Taste of Serbia
For the full meat feast, head to Skadarlija, Belgrade’s mini-Montmartre, a cobbled street off Republic Square lined with terraced restaurants and bars. Three Hats (Tri Śesira) is lively with Roma musicians playing at your table as you work your way through a plate of chops, kebabs, chicken and sausages. Try a Serbian wine – Prokupac is the local red – and finish off with a shot of plum Rakija, a fiery spirit.
The old town is full of bars and cafés, particularly on Republic Square, Obilićev venac and at Kralja Petra I. In the summer, the booming clubs on the moored boats (splav) on the opposite side of the River Sava can be heard in the old town. There is also a run of bars and restaurants on this shore. Cantina de Frida is my pick, with a live band attracting a fun crowd.
Where to stay
Definitely Stari Grad, the old town, where there are plenty of affordable hotels and you are in walking distance of Belgrade’s main sights. I booked into the excellent four-star Royal Inn on Kralja Petra I on hotels.com the day before the game for under €60.
What to see
The easternmost point of the old town is Kalemegdan Fortress perched on a hill above the point where the Danube and Sava rivers meet. Walk through Kalemegdan Park and peer over the ramparts for views of the city and countryside beyond.
Crvena zvezda’s rivals Partizan were the first Yugoslav side in the European Cup, even playing in the competition’s first-ever match, a 3-3 draw against Sporting in Lisbon on 5 September 1955. They were also the first to reach the final, losing to Real Madrid in 1966, and the first Serbian side to play in the Champions League group stage in 2003/04. Nothing, though, matches the achievements of Crvena zvezda, who won the European Cup thanks to Darko Pančev’s deciding spot-kick in the shootout against Marseille in 1991.
Public transport is cheap and if you’re leaving from Terazije take the 31 bus, then change to the 78 at Slavija Square or St Sava. It’s easier to hop in a taxi; Pink and Naxis are both good value, or download the CarGo app, which works like Uber. From the airport, the A1 bus goes as far as Slavija Square. If you take a taxi, pick up a voucher at the desk near the exit to fix the price then give it to the driver when you get in. A trip to the old town costs 1,800 Serb dinars (€15).