Belgrade Serbia Rivers, Bridges, Islands, and Lakes


Savamala Clubs Sava River – serbia.com

Serbia is a country of rivers, lakes, valleys, and mountains. Each one “tells its own story”. I’ve been exploring Belgrade’s riverside and Savamala District on foot. Early spring weather is warm and beautiful – perfect for walking.

Ušće Park – Wikimapia

Transportation isn’t Belgrade’s forte. There’s a trolley-bus system but no metro, and traffic is heavy. Drivers are impatient and like honking their horns. Packed trolleybuses are slow and learning the where and when of catching them seems impossible. The transportation apps I’ve tried – Moovit, CarGo – didn’t work, and taxi drivers aren’t trustworthy. My apartment is centrally located, so walking is easy and less stressful. Each day, the pressing decision is where to go and what to explore.

Building Savamala Neighborhood

Belgrade rests along the banks of two major rivers – the Sava and Danube – “connecting the city with the world and provide food, water, and recreation”. In addition to the two big rivers, there are “192 smaller rivers and streams, a dozen lakes, 20 islands, 3 large beaches, and countless tiny inlets”!

French Embassy Near Sava River – lakwatsa.net
Savamala

Savamala is a lively neighborhood along the Belgrade riverside. Young people enjoy popular destinations like party riverboats and trendy nightclubs. Cobbled streets lead to Brankov Bridge, cafés, restaurants, galleries, and streets lined with unique and beautiful architecture.

Ušće District Sava River Statue of the Victor by Ivan Meštrović – Wikipedia

Karađorđeva Street is Savamala’s “main artery”. It follows the Sava River which connects Belgrade Fortress and Port with Sava Square. Spectacular buildings in the area include Belgrade Cooperative (Geozavod), and the Bristol Hotel.

Bristol Hotel Belgrade – Vestinet.rs

There’s a variety of restaurants and shops in Beton Hala. I’ve walked the area – usually teeming with people – but enjoy colorful kafanas on quieter backstreets.

Geozavod Building Savamala

_____________

In the summer people flock to the rivers to escape the heat. For Belgrade residents “the rivers are their seaside”.

_____________

Port Splav Belgrade – Belgrade Experience
Splavs – Floating Restaurants and Nightclubs

On hot summer days Belgrade residents visit splavs – floating restaurants, cafés, and nightclubs. The opening of splavs is the first sign of summer.

St. Sava Orthodox Church Sava Square – shutterstock

Hundreds of floating restaurants, bars, and clubs anchor along the banks of the Sava and Danube Rivers. I haven’t noticed any splavs open yet, but with warmer weather it’s certain to happen soon.

Belgrade Port – belgrademyway

In addition to restaurants and clubs, Belgrade rivers have hundreds of floating cabins in various sizes and designs. Floating cabins are usually built on wooden platforms and buoyed with metal barrels for stability.

Belgrade Fortress – Belgrade at Night

_____________

“Belgrade Splavs are a unique experience that can seem surreal, magical, and incredible.”

_____________

Each splav has a distinct personality – usually characterized by music. There’s something for everyone. Finding just the right splav is challenging, but local guides can help. For those “who want to be seen, fashionable splavs blast international pop music; casual splavs play Serbian folk music; and hipster splavs spin underground sounds”.

Belgrade River Cruise – domovina.com
Serbian Rivers
Danube River

The Danube is Europe’s second largest river, after Russia’s Volga. It flows through ten Central European countries “connecting Belgrade with the North and Black Seas”.

Serbia Map – World Atlas
Floating Cabins Sava River – Serbia.com
Sava River

The Sava was former Yugoslavia’s “largest national river connecting three capitals – Ljubljana Slovenia, Zagreb Croatia, and Belgrade”. The Sava meets the Danube at Ušće in the center of Belgrade. Great and Little War Islands are directly at the confluence of the two famous rivers.

Great War Island – Enjoy Belgrade

Great War Island is an uninhibited nature reserve with abundant wildlife and vegetation. If the Danube is Europe’s “great river, then the Sava is its equal for Yugoslavia”.

Drina River Canyon – visegradturizam
Drina River

The Drina River is the “most famous body of water in the Balkans”. It forms a border between Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Drina became famous in 1945 with Yugoslav novelist Ivo Andrić’s Nobel-Prize-winning novel The Bridge on the Drina.

Belgrade’s King Alexander Bridge Destroyed During WWII – Wikipedia

_____________

After Rio de Janeiro and Istanbul, Belgrade is third among world cities with the most beautiful locations.

_____________

Valley of Lilacs Ibar River – Breathtaking Places in Serbia WordPress

The Drina is the Sava’s longest tributary. It’s known for its speed, character, and sharp curves. The Drina “became a modern lexicon”. Someone trying to solve an impossible problem is said to be “attempting to straighten the Drina”. The river has inspired songs and stories and is “close to the hearts of Serbs”.

_____________

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.”  John Steinbeck

_____________

Ibar River Valley – Company
Uvac River

The Uvac River forms the “most majestic natural sights in the Balkans”. Dramatic cliffs and lush forests surround the river’s endless bends.

Uvac River Nature Reserve – Avanturista
Ibar River

The Ibar River is the most polluted river in Serbia. The river’s lower course “created a number of gorgeous valleys. The Ibar Valley has spas and natural springs. It’s also known as the Valley of the Kings and Valley of Lilacs. Famous Serbian monasteries like Studenica, Žiča, and Gradac were built near the Ibar”.

Belgrade Bridges

Urban Belgrade has six bridges on the Sava River and one on the Danube. The Danube has three more bridges in the southern suburbs. Brankov and Ada are Belgrade’s most famous bridges. Many of the smaller bridges don’t have names.

Danube River – mix.com
Bridges Sava River
Ada Bridge

Ada Bridge opened at midnight on New Year’s Eve 2012. It’s the newest and tallest bridge in Belgrade and the “longest single pylon bridge span in the world”.

Ada Bridge – Wikipedia
Brankov Bridge

Brankov Bridge is the most famous bridge in Belgrade. It has a walking path and is the main connection between Belgrade City Center and New Belgrade. It’s visible from Kalemegdan and Ušće Parks. One of the oldest bridges in Belgrade, Brankov’s pillars are from the King Alexander Bridge destroyed during WWII.

Gazela Highway Bridge – Wikimapia
Old Tram (Sava) Bridge

The Old Tram Bridge is the “only arch bridge in Belgrade”. During WWII it was the “only bridge the retreating German forces didn’t demolish”.

Banko Bridge with Ada Bridge in Background – A. Nalbantjan
Gazela Bridge

Gazela Bridge “has the shape and color of a gazelle”. The bridge is part of Route E75, a major European highway that passes through the City Center connecting Belgrade with two Serbian cities – Niš and Novi Sad.

New Railway Bridge Sava River – Wikimedia
Old Railway Bridge – Flickr
Old Railway Bridge

Old Railway Bridge is the oldest bridge in Belgrade. It’s located between Gazela and New Railway Bridges and is the only bridge from the 19th century.

Gradac Monastery Ibar River Valley – TrekEarth
Studenica Monastery Ibar River Valley – Depositphotos
New Railway Bridge

New Railway Bridge, Belgrade’s second railway bridge, opened in 1979. It was built to help facilitate Belgrade’s growing traffic. It was the first railway bridge in Europe to use the cable-stayed girder system.

Sunset at the Confluence of Sava and Danube Rivers – Lonely Planet
Bridges Danube River
Pančevo Bridge

The Danube’s Pančevo Bridge is a “combined road and railroad truss bridge“. Built in 1935 it was destroyed during WWII and rebuilt at the end of the war. Pančevo bridge was constructed as a “temporary ten-year solution”, but it’s still being used today.

Pančevo Bridge – Wikipedia
Belgrade Islands
Great War Island

Great War Island is an “oasis of wildlife and tranquility in the heart of Belgrade”. Located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers it had “strategic importance for the defense of Belgrade Fortress”.

Ada Međica Island – Serbia.com

Great War Island is accessible by boat from Zemun Quay or crossing a pontoon bridge built in summer to connect it to the mainland. Undeveloped but popular Lido Beach is on the northern tip of the island. The island is “covered in forests providing a habitat for small game and over a hundred bird species”.

Lido Beach Zemun – researchgate.net
Ušće Park – Belgrade Beat
Bela Stena Resort Island

Bela Stena (White Wall) is a getaway resort for those who love untouched nature. It’s on an island in the Danube River between Belgrade and the city of Pančevo. Pančevo is only accessible by boat.

Ada Cignalija Island Belgrade Seaside – serbia.com
Ada Ciganlija Island

“From the hand of God to the plans of man” – Ada Ciganlija was once an island in the Sava. Now it’s a man-made peninsula known as “Belgrade’s Seaside”.

Old Sava Bridge – Wikipedia
Ada Međica Island

A small island covered in trees Ada Međica is unspoiled by modern tourism. The Ada Međica Fan Club is making sure it stays that way.

Ada Međica Island – Mapio.net

The only means of transport to and from Ada Međica is a small boat from Sava Quay in New Belgrade. A walking path and “picturesque floating cabins and stilt houses” run the length of the island. There’s a small café near the boat platform but no public toilets, water, or electricity on the island.

Perućac Lake – serbia.com

The south-eastern tip of the island is a good place for swimming, but swimmers need to beware of strong river currents. The island’s code of conduct “requires taking all your garbage with you when you leave”.

Ada Ciganlija Island – belgrade-beat.com
Belgrade Lakes
Sava Lake

Also known as Ada and Ciganlija, Sava Lake is the largest lake in Belgrade. Its pebble beach is popular in summer. Features include a marina, picnic spots, ground and water sports, fishing, rowing clubs, cafés, floating cabins, and paths for walking, biking, and skating. To the delight of fishermen, the small lake is “brimming with carp”.

Sunset Lake Palić – serbia.com
Lake Palić

Lake Palić is North of Subotica on Serbia’s border with Hungary. “The story goes that Lake Palić was made from the tears of a shepherd who lost his golden lamb”. The lake hosts a film festival and is known for its health spas.

Vlasina Lake – serbia.com
Vlasina Lake

The “highest lake in Serbia” Vlasina Lake is another “magnificent body of water.” It’s home to both permanent and floating islands.

Silver Lake Resort – belgrademyway
Silver Lake

An oxbow lake, Silver is on the right bank of the Danube. It’s near medieval Golubac Fortress, remnants of the medieval town of Golubac, and the entrance to Đerdap Gorge National Park.

Đerdap National Park Serbia – Modern Flaneurs

_____________

Someone trying to solve an impossible problem is said to be “attempting to straighten the Drina”.

_____________

Bela Crkva – serbia.com
Bela Crkva Lakes

Bela Crkva Lakes consist of six artificial lakes with the most “unpolluted water in Serbia”. A favorite “cooling off spot” during the hot summer months, Bela Crkva is known as the “Venice of Vojvodina“. Between Romania, Serbia, and Hungary, the Banat region is surrounded by the Serbian Carpathian Mountains.

Austrian Embassy Belgrade
Ada Ciganlija Lake

Belgrade’s most popular resort, Ada Ciganlija, is a big island on the Sava River. Embankments connecting it to Belgrade’s mainland created an artificial lake with swimming beaches. Bathing season runs from June through September.

Golubac Fortress Danube River – tvrdjavagolubackigrad.rs
Žiča Monastery Ibar River Valley – PanaComp
Perućac Lake

An artificial lagoon on the Drina River, Perućac Lake is a fisherman’s paradise. It’s named after a nearby Serbian village. The lake is the result of the dam that created Serbia’s Bajina Bašta Hydroelectric Power Plant.

Zemun Quay – belgrademyway

Belgrade is a beautiful, fascinating city – there’s so much to see and learn in Serbia. My time exploring was well spent and reaffirms the need to experience a place yourself in order to better understand it!

Stilt House River Sava – Remorker Architects Miloš Martinović