Saturday, August 12, 2017

Walking Belgrade: Stari Grad to Vracar

One of the best ways to discover a new town or city is simply by walking. And it is free!

Kralja Milana, one of the main avenues in Belgrade with many historical buildings such as the Oficirski dom (mustard coloured building).

Not many people I know would prefer to hike around when on holiday but it has its own advantages as well, namely, burning the calories for the day, getting to see local things up close and personal and feeling the raw side character and personality of the city, which you can only experience when you walk on its streets. Most especially, when you venture out of the centrum.

But first things first, we have to understand the layout of Belgrade, known as Beograd by the locals.

Belgrade is divided into neighbourhoods:

Helaas, I have only visited Stari Grad (Old Town), Vracar and Zemun. I have, however, and I am sure of this, been around with my rental car and the taxi in the nearby surrounding neighbourhoods, including Novi Beograd. I even got lost in the city when I was looking for my hotel because my GPS did not properly work.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Hotel Moskva in Belgrade

Yours truly taking a selfie photo in the hallway mirrors of Zepter Hotel before the stroll.

I think for the first time visitor to the city, a stroll to Vracar from Stari Grad/Old Town would be a good possibility to add to the sightseeing itinerary and I will tell you why.

Most visitors to Belgrade allocate 3-4 days in the city with a day trip somewhere (highly recommended: Novi Sad) for good measure. Given the fact that visitors prefer to stay in the core old town centre and that the Stari Grad alone will take at least 2 days to explore and enjoy, an option to check out another neighbourhood would obviously be the next best thing to do, at least for half a day.

Vracar indeed has a few sights worth checking out, and this includes the walking route to the Vracar neighbourhood from Stari Grad. I found these sights through online research, Google Maps and during the walk itself. Here they are:

  • Nikola Tesla Museum – Who does not know Nikola Tesla? Unfortunately, I did not get to see the museum except the lobby, as it was closed, for some reason on that day. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00 (Mondays closed).
  • Pijaca Kalenic Farmer’s Market – Did not buy anything although I was eyeing the pickled vegetables. I did, however, buy some powdered paprika and chilli in the farmer’s market in Novi Sad.
  • Church of Saint Sava – Impressive not-yet-finished church. Religion is very much alive in Serbia.

Plus a lot more beautiful and historical architecture on Kralja Milana. This street is really a must see and experience if you are a culture, architecture and history enthusiast. There is also Park Tasmajdan for some greenery and the Flower Square (Cvetni Trg) of course, always brimming with café terraces, a great place to hang out and kill time if you ask me.

Monument - Emperor Nicholas II
Kralja Milana street

I also had dinner here in the neighbourhood in an out-of-this-world restaurant called ‘Lorenzo & Kakalamba. The receptionist at my hotel advised me to take a cab to get here even if it was not that far away. Good idea because the streets can be tricky to navigate on foot and with a car in the evening if you are not familiar, and the taxis are very cheap in Belgrade. Why make my life difficult?

This is my walking route:

I did this in the morning, so basically I allocated the whole morning to do this activity which included visiting the farmer’s market and the Sava Church. If the Nikola Tesla museum was open, I probably would have added another hour to the morning program. I managed to do this for a total of 3.5 hours. My pace was a bit slow though because I took pictures and I also tend to smell the flowers along the way =).

Having said all these, I strongly suggest doing a walking tour for just a few hours only (3 to 4 hours/half a day) including visits to a few attractions and a cafe/drinks downtime. It is much sweeter this way; you will not get very tired from walking, will have pauses in between and still able to enjoy the sights.

So come with me on a photo walking tour of my stroll from Stari Grad/Old Town starting at my hotel on Terazije towards Vracar and back.

Kralja Milana, Belgrade, Serbia
Cvetni trg

This is the Flower Square (Cvetni trg). The square is actually formed like a triangle and is elevated. On the square, you will find many outdoor cafe terraces. The see-through small kiosks are flower shops, they are what was left of the once flourishing flower market here.

Beograd sights
Serbian cakes and pastries

Along the way, I stopped by a local supermarket and spied on these cakes and pastries. Not really keen on eating them but I just love how they look like, they looked so pretty.

Walking the streets of Belgrade

The Bronze bust of Dmitri Tucovic, a prominent socialist figure in Serbia on Slavija Square. The bust, I heard, has since been removed.

Slavija Square and surroundings in Belgrade, Serbia

The Slavija Square are can be very intimidating and confusing to first timers in the city. The rotunda is accessed by 8 different streets with non-stop traffic.

Old tram in Belgrade
Buildings on Beogradska

Belgrade has the old nostalgic trams. Most cities in Eastern Europe still run them old ones.

Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade

This is the Nikola Tesla Museum, a presentation of Tesla's legacy. The museum is housed in a beautifully renovated mansion on Krunska Street.

Krunska Street in Belgrade

The Krunska Street in Belgrade is what I also call the Embassy Street because of a number of country embassies located in the many beautiful mansions here.

Bakery cafe near the farmer's market

Here at the Pijaca Kaleni farmer's market which also has a flea and antique market.

Stunning billboard in Belgrade
Spiza Cafe near the Save Cathedral

I had coffee at this outdoor Spiza Cafe with a lovely view to the Saint Save Cathedral. This street is one of the best places to have a drink in this area.

Poster in the supermarket in Belgrade
Belgrade sights
A busy Kralja Milana in Belgrade, Serbia

Walking back to Stari Grad (the Old Town) on busy Kralja Milana.

Serbian bread - Strudla mak
Pionirski Park in Belgrade

This is Pionirski Park, just behind this park is the National Assembly of Serbia (impressive building) which is also situated beside a much bigger park called Tasmajdan Park. Belgrade has many green parks!

Impressive building on Kralja Milana, Belgrade

On Kralja Milana you will find many beautiful historical buildings. Many of them have been restored to their previous glory, but quite a number of them as well are in dire need of urgent funding or new investors.

Cable buses in Belgrade
Pedestrian traffic in Belgrade

Travel Period: May 2016
Destination: Vracar, Belgrade, Serbia

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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