A Guide to Backpacking Belgrade


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I still get starry-eyed when I think of backpacking Belgrade. It’s a city that kept drawing me back on my travels and it seems to be the place where a lot of my stories originate. Let me tell you, it is an absolutely magical city; from the warmth and hospitality of the Serbian people to the awesome travellers — no trip to the Balkans would be complete without spending some time in Belgrade.

Though I’ve since grown beyond my backpacking years, Belgrade is still a city that speaks to the budget traveller wandering through Europe and I still remember the time I spent there as a backpacker fondly. The sheer amount of hostels available and the city’s inimitable nightlife make it truly a dream come true for young travellers. Top all of that with a city full of friendly locals who are more than happy to share more than a drop or two of rakija — the local Balkan liquor — and introduce this vibrant capital.

If you want to learn a bit more about Belgrade beyond it’s social and party scene, however, I recommend starting with a free walking tour. free Downtown Tour if you want to get to know a broad history of the city’s old town. Their free 20th Century tour is also fantastic and takes you through some of Belgrade’s more recent history. Both tours take you all around Belgrade and give you a great understanding of its complex history — and also provides some rakija!

Zindan Gate @ Kalamegdan Fortress
Zindan Gate at the Kalamegdan Fortress

Belgrade also has a number of museums that can be interesting: The Tito Museum gives an in-depth look at Serbia’s and Yugoslavia’s history and was a personal favourite of mine. The Nikola Tesla Museum can also be interesting as it gives a small glimpse into his life and inventions, however, I did find the museum to be slightly underwhelming.

While a walking tour is a good starting-off point, there are myriad fun things to do in Belgrade. It is worth seeing the St. Sava Cathedral, which is the biggest Eastern Orthodox church in the world. Its interior was under construction when we were there, but the exterior is stunning on its own accord. Nearby, there are a couple of buildings that were left as-is, showing the full destruction of the ‘99 NATO bombings. They are a sobering sight and can give you some insight into the city’s troubled past.

Republic Square is the main meeting point of the city and it’s bustling with activity and it is right next to the National Theatre, National Museum, and the main pedestrian street of Knez Mihailova – which is lined with many restaurants, shops, and cafes.

Perhaps our favourite place to visit in the city, though, is the Belgrade fortress. An ancient structure looming over the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, it is like the Central Park of Belgrade and a perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon with a picnic and a few beers.

Sunset at Kalamegdan Fortress
Sunset at Kalamegdan Fortress

Another great way to really get the most out of backpacking Belgrade is to go to a football game. The teams Red Star and Partizan have one of the most intense rivalries in the history of the sport (think Real Madrid v FC Barcelona on steroids) and if you get the opportunity to attend a derby, don’t pass it up. Match tickets are affordable and accessible and it is guaranteed to be entertaining even if you’re not a soccer fan.

Belgrade also has a number of restaurants and it can be quite affordable to eat out. “?” (that’s what it’s called!) kafana is considered to be the oldest kafana in the city and serves up some great traditional meals with generous portions. If fast food is more your style, Drama Ćevapi is a great stop for some local fare where Tel Aviv Hummus House makes a great falafel and is a rare vegetarian option in this city!

Of course, no time backpacking Belgrade would be complete without a sampling of its infamous nightlife. I would honestly recommend going on a pub crawl because the city has so much to offer in regards to a party that it’s impossible to sum it all into a couple of paragraphs. Belgrade is perhaps most famous for its , or barges anchored on the banks of the river that have been converted into nightclubs. If you are fortunate enough to be there in the summer months, there are dozens to choose from all specialising in a different type of music and they are open until dawn.

If you’re looking for something a bit more mellow, consider exploring some of Belgrade’s burgeoning craft beer scene. There are numerous places to go to grab a pint of a locally brewed pale ale or lager — some of our favourites include Samo Pivo, Endorfin, and Dogma Brewery. If you want to explore the beer scene in more depth, then heading out on a craft beer tour is a fantastic option.

There is no denying it, Belgrade is a city that seems almost made for backpackers. With affordable prices, friendly locals, and a hopping nightlife, you are sure not to be disappointed if you choose to visit Belgrade as a backpacker.

Belgrade craft beers
Craft beer in Belgrade

Where to Stay while Backpacking Belgrade

As mentioned previously, Belgrade has ample budget accommodation available to suit all kinds of backpackers, solo and budget travellers. Whether you’re looking for a lively backpacker hostel or an affordable private room, Belgrade has something to offer everyone. If you’re wondering where to stay in Belgrade, have a look at our top recommendations:

Hedonist Hostel — An excellent hostel located in the Old Town near Student’s Park, they have a range of both dorm and private rooms available, fantastic common areas, clean facilities, 24-hour reception, and an incredibly welcoming and hospitable staff. Consistently highly-rated, it is one of the best hostels in Belgrade. Click here to check their availability

El Diablo Hostel — Another one of the best hostels in Belgrade, this centrally-located hostel has both dorm and private rooms available, clean facilities, helpful staff (who will organise social events in the evenings), and great common areas for meeting other travellers. Click here to check their availability

Airbnb — If you are travelling on a budget but feel like the hostel scene is a bit too wild for you, then Airbnb is a good option for you. You can find a private room on Airbnb for just a little bit more than a bed in a hostel dorm — like this cosy room in the city centre — and it gives you the added benefit of seeing how local’s live in their own homes. Click here to browse the best Airbnbs in Belgrade.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here browse more Belgrade hostels!

Republic Square is a great way to start your Belgrade itinerary
Belgrade’s Republic Square

There are so many things to do in Belgrade and I urge you to spend as much time in this city as you can. There is a certain magic in the place that can be inescapable.

When backpacking Belgrade, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads 

Have you been considered backpacking Belgrade? If you’ve been, is Belgrade worth visiting?  Leave a comment below!

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A Guide to Backpacking Belgrade

Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. When she’s not dreaming of far-away lands, Maggie enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, Harry Potter, and coaxing stray cats into her home.

Comments

  1. Belgrade looks like an awesome place to visit. I haven’t tried backpacking yet but I would like to imagine that my first destination would include Belgrade in it. This was a nice overview for what to expect though, so thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Chris! Belgrade is an amazing city…one of my favourites in the world! It’s worth visiting even if you’re not backpacking 🙂

      Reply
  2. It looks like an awesome place to visit. I haven’t been yet, but would definitly consider backpacking there. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Seems like Belgrade is a great place to visit! To be honest I havent consider it for my future travels plans but I do need to update my list 🙂 Its close enough as I live in Europe and looks beautiful! Glad to hear you had amazing hostel experience ! So whats the local food like?

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Ada! It’s an amazing city, maybe my favourite in Europe.

      The food is somewhat similar Greek, I would say. It’s fairly meat-heavy but really good! There this amazing jam that’s everywhere called ajvar which is made from peppers and eggplant that I still have dreams about…

      Reply
  4. Serbia is definitely a must see! Haven’t been to Belgrad yet, even if I live in Europe. But it’s on my travel list and hopefully I can even make a roadtrip one day 🙂

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    • Hi Lena, thanks for your comment! Serbia is definitely a great country to visit. Belgrade is absolutely amazing…try and get there ASAP! You won’t be sorry 🙂

      Reply
  5. The alternative Belgrade tour sounds awesome – I love getting off the beaten path! I’d be interested to check out a football match as well, but is it just me or does the stadium look like it’s on fire?!

    Reply
    • Hi Flo! Yeah, the alternative tour was really interesting and allowed us to learn about a different side of the city. It’s especially sad because a lot of things of significance in Belgrade are being torn down due to new development.

      The football games are crazy! But no, the stadium itself isn’t on fire…just devoted fans with flares 🙂

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  6. I always remember my trip to Belgrade, in +42 heat in the middle of summer. It was not great with all those old cars chucking out gas into the air. However the people were great and I loved the fortress. Reading this post brought back some memories, some good, some bad 🙂

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    • Yeah, it can get hot there! Luckily I never had to experience anything over 30 🙂 It’s an amazing city whatever the weather though!

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  7. I’ve not visited Serbia but, I’d definitely want to visit! The derby looks like a great time. Are the stands on fire? Gotta love it.

    Reply
    • Serbia is an amazing country, you should definitely visit as soon as possible! And then stadium isn’t on fire…Just people with flares if that makes it better haha 🙂

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  8. Hi there,

    Did you walk to Belgrade Fortress from the town or did you take a taxi there? And what was your experience with the taxi there if you did happen to use on?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Natasha! If you’re in or around the city centre it’s only around a 10-15 minute walk to the fortress so it’s really not necessary to take a taxi.

      I did take a couple during my time there and never had a bad experience. Generally I would say to agree upon a price before getting into the car or to make sure the meter is running. Honestly it’s the same advice I would give anywhere in the world 🙂

      Reply
  9. I think I would be interested with the walking tour. It would be nice to see the not so mainstream areas of Belgrade that are usually overlooked but has a fascinating story to tell. And of course, it’s a must to try some of the local food like those kebabs in one the restos to complete the Belgrade experience.

    Reply
  10. Belgrade comes across as an enchanting place. I particularly liked the look of the fortress, it looks so beautiful and must hold so many stories of the past, it would be fascinating to visit. The Hedonist hostel looks like a great place to camp and explore the treasures of Belgrade.

    Reply
    • Belgrade is an awesome place to visit! Unfortunately, a lot of the street art is gone at this point due to new developments, but I’m sure new stuff is popping up every day! The fortress is a great place to spend a warm afternoon — there is a ton of history and also a lovely park. Hope I’ve inspired you to visit 🙂

      Reply
  11. I went to Belgrade last year and loved it and definitely want to go back. The fortress area was beautiful and even ran into a group of fellow Americans and when we began to talk about why we were in Belgrade, we all began to laugh and said “why not?” Would like to go back but I have a Kosovo stamp in my passport and did not enter/exit through Serbia, and I hear you aren’t allowed into Serbia if they see the Kosovo stamp.

    Reply
    • Hi Ruben! I actually wrote an article about entering Serbia and Kosovo – https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/enter-kosovo-legally/

      You should be okay with a Kosovo stamp in your passport when you re-enter Serbia – I had one when I visited Serbia last year. Most of the reports on the interest suggest that the worst that would happen is that they cross out the stamp on your passport but will still let you in. Even, these reports are from a few years ago now.

      Reply

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