The city of Belgrade in Serbia has quite the reputation, and to many travelers it’s known for its budget nightlife. But Belgrade is much more than just a place to party and drink. It’s a city with one foot in the past and the other in the present, making it an essential stop on a good Balkans itinerary.
As the largest city in the Balkans and a destination full of character and culture, Belgrade is ideal for a Balkans city break. The best places to visit in Belgrade range from historical landmarks, to monumental modern places of worship, to more local experiences. To get the most out of your visit, follow our Belgrade itinerary and we’ll show you exactly what to do in Belgrade in 2 days.
Best Time to Visit Belgrade
Much like any other destination you visit, timing is everything when it comes to making the most of your 48 hours in Belgrade. When working out the best time to visit Belgrade, you need to factor in both the weather and when the high and low seasons are. This is because Belgrade experiences four seasons, but in a more extreme way than what you might be used to.
High season in Belgrade hits during the months of July through September, with exhaustively hot days. Unlike other parts of Europe, Belgrade’s summers tend to linger through to September. Since this is outside of the typical European high season, it can be a good time to go if you are looking for warm weather.
A better time to visit though is during shoulder season when good weather and lower tourist numbers make visiting more comfortable and affordable. In this case, look to visit during the months of April through June or even as late as October. Not so appealing however is traveling to Belgrade during winter, as even the occasional Christmas market can’t make up for short days and bitter cold.
How to Get Around Belgrade
Belgrade is not only a big city, but is actually the largest city in the Balkans. Fortunately, you’ll mostly be sticking to the historical center and downtown area, so you won’t have much need to make your way right across the city. Chances are you’ll spend most of your time visiting Belgrade on foot.
There are times however, where you may want to use public transport to make getting around easier. For that, Belgrade has a fleet of buses, trolleybuses, and various tram routes that will help you get around the city. The city has 11 different tram lines, including the Line 2 tram which follows a circular route around the city’s Old Town. Most likely though, you’ll be making use of the city’s many buses, with an important stop for many buses being Zeleni Venac by the market. The “Bus Plus” card works across each of the city’s networks and can be bought at kiosks throughout town. Prices start at 89 RSD for a ticket which lasts 90 minutes.
If you’re flying into Belgrade Airport, know that the airport is around 20 kilometers outside of the city. The easiest way to get into the city center is with the A1 airport shuttle bus that runs between every 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the time of day. Journey time to the city takes about 45 minutes, tickets cost 300 RSD and luggage space is limited. Your other option is to either take a taxi or arrange a private transfer.
Where to Stay in Belgrade
For your weekend in Belgrade, you’re going to want to find somewhere conveniently located to stay. Typically, the best places to stay in Belgrade are those which put you right among all the attractions you plan on visiting. That way, you can comfortably walk to many of the sights mentioned in our itinerary without resorting to public transport.
In terms of where to stay in Belgrade, neighborhoods to consider are those which put you in the heart of the downtown area. Anywhere in Stari Grad is a good bet, but places close to the Terazije and Skadarlija neighborhoods are even more ideal. That way, you not only have sights nearby but good options for dining as well.
A hotel which manages to suit many different budgets is the Life Design Hotel just up the road from Terazije Square. With comfortable rooms and huge suites, this 4-star hotel caters to many needs, while pampering guests with its huge spa area.
If you’re looking for somewhere with a bit more space, consider renting an apartment on Airbnb. Apartments there are often cheaper than your average hotel and come with facilities such as a kitchen to help you cut down on costs. For apartment recommendations check out our list of the best Airbnbs in Belgrade.
Belgrade is the perfect city for those on a budget too, with many options for cheap accommodation from party hostels to more cozy ones. A perfect example of a clean and quiet hostel is White Owl Hostel, which also boasts a great location and friendly staff.
For more accommodation options in Belgrade check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 2-Day Belgrade Itinerary
A city full of fascinating attractions and fun things to do, you’re really going to need to plan ahead for your time in Belgrade. And that’s where this itinerary comes in. With our guide, we’ll take you through all the best things to do in Belgrade, starting with the historic Stari Grad district before moving on to the downtown area. By moving around the city, you’ll get a sense of Belgrade’s past as well as what makes the modern city tick.
However, before we get to our Belgrade itinerary, we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and, trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
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Now that you can travel knowing you’ll be covered should the worst happen, let’s get to the good stuff – our Belgrade travel itinerary and all the fantastic things you can do with 2 days in Belgrade.
Day 1 in Belgrade
To ease our way into the visit, we’re going to start with the sights around Belgrade’s historic Stari Grad. Not only will you see the best of Belgrade in terms of historical sights, but also where locals go to have fun.
Recommendation: If you want to learn a little bit more about the history of Belgrade, consider taking a walking tour with a local guide. Our favorite walking tours are the Panoramic City Tour and the Red Belgrade Communist Tour.
Running right through the middle of Belgrade’s historic center is the pedestrian street of Kneza Mihaila. There’s little doubt that you’ll walk along this street at least once during your visit. That’s partly because of the many shops and cafes you’ll find along it and down its side streets and passages, but it’s also because it links up several of Belgrade’s main attractions.
But the other part is that the street is lined with some of the city’s grandest buildings, with all sorts of impressive baroque, art deco, and art nouveau architecture elegantly lining the street. The architecture really gives you the sense that Belgrade was once a pretty major player in Europe back in the day.
A major landmark in Belgrade with a lot of historical importance is the imposing Belgrade Fortress which overlooks the Danube and Sava rivers. The city of Belgrade really started on the site of the current fortress, well before even the Romans arrived and seized control. Today though, you can freely tour the fortress, exploring its various historical remnants, including several Ottoman-style buildings and the Ružica Church.
The most popular spots though are those which overlook the rivers like the Vista Point where the Victor Monument stands proudly. You may want to consider coming back one evening to watch the sunset here.
Surrounding the fortress is the vast Kalemegdan Park. This large public park has lots of paths weaving through it and is always lively with people catching up on park benches or just strolling around. Just on the outside of the fortress you’ll find the Military Museum, it’s hard to miss with its tanks and heavy artillery around its walls. Further off in the park, places that may hold more appeal for families, include the Amusement Park and Belgrade Zoo.
St Michael’s Cathedral
Just off the southern end of Kalemegdan Park, you’ll find one of Belgrade’s most important places of worship, St Michael’s Cathedral. This orthodox church dates from around 1840, something that is rare from that time in Belgrade. With its distinctive tower with golden flourishes, it’s an easy landmark to spot among the city’s skyline. There’s more gold to be found inside the church too among its icons and reliefs. Even more important though are the relics and graves, including the grave of Prince Miloš Obrenović and relics of Stefan Uroš V the Serbian saint and emperor.
Princess Ljubica’s Residence
Just across the road from the Cathedral you’ll come to the sight of Princess Ljubica’s Residence. This very Balkan-looking palace was built in 1830 for the family of Miloš Obrenović, the Prince of Serbia. Given its grand purpose and how well preserved the palace is, it has become an important historical and cultural monument in Serbia. A visit inside allows you to see the interesting mix of Ottoman and Serbian influences from the time.
Although it may not be apparent, the official central town square of Belgrade is the Terazije Square. Sitting alongside a major road which passes through the city center, it’s really not much of a square, but still has a few interesting spots to note. Although first there’s the stone Terazije Fountain, the more interesting sight here is the large Hotel Moskva and its intriguing art nouveau architecture. With many green ornaments around the facade and roof, it’s a design that immediately captures your attention.
Briefly walk northeast from Terazije and you reach one of Belgrade’s most popular neighborhoods, Skadarlija. With cobblestone streets, this car free area is Belgrade’s bohemian quarter which has stayed the same as the city has changed around it. Once much larger, the vintage area now mostly focuses on Skadarska Street and a few side streets. With greenery everywhere, colorful flower arrangements, and large murals it makes a bold contrast to elsewhere in Belgrade. Much of Skadarska Street is lined with restaurants that while touristy, are still pretty good value.
Riverfront Bars and Clubs
Of course, Belgrade is best known for its nightlife so as the day starts to end that’s likely where your attention is going to head. The best place to head for your night out is down to the riverfront barges and boats, known as splavovi, which line the Sava and Danube Rivers. With restaurants, bars, and clubs all floating on the water, this is Belgrade’s unique approach to night-time fun. There’s a huge range of venues, so you’re bound to find something your speed, and best of all it’s affordable like most things in Belgrade.
Day 2 in Belgrade
With your second day in the city, it’s time to explore a little further from Belgrade’s Stari Grad and get some culture along the way.
Since this wasn’t on the itinerary for day one, it’s important that day two starts with the Republic Square. Just off Kneza Mihaila this square really makes you feel like you’re in the very center of Belgrade. Surrounded in a mix of elegant historic buildings as well as socialist-era ones, you get the classic mix of Belgrade’s architecture. Two of the nicer buildings here are the National Theatre and National Museum of Serbia, both overlooking the mounted Monument to Prince Mihailo. With people constantly passing through and filling the outdoor areas of nearby cafes and restaurants, this is a great place to feel the energy of the city.
National Museum of Serbia
With the National Museum of Serbia right in front of you, head in for your first chance to delve into Serbian culture. Inside you’ll find exhibits that explore both Serbia’s history as well as Serbian art. On display you’ll find archaeological artifacts which reveal Serbia’s history, including pieces which show the impact of the Greeks and Romans on the region. As for the art, there are galleries full of Serbian art, pieces from the wider Balkans, and galleries on “Foreign Art” from elsewhere in Europe. If it fits into your schedule, visit on a Sunday when the museum has free entry.
Markets are always a good way to see what life is like for locals, so for your next stop, head to the Zeleni Vanac farmers market. While the checkered red and white pavilion roofs are an unusual sight, down below you’ll find grocers selling fruits and vegetables, as well as bakeries serving up all sorts of excellent Balkan pastries.
Heading back up past Terazije, you’ll soon come to a pair of grand old buildings which were actually each palaces for two different royal families. Called the Old Palace and the New Palace, they’re an interesting pair, but not quite as lovely as the magnificent National Assembly which you reach by walking past them through Pionirski Park. Home to the Serbian parliament, you can’t go inside this stately Beaux-Arts building, but can appreciate its beauty from the street.
Church of Saint Mark
Just a short walk from the National Assembly is the Church of St Mark, another of Belgrade’s churches which shouldn’t be missed. As a relatively modern church, it may lack a little history, but its large frame and Neo-Byzantine design make it quite the sight. Head inside to see the frescoes and icons which line its interior.
Nikola Tesla Museum
Likely one of the most famous Serbians in the western world is famed inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. Given that, it seems only right to visit the city’s museum named in his honor, and pay your respects to the great man. Yes, the remains of Nikola Tesla are actually held at this museum, inside a golden sphere on display. The actual exhibits of the museum chronicle the life of Tesla and offer interactive displays which let you explore the focus of his work, electricity, through various faithful reproductions.
Church of St. Sava
While you’ve seen a few churches so far, none are quite like the Church of St Sava. This enormous domed church is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and is dedicated to the founder of the Serbian Orthodox church. Standing outside, it’s hard not to be impressed by the gleaming white stone and sheer size of the church. Somehow the church feels even larger from the inside and you won’t believe how grand and exquisite the crypts are down below.
Zemun and Novi Beograd
Having spent so much time on just one side of the rivers, let’s head across the Sava River to explore some other parts of the city such as Zemun and Novi Beograd. Once a town of its own, Zemun was incorporated into Belgrade when Novi Beograd, the new part of the city, went through development. Both districts provide visitors a little insight into what Belgrade is like for local life, away from the busy city center. This can be a welcome change of pace.
As you go you may notice a few buildings here and there which still show damage from the 1999 NATO bombings. A little nicer though is Zemunski Kej, a promenade which runs along the Danube and is one of the more popular spots in Zemun. You may also want to visit the Gardoš Tower in Zemun, as it boasts not only an interesting design, but also a small exhibit on local history and a nice view out over the nearby rivers. Both being big districts, there’s a lot more to do in each of them, but those are some places to start.
There ends your guide to the Serbian capital. We’re confident that by following this itinerary you’ll get a great feel for Belgrade in 2 days and come away glad you went.
Have more than 2 days in Belgrade? Check out our article on the best day trips from Belgrade next.