Serbia’s chaotic capital is renowned for having one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes in Europe. For many visitors, the Belgrade experience passes by in a blur of thumping electronica, flashing lights and some of the best 24-hour fast food joints your drunken 4am spirit animal could ever hope for.
But it’s not all bass and bling. Belgrade also offers a ludicrous selection of places to enjoy an afternoon beer overlooking the river(s), or a quiet evening drink with friends. So grab your BusPlus card – we’re heading to some of the White City’s best and most relaxed watering holes.
Here’s a map of all the venues to help you plan your route:
Samo Pivo means ‘only beer’. Remember that Serbs can be very literal; you really can only get beer here. But what a selection of beer it is! Samo Pivo’s beer bible has more than 100 options from all around the world, as well as an ever-changing selection of brews on tap. The spacious, industrial-style terrace is one of the best places in Belgrade to begin a boozy afternoon.
This moustache-themed bar in the old neighborhood of Dorćol has it all: beer, wine, rakija (a traditional Serbian spirit), food, barbers’ chairs and even a horse-drawn carriage. The unusual seating and eccentric décor make Blaznavac seem like some kind of incredible, acid-trip-induced other world that you’ll wish you never had to leave.
The sketchy, post-industrial streets of lower Dorćol are undergoing a revitalization, and Dorćol Platz is leading the charge. This former wasteland has been converted into a super cool courtyard that is now home to regular events and performances. You can juggle your drink while playing table tennis, attend a craft workshop, or simply relax under the sun.
Zaokret just drips hipster. Spilling out into the inner-city nightlife hub of Cetinjska, this trendy bar is all about craft beers, designer beards and DJs playing underground Scandinavian electro from the late ’90s on vinyl. Oh, you’re not into Röyksopp? How mainstream…
You’ll think you’ve somehow discovered Wonderland when you step into this cute courtyard bar. Floral designs, colorful graffiti and even a treehouse(!) create a fairytale-like atmosphere that makes Ljutić perfect for a date or a lazy afternoon. Enjoy the ambiance with a glass of homemade wine, a cocktail, or even just a cup of tea.
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Maska is one of a kind. Located in the fancy neighborhood of Vračar, just a stone’s throw from the iconic Sveti Sava temple, this bar/restaurant might just be the most elaborately decorated drinking establishment you’ll ever see. Paintings and artifacts from all corners of the globe decorate every inch of space on the walls, and most of the furniture looks like it cost several thousand bucks a pop. Try not to think about how the owners can afford all this and just enjoy your surprisingly affordable meal and cocktail combination. You’ll know you’ve reached Maska when you see the grass-covered car out the front.
Never was there a better place to while away a sunny afternoon than this floating oasis of tranquillity on the Sava. Brodić literally means ‘little boat’, and this bar is indeed an old wooden boat – with a shaded floating deck added on for good measure. Grab a seat at an outdoor table, order a handmade pizza and a frosty Paulaner, and settle in for the city’s finest sunset view.
Just down the river from Brodić – hidden away behind Belgrade Fair – is a traditional Serbian gem. Stenka is part fish restaurant, part kafana (a traditional Serbian tavern), all fun. Share a bowl of riblja čorba (fish soup), order a plate of girice (bite-sized fried fish) and try the homemade wine. Make sure you have a couple of hundred dinars on hand to tip the sweaty tamburaši band, who will serenade you with traditional Serbian songs until you just have to get up and dance on the table.
Belgrade’s original blues club looks like an abandoned house from the outside, but open the wobbly gate and you’ll find an unexpected slice of Americana. This smoky, cabin-style bar nestled on the hill in Banovo Brdo hums with live gigs most nights. Don’t be intimidated by the long-haired bikers and beardie music nerds; they’re usually up for a chat and a beer.
Bonus points for finding this secluded forest bar on your first attempt. Hidden away in a peaceful corner of Ada Ciganlija, Gavez is a hippie hangout offering cheap drinks, home-cooked meals and a beer garden shaded by leafy green trees. If it starts to rain, grab your drinks and find a table inside the quirkily decorated wooden house.
Hop on a water taxi from Ada across to New Belgrade, then turn left. You’ll soon reach Paradoks, a floating bar that not only offers fruity cocktails and comfortable lounge chairs, but also serves as the perfect place to take a dip in the river. Park yourself on one of the bar’s rubber rings and let it do the floating for you.
Srpska Kuća Piva
A micropub in the old socialist blocks of Belgrade? Yep, that’s a thing. This tiny, cozy bar’s name literally translates as ‘Serbian House of Beer’, which should be a good sign in anyone’s book. You can choose from around 20 Serbian craft beers, all on tap and all for insanely low prices. After all, you are in Studentski Grad: the neighborhood built to house Belgrade’s thrifty student community.
The old Austro-Hungarian town of Zemun – now incorporated into Belgrade’s urban sprawl – offers some great spots to grab a drink. Nestled among these cobblestone streets, Lakat’s stylish design contrasts with the filthy but fun ex-Yugoslav punk rock blasting from the stereo system. Even if the loud music is not to your taste, the range of artisan beers and the unbelievably tasty BBQ ribs definitely will be.
BONUS: Magic Garden
Okay, this last bar isn’t so much of a bonus as a punishment, or a last-ditch attempt to get a drink. We’re assuming after your bar crawl that you’ve somehow made it back to the city center and are looking to finish off your night with one last 4am tipple. Magic Garden is the place for you, assuming that you no longer have any standards. Make your way across from Republic Square, through the passage and into this unbearably smoky den, where you’ll laugh, cough and drink the night away, only to pay for it all the next morning…
So, there you have it: a tour of Belgrade and a hangover to remember! Tell us if you’ve found any other amazing bars on your Belgrade travels.
Nick Johns-Wickberg is an Australian traveller/writer/digital nomad/lost cause. When he’s on the road, he assumes his alter ego: The Tragic Traveller. Nick currently lives in Belgrade, Serbia, where he spends his time eating, drinking, wandering and – very occasionally, when he absolutely has to – working.
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