Long Weekend Belgrade: like a queen ruling over two rivers
Belgrade is characterised by an irresistible sense of joy and a new spirit of optimism. Although history is ubiquitous here, the youth prefer to enjoy life at the waterfront of the river Sava and indulge in the amenities of urban districts such as Vračar and Dorćol.
FridayEating fish by the Danube – a perfect introduction to the White City. Zemun and its river promenade provide the ideal setting to unwind and relax.
The people of Zemun, a formerly independent municipality incorporated into the big city decades ago, do not really consider themselves Belgradians at all. The famous fish restaurant Šaran (“Carp”) is the culinary centre of this very idyllic and somehow anachronistic district. Almost every night, folk music is also on the menu in Belgrade. The powerful sounds of the house band will still linger on in your head when you try to drift off to sleep hours later! “If I only had half an hour to show the city to a stranger, I would take them to the Kralja Petra,” wrote renowned Serbian author Momo Kapor.
The architecture in the district of Dorcól perfectly exemplifies Belgrade’s fairly short “Belle Époche”. Heading towards the Danube, visitors pass by the Bajrakli Mosque. By boat, one can reach the Great War Island in less than 15 minutes – despite its martial-sounding name one of the calmest places in the whole city.
SaturdayHistorical fortress and modern architecture – Belgrade’s two faces can be spotted easily along the way from the Kalemegdan Park to the ultra-hip “Waterfront” next to the river Sava.
Historical fortress and modern architecture – Belgrade’s two faces can be spotted easily along the way from the Kalemegdan Park to the ultra-hip “Waterfront” next to the river Sava. Viewed from the water, the fortress Kalemegdan cuts the waves of these two rivers like a stony prow, claimed Momo Kapor. The white limestone of the hill played an integral role in naming the city (beli grad means White City). The vast park surrounding the fortress tells its very own story of the city. Important sights include the grave of the Turkish pasha Damad Ali, the triumphal arch built by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI., and the octagonal Nebojša Tower erected by the Magyars.
Not only the river promenade but the entire premises invite visitors to take inspiring walks amongst various museums, sculptures, and playgrounds. Visitors can continue their tour on the cobbled streets of the district of Kosančićev Venac. On their way towards the Sava, they do not only pass the official residence of the Serbian-Orthodox patriarch but also an ice cream parlour by the name of Cerna Ovca (“black sheep”). Between the time-honoured buildings of the old town, the offbeat storefront of Makadam, a boutique specialising in Serbian design, definitely dares to stand out. The neighbouring bistro is every bit as elegant.
Arriving at the “Waterfront” itself, visitors cannot stop marvelling at the modern structures. The restaurants there serve as the perfect starting point for all those who are looking for a good lining for their stomachs before indulging in Belgrade’s famously excessive club nights. Serbian hospitality is quite honestly unthinkable without the world-famous Slivovitz. When there is no home-distilled šljivovica at hand, a bottle of “yellow wasp” (Žuta osa) must do. This three-year old spirit, carefully aged in barrels, is a perfect fit for your coffee, even though it is nowadays mostly consumed as a nightcap.
SundayBesides excellent pastries, a concluding walk through the laid-back district of Vračar offers two more national treasures of Serbia, namely its rich coffee culture and, of course, Nikola Tesla.
Also beyond the riversides, an astonishing 200 kilometres in length, the Serbian capital provides visitors access to plenty of green areas. For instance, the Karađorđeva Park is a perfect location for a Sunday walk. Afterwards, the recently renovated restaurant Nebojša serves traditional Serbian cuisine, putting a modern twist on it. For example, even the good old Pljeskavica receives an overdue gourmet makeover.
Before mealtime, there is still enough time to visit the Nikola Tesla Museum. Not far from there, the spacious café and restaurant “Voulez Vous” run by pâtissier Sébastien Eckler offers exquisite coffee, superb pastries, and authentic French esprit. The owner recommends his new creation »Pom-Pom«, a delicious apple dessert. Traditionally, the art of coffeemaking has always played a very important role in Belgrade. Fancy coffee variants and impressive Latte art can be found, for instance, at Baristocratia, at the local branch of the national chain Kafeterija, or at the Thinkers Coffee Bar.
If you want to combine your caffeine rush with vinyl record shopping, you can satisfy both needs at Leila Records. At weekends, a local DJ accompanies your espresso with some groovy sounds, an innovative combination that occurs repeatedly throughout the district of Dorcól. Before leaving for the airport, we still have a little time to visit the huge concept store Supermarket, known for its comprehensive assortment of stylish goods. Just another proof of how hip Serbia’s capital really is!