Belgrade is the easiest city in Europe to get lost in, especially if you’re a foreigner. You might know the name of the street of your hostel, but you first need a course in Cyrillic to read the street-signs.
If you’re smart and grab a taxi instead it will be a matter of luck if the driver understands you need to go to a street called Ulica Sindjeliceva (Oo-lead-sa Sint-jay-lee-tjay-va) .
Once arrived at your accommodation and you’re ready to go explore the city, the real problems start. Luckily, there are more and more practical and good guide-books and websites to help you around. To help you not to get lost finding the best guide, here are my personal recommendations…
When I moved to Belgrade in 2011 I went to explore the entire city, including the nightlife. I had been coming here since 2004, but one of the reasons it is easy to get lost in Belgrade is that every year there’re bars and restaurants closing and new ones opening. To keep up with these changes and discover all the new places I often used (and use) www.spottedbylocals.com. A group of local Belgradians describe their favorite places, from clubs to parks and from festivals to fast-food joints where you can grab a burger at 04.00 in the morning. Of course there are more sites like these, but SpottedbyLocals is one of the easiest to use, with a great map showing places by category. And it’s available as an app too.
Another great source of information, available both offline and online, is Belgrade Insight. It’s the only newspaper available in English, it’s for free and apart from good journalistic stories they review bars and restaurants in each bi-weekly edition. And there’s a calendar with all parties, concerts and theater performances happening. You can pick up a free copy at the Tourist Information Centers, at some hotels or at a place like Supermarket Conceptstore. Good news for tourists is that recently they published their first City Guide. It’s a compact, light booklet with all information you need when you’re staying in Belgrade for a few days. It comes with the official Tourist Organization map of Belgrade and, ta-da, a SIM-card for your phone! How to use this guide? After buying it, have a coffee on the nearest terrace and read the brief history of Belgrade. Then put the SIM-card in your phone and download the best apps for Belgrade mentioned in the ‘Belgrade Survival’ part. After that set course to visit the places mentioned in the ‘Must Sees’ part or get adventurous and see if you can discover the 12 not-touristic, but very cool places of which you find the pictures in the ’ Hidden Belgrade’ – section.
Want to know more about Belgrade and visit places in the different neighbourhoods, by far the best guidebook is ‘Belgrade in your Hands’, available in English and German. Where the Belgrade Insight City Guide will get you around for 2 or 3 days, this book will help you explore Belgrade for a week. The guide divides Belgrade in 9 districts with detailed maps of each of the parts and suggestions for walking routes. And for the nighttime there’s a large number of restaurant and bars described by the author. Full with exotic finds like a restaurant for horsemeat lovers ( Potkovica) and Gun Club (‘Shooting range by day, rock concert venue by night’). Like the City Guide it’s full with useful tips to get around, how much to tip a waiter and which taxi (not) to get. It also has a useful little dictionary and a phonetic Cyrillic alphabet to help you find your way back to your hostel or at least explain the taxi driver where to go. And after you’ve seen Belgrade you can go on one of the 4 excursions outside Belgrade, described in great detail.
The smaller Belgrade Insight City Guide is excellent for those passing through Belgrade or staying for a weekend, especially in combination with a latest issue of their newspaper. The free SIM-card is a very nice and practical extra and the list of apps mentioned in it is practical. For 800 dinars (around 7 Euro) it’s a good investments in helping you find your way.
For around 2 times that price you get 4 times more information from ‘Belgrade in Your Hands’. That 15 Euro may be too much for those just passing through, but if you’re really interested to discover Belgrade without getting lost, this is your book. Advice: order it online before coming to Belgrade, so you have time to read all 213 pages. The many detailed maps will also come in handy once you arrive.
These 2 books and the website will help you around, but don’t think they’ll tell you everything. Nothing beats the rides and the guides of iBikeBelgrade of course…And don’t be surprised if that taxi-driver you’re trying to explain your address too is fluent in English and will happily give you a private guided tour through town. Just keep your eyes on the meter……
‘Belgrade in your hands’ can be bought in various bookshops around town as well as online. Belgrade Insight’s City Guide is available at the Belgrade Tourist Information Centers.
Mainly interested in culture and clubbing? Than the website of Still in Belgrade is quintessential! Offline the regularly updated, free guide Belgrade in your pocket is very handy too! And now: get lost!