As a result of a surprisingly small number of bridges, a bypass under construction, and the fact that a motorway runs almost through the centre of the city, there are no classic peak traffic periods, but instead, there are traffic jams on major interchanges almost all the day round. Belgraders as a rule drive fast and change lanes abruptly without signalling, and they do not suffer slower drivers gladly. A yellow line which marks the rightmost lane actually means the lane is reserved for public transport and taxis. Do not come too close to the curb, because some mysterious bandits seem to be operating outside the city centre and targeting manhole lids, so you run the risk of your tyre hitting the hole. In summary, if you have little penchant for the Dakar Rally experience, you have better abandon the idea of driving round Belgrade. After all, the best way to get to know a city is on foot.
If you don't mind public transport, we recommend hopping on a bus or trolley in order to truly experience candid Belgrade. All public transport use a Bus Plus card payment system, so it would be smart to invest in one before hopping on a bus, in case of the rare occurrence of controllers. A lot of the locals don't even bother using this payment system though and talk their way out of paying the fine. Foreigners however, might have even be overcharged for riding without a ticket, so watch out.
Taxis in Belgrade are comparatively cheap to the rest of the world, but only if you choose wisely. Avoid getting into "unregistered" taxis (with plain white taxi signs) at all costs, as they are notorious for ripping off their customers more than 10 times the usual price. To stay on the safe side, always call a taxi to ensure that they are valid. Our recommendations are Lux Taxi, Pink Taxi and Plavi Taxi. Most vehicles don't offer card payments, so make sure to ask for one while booking.
AirportNikola Tesla airport is located 18km to the west of the city centre, near a place called Surčin, likely to claim the title of the foggiest site in Belgrade. Though the sun may be shining brightly above the rest of Belgrade, your flight could still be late due to the fog that often does not venture farther than the airport perimeter. The airport building has been renovated recently, but there are still some nooks and corners where renovation works commenced only to be left unfinished. Serbia’s national airline is JAT Airways, which operates a fairly old fleet, but is nevertheless one of the safest air carriers in the world. At this time of the year, Germanwings and Norwegian Air are the only low-cost airlines which fly to Belgrade.
BusesCentral Bus Station, C-2, Železnička 4, tel. (+381) 11 262 71 46 (local routes), (+381) 11 263 62 99 (international routes). Bus services account for the bulk of domestic passenger traffic in Serbia. There are buses for big towns (such as Novi Sad, Niš) running at frequent intervals throughout the day. The bus station is a ramshackle affair, quite unlikely to inspire the urge to linger awhile. Ticket windows are open 24h a day, and so are public toilet facilities and a restaurant, whose clientele during the night time is likely to include pickpockets, sharpers, prostitutes, drowsy farmers and students waiting for the earliest morning buses, because they have nowhere to stay. The food on offer is overpriced and unsavoury. Arrivals are across the nearby park.
Lasta Bus Station, B-2, Železnička 2, tel. (+381) 11 334 85 55. Lasta is the largest bus operator in Serbia, a partner of the Eurolines system, and runs a large number of local and international lines. Its station is smaller and offers fewer facilities than the Central Bus Station.
Car parksParking presents a problem. There are very few parking garages, and only a few companies can boast the luxury of private parking. To compound the mess, the Old Town is divided into three parking zones: red zone (one-hour parking limit), yellow (two-hour) and green (three-hour). You can pay for parking by filling out a parking coupon for the relevant zone, available at kiosks with instructions in English overleaf. Another way to pay for parking is to send an SMS message with the number of licence plates to 9111 for Zone 1, 9112 for Zone 2 and 9113 for Zone 3. You will receive a confirmation message in Serbian, so it might be safer to use the parking coupon, in case you were rejected. If you opt for parking in a parking garage, no parking limit applies.
You may notice that some local drivers have a habit of parking their cars with blithe insouciance in the middle of the street, even in the yellow lane, reserved for public transport, without suffering any consequences. This occurs with annoying regularity on Nušićeva, Kraljice Marije, 27. Marta, Svetogorska and Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra among others. We do not advise you to follow their example because it is an ugly habit, posing a problem for other drivers.
Public transportBelgrade does not have an underground railway system, and it does not look as if it is going to get one soon (although it has one of the deepest tube stations in Europe, at 42m below ground level). City transport comprises buses, trams and trolley buses. Buses are operated by a public utility company controlled by the city council and a number of private companies, which accounts for the differences in shape, colour and age of the buses out on the streets.
The best option for paying are the newly launched BusPlus tickets, which cost 100 dinars and are good for 75 minutes with unlimited connections on buses and trams. There are also single-ride tickets for 72 dinars, or you can buy a fare on board from the driver for 140 dinars. You have to validate your ticket once you get on board.
A ride without a valid ticket could cost you a 3000 dinar fine. Public transport runs (roughly) from 04:30 to 23:30. During night time, buses run at 1-hour intervals. Night buses depart from special stops on Trg Republike towards other parts of the city. The night fare is 100 dinars, available on board. You are advised to avoid trams if you are in a hurry, because one broken tram blocks an entire line (or two), and this invariably happens right in the middle of two stops, in pouring rain.
TaxisQuite a few taxi operators in Belgrade are reckless drivers who hate to take passengers on short rides (e.g. from Slavija to Terazije). A taxi must display the name of its taxi company and its ID number. Inside the taxi, the price list and ID card of the driver must be in clear view. Your fare is shown on the meter. Avoid taxi drivers that do not belong to any taxi company (their taxi roof signs display only 'taxi' without stating a company name), who usually hang around the airport and accost travellers. They will overcharge you either by negotiating an exorbitant fare or using a fast meter. Taxi fare in Belgrade is quite easy on the pocket: there is a start-up fee of 119 dinars and the rate per kilometre is 46 dinars at the low tariff (Mon to Sat 06:00 - 22:00) or 52 dinars at the high tariff (Mon to Sat 22:00 - 06:00, Sunday and public holidays). Some taxi companies give a 20% discount if you order a taxi by phone. ‘Beogradski taksi’ taxi company (tel. 9801) uses normal daily rates for services rendered at night, on weekends and public holidays. They also offer fixed, attractive rates to the airport.
There is usually no extra charge for the luggage, but if the taxi driver feels entitled to make that charge, he would have to state so at the outset, or you are not obliged to pay it. A tip is not required, but is appreciated, so you may round off the fare. Pets are transported with the driver’s consent. Many Belgraders like to sit next to the driver and have a nice chat. You can ask the taxi driver about hotels, restaurants, or indeed anything you would like to know about the city or local politics. Most taxi drivers are smokers, but you can request a non-smoking vehicle, or simply ask the driver to extinguish the cigarette.
Trusted taxi companies:
Beotaxi tel.(+381) 11 970
Beogradski taxi tel.(+381) 11 9801
Lux taxi tel. (+381) 11 303 31 23
NBA taxi tel.(+381) 11 318 57 77
Pink taxi tel. (+381) 11 9803
TrainsCentral Railway Station, B-2, Savski trg 2, tel. (+381) 11 360-28-99 (06:00 - 22:00); www.serbianrailways.com. Serbian railways are in poor repair, as a result of a long-lasting economic crisis. Railway carriages are very old and the train speed does not exceed 80km/h. Delays and inexplicable stoppage occur with maddening regularity, so if you want to travel round the country in relative speed and comfort, go for long distance buses. Those who love trains should not miss a ride on Šargan Eight (a narrow gauge heritage railway offering one of the most picturesque routes in the world), or Romantika Train (steam locomotive and authentic 1st, 2nd and 3rd class carriages from the early 20th century that take you for journeys outside Belgrade) - see the Serbian Railways website for more information.
Tickets for regular local and international lines are available at Central Railway Station and at:
Putnik, Trg Nikole Pašića 1, tel. (+381) 11 324 5642
Rekreaturs, Dragoslava Jovanovića 3, tel. (+381) 11 323 05 58
Wasteels, Central Railway Station, tel. (+381) 11 265 88 68