As one of the oldest and largest cities in Eastern Europe, the Serbian capital of Belgrade is steeped in a history and culture all its own. You could spend hours winding its ancient fortresses or getting lost among its Ottoman architecture. But the city’s old world vibes have recently given way to vibrant, post-Soviet arts and food scenes. Before you go, read our full story on the evolution of this multifaceted gem. But for a crash-course in seeing all that this European stalwart has to offer, check out our step-by-step guide below.
Square Nine: The swanky 45-room boutique hotel (a member of The Leading Hotels of the World) sits in the historic city center steps away from the main pedestrian boulevard. While the spacious Scandinavian–style suites are one draw, the rooftop Japanese restaurant, Ebisu, is also worth a reservation. Studentski Trg 9
Hotel Moskva: It’s hard to miss the landmark, yellow-tiled façade sitting in the center of town. One of the oldest operating hotels in Belgrade, this was once the meeting place for Albert Einstein and Alfred Hitchcock — two of the six stars who have suites named after them. Don’t leave without sampling the hotel’s signature cake, the moskva schnitt, Belgrade’s version of the Viennese sachertorte. Terazije 20
Zemun: The historic neighborhood once straddled the border of two empires and still maintains part of its Austro-Hungarian charm today with its cobbled streets lined with pastel-colored Baroque-style buildings. Get your bearings over all of Belgrade from the 360-degree viewing platform on top of the brick 19th-century Gardoš Tower, aka the Millennium Tower.
St. Sava’s Temple: Perched on Vračar Hill, this Orthodox temple — one of the largest in the world — can be seen almost anywhere in the city. While the foundations were laid in 1939, work was delayed during the Communist era and the white marble–clad exterior was only just completed in 2004. Krušedolska 2a
Museum of Contemporary Art: After a 10-year closure, New Belgrade’s modern art museum reopened last fall and features a permanent collection of 20th-century work from around the globe. Ušće 10, Blok 15
Ferdinand Knedle: Think of Lana Nedeljković as Serbia’s version of Dominique Ansel (the pastry chef behind the cronut craze), who added a cool factor to grandma’s traditional plum-filled knedle dumplings with flavors like Nutella and amaretto. Gavrila Principa 58
Mandarina Cake Shop: Bakeries dot almost every corner of the city, but this contemporary cake shop in Old Belgrade stands out for its gorgeous confections (chef and cofounder Krsto Radović did a stint at London’s five-star Claridge’s) and flaky French-style croissants. Gračanička 16
Luff Gelato: A few months ago, specialty roaster Bloom Coffee popped up in this retro-chic gelato shop. While your cappuccino is brewing, survey the selection of handcrafted flavors like decadent dark chocolate and smooth elderflower sorbet before settling into a seat by the window. Prote Mateje 30
Cveće Zla: A combination deli, bar and wine shop, this is Belgrade’s version of a bistro, with an open kitchen prepping salads, sandwiches and Serbian-inspired snacks like beef tongue-filled burek. Nevesinjska 12
Dva Jelena: Dva Jelena, or “Two Stags” in English, is one of three famous inns lining Skadarlija’s cobblestoned streets, where poets and actors gathered back in the 19th and 20th centuries. Balkan bands serenade tables while diners sample traditional dishes like pljeskavica, Serbian-style burgers, and kobasice, or spiced sausages. Skadarska 32
Klub Književnika: This local institution began as a writer’s club over 70 years ago where the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir would gather. Now the glass-encased winter garden serves as a fashionable spot to see-and-be-seen while dining on upscale Serbian cuisine. Francuska 7
IL Grappolo: Belgrade is home to over two dozen wine bars, but this is deemed one of the best by the city’s sommeliers. Get schooled on Serbian wine and the national grape, red Prokupac, while nibbling on a selection of handmade cheeses and meats like gouda and smoked beef. Obilićev Venac 27