When you come to Belgrade, you’re introduced to two things: alcohol and pljeskavica. And when combined, they’re even better. But to get to that state of bliss, you need the right bar. Though Belgrade may look like it’s deteriorating, perhaps you’ve experienced tripping over an overturned stone on the middle of the street or have fallen into an open drain due to gypsies stealing the metal grate, the one thing that’s not going anywhere is the cities ability to have a good time. People think that creating lists are easy, but not when it comes to Belgrade nightlife. So though many bars came close and also deserve recognition, I had to pick five – it wasn’t my idea.
Down Skadarlija Street, past all the old school kafanas where old men playing the accordions stand next to your table for an uncomfortable amount of time while you eat your plate of grilled meat, as your food baby develops at an alarmingly fast rate, there’s Klub 20/44. Now, besides Klub 20/44 is also Gastro Bar 20/44 but as my friend says, that place “is for older fucks who aren’t going to get sucked”. So, side on the err of caution and stick to Klub 20/44 (though you’re more than welcome to check Gastro Bar 20/44).
Klub 20/44 is almost different every night you go. There’s always an energetic group of people, the music is amazing and ranges from Soul, Techno, Funk, House, Disco, and Balearic, and you have your basic selection of drinks that’ll loosen you up. You can sit, you can stand, you can dance, you can do whatever the fuck you want.
Now, this place isn’t an alternative or hipster-like bar you’ll find in Belgrade, it’s more like a pre-drinking place or the spot for a sophisticated night out. This place is where you go to get a good drink. When I mean a drink, I mean a drink. The first time I went there, I didn’t know what to order, so I told the bartender, “you know when you just had Christmas dinner, and you had an argument with your uncle about politics – that, I want that in a drink.” And so I received one of the best drinks to have touched my lips, doused with spite yet the warm taste of forgiveness. And since I’m a relatively poor writer, I only had one but let me tell ya, I would have had another.
This isn’t a place where you’re looking for the cheapest beer or cocktail, this is the place you go to when you want to drink a goddamn glass of art. And then, once you had a couple cocktails, don’t be cheap like me, then you take your tipsy ass over to one of the other places on this list to continue the night.
Though the Savamala district is known for their bars and clubs, one of the best is Tranzit. Whether it’s winter or summer, this place is packed with great energy and music. In the summer, they open their garden and you have the clear open sky above you all night long while they feature some of the best local DJs in Belgrade. And if you’re not into the whole indoor-smoking they have going on here in the city, then the summer stage at Tranzit will be your go-to place. There’s just something about not reeking of cigarettes which makes the night all that much better. Plus, you have a nice view of the Sava River, these little details make Tranzit what it is: a place where you can’t have a bad time.
If you want a view while you’re sipping back cocktails, then you come here. Boho Bar is in the Kalemegdan fortress, overlooking the Sava and Danube River. It’s nestled behind this historic and beautifully lit church, Ruzica, and next to the Belgrade Zoo. You can hear the caged wolves howling from the fact they’re stuck in 40-degree heat and probably sweating like motherfuckers and occasionally waft the subtle fumes of elephant shit. But all of that, even the elephant shit, seems to create this sensual and exotic vibe. It’s a fucking sexy club, I can’t deny it. It’s the place you go to if you want to feel like Salma Hayek in From Dusk till Dawn. Oh, you know what I’m talking about.
The bar itself is open-air, with a bohemian design, as trees graze over part of the space while you still have visibility of the starry sky. Or during the day, you can sit on giant pillows, kick off your shoes and grab a cocktail. Plus, you have the church next to you, so any sinning you’re going to be doing I think gets cancelled out…right? I think that’s somewhere in the Bible.
Sometimes you just wanna have a night of food and drinks – which isn’t always possible in a bar, though at the same time, you want the bar atmosphere – I get you. Eating a bowl of peanuts just doesn’t do it. Now, there are actually quite a number of bars which offer both food and drinks throughout the night but Toro’s is easily one of the best places for that. I mean, they really nailed it. It’s a Latin American restaurant/bar right on the Sava River, so it’s spacious and very open. But this isn’t the place for you if you’re looking for 150 dinar beer and a bag of peanuts. Though the dishes are mouthwatering, they’re not really cheap and they’re not big. The portion-size bothers me because I grew up eating bottomless pancakes at iHop and expect this wherever I go, so, this is me, not them. At night, they either have a DJ or live band, and the music varies from genre to genre, so it’s always different. Plus, they’re pet-friendly so if you want to party with your dog, you can.
*It’s important to know that bars in Belgrade, including some on this list, will have a winter stage and summer stage. So, depending on the season, their locations will be different. You can find this information out on their Facebook pages.