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Best Time to go to Serbia

Best-Time-to-go-Serbia

Lord Byron once wrote, “At the moment of birth of our planet, the most beautiful meeting of land and sea was on the Montenegrin coast … ” and he wasn’t far off the mark. Despite the turbulence of the past decade, Serbia is still blessed with the natural beauty, rich heritage and vibrant culture which once made it the traditional aristocrat’s vacation spot, and is fast becoming one of the most popular ‘undiscovered’ vacation spots in Europe.

 

Strolling Along In Belgrade

Knez-Mihajlova-Serbia

Paris has Champs-Elysee; London has Bond Street; Los Angeles has Rodeo Drive; and Singapore has Orchard Road – popular, iconic boulevards that are as much tourist attractions as any castles or museums, and just as filled with tourists. In Belgrade, Serbia, the local counterpart of these more famous avenues would be the hugely popular Knez Mihajlova, or Prince Mihajlo’s Street.

Located in the very heart of Belgrade city, near to the Kalemegdan fortress (Belgrade’s No 1 tourist attraction) and the Square of the Republic (tourist attraction No. 2), the pedestrians-only Knez Mihajlova is the social heart of the city. For generations, it has served as the parade ground for the city’s fashion-conscious peacocks, with one side of the pavement traditionally reserved for strolling ‘up’ the street, and the other side reserved for strolling ‘down’. Every evening, stylishly dressed locals come out to parade, keep an eye on the latest garments displayed in the windows of high-end boutiques, and check out the other strollers. Along the way, they stop by some of the city’s finest restaurants, pop into the many small art galleries, libraries or bookshops, or just do some shopping.

The Charms of Knez Mihajlova

Prince-Mihailo-Obrenovic-Serbia

Knez Mihajlova was designed and built in the middle of the 19th century, and was named after one of the Serbian rulers of the time, Prince Mihailo Obrenovic, who was accounted a great military ruler, as well as a great supporter of cultural institutions. Though times have moved on since then, and more modern buildings have come up, many of the original buildings and houses along the street have been preserved. The result is street that is quirkily eclectic in style, with some stretches unrelentingly modern and others quaintly Old World in feel. In a quiet hour on the right stretch of street, you could almost imagine a gowned and bejeweled lady stepping out of one of the houses and sweeping off to the shops to buy lace handkerchiefs.

 
For those who prefer more modern attractions, Knez Mihajlova is also home some of the top fashion names and is a popular place for well-heeled weekend visitors to do a spot of luxury spending. Most stores are open late during weekdays and close at about 3pm on weekends, so come nighttime on Saturday nights, the promenading crowds head to the restaurants on the street, which include some of the most elegant and historic dining establishments in the city. Of course, there are also many less up-market eateries sprinkled up and down the road, many of which stay open until the wee hours of the night. For those interested in learning more about the local culture, there are also cultural attractions to visit such as the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the National Theatre, the National Museum, all within easy walking distance of Knez Mihajlova, as well as other draws.

 

Knez Mihajlova is one of the best places to see the locals in all their finery, but the one thing visitors won’t see much of is other tourists. Apart from the weekend visitors from the neighbouring countries, who have been aware of Belgrade’s charms for ages, international tourism has largely still not caught onto the fact that the city is ready and waiting for visitors. Though there are still burned out buildings and other legacies from over a decade on warring, the city has largely healed itself, and is rapidly improving its tourism infrastructure and facilities. For visitors willing to step a little way off the beaten track, the next couple years would be an excellent time to visit the city, just as the quality of service goes up but before the rest of the world discovers it as a new vacation spot.

Skadarlija: An Artist’s Refuge

Skadarlija-Serbia

Knez Mihajlova isn’t the only popular promenade in Belgrade. If Knez Mihajlova is the Belgrade equivalent of the Champs Elysee, the Skadarlija, or Skadar street, is the local answer to the Montmartre quarter. Located in the eastern side of the old quarter and originally the haunt of gypsies, in the early 1900s Skadarlija gradually began attracting writers, artists and other visionaries to its inns, cafes, restaurants and art houses, who transformed the street into a bohemian refuge. In later years, more distinguished visitors have taken a turn along the street, including Jimi Hendrix, George W Bush, Tito and more.

Belgrade-Serbia

Today, even though the street has become a popular tourist attraction, Skadarlija still retains some of its artistic traditions, as there are often performers and street musicians filling the evening air with traditional songs. Like Knez Mihajlova, many of the buildings here have been preserved from the 19th century, adding a certain romantic air to a stroll down the street. During summer, many of the restaurants and pubs will put little wooden tables out in the open air and on fine evenings, you can join the couples and families enjoying their evening meals. This would also be the perfect time to try Belgrade’s most popular dish, the rostilj – grilled meat best eaten with a local beer. Unfortunately, vegetarians would have a harder time in Belgrade, which still maintains the traditional European ‘meat and two veg’ style of cuisine – the only salads you’ll likely find here are the paltry side dishes accompanying a main dish.

 

Knez Mihajlova and Skafarlija at the two most popular pedestrians-only areas in Belgrade, but they aren’t the only pretty streets in the city. Much of the city (especially in the old quarter) still retains cobblestone streets, old buildings created in an eclectic range of styles, little parks and other quiet attractions. One of the best ways to see the city is from the ground up, via one of the many walking tours on offer, though the do-it-yourself tour is also possible for the more adventurous visitors. Whether you go by yourself or with a guided group however, do be sure to take the time to appreciate the city in its current ‘untouristy’ state, for in a few years, you may return to find yourself lost in a stream of tourists.

Belgrade: Things To See & Do

Kalemegdan Citadel

There’s been a fort here since Celtic times, but most of the fortress you see looming over the

old town today was built in the 17th century. A Military Museum is perched high on the battlements.

 


 

Stari Grad

This is the city’s historic old town and a favourite place for visitors to walk around. Also located

here are many of the city’s most interesting museums, including the National Museum, with a collection of over 300, 000 artifacts, and the Ethnographical Museum, which has an excellent collection of Serbian costumes and folk art.

 


Palace of Princess Ljubice

The former residence of the Princess Ljubice, wife of Prince Milos, the first ruler of a semi-independent Serbia. In the style of a Turkish wooden house, this fully furnished palace is

popular with visitors; entry is free and an English pamphlet and plan is available.

 

Details

Opening Hrs: 10 am to 5 pm every day except on Mondays.
Contact:

Tel: (011) 638.264

Getting Here: Ulica Kneza Sime Markovica 8, Belgrade

 


 

Tito’s Mausoleum

Also known as House of Flowers, this is a popular pilgrimage site, though it no longer features

a guard of honour.

 


Temple of Saint Sava

The largest Orthodox temple currently in use and probably the most monumental building in

the country, it is dedicated to the founder of Serbian church and Serbian state. The church is

built on the Vracar plateau, on the spot where the saint was supposed to have been burnt in

1595 by Turkish Sinan Pasha.

 


 

Bajrakli Mosque

Built between 1660 and 1688, this is now the only mosque in the Serbian capital, sole survivor

of the 80 that existed during the time of the Ottoman Empire’s Serbia.

Belgrade: Events Highlights

Belgrade International Film Festival

 

23 February – 4 March

This premier event brings together the best in world cinema, as well as some of the best of Serbian silver screen.

Belgrade Summer Festival

 

July – August (tba)

Theatre, dance, visual art and music come together in this annual event, presenting innovative artistic programmes at different venues throughout the city including the streets, the squares and the theatres.

 

Belgrade Race Through History

 

17 October

This annual event takes place at the historic Kalemegdan fortress, when participants will run around the building and around the streets of the city.

 

Joy Of Europe
October (tba)

Held in Belgrade since 1969, this annual event sees children from around Europe gathering in the city to celebrate, have fun and encourage a greater sense of union among the diverse peoples of Europe.

 

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