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. Like most European cities, there are a few of these to choose from and they are a great introduction to the city and its history.
I personally recommend Belgrade Free Walking Tour’s 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!
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.
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 splavlovi, or barges anchored on the banks of the river that have been converted into nightclubs. If you are fortunate enough 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.
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
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here browse more Belgrade hostels!
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!