In the days that I was participating in Legal Internships, I was stationed in Madrid and my colleagues were in Belgrade, Serbia. Had I not received an invitation to visit them and see an entirely different culture, I likely would never have thought of going to Belgrade and I am quite elated that I did. Serbia as a country had a very troubled time in the 1990’s, which is why many tourists do not think to go there. While the security concerns were very real in that era, it is now very safe to go there and what the Serbians have done to rebuild their country is quite extraordinary.
What I found fascinating about Belgrade, is that you saw a glimpse of their former Soviet influence mixed with the individual cultural identity of the part of the population that spoke the Serbian language for generations. Additionally, I saw spectacular restaurants that were still very affordable unlike other parts of Europe. For example, I had the pleasure of dining on the Danube with local coworkers of my colleagues. They took us to a historic part of Belgrade that had a rooftop terrace with a view of the Danube. The tourist could watch the boats going by at sunset while consuming traditional Serbian food, which has quite the culinary culture of its own. After dinner, one could take a stroll to near the Danube and find floating nightclubs with everything from Jazz to Techno to sit along the river and enjoy the scenery. Each one of these establishments was different from the rest, but truly provided a wonderful evening out while experiencing an entirely different culture.
In addition to the Danube, Belgrade boasts luxury shopping that does not have the price tag just of yet. One can saunter down the boulevards marveling at the architecture and stop into an art museum or two as they go by. Additionally, they can take a car to the top of the hill and experience the view from the radio tower, which shows the tourist all of Belgrade. For the tourist who wants to venture out of Belgrade, there are also a plethora of day trip options in which one can explore the peaceful countryside in Serbia. In fact, many travelers use this as an opportunity to venture off into other countries that are in Eastern Europe because the trains between these countries are still so connected.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with Belgrade because for the experience that I received there, I did not spend a great deal of money that I would have doing similar activities in other European cities. Furthermore, given the damage that Serbia suffered, their country is coming back and while they are rebuilding, it is a spectacular time to enjoy a wonderful cultural locale that has centuries of tradition that are still intact. I would not be surprised if Belgrade would be on the same level as Vienna or Bratislava in the coming years, which is why it is absolutely worth your while to pay Belgrade a visit. From culinary creations, to unique restaurants/bars, museums, and day trips to explore, you will be quite amazed at what a rewarding experience you have.