Belgrade: A hidden gem of Eastern Europe

Belgrade was one of those cities that surprised me. I knew nothing about the Serbian capital when I turned up at the train station, only planning to stop there for a few days on my way through to Bosnia.

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But it turned out I really loved Belgrade and wish I’d had more time there. Belgrade is a beautiful city with its grand Old Town buildings, expansive fortress, and views of the Danube and Sava Rivers.

Belgrade’s biggest attraction is its fortress. The fortress precinct has been turned into a park with running paths, gardens and lookouts surrounding the thick walls of the fortress.

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It costs nothing to enter the fortress grounds and it’s a great spot to come both during the day and at night, and take a walk through Kalemegdan Park.

During the day, it’s a nice place to go for a morning walk. Walk along the ramparts and get a view of the river, and wind your way through the many archways and across the towers.

At night, the fortress is lit up and a lot of locals come up here to sit on the ramparts and look out to the river.

If you want to go inside the open buildings in the fortress, there’s a small fee.

You can check out the Roman Well and Bunker, and climb up the Clock Tower.

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The Roman Well dates back to the early 18th century and is 51 metres deep. Two spiral staircases lead down to the well, but unfortunately they’re not open to the public – you can only look down into the well.

The 27 metre tall Clock Towers stands near the main gate to the fortress and also dates back to the 18th century. It’s a unique part of the fortress as clock towers are rare inside fortresses. The Clock Tower offers a great view of the fortress and Kalemegdan Park.

You can pay a combined entry fee of $A4.60 to enter all the attractions in the fortress or just buy a ticket individually for the ones you want to enter.

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The fortress also houses a military museum holding a collection of tanks and cannons, and also strangely a medieval torture instrument exhibit.

To find out more about Belgrade’s past, there’s a number of tours on offer. You can do a free walking tour or go on the Underground Tour, which takes you to parts of the fortress as well as other interesting parts of the city.

Where to Eat and Drink

When coffee is calling you, head into the main Old Town boulevard (Studentski Trg) and take a seat at the many cafes lining the boulevard. The boulevard leads to and from the fortress, and it’s easy to find the perfect spot to people watch and admire all the grand buildings.

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If you’re hungry, the Bohemian Quarter is the best place to eat, especially for dinner.

The Bohemian Quarter – also known as Skadarlija – is a beautiful cobblestone street. Skardarlija was first home to gypsies in the early 19th century but it gradually moved to becoming a home for creative types such as writers, actors and artists.

Today, the Bohemian Quarter is lined with restaurants and many offer cheap but hearty meals.

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Moving on from Belgrade

From Belgrade, it’s easy to move onto Hungary, Romania or Bosnia. Taxi Travel offers a private minivan to Sarajevo in Bosnia for $A36. The car leaves at 8am and 5pm daily and takes about six hours. You can also catch a bus to Sarajevo but it is almost the same price as the private minivan. The private car is quicker as with less people you will get through the border faster and it drops you right at your hotel or hostel.

Taxi Travel also offers a private car to Budapest but you can also catch a train. The train journey is about eight hours.

You can catch a train to Timisoara in Romania or also get a private car.

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