A WEEK IN THE OLD YUGOSLAVIA: BELGRADE, SERBIA

We got on a 6am bus from Sarajevo’s main station. Buses depart daily and tickets cost around 50KM (£20) per person, but there are organised tours or you can take the plane. We had no hope that the journey would take 7h10 as we were told, but this time we were surprisingly on time!

The bus goes through the snowy hills of Bosnia and onto the Serbian countryside. The border crossing came and went without much hassle.

We arrived in Belgrade in the early afternoon. This was our final destination. Again the station looked a bit rough and the street names in Cyrillic made for a difficult start, but we found our way around.

THE CITY CENTRE:

belgrade2_for webThe area between Cara Dušana-Frankuska and the pedestrianised Knez Mihailova is the central area of the city. There are many bars and cafes (plus countless bakeries and pizzerias) around this area.

The pedestrianised road leads to the local fortress. On a nice day (and this was one of them), the views of the city from the fortress can be quite nice. This is also where the Danube crosses the city.

This was the last stop in a long journey, and after much sightseeing I was finding Belgrade a bit gritty and unappealing. But then we hit the bars.

  • We stumbled upon Pastis Bistro, a lovely French place which was quite popular. On the menu cocktails, coffee, great local wine and popcorn (from an old-fashioned popcorn machine).
  • Next we stopped at Cafe La Libertad, where Che Guevara is the hero of choice. This place was low-key and friendly.
  • We ended our first night in the city at Big Pizza, a fast-food pizzeria where we got a massive pizza for £4.
  • On our last day of this journey we continued to visit the local bars. We stopped for coffee and beer at the Eleven Bar & Cafe .
  • Then we moved onto Skadarska street which is lined with nice restaurants on both sides. This little street is very different from the rest of Belgrade, with a much more Western Europe feel. It is known as the Montmartre of Belgrade.
  • We stopped at the Travelling Actor for a drink in the sun and tried the local spirit – quince brandy. Service in Belgrade is friendly and food and drinks are extremely cheap. English is spoken in most places, although not as widely as in more touristic cities.
  • We then reached Dali Bar, which was (obviously) a Salvador Dali-inspired cocktail bar with many options of drinks on the menu. A cocktail costs about £3.
  • Moving on we ventured onto Walter Sarajevski Cevap, a nice eatery where we had beer and chips (their speciality is the cevap, the local alternative to a burger).
  • We then stopped at Jimmy Woo, a trendy cocktail bar where the waiter helpfully warned us that all beers were small (we were clearly not the first people to come from England to stop there). I tried Lav, a Serbian beer.
  • And then everything changed. We find this little hideaway in Višnjićeva street, which instantly became our favourite place. Unhelpfully, this is a hole in the wall without a sign, but it’s only a few doors up from Soho bar.
  • We went for dinner at Osteria Gallo Nero, an authentic Italian place recommended to us at the hostel. Food was delicious and the service friendly. We ended the night back at our favourite place for a few more beers.

Belgrade doesn’t have much to offer in terms of landmarks, but the cafes and bars are great and we had a great time.

 HOW TO DO IT:

  • Getting there: Belgrade is normally at the start or at the end of the journey for people visiting the former Yugoslavia. We travelled with Jet Airways, which provided a good service.
  • Stay: We stayed at Indigo Hostel, where hosts Ana and Voja were extremely helpful. The place was nice and the room spacious. It’s located at the top of Skavarska street, very close to the restaurants and bars.
  • Money: Belgrade is very cheap. You can eat well at a restaurant for £7, and a beer costs less than £2.
  • Food: Eating in Eastern Europe is not easy for vegetarians, but if you stick to what you know it’s not that bad. The best option in to research some veggie dishes in advance and to stick to these. Pizza is ubiquitous, and many places offer a vegetarian pizza option.

THE END:

This was the end of our Eastern European adventure. We started off in Croatia, spent a day in Montenegro, then travelled through Bosnia stopping in Mostar and Sarajevo and finally ending up in Belgrade. We learned a lot from the history of the places we visited and loved the cheap prices – I recommend it!
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