Situated in the heart of former Yugoslavia sits the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Over the years Belgrade has been the unwelcome host to many empires; the Ottomans, the Austrians and the Russians, and now from its rubble Belgrade is once again forming its own identity. Its identity is not without glimpses of the past; the architecture of the city reveals the generational layers; a conglomerate of Ottoman, European, Soviet brutalist & NATO wreckage standing side by side.
Despite its notorious past, we were surprised to find a feeling of safety as we walked the streets day and night, one of the safer vibes we have felt in Europe.
We can recommend staying at Downtown Central Hostel who are (surprise surprise) located in the heart of old Belgrade just off republic square and across the road from Pekara Toma, who sell both the tastiest and best value pizza we’ve ever had. The staff are friendly, the hostel is cheap + clean and its location provides an awesome home base to launch from.
Kneza Mihaila (Belgrade’s Main Walking Street)
The well developed main walking street provides plenty to see and do with a whole host of shopping and eating venues. The highlights on the street for us was:
- Visiting the craft market on the corner of Kneza Mihaila and Obilicev Venac streets, jam packed with creative home crafts, fashion, antiques, art and soothing balms. We came away with two classic pipes (for my best man) at a great price but was tempted by much more
- Walking down the street we were captivated by the art of Aleksandar Filipović whose work felt like a weird synthesis between Picasso and pacific art, after much deliberation we made a purchase!
- In search of authentic Serbian food at a good price we received a tip to check out the wildly popular (with locals) yet hidden away KMN cafeteria. The process was a little confusing but gonna with the flow we came away with a delicious meal at an awesome price. Follow our photo directions below to find it!
Also located of the main walking street you’ll find the free Narodna banka Srbije (National Bank of Serbia Museum). While the museum is small you’ll be able to:
- See examples of the 500billion Dinar notes printed during a period of extreme economic inflation. For many years it held the title for being the largest printed denomination until Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown.
- Get your face printed on money. In one corner of the museum you’ll find a free facility to receive a non-tender paper note with your darling face in, perfect for framing!
Though small the Tesla Museum packs a mighty punch, standing as one of our favourite activities in Belgrade. Though not a widely known fact, Serbians proudly claim Tesla as their own. English tours start on the hour and features an interesting video that sets the scene and live demonstrations of some of his inventions; including a tesla coil that will wirelessly power the neon bulbs in your hands (mindsplosion!). The museum also holds many of his personal belongings and the unique urn that holds his ashes. Entry costs €10 pp and only accepts cash.
Mr. Sweeny Todds
I personally find it hard to trust new hairdressers with my head, so life on the road with a new hairdresser each cut can especially be difficult for me. Which is why once I find one I like, I don’t mind recommending it to others! Walking around Belgrade in search for a hair dresser we stumbled across Mr Sweeny Todd’s who’d only been open 1 month and whose clever Johnny Depp themed mural had only been completed mere hours before. Mr Sweeny Todd’s is only 2 blocks east off the central republic square and gave s great cut for a great price (approx €5). If you’re in the city and looking for a cut, I can highly reccomend!
Museum of Yugoslav History
Visiting upon the suggestion of an acquaintance we have to admit to being a little disappointed with the museum. While we enjoyed the exhibition on socialist art we felt the majority of the museum lacked much information and had gave a partisan view of the former dictator Tito. While I admit one third of the complex was closed as they changed exhibitions, overall we were left wanting. I wouldn’t go out of your way to see it.