48 hours in Belgrade

Serbia’s capital is pulsing with life. Forward thinking, brave and proud in equal measures, Belgrade has a modern gritty side, coupled with a rich and exciting heritage stretching back hundreds of years through a trying past.

Begin your discovery of this city and wander among the art nouveau and brutalist architecture, staring in wonder at the enticing mix, and explore the centuries as you find tangible nods to the legacy of Belgrade, painting a picture of a turbulent yet tantalising history on every corner.

Whether you’re visiting for a short time as part of a longer trip discovering more of Serbia or are on a quick stop in the country, there’s plenty to see and do with just 48 hours to spare in Belgrade.

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Day One – Art and History

Start your first day in Belgrade by grabbing yourself a takeaway coffee to sip as you admire the capital’s thriving street art scene. Graffiti has been a constant attraction in the city since the early 80s, when a series of murals was born to bring the history of Serbia to the streets. Some of these can still be seen today, but now they sit among a vibrant modern street art scene, birthed in 1995, which has seen the city bathed in colourful pieces over the past two decades. See the very best by heading to Branko’s Bridge, Braće Krsmanović Street and Karadjordjeva Street.

Once you’ve seen the external artwork, head to Ušće Park in New Belgrade to visit the first of two art galleries, the Museum of Contemporary Art. The building itself is the best and most impressive example of the city’s modernist architecture. Make your way inside and you’ll find a staggering 8,000 pieces of work on display, including the largest collection of Yugoslav art in the world.

After all this, you’ll no doubt be starting to feel peckish. Head out of the park to Top of the Hub, boasting stunning views of the Sava River.

Once you’ve had something to eat, make your way over Branko’s Bridge to Muzej Zepter, which houses a collection of works by contemporary Serbian artists. This beautiful 1920s building boasts eclectic interior design and a permanent collection that gives an overview of Serbian art from the second half of the 20th century.

It’s then just a short walk to the city’s symbolic landmark, Kalemegdan Fortress in the picturesque Old Town. More than 115 battles have been fought here over the years and the citadel was even destroyed and rebuilt more than 40 times. Start in the Upper Town, where you’ll see the Military Museum, Clock Tower and Victor Monument. Then head towards the river and the Lower Town to see the Gunpowder Magazine, Hamam and Nebojša Tower.

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For dinner, head to Dva Jelena, located on Skadarska Street. This restaurant is famous for its traditional menus, created in the 1920s, with highlights including steak Čika Dura, a well-known variant beloved in Serbia.

Day Two – Yugoslavian Belgrade

Before you start exploring, make your way to Supermarket Concept store for breakfast. The shop sits on the site of the first ever discount supermarket to be opened in former communist Yugoslavia and is designed by one of Serbia’s leading creative collectives to bring together the past and present of Belgrade seamlessly. Treat yourself to an American style breakfast washed down with fruit and vegetable juices.

The first stop of the day is at the Museum of Yugoslavia, which houses 200,000 artefacts representing Yugoslavia’s fascinating history. On weekends, you can join a free tour to discover the photographs, artwork, documents, films, and weapons.

Next, make your way to the Royal Compound, which was commissioned between the two world wars by King Alexander I of Yugoslavia, for a two-hour tour. The Royal and White Palaces in the Dedinje neighbourhoods were used by the communist regime after World War II.

From here, it’s time to see one of the few remaining symbols of the former Yugoslavia at Topčider Depo. The Blue Train, which was once used to transport Yugoslavia’s president on official business, is now a museum. Step inside to see the art deco detail as you make your way through the wagons from the dining room to Tito’s lounge and office, and see the opulent way those with power travelled in days gone by.

The final stop of the day is Nikola Tesla Museum. The man on the 100DIN note is one of the world’s greatest inventors and physicists. As well as experiencing the interactive elements that bring his greatest discoveries and inventions to life, you can see Tesla’s ashes, immortalised in a golden orb.

Make your way back to the Kalemegdan fortress and stop off for dinner at Bella Vista. Take a seat on the terrace and overlook the river as you tuck in to European seabass, prepared Dalmatian-style. If you’re here over the weekend, you can also listen to live music as you sip brightly coloured cocktails.

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