Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is not at the top of many tourists’ travel lists. However, we visited this city and really loved it! Let me share my favorite spots with you.
1. Kalemegdan Fortress
Kalemegdan Fortress, built in 279 BC, is one of the nicest places to visit in Belgrade. The fortress is located in a strategic position at the confluence of the Savva and the Danube rivers.
The Kalemegdan Fortress consists of several areas where you can explore remnants of different historical periods and people who controlled the area: Romans, Turks, Austro-Hungarians, and, of course, Serbs.
For instance, there are underground tunnels dug by Romans, different weapons and war machines that belong to the Military Museum exposition, and the observational desk. Ružica Church, a Serbian Orthodox church, also located within the grounds of the Belgrade Fortress, was desecrated by Ottomans and renovated in 1925.
DinoPark “Jura Avantura” is another surprising part of this historical area: it’s a park area for kids with life-size figures of dinosaurs and with a sandpit where you can feel like an archeologist and discover some fossils!
2. Pobednik Monument
Famous Pobednik, or the Victor monument, rises above the city from the Kalemegdan Fortress. It was erected in 1928 to mark the victories of Serbia over Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian rule and the First World War. The design was produced by Ivan Meštrović.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most recognizable landmarks of Belgrade – you can see its images everywhere! And the views from the observational desk below the monument is fantastic.
3. Zemun and Gardoš Tower
Zemun used to be a separate town until it became a part of Belgrade in 1934. This area was first mentioned in the 12th centiry in the Byzatine documents, and the ruins of the walls date back to the 14-15th centuries.
Gardos Tower, at the heart of the Old Town of Zemun district, was opened on the 20th of August 1896 to commemorate 1000 years of Hungarian settlement on this site – that’s why it’s also known as the Millennium Tower.
The view from it is the best I’ve seen in Belgrade! You can spot Danube river, Pupin bridge and St Dimitri church from here as well as the beautiful red tiled roofs. There is a cafe and a restaurant at the tower’s foot if you’re interested.
4. Knez Mihailova Street
Knez Mihailova Street, or Prince Michail Street, is one of the main tourist streets in Belgrade.
It’s pedestrianized and lined up with shops, souvenir tills, and cafes located in the gorgeous historical buildings. I can’t say that this is the most exciting street I’ve ever seen; however, I especially loved the book shops there and the arts and crafts indoor market.
There’s also a large modern shopping center, Rajićeva Shopping Center, right a minute away from where Knez Mihailova Street meets Kalemegdan Park.
5. Republic Square
Republic Square just steps away from Knez Mihailova Street, is one of the main squares of Belgrade. The equestrian Monument to Prince Mihailo, erected in 1882, was realized by Italian sculptor Enrico Pazzi. Other landmarks located on the square are the National Museum and National Theatre, and we also witnessed a small demonstration there.
Another famous Belgrade landmark not far from Republic Square is the Skadarlija neighborhood. However, it’s not really easily accessible with a stroller because of the cobbled streets.
6. Museum of Nikola Tesla
The Nikola Tesla Museum is dedicated to probably the most famous Serbian person in the world. However, we found it impossible to enter it. We came there at 6.40pm, although the museum closed at 8pm, and they told us that they give priority to group tours: they had a tour booked for 7pm, so they couldn’t let us in.
You can’t book online tickets either. I’ve never heard of a system like this (and I travel a lot as you know) – and they simply advised us to come tomorrow and to hope that there won’t be any groups coming. I don’t think many tourists have time for mobility like this.
7. House of Flowers
The House of Flowers is the final resting place of Marshal Josip Broz Tito (1892–1980), the president of Yugoslavia, and his wife Jovanka Broz (1924–2013). Tito constructed it as a greenhouse near his Residence and asked to be buried there.
I’d expect something like Lenin or Mao Zedong mausoleum, but surprisingly, it’s nothing like this: the body is covered by marble, and overall, it really looks more like a greenhouse than a mausoleum of a political leader.
8. Museum of Yugoslavia
There are a few rooms in the Museum of Yugoslavia where you can explore the gifts presented to the Marshal, some historical events of Yugoslavia, and local traditions. The space is called ‘Museum laboratory’ because as they say, they need to reconstruct the living in Yugislavia from diverse perspectives to understand thos phenomena.
It is located in the Sculpture Park alongside the Mausoleum and the iconic Museum of the 25th of May (currently under reconstruction), built by Mihajlo Janković in 1962. I must say that overall this is a very modern and interesting museum area overall so I’d definitely recommend you to visit it!
9.Yugoslav Ministry of Defence building
The Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s were tragic years in the history of those lands previously united as Yugoslavia and now known as independent countries of Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, (North) Macedonia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although Belgrade wasn’t the main site of the military actions, it still was touched by war.
The Yugoslav Ministry of Defence building, or Yugoslav General Staff, was designed by Serbian architect Nikola Dobrović and built between 1957 and 1965. It consisted of buildings A and B and was considered a fine example of post-war Serbian architecture. The Yugoslav Ministry of Defence was bombed by NATO in April 1999 (it might be more of a symbolic gesture) and now is left as a monument to those events.
10.St. Sava Temple
The Church of Saint Sava is a Serbian Orthodox Church dedicated to St Savva the Enlightener who lived in the 12-13 centuries, the country’s patron saint. And this church is one of the largest churches in the world!
The church was built on the Vračar plateau: this is the site where St Savva’s holy remains were burned by Ottoman Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha in 1595 while the country was under Ottomans. After Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was converted from a museum to a functioning mosque just a few years ago, local authorities hoped that St Savva church would virtually replace Hagia Sophia.
The church’s construction started in 1935 and is still not finished.
11. Princess Ljubica’s Residence
Princess Ljubica’s Residence is the palace Miloš Obrenović, Prince of Serbia, built for his wife Princess Ljubica and their sons in 1829-1830 (the old palace was located.
The Obrenović family was a powerful Serbian family who ruled the country from 1815 – 1842 and then again from 1858 – 1903, and the best Serbian artists were involved in construction of this residence to showcase the power of new Serbian state. Princess Ljubica played an important role in the political life of the country too.
It has very nice interiors heavily influenced by the Ottoman style, although Serbia had a very turbulent relationship with the Ottoman Empire: there’s even a hammam room in the Residence!
12.Kafana Znak Pitanja
Kafana is a general name for a traditional Balkan tavern, and Kafana Znak Pitanja, or “?” is the most famous one in Belgrade! The building dates to 1823: it was commissioned by Prince of Serbia Miloš Obrenović I and built (with Greek influences) by diplomat Naum Ičko who converted it into a kafana. And yes, it’s located a minute away from Princess Ljubica’s Residence, also commissioned by him.
It is now considered a cultural monument. It might be an important historical landmark; however, I might note that the food is far from the best I tried in Belgrade.
13. Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel
Just across the street from the Residence, there’s the Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel, also known simply as the Cathedral. It’s another Serbian Orthodox church built in neoclassical style (there are lots of architectural sights in this area built in this style, by the way) in the 1830s – it’s one of the best preserved Serbian monuments of that period.
However, there was an older church on this site for a few centuries that was destroyed on multiple occasions under the Ottomans. The icons, frescoes, and altarpieces are all produced by the finest Serbian artists of that time, including the ones created by Dimitrije Avramović, and many important Serbian political and cultural figures are buried there as well. Today’s Patriarchate is located right in from of it.
14. Belgrade zoo
Belgrade Zoo, or Beo Zoo VRT, located in Kalemegdan Park near the Belgrade fortress, was founded in 1936. It occupies the slopes of the hill, so be prepared to walk up and down a lot.
There are a lot of animals, including a white tiger, white lions, arctic wolves, reindeer, and all sorts of other deer, as well as a children’s zoo and a few cafes. The old she-elephant Twiggy has recently passed away – in September 2023 – so you can spot some flowers attached to her enclosure.
15. St. Mark’s Church
St. Mark’s Church is a Serbian Orthodox church erected in Serbian Byzantine style near the previous church built on this site in 1835 – and its construction was completed in 1940.
It takes after the Gračanica monastery, erected in 1321 by King Stefan Uroš II Milutin (now on the territory of Kosovo), and was the largest Orthodox Church in Belgrade before the St Sava church was erected (I talked about it above)).
Pop in here to see historical icons and the tomb of Emperor Dušan, ‘The Mighty.’
16. The Church of the Holy Trinity
Right behind it, there’s The Church of the Holy Trinity, a small Russian Orthodox church erected for the Russians who fled the Russian Revolution in 1917. One of the Russian Revolution’s most prominent characters, Pyotr Wrangel, the general of the anti-Bolshevik part of the army, is buried there.
17. Old Palace and New Palace
Stari Dvor, meaning Old Palace, built in the late 19th century in the academicism style, and Novi Dvor, meaning New Palace, designed by architect Stojan Titelbah, are the royal residences of two Serbian dynasties overlooking each other: Obrenović dynasty and Karađorđević dynasty respectively. Both still carry an administrative function today: the first one houses the City Assembly, and the latest is the seat of the President of Serbia.
We tried to visit the White Palace or Beli Dvor, another royal residence; however, you can only visit it as a part of a group (at least 10 people) on a pre-booked slot. Same with the Stari Dvor, and you can see the Novi Dvor only from the outside.
18. House of the National Assembly
Even if you don’t visit the House of the National Assembly, you should have a glance at it from the outside – and it’s located very close to the Old and New palaces! It’s one of the most prominent landmarks of Belgrade, with an interior in academic style designed by Russian-Serbian architect Nikolai Krasnov.
It was under construction from 1907 to 1936. It was damaged during the October riots in 200, but now it’s fully restored. Nearby, there’s a small Pioneer Park (Pionirski Park) on the site of the royal gardens.
19. Hotel Moskva
The Rossiya palace was built on the site of Velika Srbija Inn in 1908. At the time, this building was named one of the most beautiful Russian houses in the Balkans, and the Hotel Moskva occupied only a part of the building (later, it expanded to the whole building).
It was heavily damaged during WWII, and the reconstruction was completed only in 2013. The decorations show different Russian folklore characters and the life of Russian immigrants in Serbia.
Now, with the whole building being renamed after the capital of Russia, this four-star hotel is considered one of the most prominent landmarks of Serbia. If you’re not staying there, you can still go there for a coffee and dessert on the terrace or to have a proper dinner in the restaurant area.
20. Branko bridge
Branko bridge, or Brotherhood and Unity bridge, connecting old and new parts of the city unexpectedly seems a very popular sight too – we noticed that it’s used as a background for many photo shoots. Branko Bridge’s length is over 450 metres, and it was built in 1956 on the site of another bridge destroyed during WWII.
You can also try visiting Zeleni Venac market, Cinema museum, Ethnographic museum, Avala Tower, and Ada Ciganlija River Island if you’re visiting in the warm season.
Also, you can explore street art: Belgrade is full of graffiti and murals!
Art Deco lovers will find many sites for them as well. And no doubt that you’ll never be hungey in Serbia, there are so many restaurants and cafe everywhere for every budget!
Where to stay
We stayed at the Hilton Belgrade, not far from the historical centre of the city. I really loved the modern interiors, breakfast, and spa areas; however, we were pretty unlucky with the room view as it was overlooking a large construction site.
There are two restaurants in Hiltone Belgrade, and both I can happily reccomend.
The top-floor, the Sky Lounge, serves international cuisine (mainly with an Asian twist) and would provide you with the best views over Slavija Square (and you can have a glimpse of St. Sava Church, too), and the second one, Two Kings restaurant, was the best place we visited for Serbian cuisine.
Hope you enjoyed my new blog,