JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH ANA KOROLIJA FROM BELGRADE, SERBIA!
Ana Korolija, a Serbian traveler and passionate photographer has lived in six countries with her husband including their home country Serbia. Ana currently lives in her home city Belgrade. She has got to know about different cultures around the world while traveling. She has recently started a travel and lifestyle blog to share both her good and bad experiences while traveling and living abroad. She also occasionally shares photography tips on her blog and social media for all you shutterbugs.
Belgrade is a capital city of Serbia, a city where Sava river meets Danube. One of the oldest cities in the world, Belgrade, has been built, destroyed and rebuilt more than forty four times in the past. The name of the city too has been changed more than a dozen times.
Belgrade is both preserving its past and making way for modern developments. It’s a city full of museums as well as amazing nightlife owing to its numerous river clubs. It is where you’ll fall in love with Serbian food, architecture and art.
Hometown of world’s best tennis player Novak Djokovic, Belgrade and infact the whole of Serbia is popular for producing some of the world’s best athletes. This is also a city of philanthropists, you can spot symbols of freemasonry on streets and buildings. It’s difficult to sum up all that Belgrade has to offer in just a few words.
When is the best time to visit Belgrade?
The best time to visit Belgrade, in my opinion, is in Spring. The weather is easy, everything is in bloom and people are happier. During Spring and Summer you can also enjoy the long beaches in Belgrade or indulge in extreme sports like bungee jumping, water skiing, and paintballing. The Ada Ciganlija island on the Sava river is quite popular for sports and recreation.
Winters can be very cold with lots of snow but surely every season has something nice to offer.
Which is the most convenient and favoured transport of Belgrade?
The Serbian railway system is well connected with other European cities like Vienna, Munich, Budapest, Kiev, and Moscow so you can travel to Belgrade from these cities and vice-versa. The main railway station also connects Belgrade to other Serbian towns.
Tourists coming to Belgrade by plane can easily reach city center by bus that goes from the airport every 20 minutes and the ticket is not expensive. The other option is a taxi but I would suggest finding a taxi desk in the airport building and not trying to catch one of the taxis in front of the airport because they tend to charge more.
If you want to use public transportation within the city, there are buses, trolleys and trams. Make use of the apps Bus Plus or Moovit to see the schedule and stops. Tickets can be bought at numerous kiosks and GSP point-of-sales or from the conductors in the vehicle itself. There are express minibus services too which are a little more expensive, but quicker as they do not stop at every bus-stop.
What are the top three must visit places in Belgrade?
If I have to suggest only three places, my recommendations would be the Belgrade Fortress – Kalemegdan, Church of Saint Sava and Nikola Tesla museum.
Belgrade fortress is the most visited place in the city with its rich history and beautiful views over Belgrade. It is said that the city of Belgrade actually grew around this fortress which was built to protect the city from Ottomans. It consists of Upper and Lower Town and the Kalemegdan park. The name Kalemegdan in English means the battlefield of the fortress, however it is infact the greenest area of Belgrade and considered as a popular landmark along with the statue of Victor, It is a 14 metre high column on which a nude man stands, holding a falcon in his left hand and a sword in his right.
Don’t forget to visit the Roman water well near this statue with two spiral staircases of 212 steps which goes down even below the lowest point of Belgrade. This well was used for tormenting prisoners who carved their names at several places. It was declared a Monument of Culture and Exceptional Importance in 1979 and is protected by Republic of Serbia. The entrance is free.
Church of Saint Sava is Serbian Orthodox church located in part of Belgrade called Vracar. It is one of the largest churches in South Eastern Europe. It is dedicated to Saint Sava, the founder of Serbian Orthodox Church. The church is white in colour which is synonymous with the Slovene name of the city Beograd which means ‘white city’. It has a 12 metre high gold-plated cross on the dome. Both exterior and interior of the church are very impressive. It is the largest Orthodox Church in Balkans and one of the largest in the world.
Nikola Tesla was a great scientist and not many people know that he was an ethnic Serbian until you arrive at the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. The Nikola Tesla museum which is completely dedicated to his life and achievements is definitely worth a visit when in Belgrade. It is located also in Vracar in a house in Krunska street. It exhibits many books, journals, documents and pictures displaying his work and life. This museum also produced a documentary on Tesla along with the Tesla Memorial Society in the year 1994 called Nikola Tesla, The Genius Who Lit the World. He was outstandingly intellectual, it is said that when Albert Einstein was awarded a Nobel prize and asked how he felt being the smartest in the world, he replied that this question should be asked to Tesla instead.
Belgrade is a city with rich history and culture with many things to see and do in the city as well as under it. Yes, there are hundred of caves, canals and passages under the city which tell tales of the Celtic and Roman empire and also of Nazis who used them during the second world war. One popular underground attraction is the cave Šalitrena Pećina which can be entered through the Aberdareva Street. To know more about underground Belgrade visit the website Undergrad built with an aim to record, research, document and present underground structures located on the territory of Belgrade.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Belgrade?
If you’re staying in Belgrade longer you can take a chance and see something more outside of Belgrade. I would recommend going to Novi Sad, the city in the north of Belgrade. Home to the world famous athlete Monica Seles, Novi Sad is a city that is famous for nightlife and at cheaper prices than Belgrade. If you are not really a night person visit the Petrovaradin Fortress, Museum of Novi Sad and Zmaj Jovina Street to meet the locals and hangout at the cafes. If visiting in summer you can coincide your travel dates with the world famous European Exit festival which is held in the Petrovaradin fortress in the month of July. If time permits you can also visit Subotica which is the second largest city after Novi Sad in the Vojvodina province.
Or explore one of the traditional farms in Pannonian Plain region called Salaš. There you can have a relaxing day, eat lunch and see some domestic animals. If you stay by dinner time there’s some easy traditional live music waiting for you. You can even spend a night in some of these houses.
What is the most celebrated holiday of the year in Belgrade?
Christmas is celebrated in Belgrade on the 7th of January like some other countries which celebrate Orthodox Christmas. During New Year and Christmas holidays the city is full of decorations, Christmas markets and street musicians. People, both local and tourists, together have a great time during that period.
What is the most loved local food of Belgrade? Is it a vegetarian friendly city?
When in Belgrade, you have to try Serbian food and what I would suggest are traditional ćevapi (Balkan dish of grilled mince meat), pljeskavica (Serbian version of burger), sarma and all kinds of meat and sausages.
If you like dairy products you will love Kajmak and Cottage cheese. What we also love is Serbian style moussaka. A product you can find even in supermarkets and take it home with you is ajvar.
Beside restaurants that offer traditional food like Manufaktura which offers authentic Balkan experience, we also have many international restaurants (Italian, Spanish, Arabic food) as well as specialised restaurants for vegetarians.
Where to head for shopping in Belgrade?
Belgrade has quite a few places you can go shopping. There are big shopping malls like Delta City, Usce, Stadion and Rajiceva shopping mall.
You can also find many shops in city center in a pedestrian area (Knez Mihajlova street, Cika Ljubina street). There are also many small shops that offer the hand made things and clothes from Serbian designers.
Which is the local craft or souvenir of Belgrade?
There are many souvenir shops in the center of Belgrade if you like magnets, mugs or something small to remind you of Serbia. There are also books about Belgrade in English and some of the books of our best writers have been translated into many languages and I would definitely recommend buying a book by Ivo Andric (Nobel Prize winner) or Momo Kapor, another amazing Serbian writer.
Which are the best streets of Belgrade worthy of taking a stroll on?
The streets that are worth a stroll are Knez Mihajlova – pedestrian street in the center and all the smaller streets around it. The Knez Mihajlova street starts from the Kalmegaden park and goes upto the main central square of Belgrade. You can even walk further to the Terazije square which is one of the most popular meeting place in Belgrade after the Republic (or main) square, making it quite busy all day. It is on this square that you will find the famous landmark of the city ‘Hotel Moskva’. Don’t forget to try the delicious Moskva cake at the hotel.
You can also visit the part of Belgrade called Skadarlija, a bohemian quarter with great traditional restaurants and live music is beautifully lined with vintage buildings. The street is lively all day with many circus acts, singers and poets at the local clubs.
There is also Kosancicev venac – one of the most beautiful parts of Belgrade with cobblestoned streets, lovely houses and cute coffee shops and restaurants.
Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of Belgrade?
Best views of Belgrade are those from Kalemegdan fortress where you can see confluence of rivers Sava and Danube.
The hilltop Avala Monument and Avala Tower too offer views over the city.
There is Gardos Tower in Zemun with a beautiful view over this very charming part of Belgrade. Zemun is an an administrative unit connected to Belgrade with a completely different atmosphere.
Then there are coffee shops and restaurants with nice views such as Mamma Shelter and Sky terrace.
Would you suggest any shows in Belgrade to drama, music or art lovers? Where can one spot street art in your city?
To those who love theater I would recommend going to the National Theatre and seeing some of the amazing opera performances or ballets which you can also see in Terazije theatre. The other theatres in Belgrade are amazing as well, but I know seeing a play in Serbian would be a big language barrier. That’s why I’m suggesting opera for theare lovers.
Street art can be found all over Belgrade, but you can see some great murals in part of Belgrade called Dorcol.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Belgrade?
There are several apps I would recommend –
CarGo (similar to Uber) which is cheaper than normal taxi. A ride can be requested online and payments can be made by credit card.
Moovit for public transportation.
Donesi.com for easy ordering of food from all kinds of restaurants.
Belgrade City Maps and Google maps of course, for finding your way through the city which is relatively smaller in size than other European capitals.
Do you want to give any suggestion to tourists coming to Belgrade?
My suggestions for tourists visiting Belgrade are:
Take a walk by one of the rivers, visit Ada Safari, a relaxing place for lunch and a walk in nature, visit Topcider and Kosutnjak parks. Try Serbian food, eat fish for dinner in some of the restaurants in Zemun with live music and bohemian vibes, go to lunch at one of the restaurants in a Belgrade hotspot called Beton hala. Enjoy your coffee in some of many Belgrade’s cute coffee shops, try ice cream at Crna Ovca (Black sheep) or Knedle (a Serbian sweet) at Ferdinand Knedle. Shop at Ana Ljubinkovic’s store, enjoy Belgrade’s rich nightlife, go to the Museum of Illusions or to an Escape room.