The capital and largest city in Serbia. Belgrade is home to over one million people and is one of the most important cities in the Balkans.
With a history stretching back to pre-historic times, Belgrade has a varied and turbulent history. It was conquered by the Romans, the Byzantines and it was part of the Ottoman Empire. The city was battled over in over 115 wars and razed 44 times, including 1999’s Kosovo War.
Today, Belgrade is a bustling city that is receiving large amounts of investment from the Serbian government. Its nightlife is famous across Europe, and visitors are enchanted by the beautiful architecture and dearth of culture.
In 2017, Ana Brnbić became Serbia’s first openly gay Prime Minister, and in 2017 she was the first Serbian Prime Minister to march in a Pride Parade. Same-sex activity was legalised in 1994 with age of consent equalised in 2006 (14). Anti-discrimination laws are in place and this includes the recognition of sexuality based hate crimes.
Despite these positive developments, there is still a long way to go in Serbia. There is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships and many Serbians hold negative views towards LGBT issues. Far-right and Neo-Nazi groups are known to operate in Serbia, and violence against LGBT people is not unheard of.
Belgrade’s gay scene is a reflection of Serbian politics in that it is not particularly bustling and relatively low key. There is a small selection of bars, clubs and a sauna catering specifically for gay customers and these get quite popular at weekends.
Discretion is advised in regards to public displays of affection outside of gay venues or hotels. Verbal abuse and, sadly, physical abuse is not unheard of, and it’s best to avoid large crowds of football fans if you feel like your appearance might draw attention.
Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG) is located 18km west of Belgrade’s centre. It is a hub for Air Serbia and is well connected by flag carriers and budget airlines with destinations in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. There is also a scheduled transatlantic route and a direct connection to Beijing.
Bus 72 runs twice an hour from outside terminal 1 into the city centre between 4am and midnight. Journey times vary between 40 minutes to an hour. Tickets bought in the terminal are around 89 RSD and are more expensive if bought from the driver.
Minibus A1 is a quicker way of getting into town than the standard civic bus. Journeys to the city centre cost around 300 RSD and take around half an hour depending on the roads. Be sure to tell the driver where your destination is as you pay.
Taxi fares to the city centre are usually fixed around the 1800 RSD mark to the centre of the Belgrade. There usually is not a luggage fee, but heavier items may incur a fee. You can hail a taxi at the airport, but it is advisable to book in advance to make sure you get an official taxi as scams are common.
Glavna Railway station handles most national and international rail connections into Belgrade (some local connections and those to neighbouring countries in the Balkans stop at Belgrade – Danube station). Sleeper services are available to destinations in Eastern and Central Europe.
There is a common scam in operation on the Belgrade to Budapest line where people pose as guards and offer to watch your luggage. When dealing with anybody on these trains, demand official identification and try to keep any important items close to your person.
Coach travel is a cheap way of getting between other ex-Yugoslav countries in the Balkans. Journey times can be quite long and rest stops aren’t guaranteed so ensure you pack plenty of water/snacks should you commit to this route. The bus station is located in the centre of the city next to the central rail station.
Belgrade is on the Danube and as such several river cruises start and end here. Pretty much any destination on the Danube offers some sort of connection to Belgrade however these tend to be long and take quite a long time.
There are large pedestrianised areas of Belgrade which make traversing this city easy on foot. Some of the cobbled areas aren’t in the best condition but this generally seems to be an exception. Traffic around rush hour can be intimidating so take caution when crossing roads, even at what seems like it’s a crossing.
By public transport
Buses are the main way of getting around however trolley buses and trams are also available. Tram lines 2 and 3 are popular as 2 forms a ring around the city centre and 3 takes a scenic route that takes in Miloš’s Konak Park. Services are pretty regular during the day however there is a sparsely available, half-hourly nightbus service.
Single journeys, valid for 90 minutes, cost 89 RSD and 24hour trips cost 280 RSD and must be validated on travel. There is an extra charge if purchased directly from the driver. Fare card’s purchased from kiosks are a cheap way of getting around the city and can be topped up as and how you need them.
Taxis are cheap in comparison to other European cities however there are some precautions you are best off taking. Always order in advance to ensure the taxi company has a record of your trip if you are concerend that the driver is ripping you off. Official taxis should have TX at the end of their licence plate and will go by the meter.
For a list of recommended hotels in Belgrade, please visit Gay Belgrade Hotels page.
Belgrade Fortress – the most visited attraction in Belgrade. Various occupiers of Belgrade have left their mark and this whole area is an archeological mismatch of ruins and grand buildings. The grounds are a popular recreational area and open-air concerts have seen everyone from Amy Winehouse to Green Day play.
Saint Sava Temple – the largest Orthodox church in Serbia and one of the largest in the world. Construction of this building started in 1935 but World War 2 and successive communist intervention resulted in this building not being finished until 1989.
Skadarlija – Belgrade’s bohemian quarter, comparable to Montmartre in Paris. Poor writers and artists made this area their home in the early 2oth Century. Find cute cafes and quirky, winding alleyways. Great in the summer.
The National Museum of Serbia – the largest museum in Serbia and the ex-Yugoslavian states. A large portion of this museum is closed for reconstruction however it is due to re-open in 2018. Its collection includes artists from all over the world.
Nikola Tesla Museum – a museum dedicated to Nikola Tesla, Serbia’s greatest son. This museum is split in half with one half exploring his scientific legacy while the other half is dedicated to the life of the man himself.
National Theatre – a stunning working theatre built in Renaissance style. You can catch opera, ballet and drama performances here.
Knez Mihailova Street – Belgrade’s main shopping street. Here you will find grand hotels, upmarket boutiques and department stores, and a cornucopia of cafes to enjoy a coffee and people watch.
Pijaca Zeleni Venac (Farmer’s Market) – bustling market and one of the cheapest in the city. Here you will find the freshest locally produced goods. Perfect for picnics or souvenirs.
Like a lot of Continental Europe, Belgrade experiences bitterly cold winters and scorching summers. The most agreeable weather is usually found from mid-April to June although September (though this can even sometimes extend to early November) is equally pleasant. There isn’t, however, a massive summer surge of visitors.
Other than September’s Pride parade, there are a wide range of festivals and events across the calendar to interest visitors. The international wine fair takes place in mid-February, whilst there is a Beer Festival in August. The FERAM Early Music Festival attracts an international lineup of classical musicians in June.
Serbia is not in the European Union or Schengen Zone. Citizens of EU nations, neighbouring ex-Yugoslavian states, USA, Canada, Israel, Singapore, Japan, Australia and some other nations have visa-free access for stays of 90 days within an 180 day time period. Check their embassy for further information and restrictions.
The currency of Serbia is the Serbian dinar (RSD). It can be exchanged in most European banks with ease, although Serbian money exchangers may be unhappy exchanging dirty or damaged notes. Money exchangers are common in Belgrade and official ones will bear the seal of the national bank (unofficial ones may be cheaper).
Cash in euros is sometimes accepted, but prices will be higher than in Serbian dinar. Credit cards are generally accepted. Smaller shops, bars and restaurants may not take cash, so always have some cash in hand.
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