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.org

Transportation isn’t Belgrade’s forte. There’s no metro and traffic is heavy. Drivers are impatient and like honking their horns. Packed trolleybuses are slow and knowing the where and when of catching them seems complicated. Taxi drivers are untrustworthy, and the transportation apps I’ve tried – Moovit, CarGo – didn’t work well. My apartment is well-located, so it’s easier and less stressful to walk. My most pressing issue is deciding where to go each day.

Building Savamala Neighborhood

Belgrade rests along the banks of two major rivers – the Sava and Danube. They “connect 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. The cobbled streets lead to Brankov Bridge, cafés, restaurants, galleries, and unique 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 connecting Belgrade Fortress and Port with Sava Square. Spectacular buildings in the area include embassies, Belgrade Cooperative (Geozavod), and 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 kafanas on quieter backstreets.

Geozavod Building Savamala

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

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Port Splav Belgrade – Belgrade Experience

Splavs – Floating Restaurants and Nightclubs

On hot summer days Belgrade residents visit splavs – floating cafés, restaurants, 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 may happen soon.

Belgrade Port – belgrademyway

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

Belgrade Fortress – Belgrade at Night

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

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Floating Cabins Sava River – Depositphotos

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

Rivers

Danube River

The Danube is Europe’s second largest river, after Russia’s Volga. It flows through 10 Central European countries and “connects Belgrade with the North and Black Seas via canals and waterways”.

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, Zagreb, 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 rivers.

Great War Island – Enjoy Belgrade

Great War Island is an uninhibited nature reserve with wildlife and lush vegetation. If the Danube is “Europe’s great river, 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.

King Alexandre Bridge Destroyed During WWII – Wikipedia

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

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Valley of Lilacs Ibar River – Breathtaking Places in Serbia WordPress

The Drina is the Sava’s longest tributary. It’s known for 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”.

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

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Ibar River Valley – Company

Uvac River

The Uvac River forms some of the “most majestic natural sights in the Balkans”. Dramatic cliffs and lush forests surround the river’s 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 called the Valley of the Kings and Valley of Lilacs. Over the centuries, famous Serbian monasteries like Studenica, Žiča, and Gradac were built near the Ibar”.

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 ones 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 Aleksandar 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 that remained intact in Belgrade and is one of few bridges 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 passing through City Center connecting Belgrade with the Serbian cities of Niš and Novi Sad.

New Railway Bridge – Wikipedia

Old Railway Bridge

Located between Gazela and New Railway Bridges, Old Railway is the oldest bridge in Belgrade and 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 traffic. It was the first railway bridge in Europe to use the cable-stayed girder system.

Sunset at 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 10-year solution”, but it’s still being used.

Pančevo Bridge – Wikipedia

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 it had “strategic importance for conquest or defense of Belgrade Fortress”.

Ada Međica Island – alo.rs

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”. It’s ideal for birdwatchers.

Ušće Park – Belgrade Beat

Bela Stena Resort

Bela Stena (White Wall) is a getaway resort for “lovers of 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 next to the boat platform but there are no electricity, water, or public toilets 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

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 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 spectacular medieval Golubac Fortress, remnants of the medieval town of Golubac, and the entrance to Đerdap Gorge and National Park.

Đerdap National Park Serbia – Modern Flaneurs

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“. The city is surrounded by the Serbian Carpathian Mountains in Banat – between Romania, Serbia, and Hungary.

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 Bajina Bašta Hydroelectric Power Plant.

Zemun Quay – belgrademyway

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

Stilt House River Sava – Remorker Architects Miloš Martinović

Belgrade Neighborhoods and Rosenberg Trio Gypsy Jazz Band

Savamala Neighborhood – getyourguide.dk

Belgrade has been a wonderful surprise. I’m happy and enjoying the experience! I moved from a studio apartment in Dorćol neighborhood to a loft in more central Palilua. It’s sunny, comfortable, and close to everything. The old renovated building has high ceilings and a fascinating antique open-cage elevator!

Belgrade has festivals almost every week and many museums and galleries to explore. I’m slowly making my way through attractions of interest. The friendly apartment owner provides valuable information on special activities and performances.

Typical Belgrade Kafana – BTURN

After traveling since October, my brain is on overload. I’m taking downtime to explore Belgrade – no rushing. Have had simple, memorable experiences interacting with locals. There’s so much to learn and see. Serbia’s turbulent history is complicated. Stories of its royal dynasties – Kardjordjević and Obrenović – are fascinating.

Zemun Neighborhood – StefanRTW

This post has brief descriptions of Belgrade’s neighborhoods. I’ve visited most of these and explore new areas every day. When you look beneath the surface, every building and street has its own history and a deeper meaning.

Skadarlija Bohemian Borough Belgrade – Serbia Incoming™ DMC

Belgrade’s unique atmosphere and way of life is a refreshing change from anything familiar. It’s good for the heart and soul to experience new places and cultures, but takes considerable effort and energy. I’m due for a rest :o)…

Nebojša Tower Kalemegdan Park – Belgrade my way

Dorćol

Dorćol is a laid-back neighborhood known for its cafés, restaurants, and pubs. The name means “crossroads” in Turkish. The area is near the Sava and Danube Rivers and was “a busy trading point during Ottoman occupation”.

Dedinje Mansion – Mentor Real Estate

Belgrade’s Bohemian district – Skadarlija – is in Dorćol. It’s best known for reasonably priced Serbian kafana restaurants with attentive waiters. I have a few favorites but am always trying new places. Traditional food is delicious and reasonably priced. I’ve gotten used to roving musicians playing gypsy music while you dine.

Typical Kafana Restaurant Belgrade – Restoran Beograd

Kalemegdan Park – The Happy Hermit

Dorćol represents Belgrade’s multicultural history. In addition to Orthodox churches it’s home to the only surviving mosque – Bajrakli Mosque – and the former center of Belgrade’s Jewish community. Each Orthodox church has a unique story!

Mural Savamala  Neighborhood – Wikipedia

Dorćol has Belgrade’s largest park – Kalemegdan – near the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers. The park includes Belgrade Fortress, a two-thousand-year-old Roman Well, and Nebojša Tower.

Roman Well Entrance Kalemegdan – tipotravel.com

They say if you haven’t visited Kalemegdan you can’t claim you’ve been to Belgrade. I’ve walked through the large park – it was raining that day – and will return. The views are magnificent. The mystery of Roman Well fascinated Alfred Hitchcock.

Savamala Neighborhood – mreast.dk

New Belgrade – Novi Beograd 

New Belgrade has “massive expanses of towering concrete building blocks in a world within itself”. It’s one of the “most populous parts of the city”. Established at the end of the 1940s, Novi Beograd “satiated Josip Broz Tito’s desire for a huge capital city”.

Beograđanka Skyscraper – The Skyscraper Center

As in Sarajevo, the blocks with ugly but functional communist-style concrete buildings – also known as Brutalist Architecture – are slightly overwhelming. Genex Tower is a prominent Novi Beograd landmark. In spite of the architecture, some describe Novi Beograd as one of the “most exciting parts of Belgrade”.

Brutalism – Soviet Architecture New Belgrade – ArchDaily

New Belgrade Neighborhood – Flickr

Vračar

Vračar is Belgrade’s smallest municipality. It’s considered one of the most desirable neighborhoods. The iconic Church of St. Sava, National Library of Serbia (once a brothel), and Beograđanka Skyscraper are in Vračar.

Bajrakli Mosque  Belgrade – Todayonline.

Kosančićev Venac 

West of central Belgrade, Kosančićev Venac was “built on the site of an ancient Roman necropolis”. The area was “damaged heavily during World War II”. It’s Belgrade’s oldest neighborhood where cobblestone streets, a “charming mix of architecture and tree-lined paths, and palaces make it one of the city’s most appealing spots”.

Orthodox Church of St. Sava Vračar Neighborhood – Mondo

Savamala

I’ve ventured into Savamala. It’s near the Sava River waterfront. Once considered Belgrade’s “cultural powerhouse” At one time Savamala was known as the “shabbiest part of the city” inhabited by drug dealers and pimps. Live music, popular bars, and art galleries have turned Savamala into a nightlife and cultural centre.

Dorćol  Neighborhood – CityExpert

Dedinje

Magnificent villas and mansions are characteristic of Dedinje, Belgrade’s wealthiest neighborhood. It’s said that “strolling through Dedinje opens one’s eyes to the riches of diplomats and businessmen involved in questionable actions during the 1990s”.

Kosančićev Venac Neighborhood – Wikimedia

Zemun

Practically the “dictionary definition of a town within a town” Zemun hugs the banks of the Danube River. People from Zemun are “fiercely independent” and don’t consider themselves part of Belgrade. The neighborhood is known for its restaurants – especially for fish lovers – and lively bars, pubs, and nightclubs.

Dedinje Neighborhood – Nekretnine

Zvezdara

Zvezdara neighborhood is Belgrade’s forest haven. Its “mass of greenery” is home to interesting fauna, including owls and hedgehogs. This is the neighborhood for hiking, walking, and enjoying nature.

Dedinje Neighborhood Wikipedia

Palilula

My neighborhood Palilula “occupies some of Belgrade’s prime real estate”. It’s close to the city centre but without the traffic and intensity. The neighborhood developed during the Habsburg occupation of Belgrade. It’s an active desirable location with interesting landmarks, markets, restaurants, and shops.

Belgrade Genex Tower – The Bohemian Blog

Rosenberg Trio Gypsy Jazz Swing Band

Rosenberg Trio is a famous Gypsy Jazz Swing Band from the Netherlands. They’ve performed throughout Europe, at Carnegie Hall, and several times at Belgrade’s Jubilee Guitar Art Festival.

Inspired by French jazz guitarist Django Rinehart and considered the “essence of Gypsy Jazz Swing Music” the group has performed together for over 25 years. It’s a family affair and the concert features two brothers and an uncle.

Beograd Fortress – Wikipedia

Last night I saw them perform at Belgrade’s Kombank Hall as part of Belgrade’s Guitar Festival. The group consisted of founder and virtuoso Štochelo (Štoke) Rozenberg main guitar, Mozes Rozenberg rhythm guitar, and Noni Rozenberg bass guitar.

Rosenberg Trio

Štoke is considered one of the best guitarists of all time. He started playing guitar at age 10 and won Guitarist Magazine’s prestigious Golden Guitar Award.

The performance was sold out and the audience went wild for the trio. They did two encores and ended with a toe-tapping Serbian / Hungarian piece that had the audience squealing with delight. They’re a lovely group with a wonderful vibe and have recorded 26 studio and concert albums. It was a memorable evening.

Kombank Hall Belgrade – SEEbtm

Next week there’s an International Piano Competition and luckily, I got a ticket! I’m taking some walking tours and have tickets for March ballet and opera performances at the National Theatre.

Interior Subotica Synagogue – szecesszio.szegedvaros.hu