When its dark and turbulent history is called upon in modern descriptions, a great injustice is done to Belgrade, otherwise translated/known as the ‘White City’. For today, Belgrade has elevated itself away and become known for much more than its unsettled past, so much so that for Montenegrins, the Serbian capital provides an appealing, short-hop, getaway to a city rich with culture, salacious food and a buzzing entertainment scene.
But what is it exactly that draws Montenegrins, and others, to Serbia for weekends? Firstly, its nightlife credentials are legendary. For a city rarely ranked among the usual haunts popular amid committed revelers, Belgrade is well known for its hedonism. Visitors keen on experiencing a bit of its late-night magic, tend to start with splavovi , or in other words, the party barges moored on the banks of the Danube on which many hundreds of party-goers can be found.
It’s not just the celebratory atmosphere, however, that appeals to its tourists. Its architecture sings of its history, with ancient Ottoman relics speaking of its aged heritage, while hallmarks of its Socialist years remaining etched on the grey blocks that are strewn over the city. There’s also the food. Ubiquitous staples include kupus (cabbage), mounds of meat – specifically pork ( svinjetina ), and kajmak , a much-adored dairy delight akin to clotted cream. Serb Novak Djokovic is apparently the owner of all the pule in the world, but if you can get your hands on this delicious cheese (said to be the world’s most expensive), made from Serbian donkeys, you’ll be in for a treat. In terms of alcohol, you’d be hard-pressed to find a home without rakija , a Montenegrin favourite, while Jelen Pivo is a Serbian beer loved by locals.
Taking the city in by bicycle is a popular way to get around. Why not start at Stari Grad, the beating heart of the city, where traditional Old Town streets offer lovely shops and cafes in which one can while away hours. Shopping rules the roost here, most prominently at the pedestrianised retail haven of Knez Mihailova, otherwise known as Prince Michael Street. A must-see is the leafy, national monument of Kalemegdan Park, which sits perched on 410ft cliff at the confluence of the two rivers, the Sava and the Danube, which run elegantly through Belgrade. It is to the River Sava’s island park, Ada Ciganlija , where people turn to in the summer, where all sorts of sports are played out under the long, balmy summer nights, including bungee jumping, hiking, skating and rowing. Skadarska is a bohemian throw back, offering interesting galleries and an area that is often compared to Paris’s Montmartre.
With a flight time of just one hour, Belgrade is convenient for Montenegrins, who can travel from either Tivat or Podgorica with Montenegro Airlines or Air Serbia.