Energy of Belgrade you must experience

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'It was love at first sight,' Iva says when she first set foot in Serbia's capital in 2008. 'I felt a huge attraction with this city, there was a 'good vibe' everywhere and it is a city where people live. I believe in having a connection with certain places that you want to return to again and again. This was my place'. It has also been called "the Berlin of the Balkans" or "the city with the energy of New York" by tourists. 'I can understand that'. By now, it's a regular annual prick and, if lucky, several times a year. 'A year not travelled to Belgrade is a year not lived (laughs). Meanwhile, I feel like a sort of local and know many special and great places in the city'.

Rebellious, alive and welcoming

First time in Belgrade felt like coming home. There is a special atmosphere, it is lively and welcoming ánd the city invites you to go out. Whereas in the Netherlands a lot of shops and cultural activities close after 6pm during the week, here life is just beginning. Many museums are open until 10 pm, supermarkets are open 24 hours a day and the city buzzes, even during the week. Right after work, you go out for a bite to eat, listen to live music and there are always people on the streets. People are friendly and the city has something rebellious. In many places you will find hidden spots with street art (see the overview on a map here) and although it is not the most beautiful city in the Balkans, it is in all those imperfections that you will find the beauty.

Dunavska 22a, Beograd

Old district of Dorcol

Although there are many great places to hang out in Belgrade, the old neighbourhood of Dorcol is at the top of my list. Located along the right bank of the Danube, Dorcol is one of Belgrade’s oldest neighbourhoods and this charm and history is reflected in the district. It has a bohemian relaxed atmosphere, tree-lined streets and countless bars and restaurants on every corner. Some call it Belgrade’s ‘Berlin district’. The best ice cream is at Crna Ovca (Kralja Petra 58) and the best places for breakfast and lunch we tipped earlier here. Also pop into vintage store Jane Doe Vintage Shop (Kapetan-Mišina 17), where you can find beautiful handmade designer items or buy a unique gift for someone you love. An alternative to Dorcol is the Zemun district -although many locals don’t really consider it Belgrade- this is a friendly neighbourhood with a nice promenade along the Danube river and good seafood restaurants. From the Gardos hill (a tower built in 1896) you have fantastic views over the city and the Danube river. You can reach the centre of Belgrade in 15 minutes by bike.

Overlooking Zemun and river Danube, photo: Nikolai

Cooling down on Ada Ciganlija

If you want to get away from the busy city, Ada Ciganlija ( people say Ada), a green peninsula in the Sava river, is the place to be. From the city centre, you can get there in about 20 minutes by taxi or car. Due to limited parking options, it’s better to cycle there or take a taxi. A special feature of Ada is that everything can be found in one place. Sports enthusiasts can take part in all kinds of activities here, such as kayaking, water-skiing and windsurfing. If you are looking for a bit more adventure, go bungee jumping from a tethered crane. On the beach or in one of the parks, join a game of football or volleyball. I like to play tennis there and you can rent a court for another 10 euros for an hour (including accessories). Another fun thing to do is rent a bike (3,- euros for two hours) and cycle around Ada, a route of about 8 km. Along the river you have nice restaurants and bars where you can eat well, soak up the sun or cool off in the river in summer. I always relax there and because it is so big you can do something different every time.

Old Bohemian district of Skadarlija

Considered to be Belgrade’s most important bohemian quarter, Skadarlija’s history began in the 1830s with the settlement of Roma in the abandoned trenches in front of the fortress walls. Belgrade’s 1854 city plan shows that the Roma hovels had been replaced by brick buildings in which artisans, caterers, small servants and others had taken up residence. The whole district was called the ‘gypsy’ quarter until 1872, then it was named after the city of Skadar, the capital of the Serbian medieval state. During your stay in Belgrade, this is a place you should definitely visit, preferably in the evening because that’s when Skadarlija is at its best. Have dinner at Tri Sesira or Dva Jelena, restaurants with typical Balkan cuisine and live music.

Famous Skadarska street and restaurant Tri Sesira (Three Hats)

Secrets of Kalemegdan

What many people do not know is that under and around the Kalemegdan Fortress exists an underground world where you will find traces of the city’s Roman, Austrian, Turkish and Serbian history. You can admire sarcophagi, tombs and altars from Serbia. If you want to know more about this and end your tour with good local wine from the wine cellar, the following tour is highly recommended.