24 hours in Belgrade
August 22, 2008 12:09 PM   Subscribe

I've got 24 hours in Belgrade. What should i do and see?

I am actually enroute to Istanbul by train. I like culture, contemporary art and music and good food if its not too expensive. And would you happen to know the the local tipple and where to drink it?
posted by MrMerlot to Travel & Transportation around Belgrade, Serbia (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In Your Pocket puts out awesome FREE downloadable PDFs (and cheap printed booklets) for cities all over Eastern Europe that no one else makes guides to at all (Tirana! Tartu! Bydgoszcz!), published quarterly/seasonally, and I think all the information is available on their website too. I lived in Riga, Latvia last year and the guide for the city far surpassed anything else available: updated hotel/restaurant reviews, lots of local transit info, great maps...the guide for Riga was basically unparalleled in depth (and the price was right!).

Come to think of it, you could probably pick it up at the train station or a tourist info center.

Belgrade's page is here. Here's a direct link to the PDF.
posted by mdonley at 12:49 PM on August 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

You're probably looking to try Slivovitz which is a sort of plum brandy. Your tastes sound a little different than mine, so I can't give you specific location recommendations (I preferred the "Duff Burger" a kind of McDonalds-Simpsons burger place), but if you're staying somewhere I would just ask an employee what they recommend. They will likely appreciate your interest in their food and the Serbian people as a whole are quite friendly and very good to guests. I would of course avoid mentioning politics, but you probably know that already. Also, drink bottled water and continue to do so in Istanbul.
As far as things to see, well the older area of town, Stari Grad, is the most interesting IMHO. The castle, Kalemegdan is definitely worth a visit, especially to see where the Danube and the Sava rivers meet. Avoid the zoo.
I had a great time while I was there, completely changed my view of the people and the country, and I hope you enjoy your stay.
posted by Horatius at 12:58 PM on August 22, 2008

The local tipple would be "slivović," (pronounced "slee-voh-vitch") which is a very hard brandy distilled form local fruit - most often, in Serbia, from plums. It's caustic stuff, so beware! It tends to come in tall, thin bottles which are kind of lovely in the own right, and you can get it anywhere. The best slivović is homemade, and it's something you'd likely be offered in any private home, though you won't have time for that. You can find it anywhere, but by now I would imagine that it's becoming considered a bit of a villager's drink - urbane Belgrade folks now being as into appletinis as people anywhere else - but it's the real Balkans drink. Any local "dive" bar would be a great place to sample it, and it's usually dead cheap. Be forewarned, the first short anaesthetizes you to the next twenty, and experiencing Istanbul with the world's worst hangover would not be my idea of a good time.

You'll find most things in Belgrade on the cheap side. Food can be dreadful - fried potatoes and fried chicken or pork that's been sitting around. But real Serbian food is as good as peasant food is anywhere - cheap, filling and fresh. I've no idea where to go specifically - I'm adverse to supporting the Serbian economy until they pay back the money they looted from my family's account in the "Yugoslav" bank and apologize for their complicity in killing most of my family - but most young Serbs will speak some English and will probably be happy to direct you somewhere fine.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:00 PM on August 22, 2008

48 hours in Belgrade, per Reuters, very recent article. So you'll have to do things twice as fast as suggested, or pick and choose.
posted by WestCoaster at 11:13 AM on August 23, 2008

I'm not sure the exact name of it, but there's a Serbian military history museum that I found quite interesting. There is a sobering exhibit featuring bits of an American plane shot down during a NATO mission, including a flight suit. For some local nightlife, there are lots of nightclubs on barges on the (Danube?) river, which are fun. I will second Horatius' recommendation of visiting the castle/fort. The views are just gorgeous. I have traveled via train from Istanbul to Belgrade by way of Sofia, and I spent a month in Istanbul. Feel free to message me if you have any other questions.
posted by JennyK at 3:47 PM on August 23, 2008

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