I fell in love with this crowded village at a walk’s distance from the city center during my first visit to Belgrade in 2000. There’s nothing here to see, but a whole lot to experience. You were probably told to go to Kalenić green market (which is indeed a very good place to stock up on kajmak, or get yourself an old watch) or to go to the Saint Sava church (which is indeed huge), but the main reason to visit Vračar, or stay there, would be to walk around, watch people and buildings, and go for a drink. Vračar is not the first place to go clubbing, but it’s particularly strong in the great, easy going bar department.
Photo: Jovana Marković
Here’s a few. Moment. A true classic with a magic front garden that somehow manages to be warm in spring and refreshingly cool during the summer months, when you really should arrive early if you want a seat. (otherwise, go in exile at across-the-street Priča until you see somebody leave) Inside, this cellar-café often has nice art exhibited on the wall. It’s never a gallery though. It will sooner turn into a party ground later at night if the mood is right. Until then, go here to talk, or read the newspapers.
Kafe Kozmetičar, a relatively new arrival with a wide array of strong selling points: they play 90% music I positively Love (from vinyl!), a great all day breakfast including a three-storey whammy that Has It All. It also has a dual-use set up: front are the lounge chairs, and a room in the back has a huge table designated for work, with an electricity plug at every seat. This is a place where a lot of freelancing my-backpack-is-my-office types like me could spend a whole day, moving to the front room after working hours.
Skver. Yes. Just try it. It always reminds me of De Eland in Amsterdam, probably because the layout is very similar. And the atmosphere too actually. Skver at it’s best is just packed, to the point of planning how you are going to take a sip without hitting someone on the nose with your elbow. A great place before and after dinner in Zaplet across the street. Or just skip dinner if you can’t be bothered to leave.
Gradić Pejton, the famous seventies “shopping mall” built of tiny wooden sheds that was indeed named after the soap opera Peyton Place. Everybody I know loves the fact that Gradić Pejton exists, but the problem is that it will get torn down one of these days if you don’t support the nice bars that keep it alive. This already happened to it’s twin behind Hram Svetog Save, which is now a parking lot. Highly recommended are Rif, an tiny jazz bar where the owner and others will regularly play live music for you, and chu.БАР, an even tinier establishment with a nice feel to it. Don’t come here to work, in this small open space, it’s hard not to strike up a conversation with the other pundits.
Scenario. While everybody in town seems to be fully preoccupied with decorating, you got to respect a place that still manages to look like a 1980’s canteen. Especiallly love the ‘terrace’, which consists of three tables on the pavement of busy Mileševska. The drawing point here is beer. Lots of different beers, and waiters that know about it and love to talk about it.
With apologies to all the great places I had to skip to keep this post readable.
Joost van Egmond is a journalist from the Netherlands and has been living on Vračar since 2009.
Dragana Kostica is the Belgrade-based editor in chief and founder of Still in Belgrade art, culture and club scene magazine. She holds a Master of Arts in Cultural Policy and Management in Arts (MA of Arts) and a Bachelor degree in Archaeology.