Difference between revisions of "Belgrade"
Revision as of 16:08, 29 November 2009
Belgrade (Београд / Beograd in Serbian)  – meaning 'White City' – is the capital of the Republic of Serbia. Various styles of architecture dominate the city, while its recent resurgence as the leading hub in south-eastern Europe make it a must see destination.
Belgrade is the capital of the Republic of Serbia and is, as such, the country's largest city with a population of about 2,000,000 people. It lies on the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. The city has a long history, dating back to the 4th century BC, when the area was settled by Celtic tribes. Later on, it became the Roman city of Singidunum, and relics of that era can still be seen in the city, particularly at Kalemegdan Fortress. As it entered the Byzantine Empire, Belgrade saw many conflicts, including invasion by the Ottoman Empire, until Serbia finally became independent in the 1800s.
After the First World War, Belgrade became the seat of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (in 1928, the country changed name to Kingdom of Yugoslavia) until its collapse, and it saw violence again in 1999 with NATO's bombing campaign. This often violent history and outside influence has colored much of Belgrade's evolution, which is evident in its culture and architecture. Often caught between the hammer and anvil of clashing empires, the city has taken on a unique character, reminiscent of both Austrian and Turkish influences, with a unique set of Communist elements thrown in as Yugoslavia was expelled from the Eastern Bloc in 1948. Yet, the city has its own spirit, and in it can be found some not only very unique features, but also a healthy joie de vivre in its café culture, nightlife and often Mediterranean flavor in its view of life.
Whilst there isn't much by way of ethnic or cultural diversity in Belgrade, in terms of different migrant populations – compared to other European cities – there are minority communities (largely Roma and Chinese), as well as people from other former Yugoslav republics, such as Bosnia, Croatia and Fyrom. There is also a small expat community . Cultural events from round the world, however, are starting to be increasingly common, particularly in the spring and summer months, thanks in no small part to both local arts and culture organizations, as well as foreign embassies/cultural centers. These attract a good deal of local attention, and will help in raising the city's profile as a cultural hotspot.
Belgrade is an energetic city re-discovering its tourism potential. One great new magazine, White City is a must read for anyone who plans on visiting. They call themselves an urban magazine but it's a great lifestyle magazine written in English for both locals and foreigners. It's available at any place that sells magazines in Belgrade.
Belgrade is serviced by Nikola Tesla International Airport (IATA: BEG) , about 12 kilometers west of the city center, and is the home base of Jat Airways – Serbia's flag carrier airline – which flies to nearly 40 destinations worldwide. Other major airlines fly to Belgrade, such as Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa. Discount and no-frills carriers such as Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz, however, have yet to make their entrance in the Serbian market, which makes the cost of flying to and from the city a bit higher than other destinations, although Germanwings does have a number of less expensive flights to Germany and Norwegian Air is another low cost airline operating to Belgrade.
There are shuttle busses to the city center from the airport, operated by both Jat and Lasta. These will pick up and drop off passengers at the Hotel Slavija (Jat) and the central train station (Lasta). The fares are about 250 RSD (~€3) for the Jat shuttle, and 150 RSD (~€1.60) for the Lasta bus.
Avoid taxi service being offered by drivers in the airport terminal; the drivers won't use their meters, and will charge many time the normal fare. Metered taxis can be rung in or picked up from the stand outside; just be sure to chose one with a roof sign indicating it's a city-regulated (see below) radio taxi, and insist that the trip be metered. Alternatively, you can go upstairs to the departure section and catch one of the taxis dropping off passengers. They will be happy for the return ride, and the fare should cost around 900 - 1200 RSD (~€10-13) to the city.
There is also city bus service to and from the airport. Line #72 from Zeleni Venac in central Belgrade runs twice an hour, and costs 45 dinars (~€0.5). The trip is around 40 minutes, but is decidedly less comfortable than a shuttle bus or taxi. A more comfortable city bus option is the E7 minibus, going from the airport to Kralja Aleksandra Boulevard in the city center, stopping at the major hotels (Continental, Hyatt and Park) along the way. The buses are comfortable and air-conditioned. The fare is 100 RSD (~€1.10), which is paid on-board; be sure to tell the driver what your destination is before departure.
The Central Train station is located, not surprisingly, in the city center. All national and international trains stop here.
There are several international train connections from Budapest-Vienna, Budapest-Bratislava-Prague,Zagreb-Ljubljana-Munich, Zagreb-Ljubljana-Zurich and Zagreb-Ljubljana-Venice. Normally, trains should not be too late (seldom more than 1 hour), and usually are very safe. Expect the overnight train from/to Budapest to be overcrowded in summer.
There are also direct (day and night) trains from Bucharest, Kiev, Moscow, Skopje, Thessaloniki, Istanbul (21h) and Sofia and an overnight train from Bar and Podgorica, Montenegro to Belgrade. It arrives early in the morning (around 7). This is a reasonably comfortable train with sleeper cars and nice views (even at night). Upgrade to the cabins with two beds only for 100% improvement. Prices are pretty reasonable. There is also comfortable day IC train from Bar and Podgorica.
For timetables and all other infos check website of national carrier Serbian Railways 
Belgrade's central bus station  is next-door to the central train station, in Karađorđeva street. Whilst coach service to national and international destinations is frequent, departure times are usually reliable, but arrival times may be not. Timetables aren't clearly posted; the timetables that are there are in Serbian only, so ask for information inside the terminal.
Ticket reservations and purchases are made in the terminal building.
When buying a bus ticket, you will also receive a token to enter the platform area, for national travel. For international travel, you will be given a paper stub to present at the platform gate.
Be aware that most coach drivers will charge you a fee for baggage handling in the cargo compartment, though this is not a uniform practice with international travel. Also be aware that drivers rarely speak English or any other foreign language. Inform yourself about your trip prior to departure as much as you can; if in doubt, ask a fellow passenger for assistance.
Coach travel in Serbia is a hit-and-miss experience; whilst there is a huge number of companies to chose from, not all of them have clean, modern coach fleets, particularly for travel within Serbia or to neighbouring Montenegro. Coaches are more often clean and modern when embarking on trips to Croatia and Western Europe.
For international trips to the rest of Europe, Lasta  is the Eurolines carrier.
For long trips, drivers usually stop for 15 minutes breaks roughly every two hours, though this isn't by any means guaranteed. Pack appropriately with food and bottled water. When disembarking on breaks in the trip, make sure to either secure your belongings, or take them with you.
Coming north from Subotica and Novi Sad, the E-75 highway is recommended, as well as driving to Belgrade from the south. There is also a major road called Ibarska magistrala, which provides approach from south-west (direction of Montenegro, for example). From the west, use the E-70 highway (from Zagreb, Ljubljana etc.). Major roads can be used coming east and north-east from Vršac and Zrenjanin.
Highways have toll stations, which are moderately priced. As of summer 2007, there is major roadwork on the E-75 highway north, so expect occasional delays. Serbia's only highways are parts of E-70 and E-75 roads and the highway passes right through Belgrade without a bypass, causing large unavoidable traffic jams on the Gazela bridge and at the Mostar junction.
Belgrade lies where the rivers Sava and the Danube meet. Passenger ships enable you to reach every place along the Danube in a very convenient and meditative manner with many fascinating attractions along it, but it is a quite slow and rather expensive way of travelling.
Belgrade is located on European bicycle route Eurovelo 6 which connects Atlantic Ocean and Black Sea.
Belgrade has an extensive public transport network, covering almost all areas of the old city, Novi Beograd, Zemun and other out-lying areas. The network itself consists of a large fleet of busses, trolley buses and trams - 1,000 vehicles to be exact, but even this is not enough, and public transport in Belgrade is always crowded during rush hour. Tickets for the public transport network cost 42 RSD when purchased at a kiosk (known locally as a trafika), or 80 RSD when purchased from the driver. All tickets must be validated in manually-operated stamping machines inside the vehicle. Transport authorities routinely check tickets for validation – particularly at peak hours on major lines – and an infraction can land you with an uncomfortable fine.
If you are going to spend an extended period in Belgrade, and intend to use public transport a lot, than you can buy passes that range from 15 days to 1 month. Those must be purchased at the public transport department, and can be somewhat difficult for foreigners to acquire, since the process is long (filling out forms with most of your personal information) and attendants do not speak English.
There are over 120 urban and over 300 suburban bus lines. There are also several seasonal lines, including Ada1-Ada5, the five lines which can take you to Ada Ciganlija, and one seasonal, weekend-only line (400) which goes to the summit of Mt Avala. As of July 2007, most of the bus fleet is less than five years old. The area around Zeleni Venac is a major bus hub in the city center, with many lines going to and from Novi Beograd and Zemun stopping there.
Tickets can be bought at kiosks for RSD 42 (~0,45€) or RSD 80 (~0,90€) from the bus driver. Don't forget to validate the ticket for each ride, as there are occasional controls.
Trams are mostly old and cramped, with few being restored; some have been donated from Basel, Switzerland, but they are also well beyond their serviceable lifespan. There are 12 tram lines in Belgrade, three of which are connected to New Belgrade.
Line 2 is famous in the city with a circular route, running in both directions. The circle is known as krug dvojke (#2's circle) and rings the central city streets.
Line 3 is famous for a beautiful neighborhoods it goes trough, particularly Miloš's Konak Park.
As of summer 2009, there have been couple of interruptions in tram services downtown (Resavska St., and Kalemegdan) due to road work, and new track being laid down on existing tram lines.
Trolleybuses fleet in big majority consist of old soviet made ZiU-9 and new Belarusian made Belkommunmash vehicles AKSM-321 and AKSM-333, and they run only in Old Belgrade, connecting the city center to east and south-east. There are eight trolleybus lines.
As of April 2007, six minibus lines were introduced (E1-E7, except E3) which criss-cross Belgrade. Later, two more lines were added - E3 and E8. Minibuses are all air-conditioned, smaller and generally quicker than regular city buses. However, tickets are bought only inside a minibus and they are more expensive than ordinary ones. The latest minibus fare is 100 RSD.
Taxis are cheap (by European standards) and plentiful, and you can either stop one in the street, or call a taxi company. Ordering a taxi by phone will usually attract a 10 - 20% discount off the final price. Make sure that you ride only in licensed cabs, which carry a little blue sign with the city coat of arms and a number on it, or you may end up paying too much. Never take a privately owned cab (the ones with the white marker on the top that does not list the name of the company), since you can pay up to four times the normal price.
Avoid using taxis in front of airports, bus and train stations! It doesn't matter even if they are licensed, these guys have removed their taximeters and will almost certainly rip you off. Ask people around to show you where the designated taxi stops are. Unfortunately, even some licensed taxis have meters that tick over at an alarmingly quick rate, thus producing vastly inflated fares.
Throughout 2007, major changes are being implemented in the taxi system, as cars are modernized to include receipt printers and an option to pay by card, though it will take some time for the whole taxi network to include this.
As of July 2008, the flag fall for starting a ride is RSD 119 (1.5€), and the rate is RSD 46 per kilometre (1st tarriff) or RSD 56 per kilometre (2nd tarriff, at night and weekends).
Take note that a normal 'step' on a taximetre is about 3 dinars a time, so if you notice a much higher step, ask for a receipt, write down the license plate number, and call 32-27-000.
Not for the faint of heart, particularly during peak hours.
There are many streets which have yellow lanes. They are reserved for public transport, i.e. buses and taxis, and you are not allowed to use them. The yellow lanes are marked with a yellow line, and are indicated on traffic signs. Some yellow lanes, though, are active only in certain periods of the day, usually during rush hours.
There are new spaces for parking in the city center. There is a large parking garage with 500 spaces under the old palace in the city center, across from the parliament building.
Also, take into consideration that in the center almost all of the parking spaces in the central streets have zones marked with green, yellow or red paint on the street (yellow zone spaces are actually marked orange, to avoid confusion with other marks). You can only stay for 3, 2 or 1 hours, respectively, in those spots. You can pay using the machine usually found near the parking spots, buy the parking ticket at a kiosk or by cell phone (just text your car's licence plate number (for example: BG123456) to numbers 9111 (red zone), 9112 (yellow) or 9113 (green)). Every message you send is valid for one hour and, some 5 minutes before the hour has passed, you get a text message telling you that you can send another SMS if you want to extend your parking for the next hour. Of course, this only applies in yellow and green zones, in which you can park for more than 1 hour. After the time is up, you'll have to re-park or risk paying a fine (around €10). All of this only applies on weekdays, from 7AM to 9PM and from 7AM to 2PM on Saturdays. After that (Sa 2PM- Mo 7AM) parking is free.
There are also several public parking garages and parking lots where you can park for an unlimited amount of time during day. Fees are charged on an hourly basis. In some non-zoned areas, you also pay for parking depending on the duration of your stay, and this is paid in cash to the parking attendant.
Detailed information can be found on the Parking Servis website available in English and Serbian.
Old Belgrade is pretty hilly and the bicycle infrastructure is scarce, so bicycle transport isn't in wide use. However, New Belgrade and Zemun are relatively flat and offer enough space for bikes to be used. Bicycle tracks link Zemun, Dorćol, Ada Ciganlija, New Belgrade and Bežanijska kosa. There is a bike lift on Brankov Bridge and the ride is free of charge and there are also some 50 bicycle racks around the city.
Unfortunately, you are not allowed to bring bikes into public transport vehicles.
There are several tourist boats which offer day and night cruises along the Sava and Danube.
Note that many of Belgrade's museums are closed on Monday. It may be wise to check before making a visit.
Public Observatory (placed at Kalemegdan fortress) - There are four panoramic telescopes installed for daily observations of the city's panorama. This is the unique place in Belgrade for panoramic observations. 
National Museum - located at Republic Square has an enormous collection of world painters.
National Theatre - watch opera, ballet and plays - the main hall is simply amazing. Decorated with gold and artworks.
Visit a splav (literally: raft) – a barge restaurant located along the Sava and Danube rivers. There you can dine and eat with the extra feature of being on the river and enjoying the view. The music played on the barges is usually a mix of Serbian folk music and pop - amusing, though it hurts the ear.
If you have time visit the Belgrade Arena. It is the second largest arena in Europe and the largest in the Balkans. You will definitely be impressed by the architecture. The 2005 European Basketball Championships were held there.
English is widely spoken in Serbia and although older people usually speak broken or no English at all, they usually have some knowledge of another European language (French/German/Russian).
The letter "J" is pronounced like the letter "Y", or "J" in German.
Also expect to hear analogues to words in other languages used in everyday conversation, such as kul (cool), ekstra (extra) and super.
Written Serbian – on outdoor signs, et cetera – will either be in Serbian Cyrillic, Latin characters or both. There is no hard-and-fast rule about this. Taking the time to familiarize one's self with the basics of Serbian Cyrillics helps enormously. In both Latin and Cyrillic scripts the spelling is usually quite simple.
The currency in Serbia is the dinar . Money can be exchanged at official exchange offices (locally called Menjačnica, often carrying the emblem of the National Bank of Serbia outside the building), which are clearly labeled and they are numerous in central Belgrade, or at the airport. Micko (on Vuka Karadzica street) changes all currencies, including rare ones. There are many ATMs, which accept foreign bank and credit cards without a glitch (note: they are new machines so you won’t have any problems with them). Bank card is not accepted in many shops, restaurants and hotels. The dinar is not widely convertible outside Serbia; it is advisable to re-convert your remaining dinars to Euros or other major currencies before leaving the country.
The stores work into late hours during work days while on Saturdays they normally close around 15.00 and most of them are not open on Sundays. Therefore, finding an activity for the weekend must be thought of beforehand. At night, however, there are bars, cafés and discotheques that are open, selling cheaply priced drinks. Belgrade is reputed to have some of the best night life in Europe.
Clothes and Accessories
Import taxes make clothes and shoes in Serbia very expensive. Many items from common European chains can be found for 20% less in neighboring Budapest. Still, Belgrade has many flagship stores, mostly located on Knez Mihailova Street, or the pedestrian zone. They include Escada, Max Mara, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Sweet Years, Paul & Shark, Lacoste, Zara, Gas, Diesel, Miss Sixty, Energie, Tom Tailor, Tally Weil, Springfield, Mango, Cortefiel, Pedro del Hiero, Levi's, and Marella.
There are also many multi-brand stores selling higher class designer clothes and accessories. The most known ones are Artisti (a chain of stores throughout the city) who have the new Gucci, Prada, Bikkembergs, Dior, Tod's, DSquared2, Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino collections. The second store chain is Land featuring brands such as Just Cavalli, D&G, CNC by Costume National, Iceberg. New stores include Marks and Spencer, Top Shop, Sephora and New Yorker.
The official distributor of Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, Armani Jeans, Versace Jeans Couture is a store Alta Moda in Kralja Petra street. Close to Alta Moda are other designer multi brand stores such as Monobrand and EuroModa . Also, there is a shop called MilModa that is oriented to the younger population. Thus, it features Armani Jeans, Missoni Sport, D&G, Etro, Bogner, La Martina and BluMarine constantly, and (from time to time) fashion brands such as DSquared2, Richmond, Prada, creations of John Galliano and many others (they are official dealers). It is situated near St. Sava`s temple.
Multi-brand store concept is catching on very quickly, so it's not going to be a problem finding all types of clothes. Best concept stores are Buzz (Knez Mihailova street), chain of street-wear stores called Urban and Avanguardia.
Searching for accessories, watches: You can also find a variety of brands, from the affordable (Swatch & Fossil) to the most expensive (Breitling for Bentley, Cartier, Boucheron, Rado...). Accessories can be found everywhere but for the hippest you can see Dve Smizle (Millennium Shopping Mall, Knez Mihailova) and Time Zone feat. Kenzo, Christian Lacroix Bijoux, Miss Sixty Jewelry and others (Makedonska Street, next to Politika newspaper headquarters).
Serbs are very proud of their food, which is heavy on grilled meats and sausages, local cheeses and bread. Salads are primarily tomato, cucumber, and onion, or cabbage. Local produce is fresh and organic.
Belgrade has hundreds of restaurants specializing in local cuisine and a few international restaurants. On the whole, prices are cheap compared to Western Europe with main dishes ranging from 8-25 dollars per person.
Most Serbian restaurants offer rostilj, a large plate of various unseasoned grilled meats, or any possible variety of grilled chicken wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheese. It is possible to order fresh salads, plates of grilled vegetables, crepes, or omelets if you are not carnivorous.
Snacking and eating on the go in Belgrade are easy and cheap. Bakeries – called pekara – are ubiquitous in the city center, and you will find a wide assortment of breads, sweet and savoury pastries, sandwiches and pizza on offer. A snack or light meal of pastry and drinkable yoghurt will give you an added boost when walking about the city center.
Foods that vegetarians and meat eaters alike should try include kajmak (something between cream cheese and butter) and ajvar, a savory spread made out of red peppers. It is also worth visiting a pijaca (green market) to buy some fresh fruit, vegetables and other grocery items. The farmer's market at Zeleni Venac, close to the Hotel Moscow, is one of the largest – and the one with the least expensive merchandise – in the city. Contained in a newly-built complex, it makes for an enjoyable Saturday morning experience, with the lively hustle and bustle of people milling about and stall-owners trying to attract customers. Depending on the season, an amazing assortment of fruit and veg can be found in farmer's markets, including watermelons, olives, wild mushrooms and fresh figs. Take the time to explore the stalls, and compare the quality and prices of the produce.
There is also pljeskavica, the Serbian version of a hamburger, which is about five times larger than an American hamburger and can be purchased from fast food restaurants. You can find your typical McDonalds and Pizza Hut, but most of the fast food restaurants in Belgrade are local and sell baked goods, pizza, sandwiches, and palacinke (the Serbian version of a crepe). Some may go beyond that, selling Turkish delicacies such as baklava, tulumba and other Greek/Turkish treats.
There are a handful of international restaurants, including Japanese,Chinese and Indian. These are moderately priced to very expensive. Many dine out at "Peking" restaurant, and "Mao Tao" is an excellent choice as well for Chinese. Dju-Dju, "Moon" (in Makedonska 30) and Ikki Sushi Bar are perfect places for those who like sushi or other tasty japanese dishes. Zapata's is the best (and pretty much only) Mexican restaurant in town and "Cosy" (Makedonska 30) the best French Café with excellent food and prices (our favorite one too).
Skadarlija is a pleasant street filled with Serbian and Italian restaurants, not to be missed by gourmands. It is famous for its old restaurants, some of which have been around for over 100 years. Most of the restaurants have string orchestras which play a selection of traditional and modern Serbian songs, like in "Lagum 33" (Simina 33).
If you prefer a delicious fish meal try the fish gourmet restaurant Mika Alas close to Ada Ciganlija (Stari Obrenovaćki put 14; 011/254-4448; ). Be sure to try their delicious fish soup "ribja corba" and their very own house specialty, "smudj romanov", Pike Perch fillet in white wine cream sauce. Excellent food for an acceptable price.
Vegetarijanska Gostionica "Joy of the Heart" - Svetogorska 18 (center) Tel. 011/334-5181. Not your typical Serbian meal - as they serve mostly ayyurvedic food for a decent price. Also serves fruit shakes and other non-alcoholic beverages.
Despite the warnings of the US.CDC, tap water in Belgrade is perfectly safe. There is a wide range of bottled waters on offer in grocery stores, supermarkets, and newskiosks ('trafikas').
Serbs love beer, and it is possible to buy a variety of domestic beers such as Jelen,Lav,MB,Pils,... along with a few imported beers, at very cheap prices. The domestic beers are quite decent. Made in Serbia beers also include Heineken, Amsteel, Tuborg, Stella Artois, and Beck's. Belgrade holds a Beer Festival annually in August.
For the sober crowd, Belgrade has blueberry, raspberry, tomato, peach, apple, strawberry, and any other kind of juice you can think of.
There are a couple of places worth visiting if you are a fan of cafe culture. The street best known for its trendy cafes is definitely Strahinjića Bana. On this street, cafes are full even on weekdays. All cafés serve the usual continental coffees, such as espresso and cappuccino. However, regular coffee comes in the form of Turkish coffee, not filtered coffee. If you want a filtered coffee, you need to specify this when ordering, and not all coffee shops have it. Also very popular is whipped instant coffee, commonly referred to simply as 'Nes' (as in, Nescafé). A cafe called Mani Prag (across from the Hotel Prag) is thought by some to offer the best "Serb Coffee" in the world.
The best atmosphere is on Friday evenings when the trendy youth of Belgrade descend to enjoy the music and each other. Out of numerous cafes, the best ones are: Insomnia, KontraBar, Buongiornio (also a pastry shop), Nachos, Veprov Dah (a scottish pub), Duomo (Italian and Mediterranean restaurant and cafe), Ipanema and "Cosy", a new French Café with excellent ambiance in Makedonska 30 etc.
The second cafe zone is Obilićev Venac (a street parallel to Knez Mihailova). The best cafes there are Iron, Jelena, Zu Zu's, Irish pub, Simbol and many others.
Third cafe zone (also a going out zone) is quay next to hotel Yugoslavia in Zemun. On the quay are numerous river boats (splavovi), many of them are cafes, restaurants and clubs.
Other places worth visiting: "The Three Carrots Irish pub"- bills itself as the first Irish pub in Belgrade, quite easy to miss, just turn left at the bombed out buildings coming up from the train station and walk on the left hand side of the road.
Several hotels have opened up in Belgrade recently, mainly in the center of the city. Some are only open in the summer, but a couple function all year round.
There are also several hotels right around the train station that are relatively cheap (30-40 EUR) however the quality varies. Just walk around and you should find one with empty rooms without much difficulty.
Private accommodation is another alternative to hotels and hostel in Belgrade. You can find a lot of apartments and flats to rent. For short or long stay. Usualy this apartments are equiped very good, with everything that one apartment should have: TV, Internet, DVD, Music, washing machine, ... linens, towels, iron, hair dryer, ... housekeeping.
Overall, Belgrade is a very safe city, but like anywhere, you should always keep money, mobile phones, travel documents and other valuable personal items in secure places. It is important to stay away from shanty Roma towns like Karton City. If you own a car, it is preferable to have a security system. Traffic laws are usually observed, although nervous drivers can change lanes suddenly or make dangerous turns when avoiding traffic during rush hour. Taxi drivers can be notorious for swerving in and out of lanes. Pay close attention to traffic signals as a pedestrian, as Serbian drivers tend to run through red lights.
Also try to avoid getting into conflicts. If you are staying out late in a bar or a club, there is always a small chance that someone will try to pick a fight. Especially if you are in a group and a single guy is showing hostility. That is a trap by local thugs looking for a brawl. His friends are waiting around the corner. That is not because you are a foreigner, it's just the "law of the streets" anyone can be the target. Although, as a foreigner, you probably are not going to be one, in most cases they are looking for local people to fight with. Just ignore them and walk away no matter what they say or do. Chances that this will happen are very low, especially if you are hanging out in the club because of the security staff, but you should be aware of this. DO NOT try to make fun of the locals in your language especially in English. Almost everyone knows at least a little of it and everyone knows the foul words and curses. There were some cases when intoxicated tourists made fun of the locals thinking they don't understand them and ended up in a hospital.
Kosovo is a very sensitive subject. Avoid talking about it. There is quite ill-will directed towards U.S. Government (but not on a personal level) so try to avoid defending the views of the official Washington towards Kosovar independence,break-up of Yugoslavia or expelled Serbs from Croatia,Bosnia...
NEVER DISCUSS RELIGION! Unless it is only on a philosophical level and/or if you are talking to very educated people who are willing to accept different points of view. Serbia is still a very traditional country and the Serbian Orthodox Church is a very respected institution. Anything you say to discredit (on purpose or accidentally) the Orthodox Church may end up in an uncomfortable situation.
If there is a soccer game on, especially between the Red Star & Partizan soccer clubs, be sure to stay away. Almost every game has ended in serious violence, with many injured. To stay safe, it is best not to go to a soccer game at all, particularly when the Partizan soccer club is playing. Their supporters, the "Grobari" ("the grave diggers"), have recently murdered a travelling French soccer fan Following a Partizan vs Toulouse game.
In case of an emergency, call 92 (police), 93 (fire) or 94 (ambulance). Always carry the phone number and an address of your embassy with you. In case of injury or illness, the place to go is the Urgentni centar (Emergency center) of the Clinical Center of Serbia. Be aware that not all medical facilities are well-stocked or have personnel that speak foreign languages, including English. Cash payment on the spot will almost certainly be required for medical services. Consult the embassy of your country, if possible.
Gay and lesbian travelers
In Serbia, including Belgrade, violence against gays and lesbians is not uncommon. The only attempt at a Gay Pride parade ended in violence. The second attempt in 2009. was canceled because of a high risk of the violence repeating again. Gay and lesbian travelers should be extremely discreet. Public displays of affection between two persons of the same sex, particularly men, can be met with violence. There is a single openly gay bar (Club X in Nušićeva Street), but it can occasionally even be unsafe to be seen arriving at or leaving this club. DO NOT DISCUSS THIS TOPIC WITH THE LOCALS UNLESS THEY BRING IT UP! You never know who you are talking to.
When it snows in winter, the streets are covered in sleet the next day, so be careful when walking. The Košava, a notorious Belgrade wind, may give you a cold more quickly than you would expect, particularly in winter - take care and dress appropriately.
Also be mindful of the high number of stray animals roaming streets, particularly dogs, even in the city center. Whilst it is very rare that they demonstrate outward signs of illness or aggression, err on the side of caution and avoid coming in physical contact.
Pharmacies – called 'apoteka' – are found throughout the city center. Look for lit green crosses on building façades. Some, such as the one in Kralja Milana Str, are open twenty-four hours. These will carry a range of prescription medicines, as well as over-the-counter products like pain killers and vitamin supplements.