We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Este, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Este lives in South Africa, and submitted the following report about Belgrade. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Serbian
Reasons to Visit Belgrade
Belgrade is beautiful!
An early morning flight from Turkey brought me to an overcast and rainy Belgrade – the capital of Serbia. I eventually found the bus that runs into town. The weather was gloomy but this was a new adventure and I couldn’t help smiling.
The bus dropped me in the center of Usce, in the new part of Belgrade and pointed me in the general direction that I needed to walk to find my accommodation. I had splashed out a bit on this one as sleeping in a room that was literally floating on the Danube was not something you could do every day. The walk was further than expected and I had to ask for directions along the way but I was not disappointed when i eventually headed down the wooden walkway towards the floating building.
I thought that if all people in Belgrade were like the receptionist (which they later proved to be) this was going to be a very pleasant stay in a very friendly country! Maya gave me something to eat, chatted and explained and made suggestions at length before showing me to my room – big windows and balcony with a view over the water included.
After the best sleep and breakfast accompanied by a crackling fire in the fireplace, I braved the cold and took a walk into town. It was a few kilometers but the rain stayed away and I crossed the bridge over the Sava river into old Belgrade. I ambled past graffiti on buildings, down the walking street and peeked into the biggest orthodox church in town before arriving at the Question Mark Kafana (bistro).
It is from here that my food and culture tour with a local guide named Jovana started. The oddly named pub–the oldest kafana in Belgrade–got its name because the owner didn't know what to call it and placed a question mark above the door. The name stuck. We had Serbian coffee, bread with salt, and traditional dessert before heading out for organic ice cream (it was really hard to select three flavors to try). The trip was full of culinary delights from beginning to end. We had starters of meat and cheese and olives at another kafana, where I learned about wedding traditions, Serbian Slava (a Serbian Orthodox Christian tradition of the ritual glorification of one's family's patron saint), and even danced a traditional dance.
We also tried different types of Rakija (fruit brandy) at a local hipster bar, before having delicious Goulash in bread in the bohemian quarter, Skadarska. Then we picked up a bunch of traditional cookies at a bakery and had lunch at a famous local restaurant. The most delicious four hours ended too soon and (with takeaway cookies in hand) I made my way to any scientists dream: the Nikola Tesla museum.
My 4-day adventure in Belgrade included the excellent free walking tour of Belgrade that was full of stories, history, and even a shot of Rakija! The highlight of the tour was definitely catching the sunset from Kalemegdan fortress. From there, you can see the point where the Danube and Sava rivers come together, with the naked man statue towering over all of it and staring into the distance.
Traditional breakfast in Skadarska included a cup of strong Serbian coffee and even a local Jelen beer before I headed off to the shopping street.
After a bit of shopping I jumped on a bicycle for a cycling tour. Belgrade is the perfect city to explore on two wheels and 4 hours later we had done about 20km worth of exploring. We learned a lot about the old Yugoslavia on the way and even took our bikes across the Sava river on a boat before having a beer next to the beach.
My stay in Belgrade was over too soon but I will definitely return someday to explore the rest of the country. As they say in Serbian – Ziveli!
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)