Serbia is one of those very off the grid places with a somewhat untrue reputation. Many people think of Serbia as having mean guys, and every single one of them has a drinking problem. The fact of the matter is…only some of them do (read on to hear that story from Belgrade) 😉
Serbian people are friendly and somewhat “forgotten” people. I came away thinking of them as a “rich” poor country. It is a former communist country, and at times intense. It has a feel of Mediterranean cultures with lots of smoking, eating and drinking. It’s a mid sized city, modern for being a Former Soviet Union state, and is chock full of beautiful architecture.
The area around Republic Square has a large number of cafe’s, restaurants, and bars with outdoor city. During the summer months many of them also featured live music and bands playing. For a string of several weeks in became a ritual to sit out for at least one beer to enjoy the warm summer nights.
Here’s a list of bars and restaurants that stood out to me.
Mustache Bar (Blaznavac): A must visit bar in Belgrade, lots of character, great atmosphere. One of the best drink menus in the city.
Samo Pivo: Beer lovers paradise. This place has a large selection of beers. Easily 200+ different beers to choose from, along with an outdoor patio overlooking the oldest street in Belgrade. Great place to start on a Friday night.
Kasina Bar: Swanky place that has some dancing and music on the weekends. All around good bar to check out. Killer Plazma shake too.
Roof Top Bar at the Samsung Building: If I knew the name I would tell you. The fact that I can’t find this place anywhere on the web makes the experience that much cooler. Its a locals spot with some of the best views of Belgrade. Get there early or you risk it filling up for sunset. Go to the Samsung building and take the elevator or stairs all the way to the top. Those are the best directions I can give. Search and you will find. The reward is worth it!
River Walk Bars: There is a new development project along the River walk in Belgrade. It features some swanky new bars and restaurants. They are a bit pricey but I didn’t mind it as one off novelty experience. Check it out for a beer and some small plates around sunset.
Boutique: This place is right in Republic Square and some may call it a “Tourist Trap”. I didn’t find it much different in pricing than the other bars I visited. Stop here if you are trying to get out of the sun after walking the main street of Kneza Mihaila.
Shlep: This place is tricky to find. It’s a grungy locals spot, no tables or hookah here. They play a variety of music and host live bands every weekend. The main bar and dance floor was always packed. The real gem here is the uncovered area in the back where a small bar serves cold keg beer. For a second I thought I was back in college. With a great view of Belgrade its hard to feel to bad when the sun undoubtably comes up. Definitely check this place out if you’re looking for nightlife.
Povetarac: If Shlep is a little slow, which will only happen once or twice during the week, check this place out as a back up. The place draws a slightly more EDM centric crowd but isn’t to the level of full blown table and bottle service (which you will find at other places along the river).
Much of the action in Belgrade is centered around Republic Square. Anywhere within a mile to the North, East and Southeast of that is a good place to stay.
One important thing to be aware of if you are booking an Airbnb: Belgrade does not have laws that restrict smoking inside business establishments. It is customary for apartments to allow smoking inside too.
Be sure to check that the apartment or hotel listing specifically says No Smoking Allowed if that is what you are looking for.
I didn’t find many “bad areas” in the immediate vicinity of the center. The one exception would be the Bus station by the river. There is a small park just north of it that had group of traveling Syrians Refugees. I came across the place at night, and the area was being monitored by police. From what I understood in talking to locals, most of the Syrian refugees are in the southern part of Serbia. At night Kneza Mihaila is well lit, as it most of the city. Overall I felt very safe in Belgrade.
Serbian culture struck me as a mix between Eastern European and Mediterranean cultures.
The Serbs are mostly friendly overall—but at times can be hit or miss. For example many of the taxi drivers tried to rip us off. One of them even refused to give us change for a ride when we only had a large denomination bill. He threw my roommates stuff out of the car and told him to leave. Even going so far as to try and drive off with him still partly in the car.
That’s not the only example. A few locals I talked to had visited the US and hated it. One called it way to “capitalistic” and described it as being entirely centered around money.
At one particular bar after ordering two drinks my roommate and I left a tip. The bartender came out from around the bar and slapped the money squarely on the chest of my mate. He then explained that the money in our dollars was pennies. It was an insult to tip him so little.
Serbia has tasted the luxuries of the west but still wants to consider themselves in the category of the poorer Eastern European countries. The problem is the city looks significantly better than the cities I visited in Ukraine. Their sidewalks, roads, transit system, buildings, and landscape all made it feel like I was back in the United States. The city has a population of 1.3 million people but at times it felt much smaller than that. Belgrade can easily be understood in four weeks or less.
I’d also consider it a great destination for a vacation with a girl you’re already seeing—we do like those Moldova women 😉
There is no metro but the public transport system is very easy to get around, with a combination of buses and trams. If you stay close to the center, walking will always be your best bet. There is also a city bus that goes from the Belgrade Airport to the city center.
Ahh yes, what every guy reading this site is looking for.
Throughout my stay in Belgrade I encountered a wide variety of women. To generalize them all as friendly and outgoing or somewhat westernized and aloof, would be unfair. Instead I found three main categories.
These girls are outgoing and friendly. They speak fluent English and are excited to meet foreigners. They are more westernized than traditional Eastern European women. They tend to be less rigid in their views and traditions. Many of the girls I met in Shlep would fall into this category.
When guys think of what a typical Serbian girl looks like, they are probably imaging this type of girl. Dark haired, olive skinned, with slavic facial features. They dress up when they go out. Many of the loud EDM clubs with bottle service were chuck full of them. Draw back here is they are usually surrounded by brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends. It made me think of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. As you can imagine this means they are more traditional in their views and less open to meeting foreigners.
I met quite a few American, French, British and Spanish girls. Belgrade is a bit of a transient city. Since it is part of Schengen it is not uncommon to find foreigners passing through or working there.
Many times walking the main streets in the center you could go a few blocks without seeing a cute girl. This is probably why the city had that small feeling I talked about earlier. If you’re coming from a place chock-full of Ukrainian women, you might notice a slight dip in overall quality (it could also just be quantity, as places like Kiev are huge).
There are still plenty of really high quality women to approach here (I’d rate them higher than Czech women from a physical perspective).
You can meet Serbian women on the dating site International Cupid. Click here to sign up (for free).
Belgrade was a great time in the mid summer months. The main tourist attractions never felt overrun. I’m pleased to say the city of Belgrade still has some authenticity left.
Spend a month here during the summer.
You’ll have a time you’ll never forget.
PS: To get an idea of what Serbian people are like, go have a few conversations with some Serbian women.
What You Need to Know About the Serbian Dating Scene
Everything You Need to Know About Estonian Culture