8 Things to Do in Belgrade for First-Timers
Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is a city on the rise. It’s had tough reviews in the past, with some claiming that it lacks beauty or charm, but I beg to differ. This intriguing city is full to the brim with fascinating history, interesting scenery, worthwhile museums, and a thriving nightlife scene. It’s also the start and end point of the epic Belgrade to Bar train line – a definite must-do once you’ve ticked off these things to do in Belgrade!
Things to do in Belgrade
1. Explore the Belgrade Fortress
The Belgrade Fortress is probably the most popular attraction in the city. It’s made up of the tranquil Kalemegdan Park and the old citadel. There’s a palpable sense of history throughout the fortress, and entrance is free. The fortress sits at the confluence of the River Sava and the Danube, so you can expect great views over these two famous rivers.
Insider tip: There are lots of attractions to visit inside the old fortress, including museums and regular open air exhibitions. Check out the Belgrade Fortress website to see what’s on offer.
2. Walk (and shop) along Knez Mihailova Street
Knez Mihailova Street, or Kneza Mihaila, is Belgrade’s main pedestrianized zone. It’s packed full of high-end stores and famous landmarks. Even if you’re not up for shopping, a walk down this long stretch is great for people watching and discovering the city’s historical architecture.
Insider tip: If you’re looking for the street’s most notable buildings, then check out the Knez Mihailova Street entry on Wikipedia for a quick breakdown.
3. Nikola Tesla Museum
Serbians are pretty proud of one-time Belgrade resident Nikola Tesla, and for good reason. The legendary inventor, physicist, and electrical engineer played a founding role in the development of electricity as we know it today. The small but profound Nikola Tesla Museum pays homage to this interesting individual. It also paints an intriguing picture of his contribution to modern day society.
Insider tip: People visiting with an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) or in groups of 10+ can get discounted entry. Check the Nikola Tesla Museum website for more details.
4. Belgrade Military Museum
Serbia’s military history is complex and, at times, overwhelming. The Military Museum in the Belgrade Fortress gives an overview of the country’s role in various operations. It also has dozens of preserved military relics from different eras.
Insider tip: Looking for free things to do in Belgrade? If the museum is closed, or if you’re not up for the full experience, then you can explore a range of military equipment in the moat outside the fortress walls at no cost.
5. Party on the river
Belgrade’s nightlife scene is legendary. If you’re there in summer, you’ll need to go on the city’s party boats at least once. You’ll find the most popular clubs along the river Sava between the old Railway Bridge and the Gazela Bridge, as well as on the Danube close to the Hotel Yugoslavia. In winter the parties move indoors, so you’ll find most clubs downtown. There are dozens of bars, restaurants, and clubs throughout the city.
Insider tip: Several companies offer VIP guided tours of the top spots.
6. Visit the ruins of the buildings bombed by NATO
In 1999 during the Kosovo War, NATO bombed Belgrade as part of an operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It allegedly aimed for a Yugoslav military target, but instead it hit the Chinese Embassy, killing three journalists. The ruins of these buildings remain untouched as a stark reminder of this event. Visiting this site is one of the more somber things to do in Belgrade.
Insider tip: You’ll see the most dramatic ruins on the corner of Nemanjina and Kneza Milosa streets.
7. Museum of Yugoslav History
If you want to put some of the region’s history into context, then visit the Museum of Yugoslav History. It houses hundreds of thousands of items that showcase Yugoslavia’s turbulent past. You should also look out for Maršal Tito’s tomb, which you can find on the museum grounds.
Insider tip: There are free tours of the museum on weekends, usually at 11am and 12pm.
8. Take the train to Montenegro
Once you’ve experienced these things to do in Belgrade, you’re in the perfect spot to embark on one of Europe’s most epic train journeys. The Montenegro Express connects Serbia and Montenegro in classic eastern European style. Your Eurail Pass covers the journey, and you can travel all the way from Belgrade to Bar, on the Adriatic Sea, over the course of the day.
Insider tip: Skip the night train. If you take the daily early morning train, then you’ll get the most of the scenery along the route.
On first appearances, the Serbian capital might seem to be slightly underwhelming. But when you spend a few days there, you’ll find that the locals are creative and welcoming, the history is fascinating, the nightlife is unique, and the prices are very easy on the wallet. And when you use the city as a gateway into Eastern Europe, then adding it to your Eurail trip is a no-brainer.
For more info about Belgrade:
Paris to Belgrade by train – 10 highlights with Eurail
Balkans Eurail adventure from Belgrade to Bar
24 hours in Belgrade