“No city makes you feel more like a New Yorker than Belgrade. In Belgrade, people don’t walk, they amble; lunch spans the course of 3 or 4 hours; and drinks are sipped, never knocked back. Despite the slow pace of life, there’s still an unmistakable energy that bursts through the city. Walk the city streets, past towering Communist buildings, graffiti-lined blocks, the banks of the Danube, and bands playing along the main drag, and you’ll feel the city’s pulse. But it didn’t always move with this ease of liberation.
If you’re not familiar with Serbia’s turbulent history, reminders of the country’s tumultuous past are everywhere: from the bomb-blasted government buildings to the post-war Communist blocks that dominate New Belgrade. But today, a sense of liberation can be felt in every nook of the city: inside the restaurants where diners smoke, drink, and dance to gypsy bands until the early hours, and on the splavs (nightclubs on boats), which have turned the city into a nightlife destination. What some might consider vices, Belgraders consider freedom. In Serbia, smoking is a hobby (you can smoke everywhere) and drinking is a way of life. After 500 years of Turkish rule and 50 years of Communism, can you blame them?
It’s in this moment of emergence that Belgrade should be visited. It’s a moment where attractions are plenty, but tourists are few.” (Mary Holland, Vogue, 6 April 2017)