*Advertisement – Late October, we were invited to spend a weekend in Belgrade at the Radisson Collection Hotel, Old Mill Belgrade.
A Weekend in Belgrade
Situated in a unique location at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, a little bit nostalgic, a little bit bohemian, the Serbian Capital is a gem in the middle of Eastern and Western Europe.
The charm of the city is traced back to its history, a mixture of different architecture, food and vibrant city life. In October, the temperature is still very mild and with all the colors of the autumn and the light breeze, it makes for a perfect time to visit.
At a first glance, the whole city looks like it’s under construction. New and old buildings adjacent to one another. The architecture spans Byzantine and Ottoman, Neoclassic, Art Nouveau, Communism and Modern and are easily recognized walking through the old part of the city. It may sound like a confusing picture but, actually, the various architecture perfectly reflects the soul of a city under constant change, reaching different cultures, and rapidly developing. Government but also foreign countries are investing in the growth of the city. One of the most impressive project is the Belgrade Waterfront, with the aim to use an abandoned area and build new houses, parks, offices, hotels and malls on a massive area of 1,8M square meters!
Weekend in Belgrade – What to see in Belgrade Old City (Stari Grad)
Stari Grad means “Old City” in Serbian and it is the oldest neighborhood of Belgrade. It is not overwhelmingly big which also makes it very walkable.
The most fascinating spot is the park of Kalemegdan, that is also the largest park in the city.
Going through the main entrance you meet lot of stands where old women sell colorful handmade cloths and old men play chess.
The park is situated on the top of a cliff where you can admire the beautiful and wide open view over the confluence of Sava and Danube rivers. In a sunny day you see all the three bridges of the city and the look goes on all over the “New Belgrade”. The first one, Branko’s bridge, is the bridge that connects the Old and the New Belgrade. Below the bridge, near the Belgrade port, there is Beton Hala, the hall of the contemporary gastronomic experience. A beautiful spot, especially on summer, for a lunch along the riverbank.
In the middle of the park there is the Fortress of Belgrade, probably the most visited monument in the whole city as well as the symbol of the city. The building is impressive. It was built during the Roman Empire, destroyed and rebuild hundreds of times until 18th century, obviously plaid and extremely important role in the history of the country. Today is a cultural and sport center. Tennis and basketball courts are the oldest of the city and the most famous. In summer lot of festivals and concerts take place in the garden of the Fortress.
Left the park and the Fortress, you can walk through the pedestrian street of of Ulica Knez Mihailova, a picturesque street full of cafés, restaurants, as well as being one of the favorite shopping spot of the city!
The street connects the park with Republic Square (Trg Republike), the oldest and most important square in Belgrade. There, there are also two important Belgrade public monuments: the National Theater and National Museum.
Leave yourself some time to walk around this area, exploring the little streets, finding cute cafés and observing the life of the local people, admiring the various architecture from colorful and well decorated buildings to minimal, gray and abandoned ones.
The most curious restaurant of the area is “Question Mark” or “Kafana”. It’s the oldest restaurant of the city and has no name! That’s why it is called Question Mark.
Entering its door is like to jump back in a past time; the furniture are very old style all in dark brown wood and red checked tablecloth. Here you can experience typical Balkan food and beer.
A little bit hidden, but not far from Republic Square, there is also the Design District (Cumicevo sokace), for all designer lovers. In an open air area there are all sort of concept stores, galleries and design and fashion shops, with both international and local brands.
Another important monument in the Old City, and in Belgrade in general, is without doubt the Church of Saint Sava, one of the largest Orthodox church buildings in the world. Saint Sava is the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church and important person for the development of the Serbian culture and education in the Middle Age.
Like “la Sagrada Familia” in Barcelona, the church is still under construction but it is possible to have a tour inside. Most recommended is to visit the crypt. It has a spectacular ceiling decorated in gold, arcs and impressive lamp in the middle of the room.
If you still have some time, you can head to the Zenum, another neighbor of the city situated on the Nord-Ovest, on the other side of the Sava river. Since it is far from the city center, is a much calmer district, here there are no big buildings but colorful houses and a beautiful riverbank. There, the best views you enjoy around Gardoš Tower, from where you can have a view of the city.
In Summer, it may be worth to pay a visit to the area of Ada Ciganlija, an artificial lake out from the Sava river. Here is the perfect spot to jogging, take a bike tour, do water sports or just to enjoy a day on the beach.
Weekend in Belgrade – Nightlife in Belgrade
After the whole day spent in the Old City, it’s time to get some real Serbian nightlife. Head to Skadarlija, the most bohemian street for typical restaurants, bars open till late and where tourists and locals gather to start their evening. Having a dinner here can be a real funny adventure! It is rally easy to make “new friends”, Serbian people are extremely polite and friendly, happy to show their city. You may end up drinking Rakija with them, a typical Serbian brandy made with plums, grapes or apricots (an and incredibly high alcohol content – often upwards of 60% :X), while they will tell you old stories about Belgrade and street musicians will play traditional Serbian songs around you.
Restaurant to try on this street : sesirmoj
Another nice area to walk in the evening is the area of Kralja Milana street, what is nice here is the lighting on two big buildings: the Old Palace (former royal residence and currently house of the City Assembly and the New Palace, currently seat of the President of Serbia.
Belgrade is a party city, Serbian love to enjoy their weekends. If after a dinner and few drinks you still have energy, you can find surely something going on the whole night!
In Belgrade, certainly there is any kind of food but trying the Balkan specialties is of course a must!
Balkan dishes offer lot of meat, local vegetables (sweet potatoes, cabbages, salad), cheese, cream and lot of spices. All portions are very big so pay attention how much you order ☺.
Some typical dishes to try are:
- Karađorđeva šnicla – a roll of breaded meat stuffed with ham and cheese, sounds heavy but very delicious!
- Roštilj – mixed of grilled meat
- Ćevapčići – small grilled sausages of minced meat, either beef, lamb or pork or mixed. They can be served with onion, sour cream or Kaymak (soft sheep or goat cheese).
During our day tour we had lunch at Ambar restaurant, on the Beton Hala. For a fixed price there is an all you can eat menu. The dishes are very delicious and sophisticated. Let yourself been impressed by the curios flavors and so well mixed ingredient in every course.
A special thank you to Radisson Collection Hotel, Old Mill Belgrade
Our weekend in Belgrade has been organized by Radisson Collection Hotel, Old Mill Belgrade.
The hotel recently joined the premium category of the Radisson Hotel Group, named “Collection”. This category represents highly selected hotels each of them with an unique story, location and design.
The story of Radisson Collection Hotel, Old Mill Belgrade is very unique indeed: this boutique hotel has been built 3 years ago on the base of the first steam mill in Serbia – built at the very beginning of the 19th century, which has been recognized as a cultural heritage monument and it is nowadays under the state’s protection.
The hotel outstands for its design, service and comfort. An attentive caring to guests needs is at the first place to provide the utmost experience, while the details of the design have been studied to evoke the old mill look to perfectly merge with industrial-chic components.
Lot of authentic architecture pieces have been maintained from the old steam mill, like the big brick wall at the entrance and in the rooms, the pillars in the front yard and wooden beams. The lobby at the left side of the reception has, instead, a minimal and elegant design. Here, the white color predominates in tribute to the fact that Belgrade is named “the White City”, while the lines of the sofas and the wall reminds the waves of the Sava river.
This theme is like a common thread that connects the old with the new design and recurs in many areas of the hotel: at the bar, at the restaurant and at the executive lounge, for instance.
Hallway floors that represents a cobblestones path, elevator decorated with copper panels with water drops, pictures at the wall of the old mill, are all other details that brings to live the old steam mill atmosphere again.
The whole design project has been curated by the world-renowned Graft Architects, while another German studio, Strauss&Hillegaart, realized for the hotel a series of 3D painted arts.
The experience at Radisson Collection Hotel, Old Mill Belgrade begins already upon arrival in Belgrade. Guests can ask for a service shuttle to ride to the hotel in full comfort. My driver was simply amazing! Already intrigued me with stories and information about Belgrade from the first second.
A smooth and fast checking, a great welcoming, are just few details that will make you forget about all the normal arrival procedures and will make you immediately start to enjoy the stay. I felt like at home thanks to the kindness and attentive caring of the whole staff, committed in making your stay the easiest and pleasant as possible.
Very remarkable is also the deep knowledge of Belgrade and Serbian culture, that the whole staff has; Serbian traditions, destinations, typical food and anything else you may need to fully enjoy the city.
Rooms in the old mill are on three floors, suites are located on the last floor of the two towers at its back. We stayed in the Executive room. What I loved about the room is the view on the front yard, the incredibly soft bed, the authentic brick wall from the old mill, the floor heating in the bathroom and the selection of wine in the minibar.
Facilities of the hotel include an executive lounge, meeting rooms, gym, sauna, massage room, bar and restaurant.
Restaurant and bar are two hotel’s flagships. They use local and sustainable products only, offering a variety of Serbian cuisine as well international food.
*Article written by Stefania Casiraghi – This trip was organized by Radisson Collection Hotel, Old Mill and is an advertisement. All opinions remain ours.