Belgrade (in Serbian, Beograd, meaning the White City) is the capital of the Republic of Serbia and is, as such, the country's largest city with a population of about 1.7 million people. It lies on the river Sava's confluence into river Danube. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe and has since ancient times been an important focal point for traffic, an intersection of the roads of Eastern and Western Europe. 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. During the Middle Ages the town became a Serbian stronghold until the Ottoman invasion. In 1878, when Serbia got its independence, Belgrade became the capital of the new country.
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 Macedonia. There is also a small expat community. Cultural events from around the world, however, are starting to become 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 centres. These attract a good deal of local attention, and will help in raising the city's profile as a cultural hotspot.
Belgrade is the capital of Serbian culture, education, science and economy. As a result of its tumultuous history, Belgrade has for centuries been home to many nationalities, with Serbs of the Orthodox Christian religion making up the majority of the population (90%). According to the census of 2002, the population of Belgrade is 90% Orthodox, 1.3% Muslim, 1% Roman Catholic, about 0.2% Protestant and about 0.03% Jewish.
The official language is Serbian, while visitors from abroad can use English to communicate.
There are 5 Hospital Complexes in Belgrade. They are all educational bases for future health professionals. However the biggest one is Clinical Center of Serbia, where the School of Medicine of the University of Belgrade is situated. All the foreign students will have their clerkship in the Clinical Center of Serbia according to the available disciplines in the Exchange Conditions of IFMSA Serbia.
Boarding is provided in students' restaurants (cafeterias) throughout the year, or restaurants in city in summer months (July and August).
The students are lodged in the dormitory 'Studentski Grad' (Students' city), the biggest students' dormitory in Belgrade. It´s known among the locals as 'Studenjak'. It is the largest student complex in this part of Europe with a capacity of over 4000. It is also used as a hostel in summer months when the students have the summer break. 'Studenjak' is located in the part of the city called New Belgrade, in the street Tosin Bunar 143-151.
Two students of the same sex share a room with a private bathroom and a small kitchen. We suggest you to bring your own towel, because the dormitories do not provide them. There are frequent buses from the dormitory to other parts of the city. In dormitory there is a canteen where the meals for students are served, so you will have your board there, as in the hospitals we do not have lunch breaks.
Sometimes when student comes outside busy months, we organize host families, so that the student wouldn't feel alone in the dormitory. That means that the foreign student lives in the house of a Serbian student and have his/her boarding in the host family. If you have some special needs please let us know in advance and if possible we will try to fulfill them.
In summer months, students are usually lodged in a high-school students' dormitory which is located in Zdravka Celara St, number 14. There, 2-3 same-sex students will be in one room which has a bathroom and a small balcon. Please, bring your towels for here as well. You can use dormitory's washing machine for washing your clothes.
Also, there is a possibility that students will be accomodated in some of the best Belgrade hostels, again, outside busy months.
Getting to/away from Belgrade
There are always students - Contact Persons, who will wait for you at the airport/bus or train station
By plane Belgrade is serviced by Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport , about 12 km west of the city, and the home base of Air Serbia– Serbia's flag carrier airline – which flies to nearly 40 destinations worldwide. Other major airlines also fly to Belgrade. Wizz Air, Pegasus, Norwegian Air and other low cost companies also have direct flights.
- Few years ago the city government introduced fixed fares for taxi drives between the airport and Belgrade. So it is now impossible to get ripped off by dishonest cab drivers. There are several zones, and the prices also depend on the season. Most taxi companies have a price list in multiple languages, so ask for that. The price is around RSD1800 for the centre and New Belgrade, and around RSD2000 for the suburbs. It's good to know that downtown is some 18-20km away from the airport. Also, there is no luggage fee, so you absolutely don't have to pay for your luggage. You can order a taxi by phone. Or simply go left upstairs to the departure section and catch one of the taxis dropping off passengers. They will be happy for the return ride.
- Bus line #72 runs twice an hour to Zeleni Venac in the city centre, and costs 150 dinars (~€1.50) from the driver or 89 dinars from the shop inside the departure hall that sells food and newspapers (it doesn't always have tickets). The bus station for #72 is on the departures level. The trip is around 45 minutes.
- A more comfortable city-bus option is the A1 minibus, going from the airport to Slavija Square in the city centre, stopping at Fontana (Novi Beograd) and the Main Train Station. The buses are comfortable and air-conditioned. The fare is RSD300 (c. €2.60), which is paid on-board.
By train The Central Train station is located, not surprisingly, in the city center. From the station to Republic Square is 1-2 km (steep uphill) - about 15 minutes walk. All international trains stop here except the trains from Romania.
By bus Belgrade's central bus station is next-door to the central train station, in Karadjordjeva 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.
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 more than 1000 buses, trolleybuses and trams but sometimes even this is not enough, and public transport in Belgrade is usually crowded during rush hour. Single ride tickets which last for 90 minutes cost 89 dinars.
All vehicles are equipped with GPS tracking, so it's possible to find out how far away your (trolley)bus/tram is. The distance is given in number of stops, as well as in minutes for the lines. Each bus stop has an unique number (which is clearly written on the bus stop). After dialing *011*[bus stop number]#, you will receive a message with the information. This service costs 1.8 RSD, when used with from Serbian phone number.
Belgrade city core is not too big. Everything between Kalemegdan, Knez Mihajlova street and Skadarska street is best viewed by foot. Other than that, it is recommended to use other means of transportation. Note that many of Belgrade's museums are closed on Monday. It may be wise to check before making a visit.
- Kalemegdan - Belgrade Fortress. Once important military fortification, it now serves as the central park of Belgrade. Accessible from the end of the Knez Mihailova street, it offers beautiful views, especially during sunset. Most part of it is a park and the fortress walls, with several cafes, tennis and basketball courts, museums and observatory. Don't forget to take a look at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, and the statue of Pobednik (Winner), one of the symbols of Belgrade.
- Knez Mihailova Street - main pedestrian street in Belgrade. Crowded during the day and night. Mostly shopping and numerous cafes.
- Republic Square (Main Square). Main meeting point in the city (also called kod konja - 'by the horse'), right next to statue of Mihailo Obrenovic (riding a horse), National Theater, National Museum and Knez Mihailova Street. Best place to arrange a meeting.
- Skadarlija (Skadarska street). Pedestrian street filled with restaurants and cafes, most in the spirit of old Belgrade. Live bands playing old Belgrade music can be heard here in the evenings. The street is paved in cobblestone so ladies are advised to avoid wearing high heels, unless highly experienced. Blank-walled buildings on the south side have been painted with impressive 'trompe-l'oeil' paintings to add to the atmosphere.
- Kralja Milana street, connecting Belgrade Fortress, Knez Mihailova street and Republic Square with Slavija Square and The Temple of Saint Sava dominate the view as you walk towards it. Notice Terazije Fountain, Hotel Moskva (Former Palace of Russia), The Old Royal Palace, following the New Palace, and theater Jugoslovensko Dramsko Pozorište, as you wander around.
- The Old Royal Palace at Nikola Pasic Square, built in 1881, it was residence of Serbian kings, now used as Town Hall.
- The White Palace (Serbian Latin: Beli dvor) is a mansion located in Belgrade, Serbia. The mansion is part of the Royal Compound, a real estate of royal residences and parklands located in Dedinje, an exclusive area of Belgrade.
- The New Palace (Serbian Latin: Novi Dvor) is located next to The Old Royal Palace, the square Andricev venac number 1. It was built between 1911 and 1922, as the residence of King Petar I Karadjordjevic. Today is the official seat of the President of the Republic of Serbia.
- The National Assembly of Serbia, located across from the Old Royal Palace, at Nikola Pasic Square.
- Gardosh is an urban neighborhood of Belgrade. It is located in Belgrade's municipality of Zemun. Gardos the hill, located on the right side of the river Danube, is a historical and authentic cultural environment with narrow streets, houses and historic churches. At the top of the hill, there is a tower 'Sibinjanin Janko' (or Millennium Tower) - height of 36m, which opened in 1896, with a gallery and a beautiful view of the river, and Belgrade. On the hill and near by the river is a large number of restaurants with local food, seafood restaurants and floating (splav) restaurants.
Things to do:
- Ada Ciganlija, a river island on Sava River with an artificial lake in the center of the city. The lake has an 8 km long gravel beach, which is visited by thousands of bathers during the summer. This is a great place for sports and picnics (barbecue is allowed in the allotted space). It also contains a lot of cafes and restaurants, river rafts (bars-restaurants), some of which are opened whole year round. In summer, it is swamped with people wanting to cool down in the water. Beaches in Ada Ciganlija, with restaurants, cafes on the beach, as well as umbrellas, beds and water sports, reminiscent of many sea beaches, and are the right place for swimming, recreation and enjoyment. You may rent bikes or inline skates at several points near the entry to the island. Lanes for pedestrians and bikers are separated. You have over-the-water bungee jumping facility, as well as water skiing. There are terrains for football, basketball, beach volley, golf and tennis. If you are coming from the direction of New Belgrade or Zemun, consider using small boats from Block 70a edge, New Belgrade, which can take you over the river for around €1. During summer season they go every 15 minutes or less, and offer bike transportation as well. There are also many regular bus services from the city center and other districts to Ada Ciganlija.
- It is also possible to drive a Segway on small flat track, near cafe Plaza, +38169734929.
- 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 Theatre. Watch opera, ballet and plays, the main hall is simply amazing. Decorated with gold and artworks.
- Zemun quay, if you have spare time to spend riding a bike, inline skates or walking next to Danube river. For a break just hop on one of the raft bars or restaurants (most of them near the former hotel Jugslavija, and a little further next Gardos).
- Strahinjica Bana street known as the Silicon Valley is located in downtown Belgrade, at the end of Skadarska Street (popularly Skadarlija) laterally, and extends to the Kalemegdan fortress and the zoo. Along the streets of a large number of popular bars, restaurants, cafes, gardens (with a slightly higher prices).
- The great War Island (Serbian Latin: Veliko ratno ostrvo), a river island at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, for picnics and bird spotting.
- Avala, small mountain (511 m) near Belgrade with 204m Avala Tower at the top. Viewing platform is accessible via a lift with great views of Belgrade and parts of Vojvodina and Sumadija. Entrance fee is around 2€ per person. At the top of the Monument to the Unknown Soldier, and the motel and a few restaurants. During the descent, turn right, there is a mountain lodge 'Charapica Brest' -resting, with rooms and a good restaurant.
- Visit a splav (literally: raft) – a barge restaurant located along the Sava and Danube rivers. There are two kinds of 'splav'. Some are restaurants (there you can dine and eat with the extra feature of being on the river and enjoying the view) and most are nightclubs. Each 'splav' is a nightclub to itself. You can literally club hop all night long. There is no cover charge to get into any of them. Some ultra popular ones may require that you have an invitation or be on the guest list, but if you tell them that you are a foreigner and that you didn't know they'll usually let you in. Women are not required to be on a 'guest list'. The music played on the barges is highly varied. Everything from Serbian folk music, pop, dance to latest Euro is played. Another really cool thing about the 'splav' is that many of them feature live bands. It is really unlike anything you've ever seen before.
- If you have time visit the Belgrade Arena, New Belgrade. 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. In the Belgrade Arena there are often sporting events and music events, with famous sports teams, world music artists and groups (check, maybe there is something interesting for you).
- As Serbia is a sports country, you definitely don't want to miss some of the games that Red Star (Serbian Latin: Crvena Zvezda) and Partizan play. These two are Serbia's most famous and most successful sports teams. FC Red Star has won Champions League back in 1991, and BC has really outstanding results in the past two seasons in Euroleague - top 16 season 2014/2015 and with huge steps going forward top 8 stage in 2015/2016 season. (Euroleague is the most popular basketball competition in Europe). BC Partizan has won Euroleague back in 1992, and was the contestant of the Final 4 in 2009/2010 season. Any 'bigger' game is attended by a huge number of fans, 'Grobari' for Partizan, and 'Delije' for Red Star. Delije have been declared as the best fans in the world many times in past. Home to Red Star FC is Marakana stadium, to Partizan FC is JNA stadium. Both basketball clubs play their matches in Pionir Sports Hall, or in Belgrade Arena. All of those are beautiful, and if you like sports and good atmosphere, don't hesitate to ask some of our Contact persons to take you to a game.
The currency in Serbia is the dinar (RSD) . Money can be exchanged at official exchange offices (locally called menjachnica, 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. Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard and Maestro are widely accepted though there are some shops, restaurants and hotels where cards are not accepted (these are very few nowadays). American Express and Diners Club cards are, on the other hand, rarely accepted. Likewise, traveler's cheques are not a well known form of payment in Serbia and cashing them in could present a challenge. 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. Exception to this rule are shopping malls, usually working every day including Sunday until evening hours (usually 10:00 PM).