Belgrade basics

Welcome to Belgrade!

If you just crashed here and need to know some basic things, here are the essentials:

Belgrade, or “white city” is the capital and the largest city in Serbia, with population of almost two million scattered in its 17 municipalities. The city is one of the largest in South-Eastern Europe and it is an economic, university and tourist hub of Serbia.

kalemegdan-belgrade

The area around Belgrade has been continuously inhabited at least since the early Neolithic, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe. Being on the crossroad of ancient routes, throughout its turbulent history it has witnessed migrations and conquests of many different cultures: Thracians, Sarmatians, Celts, Romans, Goths, Huns, Avars, Khazars, Slavs, Ottoman Turks, Austro-Hungarians and Germans – they are just some of those who fought in more than 115 recorded battles for its walls. It is said that city has been burned to the ground and rebuilt more than 50 times!

Most of the modern Belgrade has been constructed after the last great devastation that happened in WWII so don’t expect any spectacular ancient architecture on your sightseeing tour. However, there are few exceptions which still stand proudly, like Kalemegdan fortress or the Gardos tower.

Belgrade-ancient-architectu

There are also some amazing examples of 18th and 19th century architecture scattered around the whole city center. But what this city may lack in its looks, it surely makes up in its vibe. According to the official statistics Belgrade receives 10-15% more tourists each year, with peak season being April – October when the climate is milder. The city has been declared numerous times as one of the top 10 party destinations in Europe, a credit which owes a lot to traditional hospitality of its people and affordable prices, but also to its predominately young population. Nightlife in Belgrade is great not only because it offers so many choices that it is often hard to decide where to go, but also because there is so much live music everywhere – from traditional “kafana” to rock concerts.

But Belgrade has much more to offer than nightlife and ancient history. If you know where to look. We hope that this portal will be useful for your search.


Safety

One thing is for sure – Belgrade is a really, really safe city. On the crime index by country list Serbia ranks 60, better than many other countries of Europe. However, there are some general things to watch out for:

Taxi scam and how to avoid it:

  • Never take an unmarked vehicle.
  • If you are going from the airport take a voucher at the info desk.
  • Make sure that the meter is on.
  • You should exchange some money at the airport for the ride, but if you are not able to do so and the driver wants to accept foreign currency, know the exchange rate.
  • If taking a ride in the city, order a vehicle, or ask your host to do that for you.
  • Try to get the idea of the price of the ride if possible, as there are other ways to get scammed. (night tariff during the day and even some more sophisticated ones)

knez-mihailova-belgrade

Exchange scam and how to avoid it:

  • Know the exchange rate. (you can find it under “useful links” on this page)
  • Make sure that there is no commission.
  • Ask for receipt.

Other common sense rules:

  • Always ask for prices before you order.
  • Do not discuss sensitive topics with strangers (politics, religion, LGBT, sports…)
  • Beware of pickpockets, especially in public transport and tourist areas.

Useful phrases

Both Cyrillic and Latin scripts are official scripts for standard Serbian language. Both alphabets are phonetic, meaning that each letter marks only one voice, best defined by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić – “Read as you write, write as you speak”. This makes Latin script pretty straightforward and easy to read (with the exception of few letters typical for Serbian language). Cyrillic alphabet can be more tricky. Here is some basic Serbian to get you going:

English Serbian pronounciation
My name is… Zovem se…
What is your name? Kako se zovete?
How much it costs? Koliko koshta?
Where is… Gde ye…
Excuse me Izvinite
Please Molim Vas
Thank you Hvala
Yes Da
No Ne
Maybe Mozhda
Cheers! Zhiveli!
Hello Zdravo
Good morning Dobro yutro
Good afternoon Dobar dan
Good evening Dobro veche
Good night Laku noch
Goodbye Dovidyenya
See you later! Vidimo se kasniye!