Belgrade in Winter: 14 Cozy & Magical Cold-Weather Activities

When I first visited Belgrade, its energy was immediately noticeable, a quality that’s even more evident in winter. 

Now living here, I see how the city maintains its lively atmosphere despite the colder weather. Winter in Belgrade means cozy cafes filled with lively conversation, active markets, and historical sites like Kalemegdan Fortress blanketed in snow.

From my own experience, enjoying winter in Belgrade goes beyond just dealing with the cold; it’s about experiencing the city’s culture and the warmth of its people. 

In this guide, I’ll share the best winter experiences in Belgrade, from warm places to hang out to the city’s active winter scenes. 

Whether it’s your first visit or you’re seeing it from a resident’s perspective, Belgrade has a way of making even the chilliest days welcoming.

How Cold Does It Get in Belgrade?

Belgrade’s winters are a bit milder these days, but they still bring their fair share of cold. January is often the coldest month, with early morning temperatures occasionally dropping to -10°C, though they usually climb to around 0°C during the day. The coldest I’ve seen was -18°C, but that’s quite rare.

Belgrade’s unique location at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers creates a distinct microclimate. You’ll notice it’s colder near the rivers. Plus, the northern part of the city often experiences the Kosava wind, which blows in from the Carpathians across the flatlands of Banat, bringing a noticeable chill.

Does It Snow in Belgrade?

Yes, Belgrade does see snowfall every year, though not as much as in earlier times. The year 2012 was notably snowy. That year, Belgrade had snow on the ground for 45 days, with a consistent snow cover lasting from January 25 to February 26. 

The deepest snow measured 53 cm on February 13. During this period, there were also 20 consecutive days of freezing temperatures, causing the Sava and Danube rivers to freeze over.

This year we had temperatures over 20°C until min November but then it dropped. We had a little bit of snow at the beginning of December but it all melted till noon.

Winter Holidays & Festivals in Serbia

Here’s a quick rundown of the main calendar dates and events during the Serbian winter. 

While December 25 is celebrated by Catholics and other Christian communities, Orthodox Christmas falls on January 7. You’ll find some small businesses closed from December 31 through early January, but most restaurants, cafes, and shops in cities like Belgrade remain open during this festive period.

  • November 11: Armistice Day – Public holiday
  • December 25: First Day of Christmas for Catholics and other Christian communities – Public holiday
  • January 1-3: New Year’s Day – Public holidays
  • January 7: Orthodox Christmas – Public holiday
  • January 27: Saint Sava’s Day – Celebrated, but not a public holiday
  • February 15-16: Statehood Day – Public holidays

Best Things to Do in Belgrade in Winter

If the idea of experiencing Belgrade in winter excites you, you’re in for a treat. The city offers a variety of cozy and season-suited activities to enjoy.

Here are my top picks for things to do in Belgrade during the winter, including some special events that take place during this time of the year.

1. Winter Walking Tour in Belgrade

A walking tour in winter is a great way to see Belgrade. The city has many historical and cultural spots that you can enjoy more when walking. With the right clothes, you’ll be comfortable even in the cold.

In Belgrade, there are different kinds of walking tours from food to brutalist architecture. You can learn about the city’s history, try local food, or see famous landmarks. In winter, these tours usually happen in the early afternoon when it’s sunny.

Walking through the city is a good way to stay warm and see important places like the Belgrade Fortress or the popular streets of Skadarlija and Knez Mihailova.

2. Serbian Rakija Tasting in Belgrade

Serbia, particularly Belgrade, is renowned for its rakija, a traditional fruit brandy. Winter in Belgrade is an ideal time to experience a rakija degustation. Across the city, numerous bars and taverns offer a wide variety of rakija, from classic plum to more unique flavors.

Many of these bars have cozy, intimate settings, often in basements or cellars with a warm and inviting atmosphere, making them perfect for relaxing after a day of exploring. Tasting rakija is not just about enjoying the drink; it’s also about understanding Serbian culture and tradition.

In winter, you get to try the newest batches, as rakija is typically distilled in the autumn. This is a chance to experience a range of flavors, from the strong and bold to the sweet and subtle, each telling its own story of Serbian heritage.

3. Enjoy Serbian Winter Cuisine in Belgrade

Serbian cuisine is hearty and perfect for the winter season. If you haven’t tried traditional Serbian dishes, you’re in for a treat. The rich flavors and use of fresh, local ingredients will redefine your idea of comfort food.

No matter when you visit, eating should be a highlight of your trip to Belgrade, especially in winter. Serbian food is ideal for colder months, thanks to the country’s climate, which has influenced the creation of dishes meant to warm you from the inside out.

Menus are full of protein-rich, dairy-laden, and carbohydrate-heavy options, like the well-known sarma (cabbage rolls stuffed with meat). Thick stews and straightforward but satisfying dishes like pasulj (bean stew) are both filling and comforting. For a truly warming experience, try a hot bowl of riblja corba (Serbian fish soup) on a chilly day.

During the Christmas and New Year season, you might also get to try special festive dishes. One such treat is cesnica, a traditional Christmas bread.

Another is prebranac, a baked bean dish often enjoyed during winter celebrations.

4. Ice Skating at Outdoor Rinks

In Belgrade, ice skating at outdoor rinks is a popular winter activity. With the city’s chilly weather, these rinks are a fun way to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. There are several rinks around Belgrade, each with its unique charm.

Two of the biggest and most popular rinks are located in Republic Square and at the Tasmajdan stadium. For a quieter experience, the Ada Ciganlija rink is a great place, with a more natural setting.

If you’re in Novi Beograd, the SC “Pinki” rink is a convenient option. The cost for skating, including equipment rental, is usually around 300 dinars (€2.50).

5. Climb Avala Mountain

Heading up Avala Mountain in winter gives you a chance to enjoy a bit of adventure just outside Belgrade. Avala isn’t too tall, so you can manage the climb even when it’s cold.

As you reach the top, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking views of the winter landscape. The quiet and the crisp air enhance the experience. At the summit, don’t miss the Avala Tower, where you can see panoramic views of Belgrade and beyond.

Climbing Avala in winter is a great way to step away from the city’s hustle and enjoy nature. Make sure to dress warmly and wear good boots for the snowy paths. This is your chance to add some outdoor excitement to your winter in Belgrade.

6. Cozy Up at Belgrade’s Best Cafes

A winter day in Belgrade is well-spent at Kafe Stess, located on the famous Obilicev Venac. Here, you’re sure to enjoy some of the best coffee in the city.

For more coffee adventures, check out Cafe & Factory, which has six locations around Belgrade. Each has its unique vibe and quality coffee selections.

And for a taste of traditional Serbian coffee, any tavern in Skadarlija, Belgrade’s historic bohemian quarter, is the place to be.

7. Skiing or Snowboarding at Košutnjak

Believe it or not, in Belgrade, you can go skiing or snowboarding. The ski slope at Kosutnjak has been a popular spot for over 20 years. Located at the foot of a hill that once served as a hunting ground for the Obrenovic royal family, it’s home to the Hajducka cesma spring.

As you ski or snowboard down the slope, you can enjoy stunning views of the Hippodrome, Ada Ciganlija, Careva Cuprija, and Senjak. Kosutnjak is also home to the Kosutnjak Camp, Hotel Trim, and several restaurants.

Besides skiing, Kosutnjak is known for hosting various cultural, entertainment, and music events like Voxstock, Forest Fest, and Supernatural.

In the northwestern part of Kosutnjak, you’ll find a unique monument dedicated to Serbian warriors who fell defending Belgrade in 1915. What makes this monument special is that it was erected by the enemy as a sign of respect to their adversaries.

8. Belgrade Christmas Market

The Christmas market, especially around Republic Square and Knez Mihailova Street, transforms the city into a festive wonderland. You can explore various stands with souvenirs, snacks, and traditional Serbian food, enhancing the holiday spirit

9. Explore Belgrade Fortress

When snow covers the Belgrade Fortress, also known as Kalemegdan, it transforms into a winter fairytale. This historic site, with its breathtaking views of the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, is a must-visit.

Beyond its historical importance, Kalemegdan has unique attractions like tanks, artillery tops, and military airplanes displayed outdoors.

For families, the nearby zoo is an added attraction, and just in front of it, there’s an amusement park perfect for kids.

10. Belgrade Underground Tour

This unique tour takes you beneath the city to explore historical sites like the Roman Hall and army bunkers, ending with a traditional Serbian drink in a Belgrade wine cellar​​.

11. Visit Museums

For those who prefer indoor activities, Belgrade’s museums are a great choice. The National Museum, Nikola Tesla Museum, and Ivo Andrić Museum offer insights into Serbia’s history, culture, and notable personalities.

12. Participate in Orthodox Holiday Traditions

Serbia, with its strong Orthodox Christian heritage, celebrates Christmas and other religious holidays with great enthusiasm. A significant percentage of Serbians identify as Orthodox, making the Christmas period, as well as Easter, very important.

Orthodox Christmas in Serbia, like in other Orthodox countries, is celebrated a couple of weeks later than the Gregorian calendar, on January 7th. From mid-December, Belgrade and other cities light up with various feast days and religious observances leading up to Christmas.

Traditional activities include enjoying special Christmas foods and engaging in festive rituals. Serbian Santa Claus, known as Deda Mraz (‘Grandfather Frost’), is a beloved figure who brings gifts to children.

One unique Serbian Christmas tradition is the burning of badnjak (oak branches) on Christmas Eve, symbolizing the warmth and light Christ brings into the world. Families gather around the badnjak, which is sometimes taken to church to be blessed before being brought home.

Sharing sweets with neighbors and friends is also customary during this period, symbolizing good luck and youth. If you visit a Serbian family during the holidays, it’s polite to bring a small gift, like a box of chocolates.

Even if you’re not religious, experiencing the festive spirit and rich traditions during the holiday season in Serbia is a memorable and heartwarming experience.

13. New Year’s Eve in Belgrade

New Year’s Eve transforms Belgrade into a lively and festive city. Whether you’re into cozy traditional restaurants, upscale hotels, floating clubs, nightclubs, or open-air celebrations, you’ll find something that suits your style in Belgrade.

Places like Belgrade Waterfront, known for its elegance, host exclusive New Year’s Eve events. Restaurants in the city turn into lively spots with great food and music, often paired with romantic views of the river. For a unique experience, the floating river clubs are a must see.

Public squares, like those in front of the National Assembly and Belgrade Tower, buzz with excitement. Thousands gather to count down to the new year, with fireworks and live music adding to the festive atmosphere. If you enjoy large outdoor events and live performances, these are the places to be.

After ringing in the new year, you can continue the celebration at various venues across the city, each offering a unique way to welcome the new year in Belgrade.

14. Open Heart Street

If you find yourself in Belgrade on January 1st, don’t miss the “Open Heart Street” festival. This event started half a century ago in the “Srpska kafana” when actors from Atelje 212 swapped roles with waiters to serve guests on New Year’s Day. From this unique gathering, a festival was born, celebrating Belgrade’s culture, economy, joy, magic, and humanity.

Since 1988, it has been officially recognized as one of Belgrade’s most significant events, attracting over 100,000 citizens and tourists.

In recent years, the festival has expanded to several locations across the city, including:

  • “New Belgrade – Open Heart City” on Bulevar Zorana Djindjica, from Omladinskih brigada Street to Bulevar umetnosti;
  • “Open Heart Street” in Borca – Ulica bratstva i jedinstva;
  • “Open Heart Street – Vozdovac” on Ustanicka Street, from the Misdemeanor Court (Ustanicka br.14) to the intersection with Krusevacka Street;
  • “Surcin – Open Heart Municipality” – Trg Zorana Djindjica;
  • “Open Heart Street” on Pozeska Street (from Kijevska Street to Zarka Vukovica Pucara Street).

Best Day Trips from Belgrade in Winter

In winter, a day trip from Belgrade can lead to some great destinations.

Head over to Banja Vrdnik for its thermal pools; it’s a relaxing spot to warm up and unwind, not too far from the city.

Novi Sad is another good choice, just a short half-hour train ride away. It’s filled with historical sites and picturesque streets that are particularly charming during the colder months.

And if you’re interested in history, consider visiting the Golubac Fortress on the Danube. With its recent renovation, it’s a majestic site that beautifully showcases Serbia’s rich history.

En route to Golubac, stopping by Viminacium, an ancient Roman site, adds an interesting historical aspect to your excursion.

Where To Stay In Belgrade in Winter

In winter, Belgrade has a range of accommodations from hostels and guesthouses to boutique hotels. For a different experience, staying in river houses along the Sava or Danube rivers or in cottages on Ada Ciganlija can be captivating. These spots combine the city’s vibe with a touch of nature.

Most places in Belgrade come with central heating, a key comfort in the colder months.

What To Wear In Belgrade in Winter

When visiting Belgrade in winter, you should dress warmly. A fleece layer, a solid outer coat, boots, and wool items like hats, thick socks, and scarves are good choices. For extra warmth, consider thermal leggings under your jeans. Since some indoor places can get quite warm, having layers that you can easily take off is helpful.

If you need more warm clothes during your stay, check out the flea market at Miljakovac, recently moved from New Belgrade. Another option is Blok 70, known as the China Mall, where you can find a variety of items, often similar to those on Amazon, at lower prices. 

When choosing your outerwear, darker colors and plain wool coats are common choices among locals, rather than puffy jackets or fur coats.

What to pack for Belgrade in winter

While you don’t need waterproof gear for the city itself, it’s a different story if you plan to visit Avala. For mountain trekking, quick-dry clothing, proper waterproof boots, and extra layers are essential.

In Belgrade, most accommodations provide basic amenities like woolly slippers and hairdryers, so you can leave your travel hairdryer at home. A hot water bottle might be useful, though you can easily find one at local pharmacies if needed.

A travel laundry line can be handy since tumble dryers aren’t common in Serbian households.

Keep in mind that Belgarde’s climate varies. 

While central Belgrade, particularly near the rivers, may have milder winter conditions, areas like Vidikovac and Kosutnjak, which are more elevated and hilly, often experience longer-lasting snow cover, sometimes extending for about 15 days more than in the city center.

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