Last decade or so, and particularly the last few years have seen Belgrade, capital of Serbia rise as the best nightlife city in the region and much further still. This is a city where cultures have clashed ever since its establishment. It was first established by the Celtic tribe Scordisci as Singidun, then conquered by the Romans and renamed Singidunum.
It has since been a part of Avar Khaganate, First Bulgarian Empire, Byzantine Empire, Medieval Serbia, Kingdom of Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Habsburg Empire, and finally modern Serbia. This is a clear testament to the aforementioned fact, but you’ll likely see that for yourself if you decide to visit Belgrade.
The sky above Belgrade is expansive and high, shifting yet always beautiful; clear with its chill splendour during the winter; turning into a single downcast cloud during summer storms, driven by the crazy winds and bearing rain mixed with the dust of the Pannonian plain; seeming to flower along with the ground during spring; and growing heavy with roils of autumnal stars during fall. Always beautiful and bountiful, it is a reward to this odd township for all that is missing and a comfort for everything that should not be.
– via Ivo Andrić, writer and Nobel Prize winner
Geographic position and Climate
The city lies at the southernmost reaches of the Pannonian plain where two great rivers Danube and Sava meet. This city of more than 1.6 million people is gripped by a moderate continental climate which exhibits itself through all four seasons. Yearly average temperature stands at 12.5 °C or 54.5 °F, while yearly average precipitation doesn’t go north of 700 mm per square meter (27 inches). January will be the coldest month to visit Belgrade with average temperatures below zero at -1.1 °C or 30 °F.
As a contrast, it might be too hot during July and August when the mercury gets stuck at 23 °C or 73 °F. In any case, the nightlife will be of the highest quality throughout the year, but I’ll tell you why it’s best to party during late spring, summer, and early autumn later on.
Belgrade – the best place for nightlife
First, let’s just say why Belgrade is the best nightlife city. Because it’s geographically located close to the heart of Europe, first and foremost. The decline of Yugoslavia during the early nineties has left the region rather devastated in terms of economy and neither of the successor countries (Serbia currently) has managed to get out of this loophole. This leads us to the second reason: Belgrade is much cheaper (food, beverages, accommodation) compared to other European cities and party destinations. You will likely find a plethora of other country’s nationals during your visit which can easily be considered the third reason why Belgrade is the best nightlife city.
Serbs are generally open-minded and warm-hearted, especially in cultural and administrative centers which Belgrade certainly is. This list could go on for some time, but let me just say that Serbs are quite handsome as well. This, however, you’ll have to believe me. Or you can just take a look at the pictures of the Belgrade nightlife. Google is free and easy to use, after all.
Night clubs and party time
Now, let me get back to the previous topic. It’s best to visit Belgrade during the warmer part of the year because of its trademark nightlife pattern. Most of the clubs work throughout the year, but Belgrade rafts which are considered the elite party destinations, have more seasonal schedules. These, however, aren’t your average terrace and lounge bars for cocktail sipping. These are fast and sharp night clubs on the water where the party never stops and doesn’t slow down either.
Many prominent DJ’s from around the globe spin their decks in these clubs, but there’s something for everyone as large part of the rafts employ live music bands as well. It is hard to describe these hallmark nightlife parties – one simply has to feel them for himself. In any case, this is a must-do if you’re coming to Belgrade for the city’s nightlife.
Another advantage of visiting the city during the summer are its festivals. Belgrade Beer Fest held at city’s medieval fortress of Kalemegdan is the most massive of these since around half a million people circulate throughout festivals’ premises for five days. The musical program, however, is mostly made for locals, but the entrance fee is non-existent and beer is cheap as dirt. After a few of these (which all cost as one bought across European or American clubs), it doesn’t even matter who’s singing and playing.
If you crave for something you can relate to, there’s a Belgrade Calling festival. 2015 Belgrade Calling saw the likes of Judas Priest, Toto, and Helloween perform during a couple of days. If you’re not into heavy metal, Lovefest gathers the best that electronic music has to offer from a local’s standpoint. Finally, the EXIT festival in Novi Sad which is considered as one of the top European festivals is just 80 kilometers (50 miles) due north of Belgrade.
Concerts and events
Being the country’s cultural center, Belgrade absorbs most of the prominent world stars’ shows. During 2015, Belgrade crowd has been given the chance to see Anastacia, One Republic, Viva Vox, India, and many more performers. Dancefloors, clubs, packed arenas, and cafes don’t necessarily have to be the only nightlife aspects you can immerse yourself into. If you are adventurous enough, you can explore more traditional, local ways of having fun which promises for a unique experience.
Food is a large part of it, and Serbian cuisine is definitely unique. Whether it’s fast food or something more classy that you’re looking for, it’s still cheaper than in most European countries. For instance, a regular burger doesn’t cost much more than $1.5, and it’s at least twice the size of that in McDonald’s.
Finally, Belgrade is the best nightlife city for its special and unique atmosphere. However, in order to grasp this, you would have to understand both the mentality of Serbs and their history. There simply isn’t enough space for this here. Let me just say that Belgrade is alive 24/7. No matter if it’s Monday or Saturday, you’ll easily find a place to hang and it will likely be packed as well. People here are always on the move and partying is one of the few things that comes naturally to them. Yet again, don’t try to figure why’s that the way it is. Just seize the opportunity and enjoy the party.
How did Belgrade become the world’s nightlife capital?
During the ’90s, Serbia went through the roughest patch in its recent history. The break-up of Yugoslavia, civil war, UN sanctions, hyperinflation, and high unemployment made sure that the only entertainment Belgraders had back in those days was the one they created themselves. Something changed in people’s minds and – despite all the hardships of living in the capital of a nation that’s was falling apart – the local nightlife industry boomed, taking clubbing to an art form. Everyone absolutely loved it.
The ’99 NATO bombing forced Belgraders to take their fun even more seriously. Faced with everyday threat of losing our lives, we start having huge outdoor concerts in city squares and on bridges, while some of the most famous night clubs started working even during daylight hours.
Today, Belgrade may be many years behind other European capitals when it comes to economic, industrial, and scientific development, but it’s literally light years ahead when it comes to nightlife. The Belgrade clubbing industry is better organized and has more to offer than any other out there. Every night of the week, there are countless different clubs with different styles, and with different kinds of music where you can go. It may be hard to believe, but all the clubs which have the capacity of 300 to 500 people are basically full every night of the week.
A lot of people who visit Belgrade and take part in its nightlife say that the only place they can compare it to is Ibiza since both places have huge club opening and closing events. However, the difference is that Belgrade clubs work 12 months a year, while Ibiza clubs work only four.
Many young people work in the nightlife industry, mainly as club promoters. They advertise parties and events, often through word of mouth, bringing a lot of guests and customers and taking a cut of the bills. Their reputations depend on how many people they can get to the events they promote and how much money these people spend.
There are places in Belgrade where picket fences still exist, with weeds of a strong and bitter smell growing right next to them… a turtledove is cooing upon the wild pear branch and the lost field mouse is running in terror or hunger… All these things still exist, in a street with no name and a house with no number… Stuck like thistle to the pants of the metropolis, travelling across a time and space they do not belong to.
– via Dušan Radović, poet and writer
If you’re wondering how to get to Belgrade, the country’s only commercial airport is exactly there. Nikola Tesla Airport is some 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the city’s center and well-connected by different transportation means. InterContinental and Hyatt Regency are the most luxurious hotels in Belgrade, but a number of more affordable ones, as well as a number of hostels for the younger population, can also be found across the city. Ultimately, it only remains to plan out your trip, pack your bags, and get there while you’re still young.