Buzzing in Belgrade and Swooning Over Tesla
I’ve got to say, I’ve always heard such glowing reviews of the Balkan city Belgrade. I had friends who raved about the nightlife, the city vibe, and how great fun it was. I was intrigued.
When I was working on One Model Mission in the Balkans, I was looking forward to Belgrade and the little break it brought with it. I needed a chance to let my hair down.
My night train took me from Zagreb to Belgrade, a train that had to deviate from our original itinerary. It truly took ages longer than it should have. There were people smoking cigs on the train, no snack cart, one old man listening to his AM radio from 1986 super loudly. It was an adventure but, let’s just say when I arrived, I was so ready to be there and so happy I had a hotel waiting for me. And not just any hotel, either. Hotel Tesla Smart Stay.
Does the name sound familiar? It should. Nikola Tesla may ring a bell. This hotel is purely dedicated to the magnificent innovator and inventor who Nikola Tesla was. The name has become synonymous with intuitive design engineered far before his time. Ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly what Hotel Tesla Smart Stay has accomplished as well.
The staff at Hotel Tesla is readily available and eager to meet every need and will go above and beyond to accommodate. Hotel Tesla is in a prime location next to the cathedral and close to some wonderful restaurants. It was a cool and unique place dedicated to the most famous man in Belgrade, Nikola Tesla.
Each room possesses a different Tesla theme. The rooms were very cozy and impeccably clean. From Tesla wallpaper, books, photos, and more, the staff also gifted us some beautiful chocolates along with free passes to the Tesla museum.
Everyone should check out Tesla Hotel while in Belgrade. You will really appreciate the sheer pride the citizens share over their beloved Tesla. I learned so much about the brilliant man while staying here. I must say I even quite fancied the dapper man with his suave dress sense in his handsome photos that lined the museum walls. Not much of a romantic, Tesla never actually dated a woman. His sole love in life was a white pigeon. And should you decide to stay in the lovely suite, you will get to see that very white pigeon. Well, obviously not the actual live pigeon, but a cute little glass pigeon.
Side note on the suite: Well worth the splurge! The suite was gigantic and had the prettiest view of the cathedral from the balcony. If the patent suite isn’t available, then go even bigger and go for the Tesla suite. This is the one I originally wanted but a family had booked it. It looks so cool though.
Another must see place that really teaches you all things Tesla is the Tesla Museum. Take an hour or so, on an afternoon that you have free and check it out. You get comped for the admission when staying at Hotel Tesla, and you will see and learn everything Nikola Tesla. He was an extraordinarily innovative and intelligent man. It is open every day but Monday. If you want a guided English tour, then you need to have your hotel call a day ahead of time to make a booking. If you’re like me and don’t mind much, and just go to look and read, then go whenever works for you. You only need about an hour here.
The Tesla museum is within walking distance from the hotel. I chose to walk, and it wasn’t far. I saw other things that Belgrade had to offer while I was on my walk. The Church of Saint Sava, a Serbian Orthodox church, is right next to Hotel Tesla. This church is so beautiful inside. You must be sure to see the dome inside. It’s truly remarkable. Inside of the dome is a mosaic depicting the ascension of Jesus and representing the resurrection of Christ.
The Church of Saint Sava is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world, is THE largest in Serbia and the Balkans, and houses one of the biggest dome mosaics in the world. It was made in Russia and transported to Belgrade. It is breathtaking. You must go visit this church on your way into town or to the Tesla museum.
On the walk, I also saw a lot of smaller churches, some really old houses, and some old buildings with damage from the war. It was so cool to see the history by just looking at the old properties. To some it may have a bit of a grungy vibe, but I think the new and old look make it so special as it really depicts the history and resilience of Serbia and its people.
Another cool must-do is a visit to the fortress in Belgrade. The best time to visit is right around sunset. It’s very touristy, but it’s cool and had great views. The history of the fortress dates back to 535 BC. You can walk through the park and see the ruins, visit the old citadel, and get great sunset photos. Serbs love just having mid-day strolls and enjoying time relaxing in parks. This would also be a great location for a romantic sunset or a picnic. Cabs are inexpensive, so even if you’re not within walking distance, this is still an ideal stop.
After visiting the fortress, you can walk right into town for some dinner, or you can take a cab to the very hip and trendy Beton Hala. There are a lot of posh bars and restaurants in Belgrade. This is where people go to see and be seen. For Serbs, it’s very expensive, but as an American, your money goes far.
We ate at Lavash. It was so delicious, and the wine was great. Again, so cheap. There was also a jazz band playing, which was very sophisticated and cool. This is for sure the number one spot to come in Belgrade. It was all the Serbian Elite and very attractive crowd. It was totally my vibe and I was told in summer it’s for sure the spot to party and be seen.
On Day 2, head up to Republic Square for some nice lunch. Serbs love to sit all day in cafes. This is really a Balkan thing to do is sit and relax and enjoy a coffee while socializing and people watching. All this café sitting will have you wondering if people work. How else do they have so much time to sit around socializing over coffee all day? They really take their café culture seriously, which is great because there is truly no shortage of great spots to enjoy.
Another incredible thing to see is St. Mark Church! It’s huge. It’s another Serbian Orthodox church completed in 1940. This church will stun you. St. Mark is also one of the largest churches in the country. Right next to it in the park is a cute small Russian church. This church is right in the center of the city in Tasmajdan Park.
Take a walk down Knez Mihailova Strett, as it’s the main pedestrian and shopping street and zone in Belgrade. There are many nice shops, cafés, and restaurants. This area is actually protected by law as one of Belgrade’s oldest and most valuable landmarks. Everything you need is right here.
The Balkans are very clean areas to stay. The area is buzzing with people at all hours and you get a really cool vibe. I truly fell in love with this city one night while it was just me walking down the street, taking in all of the culture.
Other awesome site to see is Ruzica Church. The church is covered in greenery, so it’s beautiful from the outside and great for photos. This is in Kalemegden Park near the fortress and was used as a military church. More great sites include Gardos Tower, Avala Tower, Princess Ljubicas Residence, Monument to the Unknown Hero, House of the National Assembly Western City Gate, Novi Dvor, Saint Petka, and loads and loads of museums if that’s your thing. Typically, I’m not super into museums and maybe visit just one in a city. Normally, the one I’m most interested in. There is also the Yugoslav Ministry of Defense building you can walk by which still stands after being bombed in 1999. It’s crazy to see the damage done. This building is one of Belgrade’s most famous ruins.
Some of the best restaurants and bars are:
Toro, Sakura, Frida. All of these three are in Beton Hala. Some authentic Serbian restaurants are Madera and Frans. Best clubs would be Hype, Mr. Stefan Braun, Casina, Ludost, Brankow, The Tilt, 20/44, which is parked on the river Sava and is named after it’s latitude and longitude, Maison Boho, Wats which stands for “WE are the shit”and Lasta which is very mainstream and touristy. There are so many to choose from. It really depends on what you’re looking for. What type of music, venue, and crowd you want. There is truly something for everyone. Clubs are open until 5am with many after party spots open until 7 or 8am.
Belgrade is famous for its nightlife so while here check it out! We had so much fun club hopping! Ash and I didn’t pay for one single drink. We made a plan to go check the place out for one or two and left in the early hours of the morning with me having many drinks. The bartenders kept giving us shots as well. The music was hip hop which I loved, but they do have a lot of house and techno music spots. It’s crazy how nightlife is so similar everywhere in the world. Belgrade is meant to be the capital of nightlife in all of Europe ,with many saying it’s comparable or even better than Ibiza! Some say it’s the “New Berlin” with the shabby chicness and club thumping music till early morning hours. Clubs are open every night of the week, year around, (Some have summer months, some winter, but there are always ones open, unlike Ibiza),and always are full of young people ready to party the night away. Belgrade really knows how to make a really good party in a really staple nightclub looking venue. So many bright lights and amazing dj’s.