Belgrade is certainly a brilliant city for those on a budget as there are so many small reasonably priced souvenirs that can be bought from the over-laden souvenir stands. At the other end of the scale, designer shops are selling top international brands. There are many ‘shopping zones’ in the city which specialize in particular products and the largest shopping malls are Ušće, Delta City and Mercator.
There are more than 30 ‘Green Markets’ – ‘Farmers’ Markets’ in Belgrade with the most popular being Zeleni Venac, Skadarlija, and Kalenić. These markets are the perfect place to buy home-made edible delicacies and they often have a mini flea market. The largest flea market in the city is Buvljak and there is another one in the village of Pančevo – just a short bus ride out of town. The monasteries have shops too, selling wine made by the monks and honey from their hives. If you look in the flea markets you will also be able to pick up some authentic souvenirs from when Serbia was formerly Yugoslavia (pre-1993).
1. Pack a bottle or two of Bermét
Bermét is the popular Serbian dessert wine that is available in either red or white varieties. Bermét is a much smoother tasting drink than port and is made in the Fruska Gora region of Vojvodina to a secret recipe that is known only by a handful of families and includes more than 20 local herbs and spices.
2. Choose some traditional Serbian pottery
The most famous local pottery comes from Zlakusa where it is made using the same techniques that have been passed down through the generations. Many of the pieces are terracotta in color with a modern white slip glaze and are very practically shaped as well as being stylish. It is said that making a dish in a locally made pottery will enhance its flavor!
3. Treat everyone to Licider hearts
Easy to pack and delicious to eat, these traditional heart-shaped cookies are colorfully decorated in white and other icings. They can say ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you’ or anything else you would like to say as the message of your choice can be added in many places.
4. Try playing the gusle
This handsome looking one string instrument looks a little like a Greek laouto and is made in a variety of sizes and woods. One thing is for sure and that is, although it only has one string, it is incredibly difficult to play and you may well decide to have it as a very special ornament in your home instead!
If you haven’t space in your luggage for a gusle, but like the idea of something musical, look out for a frula. These small, wooden six-holed flutes are traditionally used by local shepherds as they herd their sheep. They take some mastering but the result can be tuneful!
5. Keep warm in a Sirogojno jumper
The winters get cold in Belgrade and a stylish way to keep warm is in a traditional Sirogojno jumper which is made by the skilled weavers in the ethno village of Zlatibor. The jumpers are amazingly warm and cozy and are decorated with a variety of traditional motifs.
6. Treat yourself to some Ajvar
The chances are that you will have already tasted this colorful red pepper dip as it is served as an appetizer and accompaniment to nearly every meal in the city! Ajvar has the nickname ‘domestic caviar’ and has been made since the late 19th century. It is made with red peppers and tomatoes that are cooked and then pureed.
Ajvar is enjoyed with so many dishes, but particularly Gibanica (cheese pies) and cevapi (kebabs). It is also used as thickly spread on crusty pieces of bread. You can buy jars of Ajvar in the supermarket, but it is far better to go to one of the Green Markets and see if you can buy a jar or two of home-made Ajvar which will taste so much more authentic.
7. Admire the Pirotski ćilims
These beautiful kilims are the country’s most important traditional handicraft. They are carefully handmade and usually have deep red as the base color with traditional motifs in black and cream to decorate. Kilim making is one of the oldest crafts and the finest is said to come from the eastern town of Pirot. The kilims convey many messages in their symbolism including wishes for good luck, wealth and happiness. True, a kilim is not the easiest thing to fit in your suitcase, but if you would like one for your home, there are specialist shops that are used to sending them abroad.
8. Consider some rakija
This popular fruit brandy is considered the national drink and is usually made from fermented fruit. Be warned – the commercial brands can be as much as 40º proof! The most popular kinds are šljiva (plum), Danja (quince) and kruška (pear). It is fun to buy a bottle to take home and if you have room, a set of the small čokanjčić glasses to match! When you open the bottle once you are back home, the toast is ziveli – your good health!
9. Or a rakija-making still
True, this is more as a ‘conversation piece’ than for you to go into rakija production, but these copper stills – lampek- look stylish and fascinating and will prove to be a conversation piece! Rakija is not only the national drink but is a very sociable drink to enjoy with friends so a lampek will evoke many happy memories of your time in Belgrade.
10. Pick up some ethno earrings
If you are looking for some small fun souvenirs for work colleagues, there are some attractive traditionally designed pieces of jewelry. If suppose you are looking for something inexpensive and a little whacky you will find earrings with small figures wearing a traditional costume – very cute and easy to pack and they will certainly make the recipient smile!