Things to Do in Belgrade
Standing on a 410-foot (125-meter) cliff overlooking the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers, Serbia's Belgrade Fortress has beckoned visitors (and scared off enemies) for centuries. This 124-acre (50-hectare) vantage point served as a military outpost since the first century AD, but is now enjoyed for its history, enormity and spectacular sunset views.
Essentially a large park within fortress walls, the site contains two museums, two towers, a bunker and a Roman Well spread out throughout three main areas: Upper Town, Lower Town and Kalemegdan Park. Upper Town features preserved ramparts of the fortress, as well as the Military Museum, Victor Monument and Ruzica Church, which contains chandeliers made of ammunition casings and a chapel with an allegedly miraculous spring; Lower Town sits on the banks of the Danube River, and while it was the city center in the Middle Ages, only a few buildings have survived. The 18th century Turkish Bath now houses a planetarium.
Once the frontier of the Roman Empire, the Danube River is the second longest river in Europe. In Serbia, it connects the capital city of Belgrade with both the North Sea and the Black Sea. The Sava River enters the Danube at Belgrade and together, the two rivers provide ample opportunities for visitors to enjoy the water while visiting the capital. In addition to walking or biking along the riverbanks, visitors can dine or enjoy a drink at one of several floating restaurants. Boat and kayak tours offer the chance to see Belgrade and the famous Belgrade Fortress from a different perspective. The Great War Island sits near where the Danube and Sava rivers meet. Most visitors will head to Lido Beach on the northern tip of the island. While it isn’t well developed, it is a nice place to relax for afternoon. Nature lovers and bird watchers will enjoy exploring the rest of the island, with its forest, wildlife and more than a hundred species of birds.
Located in the southeastern corner of Belgrade, Avala Mountain stands nearly 1,700 feet above sea level. The only mountain in the area, it features more than 600 plant species and has been protected since 1859 as a monument of nature. The mountain is made of serpentinite, limestone and magmatic rocks and is a source of lead and mercury ore, although mining activities ceased in the 1960s. Today, it is a favorite recreational spot for Belgrade residents and is home to several important monuments.
The Monument to the Unknown Hero, built on the site of a medieval town called Avalski Grad, is dedicated to unknown soldiers from World War I. The Monument to the Soviet War Veterans honors members of the Soviet military who died in a plane crash on the mountain in 1964 and the Monument to Vasa Carapic remembers one of the leaders of the First Serbian Uprising in 1804. Avala Mountain is also the site of the tallest structure in Serbia: a 202-foot-tall television tower.
The closest that landlocked Belgrade has to a beach resort, the man-made island of Ada Ciganlija is the city’s most popular summer getaway, marooned on the Sava Lake. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Belgrade's Sea’ by locals, the 800-hectare island offers around 5km of Blue Flag shingle beaches, fringed by a lush expanse of oak and birch forests.
The main draw to Ada Ciganlija is its beaches, and swimming, kayaking and windsurfing are all possible during the summer months, while the waterfront promenade is lined with cafés, ice cream stands and food kiosks. The island also serves as the city’s main open-air recreational ground, with walking and cycling paths running around the lake; handball, volleyball and basketball courts; a golf course; and even a bungee jump tower.
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