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Belgrade is emerging from the dark days of the 1990s with energy and vigour, and while it might not be the most beautiful of European capitals it certainly has its fair share of historic and architectural treasures. For some visitors Belgrade's mash up of graceful Habsburg masterpieces and socialist concrete blocks sets the backdrop for the phoenix dynamism of the city today. While some are just here to party. Whatever you're looking for there's every chance you'll find it on a Belgrade city break and the best places to stay in Belgrade range from cheap hostels to luxury designer pads.
Beyond the breeze blocks, around the Danube and Sava rivers are the charming Art Nouveau buildings, leading into the pedestrianised centre of town. The mish mash of architecture here is a legacy from the forty times this city has been invaded, from the Ottomans to the troubles of the end of the last century. Belgrade's old town is lined on two sides by the rivers, and at the very centre, just before the rivers join, is the Belgrade Fortress. Most of Belgrade's main historic sights are within a twenty minute walk from here.
- The Kalemegdan Citadel has been fought over and won many times since the Romans founded it;
- see the Sveti Marko Church and the colossal dome of the Orthodox Temple of St. Sava, one of the world's most beautiful unfinished churches - building began in 1935, but has been interrupted by war and politics almost ever since;
- see the Nikola Tesla Museum and learn more about one of Belgrade's most famous sons;
- visit Tito's mausoleum;
- and take coffee with 'the princess' at the Palace of Princess Ljubica.
If you're exploring beyond the centre of town it's worth trying out the tram or trolleybus system - they're easy to navigate and a good way to feel part of the city.
Skadarska is one of the neighbourhoods worth travelling to. Often called Belgrade's Montmatre, this is where the artists and poets congregated in the early 20th Century, and it's got a lot of bohemian charm. And some good cafes and galleries.
Another way to taste the real Belgrade is to try the local specialities - available in any direction you care to stroll. Bureks or pljeskavica might be difficult to ask for, but it's worth the twist of your tongue. You can also find pizzas and sendvici (sandwiches).
If you want to try the local brew it's Jelem, and the national spirit is rakija, which comes in a variety of flavours and is drunk as an aperitif, a digestif or chaser. Belgrade also has some truly impressive coffeehouses, and if it's warm you'll be grateful for the profusion of ice creameries.
Belgrade's nightlife continues, from bar to restaurant to pub, and onto the river itself, on club barges, which blast out music until dawn for those who still have the energy for it. But even if you prefer to be home before midnight, there are plenty of excellent bars and cafes to enjoy 'an evening out on the town'.
For modern luxe
- Square Nine is the epitome of modern Belgrade, with its statement facade, luxury linen, cashmere throws, products by Hermes, sleek spa and slightly hipster ambience. Certainly one of the best places to stay in Belgrade if you're looking for urban chic!
For traditional five star
- The Metropol Palace is a more traditional five star option, but it's been opened and closed several times since the original opening in 1957, and it's surprisingly sleek and contemporary.
Best Hotels in Belgrade
Le Petit Piaf 18 rooms from $51Belgrade
Charming hotel in bohemian Skadarlija, Belgrade. 18 rooms with all the mod cons provide a welcome pitstop from Belgrade's nearby attractions. Two buzzy restaurants and a conference room. Ideal for business or pleasure.Sights nearby - The hotel is close to the confluence of the Sava and the Danube and all the attractions on it.Local exploring - Kalemegdan Fortress, the National Museum, the Old Palace and more nearbyCity - Situated in the bohemian quarter of SkadarlijaWeddings - Hotel can assist with wedding arrangements
Boatel Charlie 8 rooms from $55Belgrade
Set on the Danube beneath shady trees. A chic barge with contemporary interiors. Simple white on white rooms with river views and modern bathrooms. A wrap-around terrace and lounge to sit and unwind. Just 20 minutes from the city centre and very reasonably priced. City style.Value chic - An unusual property set in a stunning location on the Danube with rooms at very reasonable rates.Sights nearby - Make a trip to the Republic Square.Views - Great views from hotelFull of character
Townhouse 27 21 rooms from $143Belgrade
Sleek boutique hotel in central Belgrade. 21 rooms combine style and comfort in a quiet surrounding. Lively restaurant and cafe perfect for people watching. Sumptuous and modern. A sophisticated spot for a city break.Sights nearby - Historical quarter of Kosančićev venac in walking distanceBoutique - Belgrade's first boutique hotel, renovated in 2008Artworks - Sculptor Gabriel Glid's insideRomantic Break
Envoy Hotel 49 rooms from $160Belgrade
A trendy hotel located on the famed Čika Ljubina street. Smart rooms and suites with exposed brick walls and a mix of antique and contemporary furniture. Gourmet cuisine served in the restaurant with a menu focused on local produce. Excellent conference facilities. A chic option.Local exploring - Situated in the pedestrianised area of Belgrade and within easy access of most of the major sights and shopping areas.Sights nearby - Located on the historic and iconic Čika Ljubina street and just 200m from Republic Square.Spa
Square Nine 45 rooms from $195Belgrade
Behind the statement-making facade of this Belgrade Hotel is understated urban chic. Architect Isay Weinfield combines dynamic design with dollops of luxury, linen wallpaper, cashmere throws and Hermes products. Sleek spa and clubby ambiance make it perfect for romance or business.Suites - Stunning suites some with designer and vinatge furniture, limestone bathrooms, terraces and views over the old citySpa - The beautiful spa and wellness centre has a naturally lit 18 metre long pool and assortment of treatmentsRestaurant - Fine dining in the elegant Square Restaurant and the rooftop Japanese retaurant Ebisu for perfect sushiSights nearby - Located in the heart of Belgrade's Old Town a stone's throw from some major sights.Recommended by - Tablet, CN Traveller
Metropol Palace 239 rooms from $174Belgrade
Five star hotel in the heart of Belgrade next to the Tasmajdan Park, and the Serbian National Parliament. First opened in 1957 and then remodelled and reopened in 2012 after a sleek and contemporary makeover. Luxurious suites, smart cocktail bar, roof top restaurant, ideal for business or pleasure.Restaurant - Greek chef Christoforos Peskias produces first class cuisine, the roof top restaurant has dazzling city viewsBar - Glamorous bar, the signature cocktail is the Stari FizzSuites - 40 luxurious suites equipped with every comfortFree wifi