I Heart My City: Maja’s Belgrade

Maja Simov was born and raised in Belgrade. In addition to being an environmental consultant, she’s a Belgrade spotter for Spotted by Locals — a series of blogs, city guides, and iPhone apps with up-to-date tips for 41 cities in Europe. Maja says she loves her home city because of the contrasts borne from its long, unique history. If you’re traveling to Serbia’s capital city, you should probably read this first (and check out Maja’s photo blog about Belgrade).

Belgrade is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is the Beton Hala waterfront strip.

When I crave pljeskavica (minced pork or beef), I always go to Mara.

To escape crowded and touristy places in the Old Town I head to Moment Cafe, a center of the Vracar world.

If I want to get food for the soul I go to KC Grad, the most active cultural center in the city.

For complete quiet, I can hide away in Hyde Park.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with the statue of the Victor, one of the city’s greatest visual symbols.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from Campo de Fiori it has to be the Prugna pizza (dried plum, bacon, onion, and gorgonzola).

Supermarket is my one-stop shop for great gifts and home accessories.

Locals know to skip hyped places in the city center and check out the neighborhood of Vracar instead.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go to lunch at the budget Hotel Royal restaurant or head to Kalemegdan Park to watch the sunset.

For a huge splurge I go for a lot of sushi at the IKKI Sushi Bar.

Photo ops in my city include Kalemegdan fortress and the best vantage points are views towards the old town from the Branko’s Bridge.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Keith Richards — “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”

The most random thing about my city is that “Belgrade is the ugliest city in the world in the most beautiful place in the world” (at least according to Le Corbusier).

My city has the most generous men.

My city has the most idealistic women.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves inline skating around the Ada lake or riding a bicycle from the Old town to Zemun.

My city’s best museum is the Nikola Tesla Museum, which is dedicated to the art of invention.

My favorite jogging/walking route is the right bank of the river Sava, 6 km long, starting from the sport center MGM and ending just before the Ada lake.

For a night of dancing, go to Club 20/44 (actually, it’s a boat). Or, for live music, check out the Ptica jazz club.

Sarajevo (the restaurant, not the city) is the spot for late-night eats — try their burek (pastry).

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the Yellow Cab website or pick up a free “City Magazine” in a café or bookstore.

You can tell a lot about my city from wandering the narrow streets of Dorcol.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they’re nostalgic for old Belgrade and know at least one story about “what had been here before it was demolished.”

In the spring you should go to Zemun in Old town and have lunch at one of the fish restaurants on the Danube.

In the summer you should spend most of your time on the river, preferably on a Brodic boat.

In the fall you should take a stroll around Ada Lake. It’s all yellow then and not crowded like it is in the summer.

In the winter you should ice skate in Pionir, then have a hot chocolate with rum or mulled wine at Kafe Galerija in Zemun.

A hidden gem in my city is Savamala, a neighborhood that has sunk into oblivion, hidden among heavy trucks. If you can endure the noise, you’ll find more than ten hidden bars and clubs here.

For a great breakfast joint try Monument on Cika Ljubina street.

Don’t miss the October Salon, a visual arts festival, in October, and the Belef festival in July.

Just outside my city, you can visit the Avala mountain. It’s a nice forested area and, for those who like climbing towers – there is one that is 200m (656 ft) high.

The best way to see my city is by walking. Belgrade is not a very bicycle-friendly city.

If my city were a pet it would be an adopted stray dog — a bit rough, but with a big heart.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live in the Scottish Highlands.

The best book about my city is The Claws by Marko Vidojkovic. It depicts Belgrade in the 1990s, with political protests against the totalitarian regime and the lives of people in their 20s.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Ulicni hodac by Partibrejkers. That’s the real Belgrade attitude.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss Ada Ciganlija.

A graffiti on a freshly painted wall writing “Dzaba ste krecili” (“You painted for nothing”) could only happen in my city.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because it’s quirky and full of contradictions. It’s a mixture of Turkish, Austrian and Communist influences, was open to the West during the Iron Curtain era and heavily isolated after the Berlin Wall fell, and it’s much more than a cheap party city as mediocre guidebooks would have you believe.


  1. Nick
    August 5, 2014, 6:53 am

    Hey Gladis,

    Thanks for the website you mentioned. I’ve checked it as I was looking for a http://bit.ly/Belgrade_Office_Space, and I thought at first that they only offer short term rent apartments, but actually they offer all kinds of properties in Serbia. Thanks.

  2. Gladis
    July 17, 2014, 11:44 am

    As for places to see in Belgrade: Kalemegdan, Ada, Zemun and Skadarlija are a must. As for apartments in Belgrade for rent, the best experience I had with http://srbija-nekretnine.org/short-term-rentals.

  3. Carlos
    July 16, 2014, 11:06 am

    Collaborative blog about special spots in Belgrade.

    Thanks for spreading!



  4. Mike
    June 6, 2014, 12:02 am

    If you’re interested in the history of the city, which there is a lot to learn, look up the free guided tours on the web. I was there in May and loved it. Looking forward to going back. Sadly, I found out about these free tours afterwards. Also, great place for a pint and just to chill out… Monk’s Bar!

  5. Tyler
    February 14, 2014, 11:09 am

    By car or by bike, had great sightseeing in Belgade
    Recommending great place for car rental http://www.rentca.rs

  6. Demon
    October 20, 2013, 5:12 pm

    If you are looking for good place for rent in Belgrade http://www.bgapartmani.com/

  7. George
    October 14, 2013, 8:19 am

    Last year, I was in Belgarde. I had great time there. I suggest for everyone to visit Kalemegdan, downtown and Ada Ciganlija.
    I was in BGBA Belgrade apartments, visit http://beograd-apartmani.in.rs/ and http://apartman-beograd.in.rs/
    I have only nice words about this accommodation. Excellent stuff, locations and level of cleaness.

  8. […] Maja’s Belgrade (Serbia): Go to Zemun in Old Town and have lunch at one of the fish restaurants on the Danube. […]

  9. Andrija
    January 9, 2013, 9:00 am

    May made ​​a great story, and I like it and its http://www.spottedbylocals.com. All praise for her.
    I’m sure you to visit Belgrade. In Belgrade, the aliens are friendly, so if you ask for any help everyone entertained. A lot of information about the whereabouts of some interesting shopping and other service information can be found on many sites and in my opinion the best are:http://apartmaniubeogradu.weebly.com/,

  10. Alex
    November 23, 2012, 7:05 pm

    Ihave been there and it is very beutiful city with ALOT party and to recomend you best taxi in Belgrade

  11. Laurence Mitchell
    Norwich, United Kingdom - Eastofelveden.wordpress.com
    October 25, 2012, 4:45 am

    Worth mentioning that this year’s October Salon was actually held in Savamala in the slightly decrepit but iconic Geovoid building: http://eastofelveden.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/savamala-belgrade/.
    I think Le Corbusier was too hard on the city.

  12. Nikole Fairview
    Washington, DC - ExploringLIfesMysteries.Com
    August 5, 2012, 3:16 am

    Belgrade is a city of contrasts. I really like the fact that there is a lot more to experience here than just being a party city, like some of guide books would have you believe. One of the really cool things about Belgrade is the fact that even while it was under Communist influence during the Cold War era it was still open to the West.

    Whether you like looking at unique architecture and old museums, or having a leisurely stroll along the banks of the river Sava, there is something here for everyone. The city is also very walkable, from the old town to Lake Ada.