Serbia is somewhere that I hold dear to my heart. I’ve spent time living in Belgrade and Novi Sad with months of randomly exploring the country in between.
This has given me a unique perspective on travel in Serbia and I’m happy to share my thoughts and recommendations with people planning to visit in the future.
In this post I want to talk about Belgrade. Specifically, how to spend one day in Belgrade to make the most of what this beautiful city has to offer.
Regardless of what you’re looking for the Serbian capital has something for everybody. From historical architecture and delicious local cuisine to a world-class nightlife and reasonable prices – it’s easy to see why so many people love traveling in Belgrade.
Today, the city is still off the beaten path compared to popular destinations nearby such as Budapest, Ljubljana, and Zagreb. Nonetheless, there is a unique charm that’s hidden in the streets of Belgrade waiting to be discovered.
For those of you that just have one day in the city this guide is for you. Let’s jump right into it!
Where to Stay in Belgrade for Sightseeing
There are a number of options for accommodation in Belgrade if you’re planning on spending the night.
Personally, I recommend booking an AirBnb somewhere in the city center close everywhere you want to go. This way it’s going to be easy for you to walk around and explore on foot.
Be sure to head over to AirBnb and sign up if you haven’t already. You’ll get a small discount if you sign up through my link!
If you’re interested in hotels I would recommend taking a look at the Square Nine Hotel Belgrade. This is a modern and luxurious hotel in the attractive historic district of central Belgrade. the property posts an elegant design, world-class service, and comfortable rooms that are well-equipped for a short-term stay.
Those of you traveling on a budget will want to take a look at the White Owl Hostel. This is a simple and basic hostel that comes with everything you’ll need for a quick visit. The location is great for exploring the city without having to spend too much for accommodation.
One Day in Belgrade Itinerary
Belgrade is a big city. It was surprising to me how spread out everything was and how expansive the city center is.
It’s possible to walk for 20 to 25 minutes in one direction without passing any of the main tourist attractions. That’s why it’s worth it to come prepared with a Belgrade itinerary whether you’re visiting for one day or more.
Here are some of the best things that you’ll want to check out if you only have one day to explore.
The Kalemegdan Fortress is the best place to start your day. From here you can easily access all of the other tourist sights and it’s better to explore the Fortress early in the day before everyone else arrives.
The Belgrade Fortress, otherwise known as Kalemegdan, has stood for more than 600 years at the confluence of the Danube and Sava River. Over the years it has been invaded more than 100 different times resulting in the rich melting pot of culture found in the region.
Today, the Fortress is used as a large, public park. There is an open-air museum where you can learn more about military history if that’s something you’re into.
The best way to enjoy the Fortress is to wander around peacefully away from the busy crowds and loud noises of the city center.
Don’t forget to spend some time strolling along the Promenade that overlooks the river. From here you’ll have an amazing view of New Belgrade and on a clear day you can see the small town of Zemun off in the distance.
Entrance to the Kalemegdan Fortress is free. Along with the museum there is also a restaurant and a small cafe in the park. Hours are limited during the winter but you can expect everything to be open throughout the day all summer long.
Knez Mihajlova Street
The most famous street in Serbia is Knez Mihajlova Street.
Knez Mihajlova Street runs through the historic city centre and is lined with restaurants, small shops, cafes, food stalls, and High Street stores.
The street is pedestrian-only for the most part making it enjoyable to wander around without having to worry about local traffic. This is where you’re going to want to pick up any Serbian souvenirs or local trinkets for people back home.
Many of the best cafes and restaurants in the city are located on Knez Mihajlova or just a short walk away. This is the heartbeat of Belgrade boasting an eclectic blend of locals and tourists coming to relax and walk around.
Along the street are a number of historical buildings. Don’t forget to look around every now and then so you can admire the beauty of what’s around you.
Visit Republic Square
Steps away from Knez Mihajlova Street is the main square in Belgrade, Republic Square.
Here in the Square you’ll find the National Theatre and National Museum. These are two of the most impressive and picturesque buildings downtown so don’t forget to grab a picture.
In the center of the square is a monument of Prince Mihailo. This is where many of the Belgrade walking tours start from and it has been used as a local meeting point for generations.
There are also some cafes and restaurants lining the square as well as a few vendors selling fresh, cheap snacks. Tucked away in one of the corners is a small bakery selling some of the tastiest fresh bread in Belgrade!
During the year the Square is used for many events and markets. New Year’s celebrations are held right under the Prince Mihailo monument and both the Belgrade Christmas market and Eastern Market are held here.
Stroll Through Skadarlija
Skadarlija is the vibrant and upbeat Bohemian neighborhood in central Belgrade. The entire street is lined with restaurants and cafes so it’s the spot to be if you’re looking for entertainment or something to eat.
During the summer Skadarlija comes alive with music and study socializing. The cafes fill up late in the afternoon and everything stays busy well into the early hours of the morning.
With just one day in the city this is where I’d recommend to come for lunch or dinner. There are a number of Serbian restaurants serving tasty and affordable local dishes. don’t forget to get a shot of rakija for a true Balkan experience!
Before your trip head over to TripAdvisor and check out the different restaurants and cafes to see if there’s anywhere you’d like to go. There’s nowhere I can recommend it particular since I’ve had a great experience at all of the places I’ve tried out.
Head to the Vračar Plateau
Once you’re done exploring Skadarlija you can make your way out of downtown. From here it’s time to head to the Vračar neighborhood and the Vračar plateau.
You can take public transportation or hop in a taxi to get to Vračar. Walking from downtown can take more than 30 minutes but there’s a lot to see along the way.
The main attraction in Vračar is the Cathedral of Saint Sava. This is the biggest Orthodox Cathedral in the world and one of the biggest religious buildings in Europe.
Surrounding the Cathedral is a large park with walkways, benches, and plenty of opportunities for capturing the Cathedral itself.
As far as I know the interior is undergoing reconstruction. At the moment there isn’t much to admire inside although I still recommend checking it out to get a better idea of the scale of the building.
When you’re done checking out the Cathedral of Saint Sava consider exploring the surrounding neighborhood in city streets. It’s more residential compared to downtown so you’re provided with a different perspective of the city.
The Creative Hub of Savamala
Along the banks of the Danube is the urban neighborhood of Savamala. Not too long ago this area was run-down, abandoned, and void of any hope for improvement.
Thanks to a number of ambitious locals Savamala has been transformed into the cultural hub of Belgrade. Cafes, restaurants, and creative shops are opening all over the neighborhood and small businesses continue to move in.
Head to Savamala and wander around the quiet streets. Keep an eye out for all of the beautiful examples of street art and wall murals that you can find hidden away in this neighborhood.
Those of you that are digital nomads or bloggers might be interested in the Mikser House. This is a warehouse design center that’s used as a co-working space during the day and nightclub at night.
Small business owners, entrepreneurs, locals, tourists, freelance workers, and creative people of all types visit the Mikser House regularly. Feel free to stop by if you’re looking for an artistic and welcoming atmosphere where you can mingle with creative individuals while enjoying a coffee or a bite to eat.
Stand on Branko’s Bridge for the Best View of Belgrade
Crossing the Danube and connecting downtown with New Belgrade is Branko’s Bridge. From the center of the bridge you’ll be rewarded with the best view of the city skyline on both sides.
Afterwards head back towards the Old Town area of the city and make your way down to the riverbank below the bridge. In this area is Beton Hala, the hall of contemporary gastronomic experience, stretching along the Danube.
Inside the hall are a number of different international cuisine restaurants. Those of you traveling on a budget will find the restaurants to be rather pricey but prices are competitive compared to restaurants in Central and Western Europe.
You can choose from Japanese, French, Spanish, and even Serbian Cuisine depending on what you’re looking for. This is the best place to sample some great Belgrade restaurants if you’re looking for something easily accessible and reasonably priced!
Party the Night Away
Belgrade is known for its nightlife and there are a few different spots in the city with amazing bars and nightclubs.
For bars you’re going to want to head to Cetinjska Street. There are dozens of bars and live music venues all located next to each other in one small area here.
During the weekends the area is packed with tourists and locals coming to enjoy the local DJs. if you’re hoping to experience some delicious Serbian rakija then this is where you can sample whatever you want.
Those of you looking for nightclubs are going to want to head to the New Belgrade Riverbank. Over the years this stretch of river has become a local hotspot for nightlife and partying.
Right on the water are large floating river barges, otherwise known as splavs, that have been transformed into bars and clubs. On weekends this area is going to be the most bumping in the city. It’s the spot to be if you want to spend the night partying and having a great time.
Looking to spend an amazing night in Belgrade? This is where you’ll want to be!
When’s the Best Time to Visit Belgrade?
The best time to visit anywhere in Europe is during the spring, summer, or fall.
This is when you’ll have the best weather for walking around.
During the warmer summer months everything is also open longer. You can sit outside at cafes and restaurants well into the evening without having to worry about the weather.
It doesn’t get too cold in Serbia during the winter. Unfortunately. it rains quite a bit.
This makes the winter the least enjoyable time to visit.
In December don’t forget to check out the Belgrade Christmas Market in the city centre during the holidays.