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Belgrade for under £100 a night: where to stay and what to do in Serbia’s ‘cheap as chips’ capital

The intriguing capital of Serbia is one of the cheapest places for a holiday in Europe

The intriguing capital of Serbia is one of the cheapest places for a holiday in Europe

According to a recent poll, Serbia’s intriguing capital is one of the cheapest places for a holiday in Europe, ahead of Prague, Budapest and Seville.

Belgrade has a mix of concrete Tito-era buildings, medieval fortresses, bohemian quarters with old-fashioned 19th-century kafanas (taverns) and Art Deco hotels. Cheap as chips, yes. Cheerful too.

Where to stay

Hotel Majestic

This hotel (majestic.rs) has a tragic story: it was where Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’ (named after manager Sir Matt Busby) stayed the night before the 1958 Munich air crash that killed 23 people, including eight of the young players.

It’s a lovely Art Deco hotel, well located and with comfortable double rooms from £64. A poignant photo of the players hangs in the lobby.

Hotel Moscow

Illustrious former guests of this elegant hotel from 1908 (hotelmoskva.rs) including Indira Gandhi, Albert Einstein and Yugoslav Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ivo Andric who wrote in a corner of the glitter cafe. Expect chandeliers, marble floors, cozy rooms – doubles from £94 B&B – and tasty Moskva Schnitte cakes with berries and pineapple.

Intriguing: the view of Belgrade from the Danube.  The city has a mix of concrete Tito-era buildings, medieval fortresses, bohemian quarters with old-fashioned 19th-century kafanas (taverns) and Art Deco hotels

Intriguing: the view of Belgrade from the Danube.  The city has a mix of concrete Tito-era buildings, medieval fortresses, bohemian quarters with old-fashioned 19th-century kafanas (taverns) and Art Deco hotels

Intriguing: the view of Belgrade from the Danube. The city has a mix of concrete Tito-era buildings, medieval fortresses, bohemian quarters with old-fashioned 19th-century kafanas (taverns) and Art Deco hotels

Mommy Hideout

On the top floor of the Rajiceva Shopping Centre, close to the Belgrade Fortress, Mama Shelter is fun, colorful and great value, with double rooms from £93 (mamashelter.com).

Don’t be put off by the shops below as the views from the restaurant/bar terrace are fantastic, the atmosphere is lively, the location is great and the rooms are beautiful, with bright splashes of contemporary art.

Belgrade Art Hotel

This modern hotel (radissonhotels.com/individuals) has a cocktail bar overlooking the bustling stream of shoppers below. The rooms are in neutral colors and a decent size, with doubles starting at £71. Guests can use a sauna and also book massages in the small spa.

Where to eat

Service is friendly and prompt at Manufaktura Restaurant (pictured) on Krajja Petra Street - and a meal with wine costs around £15 per person

Service is friendly and prompt at Manufaktura Restaurant (pictured) on Krajja Petra Street - and a meal with wine costs around £15 per person

Service is friendly and prompt at Manufaktura Restaurant (pictured) on Krajja Petra Street – and a meal with wine costs around £15 per person

Restaurant Manufaktura

On Krajja Petra Street close to St. Michael’s Cathedral, Manufaktura (restoran-manufaktura.rs) is a cheerful brasserie with a large open space offering ‘authentic Balkan food and drink’ – all originating from Serbia. There are burgers, sausages, roast lamb, cheese platters, hams and trout salads. Service is friendly and fast. About £15pp with wine.

The Great Salon

Within Hotel Majestic, this charming restaurant has a mainly meat menu with veal goulash, steaks, pork chops and grilled chicken. One of the charming waiters has met the late Busby Babe survivor Harry Gregg, and Manchester United fans still make pilgrimages here. Two courses with wine cost £17 pp (majestic.rs).

Dva Jelena

Dva Jelena is located in the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija.  Pictured is a charming cobbled street in the area

Dva Jelena is located in the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija.  Pictured is a charming cobbled street in the area

Dva Jelena is located in the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija. Pictured is a charming cobbled street in the area

In the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija, an ancient abode of writers and actors, Dva Jelena, what Two Stags (dvajelena.rs), is one of many cavernous, utterly cheerful kafana restaurants/inns. Expect wood paneling, musicians playing traditional songs on clarinets and accordions, plus delicious stews, pork skewers, pancakes and pies. About £17pp with wine.

Kafana Question Mark

Dating back to 1823, this is Belgrade’s oldest surviving tavern — marked on the outside with ‘?’ above the door. Inside are small low wooden tables to which waiters deliver hearty stews and plates of grilled meat, accompanied by beer and plum brandy (rakija). Beer/shots £1.45. Pot roast £4.

Mala Akademija

This quaint bookshop on Kneza Mihaila has a mezzanine level and cocktail bar – a great place to relax after a day wandering the sights; £3.60 for a whiskey sour.

What to see and do?

Admission is free at the Belgrade Fortress, pictured, which offers a beautiful view of the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers

Admission is free at the Belgrade Fortress, pictured, which offers a beautiful view of the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers

Admission is free at the Belgrade Fortress, pictured, which offers a beautiful view of the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers

nice fortress

The Belgrade Fortress is located on a hill surrounded by a park with a beautiful view of the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. Entrance is free.

Classical Cathedral

The Saint Sava Temple is a huge Orthodox church based on the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. It has room for over 10,000 worshippers and the roof rises to 269 feet.

Electric Museum

The Nikola Tesla Museum tells the fascinating life of the scientist with Serbian roots. Tours (£5.80) are in English, including fun demonstrations of Tesla’s discoveries (nikolateslamuseum.org).

Fantastic Art

The National Museum, pictured, is filled with works of art from the Roman and Greek periods, as well as paintings by Picasso, Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh

The National Museum, pictured, is filled with works of art from the Roman and Greek periods, as well as paintings by Picasso, Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh

The National Museum, pictured, is filled with works of art from the Roman and Greek periods, as well as paintings by Picasso, Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh

The National Museum is located in a grand building next to Republic Square. Admission is free on Sundays or £1.45 at other times, giving you access to works of art from the Roman and Greek periods to paintings by Picasso, Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh (narodnimuzej.rs).

People watching

Take a stroll through pedestrianized Kneza Mihaila to enjoy the street performers and stop for a coffee in one of the many cafes.

Stop for a coffee and a spot of people-watching on the pedestrian street Kneza Mihaila, pictured above

Stop for a coffee and a spot of people-watching on the pedestrian street Kneza Mihaila, pictured above

Stop for a coffee and a spot of people-watching on the pedestrian street Kneza Mihaila, pictured above

How to get there

Luton-Belgrade returns from £52 (wizzair.com). Fifty minute buses from airport to city cost £1.10 or taxis £14.50. You must either be fully vaccinated, have a negative PCR test result within 48 hours of travel, or have proof of Covid recovery.

Visitors are required to wear face masks when entering buildings and to have Covid testing certification for bars and restaurants after 8pm.

On return you will need to present the UK Passenger Locator Form (gov.uk).

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