Belgrade, the Serbian capital city, is fast becoming a popular digital nomad destination, and it isn’t hard to tell why. The city’s relaxed lifestyle, low cost of living, and increasing community of digital nomads are some of the reasons.
Located South East of Europe, Belgrade is among the continent’s oldest capitals, dating over seven millennia. That long history and complex past add to its attractiveness as a destination for a curious globe trotter.
Table of Contents
- 1 Visa Application
- 2 Cost of living and cost of living arbitrage
- 3 Best coworking spaces
- 4 The Crypto Community
- 5 Digital nomad communities
- 6 Local nomad job opportunity
- 7 The popular recreational activities and fun spots
- 8 Transportation
- 9 How secure is Belgrade city?
- 10 Cultural and social norms
- 11 Religious composition
- 12 Political and economic stability
- 13 Language and language barriers
- 14 Health Care
- 15 Electronic standards
- 16 The ex-pat community
- 17 Payment services and infrastructure
- 18 Belgrade Climate and Weather
- 19 Favorite food
- 20 Common concerns
With a population of about 1.4 million people, the city is divided into two by the river Danube. One side is the new town and the other the older part.
Serbia’s digital nomad visa program is still under consideration. Meanwhile, digital nomads seeking vacation and work in Serbia can apply for the C -Visa, mainly for tourism and business. It could be for single, double, or multiple entries into Serbia. The C- Visa gives you 90 day’s stay.
The other option is the D visa or long-term visa, which allows you to stay in Belgrade for 90-180 days. This option is ideal for digital nomads who need ample time to apply for a temporary stay permit.
Persons who hold the following visas enjoy visa-free access to Serbia.
- The UK visa
- Schengen member states
- European Union member states
- The American visa
The table below shows the complete list of countries with visa-free access to Serbian passport holders.
|Belgium||French Guiana||Mayotte||St. Maarten|
|Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba||French Polynesia||Micronesia||St. Pierre and Miquelon|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||French West Indies||Moldova||St. Vincent and the Grenadines|
|China||Greece||Netherlands||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Costa Rica||Haiti||North Macedonia||Ukraine|
|Croatia||Hong Kong||Norway||United Arab Emirates|
|Czech Republic||Italy||Poland||Vatican City|
|Denmark||Japan||Portugal||Wallis and Futuna|
The process of applying for a Visa
Serbia is not a European Union member and hence isn’t a party to the Schengen community. This makes processing a visa to Belgrade much easier than getting one for a Schengen member country.
To tender your application, go to the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and follow the process as instructed. The required fees vary depending on your home country.
What to expect of the anticipated Digital Nomad Visa
There needs to be more disclosure regarding Serbia’s anticipated digital nomad visa. However, according to Serbian immigration experts, the DNV is a temporary residence permit. As in the Berlin, German case, it will fall into two categories, namely (a) Sole proprietorship and (b) Freelance activity.
To acquire this document, you need the following;
- Proof of leased residence in Belgrade
- Health insurance
- A valid passport
- A Serbian bank account in Belgrade.
The immigration authorities will communicate once every question about the digital nomad visa is settled. Nonetheless, if Belgrade is on your itinerary, you must have the above four requirements ready.
Meanwhile, what requirements should you fulfill to qualify for a C or D visa? Well, it depends on the rules that govern the Serbian embassy in your home country and the nature of your application.
But here are some of the general requirements;
- A valid passport (at least ninety days from the day you are issued the visa)
- Passport size photos 3.5 x 4.5 cm
- Filled out application form
- Health insurance
- Proof of sufficient funds to keep you in Belgrade
- Return ticket
- Visa fee
The cost of applying for a Serbian Visa
The short-stay visa will cost you roughly €60 plus an extra € 2 for the sticker. The D or long-stay visa costs €30 plus €2 sticker fee.
Why your visa application might fail
Acquiring a visa can be easy if you present the proper documents at the right time. While many applications get approved, some fail for various reasons. For example, an application for a Serbian visa may be challenged for these, among other reasons;
A poor traveling record: The authorities may suspect your application if you have unsuccessfully tried to enter Serbia or another country. Others fail because their travel record may have been tainted for overstaying in another host country or engaging in unpermitted acts under certain visa classifications.
A shaky relationship with one’s home country: You must show the existence of ties or connections that would necessitate your returning home once your visa expires. For example, being a business owner or student on a long break would be good reasons to necessitate your timely return.
Your visa appeal may also be difficult if your country has shaky diplomatic ties with other nations because of its stand on some issues.
Poor performance in the interview: Visa refusal is often the result of the applicant’s poor performance in the question and answer session. For example, if you are tense throughout the session, you may interact poorly with the examiner and give wrong signals.
Presenting false documents: Once officials examine your papers and detect forgery, your request is automatically rejected, and you may be barred from applying for some time.
Mismatched Data: If you fill out your forms and input data that doesn’t match your passport details, your appeal will be rejected.
Other reasons include invalid insurance coverage, a history of offenses, inadequate resources, and late application.
Cost of living and cost of living arbitrage
According to data at numbeo.com, the standard of life in Belgrade is cheap compared to a city like Berlin. For example, in Belgrade, you only need around €2457 per month to live a lifestyle that would cost you €4500 in Berlin (rent included in both cities).
In Belgrade, a digital nomad can live in hotels, Airbnb hostings, rental apartments, hostels, or co-living spaces. According to Nomadlist, Hotel rooms in Belgrade cost a median price of about $1,009 per month (roughly $47 per night).The Airbnb median price is $75 per night and $2273 per month, respectively. You can rent a bedroom studio in downtown Belgrade at $737 per month. Most nomads prefer co-living spaces because shared facilities are comparatively cheaper.
Popular co-living spaces include:
- Balkan Soul Hostel @ $ 27 per night
- Hostel Sova @ $12 – $31 per night
- Bloom Inn Hotel @ $12 – $61 per night
- Habitat-Hostel@ $30 per night
- Užički konak @$25 per night
Monthly utilities comprising electricity (for heating and cooling), water, and garbage in an 85 m2 apartment amount to approximately $ 141 (16,522.84 Дин)
You will spend about $0.1 to make a one-minute phone call on a prepaid mobile tariff. Meanwhile, unlimited Internet data running at 60 Mbps may cost you about $25 per month.
Groceries cost 61.65% cheaper in Belgrade compared to New York City. For example, 1 kg of apples costs $0.97 in Belgrade and $5.57 in New York. In Belgrade, a kg of tomatoes goes for 1.45 dollars and $6.33 in New York City.
The internet in Belgrade runs at relatively high speeds. For example, the city’s mobile download speeds are about 50 Mbps. The average fixed broadband download speed is about 90 Mbps. Like most cities worldwide, you can access free Wi-Fi in Belgrade from the airport to restaurants, hotels, and other public places downtown.
Best coworking spaces
Belgrade has over 84 coworking spaces, according to Nomadlist. On average, a coworking hot desk goes for 224 dollars a month.
Some of the popular digital nomad coworking spaces in Belgrade include;
The Crypto Community
Serbia is on the growing list of countries that have embraced blockchain technology and its innovations, including cryptocurrency. According to media estimates, roughly 0.2 million Serbians owned cryptocurrencies as of December 2021.
Through 2021, there was a flurry of activity on all crypto exchanges in Serbia, especially in Belgrade. This has persuaded the government that the growing market needed regulation. Accordingly, Serbia adopted the Law on Digital Assets (30th June 2021), making it among the first jurisdictions to regulate crypto-casinos and crypto trading.
The new law validated digital tokens and virtual currencies as means of exchange between individuals and corporate entities. And, Unlike China which banned cryptocurrency (repeatedly so), the 2021 Serbian law also recognizes Bitcoin mining as legal.
Serbia’s digital asset tax regime could be considered benevolent, mainly because the country hopes to join countries like Cyprus, Malta, and Estonia to create a new digital property market. Significant tax reliefs are available to incentivize trading, especially for registered entities trading in digital assets.
Tax is imposed in various forms. For example, when one acquires cryptocurrency as an inheritance or gift, they are subject to a 1.5-2.5% property taxation. However, if you receive digital assets from an employer as a salary, it is taxed under the income tax regime.
Blockchain coworking spaces
Given the country’s growing interest in the Blockchain enterprise, you would expect Belgrade to have many coworking spaces and other hubs for digital innovation. These are typically centers that provide grounds for knowledge-sharing and supporting startups and established companies. Blockchain coworking spaces also foster the exchange of ideas and enable cooperation via events. Thirdly, they serve to enhance blockchain education and provide access to various grants and funds.
Belgrade has more than 50 crypto startups conceived right within the blockchain coworking spaces and developed in corresponding labs.
All Art – seeks to empower artists to make it in the realm of NFT.
Joberty – Promotes developers
Insightful – enables organizations to keep track of and enhance productivity at the team and individual level
Tectonic Games Studio – Creates captivating story-driven games
Miley Tech – An analytics platform that helps you assess performance and make informed decisions
Digital nomad communities
While the population of digital nomads in Belgrade is just about 10% of Lisbon’s, there is no doubt regarding its potential to grow and rank in the top 10 on platforms like Nomadlist.
Currently, slightly less than 2000 members are reported on Nomadlist. However, the growing number of coworking spaces, blockchain labs, and startups in the city speak of a place with highly organized nomad communities.
Local nomad job opportunity
The anticipated digital nomad visa will permit digital nomads to pick local jobs without breaking the law. In the meantime, one needs a residence permit to qualify for local job opportunities.
However, since nomads network in coworking and co-living spaces and events, it is easy to find clients looking for their services. Moreover, a digital nomad can still accept tasks from remote clients and fulfill them.
The popular recreational activities and fun spots
Whether you are out for a fun-filled adventure or want to sample historical sites dating thousands of years, Belgrade has it all in plenty. For example, you can take a 2-hour boat ride along the Danube and Sava rivers as you weather the cool breeze and enjoy scenic views.
Along this cruise, you will see the Great War Island, learn more about Zemun’s past as a separate town (till the mid-20th century) and marvel at the views of Belgrade fortress from different directions.
Other popular fun spots you may want to visit include;
This is a beautiful island (also an artificial peninsula) in the Sava river that snakes through Belgrade central. Ada features beautiful beaches and sports facilities that attract about 100,000 visitors daily. Also called Belgrade’s sea, the peninsula breeds a thick forest akin to a wilderness area. Therefore you might spot wildlife there, including foxes, rabbits, or deer. Athletes, including boat rowers, rugby players, and tennis players, throng the place to leverage sports facilities. Snowboarding and alpine skiing also happen on artificial setups.
You may also enhance your Belgrade experience by visiting different underground historical attractions. These are exclusive sites that narrate stories about Belgrade’s unusual history. Anyone trekking that route registers amazement because the particular locations are all about various legends, human destinies, and enigmas that stirs up the curiosity of history and cultural enthusiasts.
To give you a bit of detail, the tour informs you more about the legend of Belgrade since the Roman, Austrian, Turkish and Serbian eras, with each period posting a unique sense of charm.
First, you will stop at the Roman hall, which retains features of the Roman fortress’s main gate dating back to the 2nd century. Your next stop will be at the Roman well and an army bunker that traces part of its significance to the Informbiro period. Here, you will gather much knowledge about past spy secrets and President Tito’s political intrigues after the Second World War.
Moving on, you will arrive at a large gunpowder warehouse with its walls telling stories of how Christian Europe defended itself from the Turkish Empire in the 13th century. Finally, you will treat yourself to a glass of wine in a custom underground winery.
There is so much more you could do in Belgrade, including;
- Taking a guided tour walking through the city center
- Touring the Golubac Fortress and the Iron Gate Gorge
- Taking a day tour of the manasija monastery, Rasava cave, Lysine waterfall, and much more.
Like all other capital cities, Belgrade has airports and robust road infrastructure for ease of movement. However, the city’s railway network still needs to be developed especially compared to other European cities. Therefore, if you come from a background of High-speed trains, Rapid transit, Light rail, or the Modern streetcar, you will have to manage your expectations since Belgrade has yet to do that.
Belgrade Nikola Tesla is Belgrade’s main airport. This is the country’s busiest airport and the national carrier, Air Serbia’s nerve center.
Belgrade’s buses, trolley buses, and trams are the main vehicles plying the city’s routes, with BusPlus smartcards being the most popular means of settling bus fare. You may purchase these tokens from street kiosks at all bus stops. A paper card is valid for up to 5 days, while a plastic card continues to serve you as long it has currency units.
The Central Railway Station in Belgrade is known as Beograd Centar, with Topsider and Novi Beograd as the other significant stations in the city. Even though most of Belgrade’s notable stations are found within the city center, railway transport within the capital is less vibrant than in most European capitals. There has been a long wait for the Belgrade Metro system, which is yet to be completed.
Being home to over 1.4 million people, Belgrade is the largest European city without such a mass transport system. You will find more international trains operating from Belgrade to other cities than commuter trains running within the town. For instance, there are sleeper trains to and from cities such as Zagreb, Schwarzach, Ljubljana, and St Veith. There are also overnight trains to and from the Russian capital of Moscow.
The stagnation of the capital’s railway transport development can be attributed to The history of Serbia. After the disintegration of former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Belgrade would become the capital city of Serbia – a much reduced and less ambitious nation.
Consequently, the city’s development agenda stagnated.
Other projects were prioritized while pushing the Belgrade Metro to the back burner. As a result, present-day Belgrade has large swathes of urban territory that are cut off from any form of railway transport.
Today, the mention of app-hailing taxis brings popular brands like Uber and Lift to mind. However, these two companies are not available in Belgrade. Instead, you will find names like Yandex Go Taxi App, Naxis Taxi App, and Pink Taxi App.
And here are the taxi fares in Belgrade for various distances.
|Distance (Km)||Estimated Price (Serbian Dinar)||Distance (Km)||Estimated Price (Serbian Dinar)||Distance (Km)||Estimated Price (Serbian Dinar)|
Recognizing pirate cabs in Belgrade
Pirate cabs, also known as wild taxis, are illegal competitors who lure unsuspecting clients into their service and charge them more. They usually target tourists at airports, nightclubs, train stations, bus stations, and such places. Foreigners form their prime target because they lack sufficient knowledge of the local situation. Therefore, you need to be wise in choosing a cab.
If you choose to flag down a regular taxi, ensure it has the letter “TX” at the end, reading the car number plate. However, using app-hailing cabs, as listed above, is highly recommended.
How secure is Belgrade city?
Is Belgrade a safe place to visit?
Well, anyone who has been here and taken necessary caution should give it a confident “Yes.” Downtown Belgrade is very safe, partly due to the heavy police presence and proper street lighting. What’s more, these streets are bustling with pedestrians around the clock.
The city’s security has been improving significantly, although there are areas where the risk of falling victim to pickpocketing, bag snatching, and even mugging is still high. It scores a “good” in the categories of safety and lack of crime on Nomadlist.
The world bank’s 2021 report on Serbia’s political stability and absence of Terrorism reported the country at 6.
While most reports highlight pickpocketing as the main concern for visitors, it is also worth considering the sporadic conflicts pitting organized criminal gangs. These gangs intermittently clash over control of areas or routes considered strategic for drug business and such illegal activities.
They also seek to control the splavovi entertainment business, meaning if rival groups clash for some reason, visitors and locals in these hangout joints may suffer. Therefore, while such areas are attractive to newcomers, it would be in their best interest to either party with caution or avoid them altogether.
Serbians love sports, with most of them being ardent fans of rival football clubs Partizan or Redstar. Visiting such game matches could be potentially risky as there have been numerous cases of violence pitting hooligan fans. Attending locals and tourists suffer injuries in the ensuing fracas and melee.
Activist reports claiming the LGBT community still faces a measure of hostility and discrimination. Therefore, members of this society should know when and where to manifest their sexual orientation.
Nonetheless, Belgrade is a safe city to work and vacation in. With a crime index of only 38.01 and a safety index of 61.9, it is safer than most European capital cities.
Things to do and avoid
- Belgrade pickpockets are highly talented. Therefore, keep your phones and other valuables safe.
- Avoid an extended conversation with a stranger. Con artists employ a seemingly innocent approach to get what they want.
- Don’t go for entertainment in areas perceived as jurisdictions under criminal syndicates.
- Save emergency phone numbers, especially the police hotline (192).
Serbs are typically funny, friendly, and highly sociable. These qualities manifest in their superstition and a raft of other belief systems. For example, they believe that sitting at the corner of a table attracts bad luck. Sounds funny, right?
Well, here are some traits you might notice during your stay:
Serbians are friendly and helpful
People in Belgrade are friendly and always willing to assist. These locals are happy to assist if you have questions about where to go, what to do, where to eat, or any other challenge.
Toasting is standard etiquette
Serbians are known for looking around to toast before drinking. Ensure to raise your glass and clink it with the locals.
There are sensitive topics to avoid
Serbia has a harrowing history full of political conflict and devastating wars. Avoid these subjects, especially arguments around Kosovo, because many people still have bad experiences on their minds.
You may encounter unusual customer service
Once you check in at a shop, bar, or restaurant, do not expect attendants to always come around smiling and acting friendly. Sometimes they will present in a way you may interpret as cold, but that is normal in Belgrade. In fact, some grocery shops don’t even bag groceries for you. Do not be offended because the locals are used to it.
Tipping & miscellaneous purchases
Most places in Belgrade take cards, which most tourists prefer to use. However, if you should leave a tip (which is usually 10% of the bill) or buy something at a small vendor, you need fiat currency. Therefore, always have some little cash on you.
Smoking in public
Enforcement of the law against smoking in enclosed public places is weak. Therefore, many people smoke freely in cafes, bars, restaurants, and public places. This may cause a culture shock for individuals from backgrounds with strict bans on smoking in public places.
Religion plays a central role in informing Serbia’s cultural values and shaping the country’s national identity despite being a secular state. Belgrade alone has several iconic buildings representing different faiths. A 2002 census on the city’s religious population revealed that 90.68% of Belgrade citizens subscribe to the Eastern Orthodox faith.
The rest came as follows:
- Muslims – 1.29%
- Roman Catholic -1.03%
- Protestants – 0.24 %
- Jews – 0.03 %
- Atheist – 3%
- Unknown – 2.02 %
Political and economic stability
Serbia runs on parliamentary democracy, with elections being held every 5 years. The country is politically stable.
The country’s GDP in 2021 reached $ 9.215 per capita, translating to $63.07 billion in the whole country. This ranks 83rd among the world’s major economies and 67 on the world’s richest countries list. Such bright statistics certainly point to an economy with increasing opportunities for the country’s ex-pat population.
Language and language barriers
Serbia is the Serbian national language and the most widely spoken language besides Croatian, Bosnian, and several other languages. Spoken by over 88 percent of the country’s population, Serbian is the only European language written in two scripts.
While you can use Cyrillic letters and the Latin alphabet to write, Serbia’s constitution recognizes Cyrillic as the official script. A recent survey put the popularity of the Latin and Cyrillic scripts at 47% and 36%, respectively, with 17% unsure of their preference.
English is widely spoken in Belgrade, with most younger people under 40 having a better grasp of it. The older generation also speaks English, although most lean toward German, Russian and French. This effectively eliminates the prospect of the language barrier.
Belgrade is generally a safe country with a low risk of contracting transmissible diseases. According to macro trends, the country’s current (2022) life expectancy is 76.33 years which is a 0.18% increase from 2021.
International travelers must purchase travel health insurance before entering Serbia because it is among the requirements for getting a visa. But, locally, all Serbian citizens and permanent residents enjoy universal health coverage.
Although Belgrade is not prone to airborne diseases, the Center for Disease Control website lists Tuberculosis and Hantavirus among those to be wary about. You are also safer keeping an eye on parasite-transmitted diseases, including Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever and Leishmaniasis. Nile fever, Avian flu, and Tick-borne encephalitis are also common in this part of the world.
The Center for Disease Control recommends taking the following vaccines before traveling to Belgrade;
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Hepatitis B
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
- Flu (influenza)
- Hepatitis A
- Tick-borne Encephalitis
Belgrade city has a fairly developed health care system. Statistics from Beograd show that there are over 60 modern health institutions in Belgrade.
The city also has many private doctors, pharmacies, and clinics that offer quality medical services. They include;
- MediGroup general hospital,
- Ars Medica Beograd,
- DIONA Hospital for aesthetic plastic surgery Belgrade
- Otto bock Sava doo; PJ Beograd
- Family Therapy Center.
Some surveys have placed Serbia among the top 100 countries offering quality Medicare.
Serbia runs on a 230 Voltage and 50Hz. They use plugs C and F, with plug C having 2 round pins. Plug F has 2 round pins and two earth clips on the side.
Telephone and internet plans
Leading mobile operators in Belgrade include:
- VIP Mobile (A1) – It is preferred for offering good download speeds and 4G network availability.
- Telenor is appreciated for its superior 4G coverage experience
- mts offers a great mobile gaming experience
These three service providers offer SIM cards with prepaid tariff plans with some customized for tourist use. The coverage and speeds are good whether you are in Belgrade or away.
The ex-pat community
As Belgrade’s engineering and tech companies go global, many exciting opportunities are opening up to professionals worldwide. Moreover, Belgrade’s creative and cultural renaissance pulls people from different walks of life to Serbia’s buzzing capital.
Expat organizations in Belgrade
International Belgrade – Organizes activities to help connect foreigners in Belgrade
Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club – This invite-only Facebook group was created to help visitors who come to Belgrade. The club comprises the largest registered ex-pat community in Serbia.
Other Facebook-based groups are:
- Expat Serbia
- International women married to Serbs
- Language Exchange Club Belgrade
- Spontaneous Belgrade
- The International Belgrade Singers
Payment services and infrastructure
Belgrade relies heavily on cash transactions, using the Serbian Dinar (RSD). You’ll be lucky to find places that accept the euro or USD. However, if you have foreign currency, you can convert it to Dinars at your nearest forex bureau. Avoid converting large amounts of cash upon arrival at the airport since exchange rates are much better at the city center.
Payment by card is another popular method in Belgrade. For example, all major cards are applicable if you need to pay for your apartment, groceries, or another bill. These include;
- Diners Club
- Visa Electron
- American Express
PayPal works in Belgrade with some restrictions.
Belgrade Climate and Weather
Belgrade thrives on a humid subtropical climate with four different seasons. Spring, which runs from April to May, is generally wet, leading to warm summers from June to August. Summer is the best time to visit since temperatures range between highs of 27 °C (81°F) and lows of 20°C (68°F).
Autumn comes between September and November, manifesting in warm spells. This season is characterized by dry, windy weather that culminates in the Kosava wind phenomena. The city experiences winter from December to February, with snow featuring prominently. Winter temperatures usually drop below -1C (30F). May and June are the worst months to visit because it is the city’s wettest period.
The Serbian diet regime is a distinct blend of local Balkan, central European, and oriental cuisines. Away from restaurants and other commercial eating outlets, people in Belgrade consume a lot of fast food (grilled for lunch), with pastry being a common item in other meals. While here, expect a lot of meat, local vegetables, and pastry on most dining tables.
Meals range between $2 to $15 depending on the type of meal and restaurant level. A cup of coffee will cost you roughly $0.88, with ½ liter of beer going for about $1.68.
Some familiar dishes include;
Sarma – cabbage roll with pork
Srpska Salata – finely chopped vegetables
Punjene Paprika – sweet peppers stuffed with meat, rice, and several other ingredients.
Gibanica – a type of cheese pie.
- If your health is sensitive to tobacco, you may find sitting in cafes and restaurants challenging.
- Memories of the past conflicts still linger
- High levels of pickpocketing
Nonetheless Belgrade remains a highly attractive tourist and digital nomad destination for reasons ranging from political stability and a growing economy, among others.
Club Swan Disclaimer: The information provided is not tax and/or legal advice. The statements do not constitute legally binding offers. The company does not guarantee or endorse any third-party links, websites, or goods and/or services. Seek your own professional advice.