovely!
#4 Do Some Bonkers Bar Hopping
Everyone knows, or at least you do now, that Belgrade is famous for its chaotic and energetic nightlife, with clubs open until dawn every night of the week.
The city has a young, vibrant and progressive youth culture that fuels this, and for those of us travelling from western Europe, the US, Australia or New Zealand, the cost of a fun night out in Serbia can seem ludicrously cheap!
All of this makes bar-hopping one of the best things to do in Belgrade and you’re sure to come away with a ton of Serbian friends after just a few drinks too!
Sunset views are hard to beat from Boho Bar, which is located in Kalemegdan and was recommended to me by a lovely local over on IG!
Otherwise, a lot of the action centres on pedestrianised Skadarska, but personally I found this street a tourist-ridden turn off.
Instead, I suggest heading to the surrounding streets and suburbs for a more local and genuine feel, in particular, the famous Drugstore Club can’t be missed!
Savamala is another top area, but more about that in #10!
And if you’re interested in discovering some of Belgrade’s best local watering holes, then why not take a highly recommended Belgrade beer tour and learn a bit of Serbian history while you’re at it… 2 birds, 1 stone? I think so!
#5 Discover Hidden Barge Bars
Or, better than heading to the streets for a drink – why not head to the river?
And no, I’m not talking about all the commercial bars that line the waterfront in Novi Belgrade, nor the nightclub barges known as splavovi that cram themselves along the banks of the Sava River either.
Instead, I’m talking about some of the local, down-to-earth secrets, frequented only by a certain arty and alternative set.
Yes below Kalemegdan and across the river from here, are some secret boat cafes and bars, where kicking off your shoes, grabbing a cheap beer and a delicious homecooked lunch amidst a ramshackle décor will give you a real flavour of a very different sort of Belgrade bar.
Yaram / Jaram was my fav!
You can also take a sightseeing boat cruise with drinks while in Belgrade – lasting 2 hours this is a great way to see the city in my opinion. Learn more and book here.
#6 Stay in a Floating Hostel
And sticking with the alternative theme, another of the absolute must-do things in Belgrade is stay in a floating hostel.
Yes, just along the river, and with Kalemegdan clearly in sight, is an incredible barge hostel, that is certainly one of the most unique and fun places I’ve stayed in any city ever!
Arkabarka Floating Hostel is a gorgeous backpackers that boasts beautiful private and dorm rooms, all with unique hand-painted walls, days beds and delightful views.
Its quiet setting makes it super peaceful and its communal area, where free breakfast is served, gives the most delightful river views.
Sun yourself or catch a breeze from the wooden deck in summer or snuggle up in the free sauna during winter; either way, the top location, free bike hire and excellent wifi in this hostel make it a top pick for your Belgrade accommodation.
And it’s easy to get to, just hop on the number #84 or #15 bus from the central local bus station Zeleni Venac.
#7 Relax at the Amazing Ada
Let me be really clear here, Ada Ciganlija is perhaps the most amazing city park I’ve been in… ever!
Essentially a whole island seemingly designated to improving the quality of life of Belgrade’s citizens, this gorgeous spot boasts walking tracks, cycling tracks, tennis courts, sport pitches, playgrounds, gardens, bars, cafes, watersport opps galore, not to mention a riverside beach and clean swimming in the Danube.
It is nothing short of pure delight, especially in the summer, when locals flock here for a good time in this landlocked country.
And I highly suggest you do the same – it is without question one of the best things to do in Belgrade and is, again, totally free.
Grab the number #52 or #53 bus here from the central local bus station, known as Zeleni Venac.
#8 Dine Out & Delight in Zemun
Incredibly well-connected by public transport, Belgrade is both easy and cheap to get around – another reason it’s a delight for travellers.
And on this note, getting out of the centre to some of the surrounding suburbs is definitely one of the best things to do in Belgrade.
And it’s hard to top the lovely, riverside area of Zemun – situated about 3km out from Novi Belgrade (and easily accessible by bus if you’re staying at ArkaBarka Hostel).
Zemun feels very relaxed and coming to explore the views from the hilltop church, wander the cobbled streets and enjoy dinner alongside the water here makes for a lovely excursion from gritty Belgrade.
#9 Take a Walking Tour
I love a free walking tour at the best of times, and the one I did in Belgrade was no exception thanks to the great informative guide and fantastic intro to the city it gave.
The Belgrade Free Walking Tour Company actually runs 3 free tours and their flagship one – The Free Downtown Tour – departs every day at 11am and 4pm.
#10 Cycle Savamala
The 10th entry on my list of the best things to do in Belgrade is to cycle this city, in particular Savamala, which is a newly regenerated district full of bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs that line the Sava river.
With designated cycle tracks, it’s a great place to cruise along, people watch, and is delightfully flat.
After that, head across the Brankov Bridge and continue your cycle through the huge Park Prijateljstva, where you’ll be joined by locals rollerblading, running, dog walking and skateboarding!
You can, of course, grab your bikes for free if you stay at ArkaBarka Hostel and this makes a fab way to enjoy Belgrade on a budget.
#11 Take a Wine Tour
A wine tour I hear you cry? In Serbia?
Well yes, I thought the same thing, but it turns out this excellent walking and wine tour is a massive hit!
3 hours, 6 wines and with a good dollop of Serbian cultural insight on the side, the fact that you get some snacks thrown in too only cements the deal in my mind!
Organised in a maximum group size of 15 people, this is also a great way to get to know Belgrade and to meet other travellers.
#12 Day Trip to Novi Sad
On number 12 of my list of the top things to do in Belgrade, it’s time to take a day trip!
Situated less than a couple of hours away is the mega-cute city of Novi Sad, which was named the European City of Culture in 2022.
Home to the famous EXIT festival, at other times of the year Novi Sad is a much quieter affair, but I won’t spoil the surprise any further for you now.
Instead, discover all about this city in the ultimate travel guide I wrote about visiting it here.
Otherwise, check out this top-rated Novi Sad day trip which runs from Belgrade and includes an accommodation pick-up, an English-speaking guide and a wine tour.
#12 Explore the East of Serbia
The east of Serbia, which is accessible as part of a day trip from Belgrade, is a fascinating part of the country that, in my opinion, should not be missed if you’re in Belgrade.
The centre of the Mediaeval Serbian Kingdom, there’s monasteries a-go-go here and checking out at least a couple of them is a must.
Ravanica and Manasija monasteries are the big hitters thanks to their beautiful architecture and frescoes.
But natural attractions are also plentiful in this region, in particular, the oldest cave in Serbia – Resava Cave – and some lovely nearby waterfalls, are stand-out spots.
If you want a hire a car to make this day trip, then check out DiscoverCars, otherwise this great-rated day trip is another easy option for those who want to sit back and have someone else organise everything for them.
Belgrade Mini Travel Guide
How to Get to Belgrade?
If you’re already in eastern Europe, then it’s easiest to take a train or bus from a neighbouring country to Serbia (aside from Kosovo of course).
As always, I booked all my coach and rail tickets in Eastern Europe using Omio, as they make comparing trips, times and prices really easy in English.
Alternatively, you can also drive to Belgrade and if you’re looking to pick up a good rental deal in Serbia, have a look at Discover Cars.
You can also fly into Belgrade’s airport and I suggest using Skyscanner to find the best deals on flights.
How to Get Around Belgrade?
With a small city centre, it’s easy to navigate Belgrade on foot.
There’s also a great tram and bus system here, which you can pay for onboard using contactless.
Where to Stay in Belgrade?
If you’re looking for a budget accommodation option in this capital, then Arkabarka Floating Hostel is my pick – read my review above for more info.
For something with a bit more comfort and space, take a look at Apartment Petra 071, which get great reviews thanks to its location, comfort and value for money.
Packing Essentials for Belgrade
#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Belgrade and will need a good camera to do this unique city justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!
#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Belgrade, it’s as simple as that! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. I love mine.
#3 Good Water Bottle – All the city sightseeing is thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because Serbian tap water is drinkable… and free!
#4 Good Backpack – And to carry your water bottle, camera and guidebook, you’re going to need a decent backpack that will help you balance the weight as you walk the city streets. In my opinion, you can’t go past the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack, which is also perfect for helping you avoid pickpockets too.
Travel Insurance for Serbia
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
Recommended Tours of Serbia
If the sound of Belgrade appeals to you, but you don’t want to travel here independently, then check out these top-rated tours of the country as they give you the chance to meet other others and adventure with a guide.
Travel Money in Serbia
When it comes to paying for things in Serbia, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise Card away with me wherever I travel.
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card here… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold!
Get yours here.
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So there you have it, my list of the 13 best things to do in Belgrade.
Honestly, it’s hard to beat this city for fun and price, making it a mecca for travellers everywhere!
When are going?
Tell me all in the comments box below…