Friday, 28 July 2023, 18:08
On 21 June, Malaga and Belgrade were locked in battle bidding to host Expo 2027 when the Serbian capital snatched away the prize, winning by just 11 points. Obviously, with the Costa del Sol running direct flights to this city, our curiosity has never been greater than now to learn what this city has to offer. So we packed our bags and headed to Nikola Tesla Airport, ready to discover the charms of a capital city nestled between the Sava and Danube rivers as it faces each day to build a future forged by its history.
Prices? Given that it is the high season for tourist travel, flights in July and August are more expensive and can be around 500 euros, but in a recent flight search from Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 September, the cost of one round trip was 251 euros. It is also worth knowing that flight rates change almost daily.
Air Serbia, the national carrier for Serbia, operates flights from Malaga at different times on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday.
Flight time: Nearly three and a half hours.
Getting to the city from the airport.The international airport is located about 20km west of the city. The only means of transport that you can use to reach Belgrade city centre are bus and taxi. There is no train or metro service. Running hourly, the traveller can take the A1 bus route, which is the fastest as it only makes two stops before reaching the terminus at Slavija Square, less than a 10-minute walk from Knez Mihailova street, the most well-known area in Belgrade. The journey lasts 30-40 minutes and the ticket price is 400 dinars, paid onboard. There is a cheaper alternative, bus line 72: 89 dinars at the kiosk or 150 onboard. It takes 40-60 minutes because it makes many stops.
Serbian cuisine is very rich due to its many influences. If staying in Belgrade you have to sample sarma, one of the typical dishes, consisting of a savoury filling wrapped in pickled cabbage leaves and then cooked on sauerkraut. You should also try cevapi, a type of kebab made with minced beef and lamb and served with onions and various sauces, or pljeskavica, a giant burger made with minced meat and spices. Make room to taste some burek, filo pastry stuffed with meat, spinach or cheese that is ideal for breakfast or lunch and can be found in any bakery or restaurant throughout the city.
The options are plenty. A classic place and an almost essential visit for tourists is Zavičaj restaurant. Following the line of traditional cuisine, but with a more modern atmosphere, is the Manufaktura restaurant, very close to the most important shopping street in Belgrade. Also, it is handy for visiting Drama Cevapi, considered the best place to eat cevapi in the Serbian capital, and Boutique, right in Republic Square and one of the most classic places to eat in the city. Another great plan is to take an early evening walk through Skadarlija, the bohemian district, to then dine at restaurants such as Skadarska ulica and Tri šešira, ending the evening with a cocktail at the Red Bar.
Belgrade is a city of real contrasts. From palaces to buildings still in need of repair following their destruction in one of the last wars on European soil (except for the Russian invasion of Ukraine). Its most important monument is Beogradska Tvrđava, an immense fortress at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers that shows the strategic importance of the city for the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Serbian and Austrian empires, and its extensive Kalemegdan Park. You should also pay a visit to the Temple of Saint Sava, considered the largest Orthodox church in the Balkans and one of the largest in the world. In Terazije Square you will also find the Albania Palace, the first skyscraper in Belgrade and the tallest building in the Balkans before World War II. On a wander around the palaces of the capital, you can take in a tour of the Old Palace, (current seat of Belgrade's city assembly), the New Palace, (seat of the President of Serbia), or the Royal Palace. Belgrade is also a city of museums. A must-see would be the National Museum, the most important in the country, with a collection of more than 400,000 objects, along with that of the Yugoslav writer, Ivo Andric, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961, located behind the Royal Palace. You could also visit Casa de las Flores, the mausoleum where the remains of "Tito" or Marshal Josip Broz are laid to rest. He was the leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1945 and 1980. A visit there helps you to understand this country's history.
The main retail hub of the city is Knez Mihailova street and the most popular shopping centre is Ušče. A stroll through the Kalenić Green and Zeleni Venac markets is essential. As a souvenir and something typical of the region, buy a bottle of Rakija, the traditional Serbian drink and, although there are many varieties, the plum one is the most common.
A tour of the fortress, a walk by the Danube and a visit to the Museum of Illusions, where nothing is what it seems.