24 hours in Belgrade
With a feisty and audacious attitude, Belgrade has a character unlike no other in Europe. The city has its own spirit. In part owing to its violent history, as a witness of Yugoslav wars and NATO bombings, and east-meets-west location. Belgrade’s unique flair is clearly evident in its architecture and culture. Soviet blocs stand alongside bohemian cafes and funky gypsy clubs against classic Balkan kafanas.
Despite being way off the conventional tourist trail, the Serbian capital is easily accessible by train from several European capital cities with your Eurail pass. Although Belgrade is not a big city, there are plenty of secret corners and deep cultural layers that take weeks or months to unravel. For the time-crunched traveler, we’ll show you how to pack in all of Belgrade’s best sights in just 24 hours.
Arriving in Belgrade
Upon arrival in Belgrade, you can easily store your luggage at the train station for 110 Serbian dinars (95 pence or $1.30) per bag for a period of 24 hours. Opening hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Belgrade’s central train station is a steep 15-minute walk from the Republic Square at the heart of the city. From there, it’s easy to reach all of these following sights on foot or bus.
24 hours in Belgrade: The essential sites
1. Enjoy the views from Belgrade Fortress
Start your exploration at the city’s biggest sight, the Belgrade Fortress, also known as Kalemegdan Citadel. Dating back to over 600 years, the fortress houses watch towers, trenches, and canons. These are beautifully laid out over green patches. Locals love to come and lay on the grass or play a game of chess. Thanks to its location, views from here are impressive. The confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers stretches beneath your feet, and the commercial district of Novi Beograd stands in the distance.
2. Admire Serbia’s biggest Orthodox church, Sveti Sava
Lauded as the world’s biggest Orthodox church, Sveti Sava is a stunning structure topped with beautiful domes and carvings. Construction has been in progress since 1935, but was interrupted several times due to the war, communism, and now lack of funds. Another church worth visiting is the Sveti Marko, featuring impressive pillars and a high domed ceiling.
3. Observe the madness of the Slavija Roundabout
Just a few blocks away from Sveti Sava stands the Slavija roundabout – the craziest and busiest intersection in the city. Over seven streets and boulevards criss-cross this junction and all types of transportation – trams, buses, and cars – magically zigzag their way around it. The first MacDonald’s in Eastern Europe was built here.
4. Learn about Serbia’s Hhstory at Tito’s Mausoleum and Yugoslavia Museum
As the father of the ex-Yugoslavia kingdom, Josep Bro Tito’s legacy continues to live on in Belgrade where he lived. His grave, known as the “House of Flowers”, is opened to the public, along with an interesting collection of the memorabilia gifted to him in his years as president. The Museum of the History of Yugoslavia stands alongside his mausoleum. Entry fee is 200 Serbian dinars (€1.75 or $2).
5. Stroll along the Hedonistic Knez Mihailova Street
Belgrade’s main pedestrian street is lined with fashion boutiques, classy restaurants, and icecream parlors. It’s a great meeting point as it lies in the epicenter of the city. Whether you’re looking for a good local restaurant or simply a people-watching spot, this is the place to go.
6. Party the night away on a floating bar
Beyond its edgy façade is a city that knows how to party. Known as the nightlife capital of Eastern Europe, Belgrade has plenty of excellent party spots for the hedonistic traveler. The best area to party in summer is the long strip of floating bars and discos along the western bank of the Sava River – popular joints include Zippo and Lucas where you’ll find a fusion of Serbian folk music, Europop, and Turkish rhythm.
How to get to Belgrade
By train, Belgrade is easily reached from several capital cities in Europe. Here is a list of places that are connected to Belgrade by train.
- The nearest is Zagreb, Croatia, 6.5 hours away on a direct train that leaves daily
- 8 hours from Budapest, leaves once in the day and another at night
- 9 hours from Ljubljana, leaves once a day
- The train from Montenegro – Podgorica in 10 hours and Bar in 11 hours – is a scenic route