Known in the 3rd century as Singidunum, the city has for centuries been a crossroads for people escaping conflict and war, who settled here and have contributed to the multicultural character which is one of Belgrade’s main attributes. This city is a melting pot of cultures and flavours, as demonstrated in the markets that enliven its streets and squares and iconic districts such as the bohemian Skadarlija quarter. The latter is dotted with restaurants, bars, antique shops and art galleries, and has long been popular with artists from across the globe.
European, Balkan and Serbian, the city thrives off the energy created by its different cultures. Its famous Kalemegdan fortress was built and extended by a succession of different civilisations over the centuries: the first fortified walls were erected by the Celts, conquered by the Romans, extended by the Byzantines and Ottomans, and destroyed on 44 separate occasions. This fortress (which includes the upper citadel, lower citadel and Kalemegdan park) represents the almost mystical heart of the city, not only because of its fascinating history (122 wars were fought here and defences were strengthened for the two world wars), but also because the hill on which the fortress stands boasts the most iconic view of the city. A similar vista can be enjoyed from Vračar hill which is home to the Temple of St Sava, one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world. According to legend, this church was built on the exact spot where the relics of the saint were burnt by the Turk Sinan Pasha.
It is often the case that observing a place from above highlights its beauty, adding to its unequalled awe and majesty. For this reason, during your time exploring Belgrade’s shops and markets why not choose somewhere with a view of the city for your lunch, dinner or simply for a romantic aperitif?
The Twenty Two, an excellent all-round choice!
The Twenty Two situated on the rooftop of the Metropol Palace hotel, boasts fine views of the city and the Church of St Mark. The restaurant is the perfect place to eat after a visit to Zeleni Venac market, where you can admire stalls selling fresh fruit from the local woods.
Built in 1957, the hotel has been renovated and modernised yet has retained its unique charm. Its Twenty Two restaurant serves international cuisine alongside a few local dishes, all prepared using fresh, seasonal ingredients. The house speciality is a hazelnut pavlova made with black cherries in syrup and hazelnut cream, which has become one of the restaurant’s must-have desserts.
The Twenty Two also serves delicious cocktails in its bar with music providing the backdrop, which you can savour either as an aperitif or an after-dinner drink, or perhaps while admiring the views of the city from its panoramic terrace.
Hotel nearby: Hotel Indigo Belgrade
The building is a local landmark, set in a pedestrian-only district home to some high-end shopping and convenient to a great many local sights; its interiors pay wry tribute to Belgrade’s history, offering two flavors of rooms: the delicately ornamented Art Deco option and the playfully severe Brutalist-inspired digs.
SkyLounge, international cuisine with a focus on Asian-style preparation
A panoramic terrace occupies the whole of the eighth (and top) floor of the Hilton hotel, boasting fine views of this fascinating and cosmopolitan city. Here, in a modern restaurant offering elegant service, you can enjoy international cuisine with a focus on Asian-style specialities and fish dishes. In the SkyLounge, where live music accompanies your meal at weekends, enjoy signature cocktails and dishes prepared with top-quality cuts of meat such as Japanese Wagyu and Argentinian Black Angus. The menu also features a wide array of fresh fish sourced directly from the Mediterranean, including sea bass, sea bream, dentex, turbot, red mullet and king crab, as well as delicious specialities such as fish and meat carpaccios, sushi, grilled tuna and octopus, soups and Pad Thai noodles. We particularly recommend the sea bass carpaccio with truffles, as well as the salmon teriyaki with pumpkin risotto and baby spinach. The wine list, which includes labels from across the globe, also deserves a special mention – this is the perfect place to enjoy a glass a wine as the sun sets, when the evening light casts its romantic haze over the city.
Hotel nearby: Townhouse 27
This is a business hotel as much as it is a design hotel, and there are traditional sensibilities to consider. And aside from the views of the city, which are no small thing, works by Belgrade-born artist Gabriel Glid add to the rooms’ visual interest.
Langouste, top quality Serbian ingredients
Located not far from the Kalemegdan fortress, this restaurant stands in a typical cobbled street in Belgrade’s historic centre. Built on the slopes of a hill, it has looked out over the Sava river for more than 30 years and also boasts fine views of the Danube. In the evening, the restaurant takes on a romantic feel with candlelit tables and piano music playing in the background. Here, Guillaume Iskandar’s cuisine focuses on top-quality ingredients showcased in dishes inspired by French and Italian traditions, all of which are generously portioned and full of rich flavours. Two of the chef’s iconic dishes are his Serbian rib-eye steak and the catch of the day, while other delicious options include meat tartare, fish carpaccio, coq au vin and rib-eye steak with foie gras. Also not to be missed are the Mangalitsa pork loin and fresh fish from the Adriatic served with seasonal vegetables sourced from the local market.
Hotel nearby: Mama Shelter Belgrade
The design is by Philippe Starck protégé Jalil Amor, who worked on the original Mama Shelter in Paris all those years ago. This is no reproduction, however — the visual approach is as riotous and whimsical as ever, but the details are tailored to the setting, where Austria-Hungary meets the Balkans. And while the rooms do incorporate some bold design gestures, they’re simpler and more sedate than the public spaces, creating a transition in mood that’s almost luxurious, in its own intangible way.
Hero image: Belgrad