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The Traveller's Magazine
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As if Serbia wasn’t already a cheap destination to visit, even more surprising is the number of free attractions available in Belgrade. While many argue that Belgrade isn’t pretty, after having been almost completely destroyed in WWII and scarred by the more recent civil wars, there’s still a special charm that’s totally worth experiencing.

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While not impressive in terms of architecture and grandeur like other surrounding capitals, Belgrade buzzes with life and the locals are passionate… something surely many travellers would trade for “pretty sights.” The city is a clash, it’s a jumble of Soviet-era concrete blocks and small influences left over from the Austro-Hungarian empire. The Danube and Sava rivers flow gently through the city, the waterway that connects Serbia with the rest of Europe.

If you have a free weekend, hit up Belgrade for a few days of ultimate parties, cheap (and very delicious) food with a few of your friends. From London you can fly with cheap flights to Belgrade with Wizzair. Discover the pace of the Serbian capital and don’t miss the city’s wealth of free attractions.

Kalemegdan Citadel

fortress

The fortress is by far the most-visited sight in Belgrade. It is perched high up on a hill, overlooking the peaceful river. The rock fortress dates all the way back to Neolithic times but was rebuilt during the Roman and Byzantine eras. Over the last 2000 years more than 110 battles have been fought here. Take a stroll inside, following the stone pathways through old arches and gates. The interior park is a quiet spot to rest under a tree, watching the old Serbian grandpas play chess on park benches.

Ethnographic Museum

Serbian costumes

This museum in the old town is more than a century old. The displays are in both Serbian and English and is a unique peek into the country’s rich cultural traditions from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries including traditional costumes, instruments, handicrafts and even weapons. The costumes themselves are impressive pieces of art, decorated with carefully stitched embroidery and weaving.  Other displays include Belgrade city live through the ages, including some pretty retro designs and items from the daily life. It’s free to visit on Sundays.

Ada Ciganlija

Ada Ciganlija

When the city heats up, every one heads to this island to hang out at the park. On any given summer night, the bars around the lake are packed. Sitting in the Sava River, this is a green oasis, a great place to kick around the football, cycle, hike through the forests or go for a swim in the lake. Bring some cold beers and relax, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Skardarlija

Bohemian Quarter

There is a corner of Belgrade that has still kept its Bohemian charm even throughout the war. The streets turn from cracked blacktop to, at times, precariously placed stones. Along the pedestrian streets are buskers and cafes with tables that pour out into the street, testing how far they can go before reaching the restaurant’s dining area across the street. Four-man brass bands drift up and down the street, playing traditional Serbian tunes for anyone willing to pay them a few dinars. Many of the city’s poets and painters used to live here in Skadarlija, if you don’t know where to grab an afternoon iced coffee, head here and make sure you get a patio seat.

Sveti Sava

orthodox church

This is the biggest Orthodox church in the world. It’s massive, made almost entirely of white marble. From a distance it doesn’t impress too much but once you are standing at its main door, big enough for a mythical giant to fit through, you’ll change your mind. Building began in 1935 but then Hitler and communism came along and construction stopped. The church is apparently built in the same place where the invading Turks burnt the relics of the Saint Sava, the son of a 12th century ruler.

If you haven’t given much thought to Belgrade and its neighbouring Balkan capitals, it’s about time you reconsidered! Have you ever been to Belgrade before? What struck you most about the city?

Imgs: Bruno Girin, dottorpeni / Flickr cc. and wiki

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