Opinions about Belgrade are as diverse as they come. Whichever opinion you find to be true, there is one undeniable fact about Belgrade – you can love or hate it, or can’t wait to get to it or get out of it, but Belgrade will never leave you indifferent.
Many people who visited Belgrade agree that their first encounter with the city was in their face since the city has such a strong presence, and even stronger energy. This unique energy is everywhere you go and it is something that sets Belgrade apart from other European cities. Somebody said once that Belgrade is a city for people who love cities. If you are going for small, quaint, cute and picturesque, we would advise you to go elsewhere, since Belgrade is anything but. The capital city of Serbia is big, brash, strangely beautiful, urban, on the go, never stopping, alive 24/7.
If you ask for recommendations what to see in and around Belgrade, you will probably hear – the Bohemian quarter of Skadarlija, Kalemegdan, the Knez Mihailova Street, museums, restaurants with the traditional Serbian food, night clubs on the rivers Sava and Danube and similar. You know, the usual drill….
Howeverm if you want a different view of Belgrade and its beautiful surroundings, there are several options that you can explore. We are giving you two that we found the most unusual and interesting.
1. Getting to know Belgrade on a bicycle – If you are stationed in Belgrade and would like to know the city better, take a relaxing riverside cycling tour. Together with your tour guide, you will cycle along the rivers Sava and Danube, pass the restaurants, bars, and nightclubs (including the infamous raft nightclubs), see the old part of Zemun, and the beautiful river island of Ada with its beaches (bring your swimming gear if you are going to cycle in summer).
Not only that, you will discover Belgrade’s history, from the Austro-Hungarian rule to Communism to present day, and learn about another side of the Serbian capital while enjoying the riverside breeze. Belgrade’s history has certainly been turbulent, interesting, and stormy. And the city’s historic sites and monuments provide a great testimony and an illustration of the past times.
The tour starts every day at 10 am and lasts for four hours with 20-minute-breaks. The entire tour is in English language. Also, if you don’t have your own bicycle, the tour organizers have 75 of their own which you can rent. By the way, TripAdvisor ranked this tour among the top three outdoor activities in Belgrade.
However, if you are just passing through Belgrade, you will be better suited to try the Great Belgrade tour, which is a combination of the Riverside Tour and the City Centre Highlights.
2.The Avala Mountain like you have never seen it before – The Avala is located only 16km south of Belgrade, and it is a home to numerous historic and natural attractions. The mountain is a habitat to over 100 species of birds and 600 plant species. It also has a wealth of historic monuments with some dating back to 1442.
If you want to experience this, but are also wary of your personal carbon footprint, Dejan Jevtic is your man. He offers a completely alternative, environmentally conscious tour of the Avala. His slogan, actually the infamous line from the Monty Python’s Flying Circus: “Now for something completely different”, gives a good indication what are you in for when you book Dejan’s tour of the Avala.
Dejan has a wooden country home on the Avala which he built on the principles of permaculture. Based on the idea of using natural resources rationally, permaculture building is designed to reduce as many of the possible effects of construction on the environment, with the overall goal of creating energy-efficient, long-lasting houses.
So, what does the tour exactly entail? Well, it is a walking tour that lasts between six and eight hours, so you better be prepared.
A car or a minibus will pick you up in Belgrade and take you to the meeting spot on the Avala Mountain. The tour starts with a guided hike through the Avala Park and the forest, followed by the visit to the most important monuments (including the Avala Tower, the famous 204-metre-tall landmark). From there, you will go to Dejan’s eco-house in a small village of Prnjavor, near Ripanj, where you will enjoy in welcome drinks while Dejan tells you a short story about permaculture. The rest of the day is reserved for sports and various outdoor activities, and a home-cooked vegetarian meal.
Photo credits: Balkan Insight, iBike Belgrade