While we were in Serbia for a work conference, there was absolutely no way we weren’t going to stay a couple extra days in order to get in some exploration of the city. Here are some of our experiences with accessible sightseeing in Belgrade! I also noted down some of the places we heard about and put on our list to see but didn’t get to because of time. And, of course, I include accessible information and links where available.
History & Culture
Belgrade has a long history, and you can learn all about it at the Kalemegdan Fortress. This is a beautiful area that is quite large and holds the old fortress and also an expansive park. We only stopped there briefly to check out the grounds and get a look at where the Sava and Danube rivers meet, but if we’d had more time, it would have been a fun place to explore. The outside grounds that we walked/rolled along were quite smooth and wide. We came across a path with a step or two at the end because the garden area was slightly terraced, but rather than doubling back, Michael just rolled through the grass where it was flat in order to get to the connecting path.
I do know that the fortress and grounds are not completely wheelchair accessible, but I’d say there was still plenty to do and see, and it would have been worthy of a few hours at least. There is, unfortunately, no information about accessibility on the website of the fortress and park.
However, the tourist crowds were insane over the weekend, so try to go on a weekday to make it more enjoyable.
The Bohemian Quarter
This is another one of those fun, old areas that we deemed 100% not wheelchair accessible, and I mean, we’re usually up for tackling anything! But boy, oh, boy are those cobblestones rough! Beautiful to look down, however, is this old street whose restaurants are probably more hype than anything, and whose prices are most likely extravagant, for the sole reason of the fame of this little corner of Belgrade. So don’t worry, you’re not really missing anything. … Except that it really was more charming in person than my poor iPhone 5S photos can convey.
We did try going around the perimeter of the quarter, just in case there was a better way to get in. But there wasn’t.
There were, however, plenty of empty buildings and also this deserted alleyway, which was smooth and flat and a perfect recovery from the rough stuff we’d just passed through.
Government, Politics, and the Like
If you’re interested in politics or political history, you might check out the parliament building at Nikola Pašić Square. It has ramps, elevators, and accessible bathrooms.
Additionally, you could stop by and see the Yugoslav Ministry of Defense building that was bombed during the Yugoslav War. The damage of this building stands as something of a memorial.
Tito’s Resting Place
Tito was the glue that held the former communist Yugoslavia together; that’s what I was told anyways. If you want details, you’ll have to look them up yourself, but it sounds like things were going pretty well under his command, as after his death is when the republics split up and ended up in an unfortunate and devastating, four-year war. I didn’t hear a negative word spoken against the former ruler; then again, I didn’t specifically ask.
Anyhow, Tito is buried in the House of Flowers, located within the complex of the Museum of Yugoslavia not far outside of the city, and it would make a great visit for a time when you have an accessible driver booked.
Another tip from our driver and local guide, Zoran, was to visit Gardoš. It’s a historic neighborhood on the west side of the Danube river. And although we didn’t have time to visit it, I definitely think you should.
There are three Orthodox churches in Belgrade that are cool to see. However, one is not for tourists, one is 100% not accessible, and I’m not sure about the other, but I would be surprised if it were wheelchair accessible. We only got to stop and see the first two, but we drove past the third.
St. Mark’s, Church of the Holy Trinity, and Tašmajdan Park
No more than about 20 or 30 feet apart from each other, and bordered by an expansive green park, are St. Mark’s and Church of the Holy Trinity, which are Serbian Orthodox and Russian Orthodox, respectively. Our local guide told us there’s really no difference between the two, as Serbian Orthodox rose out of the Russian Orthodox tradition.
From what our driver, local expert, and member of the Russian Orthodox church, Zoran, told us, this Russian church is 100 years old, and so was there before St. Mark’s was built. The grounds of St. Mark’s as well as the beautiful neighboring park used to be a cemetery for the Russian church. It seems rather unfortunate and unfair that St. Mark’s was allowed to be built right in front of this tiny, historic church, but that’s what happened.
With two small steps to enter the church grounds, it is not wheelchair accessible, though if there are a few men around, they will most likely be happy to help lift you and your wheelchair inside. The church, however, is not for tourists and does not allow photography indoors, though I’m sure you’re quite welcome to pay your respects. It’s beautiful enough from the outside, though, that it’s worth seeing.
St. Mark’s, by comparison, is an imposing monstrosity, though it, too, has it’s own beauty. Unfortunately, with no fewer than 13 steps at any given entrance, it would be a small miracle for most wheelchair users to enter. But since the two churches and the park are all right next to each other, you may as well go and enjoy the architecture and history of the churches and then have a (st)roll in the park and maybe a picnic lunch with goodies from Trpković bakery, which Zoran said was the best (You’ll have to drive there, so go there first).
And, oh yeah, St. Mark’s is the last resting place of the last king and queen of Serbia.
And if you make it inside, you will see lots of relics and depictions of St. Mark, himself.
After visiting the churches, the neighboring park would make a great place to take a break.
The Church of St. Sava
St. Sava’s is the is the second largest orthodox church in the world, second only to a church in St. Petersburg. Our guide informed us that a very large mosaic was being constructed, and I bet it would be something to see! As we didn’t have time to stop at this church, we just drove by to kind of see it from afar.
As for accessibility, I am uninformed. However, from the map, it looks like there are some nice grounds to enjoy while visiting. The English version of the website also offers no help, as only a couple sections of it are translated.
Recreation & Shopping
Downtown Walking Streets
One thing that is for sure, 100% accessible, are the pedestrian areas of Old Belgrade, lined with innumerable restaurants and shops of all sorts. If you’re not so into that sort of thing, it’s still the connecting point between Manufaktura restaurant, Kalemegdan Fortress, the Rajićeva mall with it’s modern accessible toilets, and the rest of the city. Starting at Knez Mihailova walking street, you’ll pretty much be able to access the whole pedestrian area from there.
In New Belgrade, just by the river, is the large Prijateljsva Park from which Old Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress can be seen. There were plenty of people out enjoying the area while we were there. And along the the bike path are various restaurants should you want to stop in for a drink or meal. It’s not too far from IN Hotel that one couldn’t get there on foot or wheels. The only tricky part is the last busy street crossing, where the curb cuts aren’t as low or smooth as at other crossings.
There are bike paths through the park, which provide for a smooth surface from which to explore in comfort.
This is also the area where the famed and ever-popular floating nightclubs are located, though some of them also operate as eateries during the day as well. Unfortunately, they’re located at the bottom of an embankment, which had a total of zero places to get down without a long flight of stairs. And we walked along the whole thing and also asked locals.
If you’re interested in checking out the clubs on the river, do some research beforehand. If you want to go for a relaxed daytime experience, I recommend Shake ‘n’ Shake. But here are a couple articles on the subject of the clubs:
The largest open-air market in Belgrade, Kalenic Market was on the definitely-see list! I love markets. Unfortunately it was just a little bit out of the way for the time that we had, and we weren’t able to go. The working hours are Monday – Sunday, 6am – 8pm, but there’s a tip that you should go before 2pm to see the market in full swing.
Zeleni Venac Market
I had read that Zeleni Venac was another fun market to see, but it turned out to be a real disappointment. It didn’t help that we were there on a Sunday afternoon and that there were only a few stalls open that were selling fruit. But it was also quite small and quite difficult to navigate to with the high-traffic roads on all sides, the steep incline, and only one entrance. The fruit that we got there was fantastic, fresh, and cheap, but I would recommend going to Kalenic if you want a great market experience.
A well-known recreational spot, Lake Ada is just on the edge of the city. It’s a nice place to go to relax and enjoy the sun. I also heard that there are food vendors there as well. This city is all about the food.
There are no shortage of fun, interesting, fascinating, and educational places to enjoy in Belgrade. Check them out and come back and let me know what you thought!