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Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe and has endured a turbulent history, it sits at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and is a wonderful mash up of cultures dominated by East meets West. The capital since 1840, today it is home to approximately 1.8 million people. What it lacks in aesthetic beauty, it mesmerises with an infectious exuberance. The remnants of the socialist period are still evident but sits happily with a blossoming art scene and memories of the Habsburg legacy. Due to its geographical location on the edge of the Balkans, it has has been a site of strategic importance for a succession of rulers. Immersing in Belgrade is a surreal journey; it harps of nostalgia and hardship with remnants of a once affluent society. It’s steadily raising itself from decades of devastation and despair, a city reborn, definitely stronger and full of vigour and vitality! A refreshing wave of optimism hangs provocatively in the air, its once again, great to be Serbian and the locals are not reluctant to display their passion.

Spalvovi  is a word you need to get familiarised with when exploring Belgrade, it’s the name for the party boats moored along the city’s riverbanks.

Where to stay?

A great choice is the Metropol Palace Hotel, ideally situated for quick access to the city centre. It’s sat at the heartbeat of the transport network overloaded with trams and buses. The rooms are spacious, modern and comfortable

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Where to eat?

If you are after traditional Serbian fare, then Ambar is ideal. Located on the banks of the Sava river with hypnotic views of the party boats, the modern décor provides a memorable setting for a sublime gastronomical indulgence. A collection of locally sourced produce is presented to appeal not only to the eyes but to tantalise your tastebuds. Address: Karadordeva 2-4’ 11000 Beograd, Srbjia

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What to see?

 A visit to St Savas Church is a humbling experience, especially at night. The exterior lit to perfection, every contour of the home to the Serbian Orthodox religion is a simply pleasing extravaganza on the eyes. It’s history is astonishing, it was raised on the spot where it is thought that in 1595 Sinan-Pasha of the Ottomen Empire burned the relics of St Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The interior is in a stage of reconstruction, the immense space is currently clad in simple stone and brick but eventually ornate mosaics will welcome the potential 10,000 congregation. It’s styled on the Byzantine cross-in-square model, with a central dome flanked by four half-domes. Address: Vračar, Belgrade, Srbjia

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The unusual?

Traces of the wars of the 1990s are hard to find in Belgrade, except of course for the gaping ruin of the ex-Yugoslav/Serbian Army headquarters.

The building was hit several times during the NATO campaign. The bombing of the building was primarily of symbolic importance, as all essential command functions had already been evacuated to a secure location in the days prior to the outbreak of the war.

After the end of hostilities the building was deemed too damaged for immediate repair and it remains in the same bombed-out condition to this day.

If its destruction was largely symbolic, so too is its continued state of disrepair. For many Serbs, the destroyed army headquarters has become a monument to the lost war, and a morbid tourist attraction for foreign visitors. It is within walking distance of the main railway station and international bus terminal.

Bike hire?

iBikeBelgrade offer a good selection of bikes for rent however they can only be rented per day. You can return the bike before 18.00 or the next day before 10.00 and if you rent 7 days, you only pay for 6 days.

Getting there

Nicola Hesla Airport (Belgrade) is the usual gateway to Serbia. It’s located approximately 18km North of the city, local bus number 72 travels to the city centre every 30 minutes. Air Serbia offer direct flights from London Heathrow, unfortunately there are no direct flights from North America or Australasia but most travel operators will offer one or two stop flights.

For more information contact National Tourism Organisation of Serbia

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