Things to do in Belgrade

Serbia’s capital is a fascinating city with rough edges, a welcoming spirit, and lots of fascinating things to do.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


The best things to do in Belgrade

There have been a number of formative periods in Belgrade's history and they're on display in its wide variety of attractions.

But beyond the obvious sights, some of the best things to do in Belgrade take you into the multicultural society and gritty modern culture.

Arriving in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, I’m immediately struck by the grime.

Stray dogs wander the streets, graffiti covers the walls and buildings are tearing off at the edges like metal rusting near the sea.

This is not a city where money has been poured into civic projects and small details are obsessed over. This is a city that is lived in – like a lounge room where magazines have been tossed on the table and a couple of empty water glasses have not been cleared away.

And Belgrade has seen a lot of living.

The best things to do in Belgrade, Serbia

It was the centre of one of the most important prehistoric cultures of Europe (the Vinca culture), and over time has been ruled by the Celts, the Romans, the Slavs, the Turkish, the Bulgarians, the Austrians, and the Hungarians.

So many people from so many lands have walked across this ground. Now it’s my turn.

“Serbia is a poor country,” the manager at my hotel tells me over a local draught (which sadly is not called Serbeera – a missed marketing opportunity!).

“I don’t know why you come here. Why you here?”

It’s not the first time a local has asked me this since I arrived. Although Serbs are extremely patriotic and proud of their nation, they don’t understand the appeal for foreigners.

Even in Belgrade, tourism is limited and the idea of visitors – especially those from as far away as Australia – wanting to discover leads to confusion.

The best things to do in Belgrade, Serbia

The greatest charm of Belgrade, though, comes not from the tourist sites but from joining in the living. The very thing that makes this city so rough around the edges is what also makes it so dynamic and void of sterility.

On my final night in the city, I find a table at a restaurant serving traditional Serbian food. It has as many seats inside as it does out on the street and, on this warm summer evening, there isn’t much space al fresco.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

It’s just one of many nearby establishments too. On almost every block there are cafes, restaurant and bars full of locals.

From a western perspective, the food and the drinks are cheap and it’s the perfect way to watch the energy of the city flow around you.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

I sit back and think about what I would recommend doing in Belgrade with a few days. The main sights that uncover the layers of heritage – yes.

But also the neighbourhoods and smaller places in the surrounding region that get you a bit closer to the story of what Belgrade and Serbia are today.

Main sights

I would recommend spending at least a few days in Belgrade to be able to get a good feel for the city. But if you’re short of time, or want to know where to start, I think these are the most important things to see in Belgrade for first-timers.

Belgrade Fortress

The Belgrade Fortress is made up of two different areas – the old citadel and Kalemegdan Park – and is sometimes referred to in general as just ‘Kalemegdan’.

Together, both parts make up the centre of old Belgrade – and when I say old, I mean old.

It’s believed people first lived here in the third century BC and ever since then it has been the most important part of the city and the last defence against constant invasions.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

The current version of Belgrade Fortress is from the 18th century but there have been some forms of castles or forts here for almost two thousand years.

The park and the fortress offer great views across the rivers and the city and it’s a popular place for locals to relax or have a picnic. There is also a zoo and, within the fortress, a very interesting military museum.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

Beyond that, you’ll find plenty of other things to see at Belgrade Fortress, like underground tunnels, statues, a church, and even the cool Boho Bar.

Belgrade Fortress is open at the following times:
October to March: 10:00 – 17:00
April to September: 11:00 – 19:00

A combo ticket for the fortress is RSD 600 (US$5.50), or RSD 400 (US$3.70) for a concession.
The combo ticket includes Nebojša Tower, Clock Tower, Roman Well, Big Magazine and Military Bunker.

St Sava Cathedral

You won’t be able to miss this impressive sight in the centre of the city, its imposing shape and scale making it one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world.

From the outside, St Sava Cathedral appears to be a true symbol of religious grandeur, but when I first visited it many years ago, the interior was still quite bare because of building delays.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

You see, construction started on the building in 1935 but when Yugoslavia was invaded during the Second World War the walls were only about ten metres high and construction was stopped. The land was used as a car park by the Nazis.

It wasn’t until 1985 that construction started again and the building was finished four years later, with the interior decoration to take another 30 years or so until it was all ready.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

When you go inside now, though, you’ll find a magnificent space adorned with golden frescoes and mosaics, some of the most spectacular on the dome.

From the tiled floor to the large circular chandelier, you’ll also see elements of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, which the design was partly based on.

St Sava Cathedral is open from 7:00 – 20:00.

Admission to St Sava Cathedral is free.

Street art

You may think this is a strange thing to list as a ‘main sight’ but I wanted to do this to highlight how important I think the street art in Belgrade is.

The pieces on the walls of the city are more than just creative creations. They are more than just splashes of colour or a mural to break up the grey monotony of concrete walls.

belgrade street art, graffiti in serbia

The art here is a window into the soul of the city’s younger generation, many of whom grew up in conflict and are now expressing their feeling of that time – and where Serbia is today.

You’ll see a lot of it as you walk around the city centre and the neighbourhoods, but for a bit more detail you can join this scooter tour or see my story about the best street art in Belgrade.


Belgrade has wildly varying architecture, from the historic Kalemegdan to art nouveau and Neo-Byzantine architecture in the old town. But the most imposing style is the Brutalist architecture from the socialist period when housing was built quickly and cheaply due to industrialisation following World War II.

Grand buildings

Republic Square is home to some of Belgrade’s most impressive buildings. It’s a social hub of the city and is always busy with locals as well as tourists.

Republic Square is also one of the best spots to see the art nouveau architecture of Belgrade like the National Museum and the 19th-century Serbian-designed National Theatre. The theatre still shows opera, ballet and drama performances and has become an enduring symbol of Serbian culture – in fact, it was declared a ‘Monument of Culture of Great Importance’ in 1983.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

Not too far from the square is the impressive domed parliament building, the House of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, while a little further along in Tasmajdan Park is the eye-catching St Marks Orthodox Church.

Bombed buildings

One of the more unusual sights in Belgrade is the destroyed army headquarters. A somewhat morbid tourist attraction and a relic of the lost war, the ex-Yugoslav/Serbian Army headquarters serves as a lasting monument to the instability of the 1990s.

The NATO campaign targeted the building as a symbolic gesture – the main base of operations had been relocated to a more secure location prior to the war. It has been left in ruins ever since.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

It’s just one of several bombed buildings in Belgrade that have been left as reminders of the conflict here, and that I’ve written about in another story.

Avala Tower

Perched on a mountain close to the city, Avala Tower holds the title as the tallest tower in the Balkans.

Though not in the city centre, it’s just a short drive to get here and it offers fantastic views over Belgrade. If you don’t have a car, you can also catch a bus from Voždovac/Banjica or jump on the shuttle from Nikola Pašić Square.

An elevator takes you up to the top, then from the 135-metre-high observation deck you can take in the city sights from the panoramic cafe.

Built in 1965, it was later destroyed by NATO during the bombing of Belgrade in 1999. The current incarnation of Avala Tower was resurrected in 2010.

Avala Tower is open at the following times:
November to March: 9:00 – 18:00
April to October: 9:00 – 20:00

A standard ticket is RSD 400 (US$3.70) and a concession is RSD 200 (US$1.85)


There are lots of thought-provoking museums in Belgrade covering quite a wide range of interests – probably with something for everyone.

From Romans in Serbia to 19th-century royals, most of the city’s history is covered, as are key historical figures like inventor Nikola Tesla and authoritarian leader Tito.

National Museum of Serbia

After 15 long years of closure, the National Museum of Serbia reopened its doors on Vidovdan (the country’s national day on 28 June) in 2018. The 12-million-euro makeover means this revitalised museum is well worth a visit if you’re looking for more things to do in Belgrade.

First built in 1903, it’s the largest and oldest museum in Belgrade, you can find it near Republic Square. There are 34 archaeological, numismatic, artistic and historical collections in the expansive museum.

Learn about Roman-era Serbia, see 18th and 19th-century Serbian art, or peruse some 20th-century Yugoslavian art including Stevan Aleksić’s The Burning of the Remains of St Sava (1912) and Đorđe Krstić’s The Fall of Stalać (1903).

The National Museum of Serbia is open at the following times:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday: 10:00 – 18:00.
Thursday and Saturday: 12:00 – 20:00
The museum is closed on Mondays.

A standard ticket to the permanent exhibition is RSD 300 (US$ 2.75) and RSD 500 (US$ 4.60) for the thematic exhibition. A combination ticket for the permanent and thematic exhibitions is RSD 600 (US$ 5.50).

Nikola Tesla Museum

In the sleepy neighbourhood of Vračar, electrical engineer Nikola Tesla is paid homage to this unique museum. Inside, 3D exhibits and detailed memorials take an in-depth look into his life as well as his inventions.

Perhaps one of the most famous Serbians, Tesla’s work revolutionised the world with ‘electrification’. Exhibits include Nikola Tesla’s personal effects, instruments and technical drawings. The museum also serves as his final resting place.

nikola tesla museum, belgrade, serbia

Many of the archives are not on display but are held in locked rooms in the Nikola Tesla Museum. This collection features on the UNESCO “Memory of the World” Register – which represents the highest form of protection for any cultural asset.

The Nikola Tesla Museum is open at these times:
Monday: 10:00 – 18:00
Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00 – 20:00

A standard ticket for a guided tour in English is RSD 800 (US$ 7.35).

The Museum of Yugoslavia

The time period when Serbia was known as Yugoslavia is generally seen as a positive one by many in Serbia. The Museum of Yugoslavia was created in the 2000s as a mausoleum for the former authoritarian President of that era.

Whether you agree with the local consensus or not, a visit to the marble resting place of Josip Broz Tito (the Yugoslav leader) is a must when visiting Belgrade.

Marshal Tito's Grave, Belgrade, Josip Broz Tito, Serbia

The museum celebrates his rule from 1953 to 1980 with a collection of more than 200,000 artefacts in total. A highlight is the large collection of batons in the House of Flowers, used in relays that marked the leader’s birthday every year.

The Museum of Yugoslavia is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 – 18:00.
The museum is closed on Mondays.

A standard ticket is RSD 600 (US$5.50) and a concession is RSD 300 (US$2.75).

Residence of Princess Ljubica

To see a different side of Belgrade’s history, travel back in time to the reign of Prince Miloš Obrenović.

Built between 1829 and 1831, the palace was created for the Prince’s wife, Princess Ljubica. But it was rarely ever used as the Prince was forced to abdicate in 1839, after which the entire Obrenović family were expelled from Serbia.

At the Residence of Princess Ljubica, visitors can stroll through ostentatiously decorated rooms, complete with original period items assembled from Belgrade’s bourgeois and royal families.

Other than the 19th-century interiors on the main floors, you can also find temporary exhibits and sometimes events are held in the basement.

The Residence of Princess Ljubica is open at the following times:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday: 10:00 – 17:00
Friday: 10:00 – 18:00
Sunday: 10:00 – 14:00
Monday: closed

A standard ticket is RSD 200 (US$1.85) and a concession is RSD 100 (US$1)


Belgrade is not just about its main attractions, it’s a living city where the people are as diverse as its interconnected history, and discovering this is one of the most rewarding things to do in Belgrade.

To really get under the skin of the place, explore one of its many neighbourhoods, from the popular Skadarlija to the seafood-rich Zemun, and the seaside vibes of Ada Ciganlija.


Skadarlija is the name of a street in Belgrade – only about 400 metres long but one of the most famous. It is also the name given to the bohemian area of the city around this street, often compared in travel literature to Montmartre in Paris.

Cobbled stones along its sloping length, Skadarlija is closed to traffic with both sides lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. Little artist shops and market stalls are dotted amongst them.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

It doesn’t take too long to explore it and this is probably the place in the whole city which will feel the most touristy. The thing is, though, it’s the locals who seem to come here the most.

So I would suggest that you might like to come for more than just a poke around. Stay for a meal and a drink and see where things take you.


The independent town of Zemun was technically made a part of the city of Belgrade in the 1930s, but its people remain strongly connected to their roots, making it a unique part of the city to explore.

Well connected to trade from its time as an Austrian Empire border town, Zemun is a bohemian place where you will find a swathe of fresh seafood restaurants along the bustling riverside promenade.

Visit the Millennium Tower and Gardoš Hill for fine city views, marvel at the Baroque St. Nicholas church, see opera and theatre shows at the Madlenianum, or wander along Zemun Kej to rub shoulders with the locals.

Ada Ciganlija

Though Ada Ciganlija is more of a river peninsula than an island, it doesn’t stop locals treating the place like their own private beach getaway. With a host of leisure activities, dining options, and clean beaches, Ada Ciganlija is a fantastic spot to visit if you’re looking for things to do in Belgrade in summer.

Known as ‘Belgrade’s Seaside’, Ada Ciganlija is the number one place to be when temperatures reach over 40 degrees in the height of Serbian summertime. Days are spent lounging by the river, taking in the rays, and leaving the stresses of city life behind.


One of the best ways to learn more about the different layers of Belgrade is to go on a tour of the city with a local.

There are so many options when it comes to good tours in Belgrade, but I want to highlight a few that I think are really worthwhile here.

Boat cruise

With Belgrade situated at the meeting of the Danube and the Sava Rivers, it’s no surprise that the waterways are an important part of the city – not just its layout, but its culture as well.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

Some of the most important sights in Belgrade are along the rivers and a boat cruise is a good way to see many of them, including Belgrade Fortress, Great War Island, and the Millennium Tower of Zemun.

I would recommend this city boat cruise where a guide will fill you in on all of the sights. Or another great option is this sunset cruise that includes drinks.

City tour

If you’ve got limited time to explore, or you want to make sure you don’t miss any of the highlights, taking a guided tour of the city is a great way to see the best of Belgrade.

With such a rich (and, let’s be honest, complicated) history and culture, I think it’s also really useful to have a local give you some context of what you’re seeing.

Things to see in Belgrade, Serbia

For the ultimate city tour, I would recommend this full-day guided experience that covers just about everything you need to see by car and on foot.

Or there are some other great options here:

As well as learning about the history and life in Belgrade, most tours will take you to places like the Kalemegdan, Belgrade Fortress, Zemun citadel, and Slavija Square.

Themed tour

To go even deeper, you can look beyond just the obvious sights and dig into just one aspect of the city’s past with a themed tour. In a city like Belgrade, I think you’ll really get something out of this approach.

A few that I would recommend are:

  • Communist history tour: You’ll uncover the contentious history of the communist era of Serbia as a local guide unravels shocking stories and conspiracy theories from the second half of the 20th century.
  • Jewish walking tour: See important cultural sights related to the heritage of the Jewish people in the city, including the only active synagogue in central Serbia.
  • Football history tour: As well as discovering sights related to the football culture, like Rajko Mitic Stadium, your guide will take you to neighbourhoods that explain the intense rivalry known as the ‘Eternal Derby’.

While it’s possible to see the main sights independently, it’s almost impossible to get this kind of insight with a local guide.

Food tour

Another fantastic way to experience Belgrade is through its food, which has so much variety when you get to know more of the local specialties.

Join this food and culture tour in Belgrade to try things like Serbian rakija and a variety of Serbian street food from the old town.

The real bonus of this tour is that you will discover fascinating local customs and cultural traditions, with its many influences throughout history from the Austrians, Turks, Hungarians, and Bulgarians.

Day trips

If you have a little more time to spare, you might think about taking a day trip from Belgrade. Though the city is the most popular tourist destination in the country, there are several other interesting areas and attractions in the region that are well worth visiting.

Novi Sad

Get to know Northern Serbia a little better with this full-day tour to Novi Sad, the second largest city in Serbia and full of its own attractions.

Often referred to as ‘Serbian Athens’, Novi Sad boasts a history as a cultural and intellectual centre of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s also known for its classic Serbian and Hungarian architecture, as well as the popular EXIT music festival.

Arriving in Serbia to Novi Sad

There are a few great tours from Belgrade to Novi Sad that also include some other destinations along the way, as you can see here:

If you would like to visit independently, or even spend a night or two, then you can read my story about the best things to do in Novi Sad.

Golubac Fortress

Another option is to head out to Eastern Serbia, where one of the dominant natural features is the mighty Danube River.

The highlight here is the famous Golubac Fortress, situated on the border between Serbia and its neighbour Romania. Built in the 14th century, it has ten dramatic towers rising up along its defences.

A great way to see the fortress is on this full-day tour from Belgrade that also includes some of the other region’s highlights, including the Iron Gate Gorge and the ancient Mesolithic sculptures at the Lepenski Vir Museum.

Some other good tours that head to the fortress and explore Eastern Serbia are here:

West Serbia

And then there’s Western Serbia, which offers impressive natural sights, vast mountain landscapes and open countryside.

Take this really interesting day tour to visit a unique house built on a rock in the middle of the Drina River, explore the Mokra Gora Wooden Village (built as a filming location by the famous director Emir Kusturica), and take a slow ride through scenic mountain passes on the historic Sargan 8 Railroad.

They are all just even more excuses to spend a little longer in Belgrade than perhaps you planned. As I said, the more you look, there more you find in one of Europe’s most interesting capital cities.


You get great value for accommodation in Belgrade so you might want to consider staying somewhere a bit cool!


For a fun and social atmosphere, one of the best backpacker options is Hedonist Hostel.


If you would like something affordable with clean modern rooms, I suggest Omia Hotel.


There is some very funky design at the cool Mama Shelter Belgrade.


And when it comes to luxury, I just love the style at Square Nine Hotel Belgrade.

8 thoughts on “Things to do in Belgrade”

  1. Joining in the living…yeah, my absolutely favourite actvity while in Belgrade is sipping Turkish coffee. I miss it, damn. When I think about Belgrade, I don’t think about the sighseeing sites even if I really liked some of them like the fortress or Skadarlija. I think about people I saw, small talks in my laughable Serbian, Serbian food, lazy hours on Danube riverbank and watching the crowds….

  2. We’re heading there soon (for a honeymoon!). I think it’s great that they seem perplexed by tourists. It makes everything so much more authentic. they aren’t trying to hide or fix anything for the sake of global travel. Nor should they. I feel like I’m really going to enjoy Serbia out of all the countries we visit on our itinerary.

  3. I love the idea of places lacking in tourists and even lacking in touristy activities. I’m at a point now where I just want to BE somewhere else, hang out, observe, people watch, experience the city. Belgrade sounds like a nice place to do that.

  4. It might be one of the poorer countries of Eastern Europe, but it’s also one with the most untapped natural beauty in terms of the coast, the mountains, the countryside, hidden valleys, farms and beyond. Much like it’s neighbor Bulgaria, it’s been forgotten by time since the war….and I can only hope that more people start to make their way over there to explore the beauty of the country and its people.

  5. There is an interesting fact about that statue i the cover image. It was made from a mold originally developed for a statue that stands in a small park in Podgorica, capital of Montenegro, and the park is called after the man – Karađorđev park. Few Serbs now this. Shame you didn’t visit parks while you were there 😉 they are quite beautiful.


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