At the confluence of the Sava and the Danube Rivers, in the heart of East-Central Europe, Belgrade is the sort of place where things happen. The city – Serbia’s capital since Yugoslavia’s 2006 dissolution – has been the site of 115-odd wars, and in WWII, it was bombed by both the Nazis and the Allies. In recent years, Belgrade’s cultivated a reputation for a different kind of mayhem: It’s become a nightlife capital, home to lively restaurants and cafés, bustling streets and debauched splavs. After all, in a city that’s been razed to the ground 44 times, who’s going to complain about a little hangover?
Sleep: Square Nine Hotel
While you’re waiting for the Most Interesting Man in the World to invite you over, the lobby of the Isay Weinfeld-designed Square Nine will have to do. Here, guests sip Scotch on impeccable midcentury modern furniture while examining historic maps, thumbing through rare books and telling jokes to beautiful Southern European women. The rooms are a triumph of minimalist luxury, complete with limestone bathrooms, linen wallpaper and Brazilian cumaru wood floors. 9 Student Square, +381113333500
Eat: Siroka Staza
Historically, the only way to access Siroka Staza was by boat. In recent years, the owners of this rustic restaurant, which sits perched over the Danube, have constructed a haphazard staircase, so taxi-bound tourists can visit. The fish soup is a must, and so is an absurdly large, absurdly fresh platter of the catches of the day, which might include perch, catfish, sturgeon, squid and mackerel. Likely, the menu’s subtleties will be lost in translation. Embrace the uncertainty; you’re in Belgrade. 11080 Zemun, +381 2107 972
To find 20/44, which sits on the banks of the Sava River alongside a handful of other splavs, just look for the statue of Michael Jackson. In contrast with other barge nightclubs, 20/44 is friendly and laid back, with a mix of locals and tourists sipping stiff drinks, dancing wildly and kissing indiscriminately. The debauchery is likely to carry on longer than you can.
Paris has Colette. Milan has 10 Corso Como. And Belgrade has Supermarket, four-year-old café/fashion boutique/wine shop/bookstore/concert venue. The food is unremarkable and the clothes are expensive, but the cocktails are effective, and the crowd – a mix of fashion designers, DJs, architects and inexplicably beautiful women – is the real draw, anyway. Visnjiceva 10, +381 11 2910 942