“Belgrade is not in Belgrade because, in fact, Belgrade is not a city – it is a metaphor, a way of life, a way of thinking.” – Momo Kapor
The mighty Danube seems to be the symbolic backbone connecting the most illustrious meeting destinations across Central and South-East Europe. If you follow the current of the imposing river, you will see the passing skylines of Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade. The latter has again become a hotspot on the maps of international event organisers in recent years. Its quality of life is still incomparable with Vienna or Budapest. Belgrade is much more like Athens or Berlin. The Berlin of the Balkans is a city that continuously surprises with new extraordinary venues, buzzing nightlife and the infinite energy of its inhabitants.
Some time ago, we wrote that foreigners should not expect shining infrastructure; however, that has changed in a blink of an eye. An array of new investments, including the Belgrade Waterfront, are becoming a reality. In addition, Sava Center is undergoing an extensive renovation. The recent additions combined with a youthful, colourful and occasionally bohemian ambience have rendered the city a lively meeting hub for organising events. At the same time, Belgrade is emerging as a diplomatic and political centre, successfully connecting and bridging the gap between East and West. That is no coincidence, as the city has been the region’s crossroads at the confluence of Sava and Danube for the past 7000 years.
NEED TO KNOW 2022
At the moment, Belgrade is the biggest construction site in South-East Europe. This year, the 170-metre tall high-rise Kula Belgrade will open its doors, thus becoming the tallest building in Serbia. The luxury St. Regis hotel will find its home within the skyscraper. Kula Belgrade is an integral part of the city’s rebirth altering the unmistakable vista of Belgrade and its iconic Kalemegdan Fortress. Belgrade is redefining itself, and following the towering redesign, it will become the tourist and business centre of the Western Balkans. The disputed project has incited excitement among ardent supporters and doubts among sceptical locals. Either way, Belgrade’s skyline is irrevocably changing, and the former creative quarter Savamala is fading into memory.
On the other side of Belgrade, the largest congress centre in the region, Sava Center, is undergoing a comprehensive renovation. With work underway, the new owners promise to finish the project by the end of 2023. The reconstruction, worth around 80 million EUR, will enrich the region with an ultra-modern congress centre that will enable Belgrade to host mega events with up to 4000 attendees.
BEST INCENTIVE IDEA
Nikola Tesla, man or magician?
Apart from experiencing recommended cultural and culinary experiences in Belgrade, we deem the Nikola Tesla Museum a must-see. A guided tour takes visitors through some of his greatest inventions. Participants will get acquainted with his invaluable collection comprising 160.000 original documents, 2000 books and newspapers and 1200 technical objects. The genius mind of Nikola Tesla is revealed in the imposing house on Krunska Street 51 in Belgrade. In 1943, when the great inventor died without descendants in New York, the American Supreme Court proclaimed his nephew Sava Kosanović as sole heir. On his uncle’s wish, he transferred all documentation and personal items to Belgrade in 1951. Even though Tesla had only spent 31 hours in Belgrade, the city became a memorial to the great inventor. His ashes are kept in a rounded gilded urn designed by the renowned sculpturer Nebojša Mitrić.
BEST KEPT SECRETS
Authentic heart of the city
On the outskirts of Belgrade, shopping centres now govern; however, the city markets have endured. Open-air markets are not only marketplaces for purchasing fruit and vegetables but meeting spots for locals and friends. There is something for everyone at Belgrade’s markets – from fruit, vegetables, bread, meat and fish to clothes and souvenirs. Zemun Market is perhaps the most authentic and charming among an array of busy markets. A Saturday stroll to the market is a weekly have-to for numerous Belgradians, as is the necessary coffee ritual in one of the bars on the bank of the Danube. Visiting the iconic market is perfect for getting acquainted with the city, as locals will gladly advise you where to buy the best garlic and cheese. Or you can simply follow the crowd. You are sure to find the best products where there are long lines. Umami!
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
Re-creative special venue
Belgrade has a long list of extraordinary venues. Among them, a complex of four colossal silos has attracted event organisers like bees to a honeypot. The remnants of brutalist architecture are like a honeycomb, comprising 64 cells. There is an actual beehive within the complex, where bees flock to a flourishing garden. The nerve centre of the complex is the Ponta.011 Bar, a beloved meeting spot that is open every day. Another intriguing event space is the open-air theatre, a hit among meeting planners. If your attendees seek something even more creative, you can show them the multidisciplinary art commune Dorćol Platz which welcomes all creative minds.
TOP EVENTS IN 2022
Several events taking place in Belgrade are proof of the city’s lively pulse. In September, visitors could find themselves next to David Coulthard on his promotional racing show for Red Bull’s Formula 1 team.
We have selected some of the most impactful events in Belgrade in 2022:
FEMS BELGRADE (30 June – 2 July 2022)
The Federation of European Microbiological Societies organised their annual event in Belgrade and thus supported microbiologists and their work. The event promoted the best in microbiology research and brought microbiologists together.
EUSIPCO (29 August – 2 September 2022)
EUSIPCO is the premier European conference on signal processing. The 30th edition was held in Belgrade and included keynotes by distinguished speakers and cutting-edge research presentations driving the science and engineering of signal processing today.
WINE VISION BY OPEN BALKAN (1 – 4 September 2022)
The first international wine fair in Belgrade intertwined the Balkan wine routes uniquely and gathered the best wine producers in the region.
EAGE (18 – 22 September 2022)
The 28th European Meeting of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics continued to build on 28 years of research and development in the field of engineering geophysics.
EANS2022 CONGRESS (16 – 20 October 2022)
The European Congress of Neurosurgery regathered European and world experts in neurosurgery in Belgrade. It provided an excellent opportunity for sharing experiences and exchanging ideas through the top-level scientific program.
And … not to miss near Belgrade:
EXIT FESTIVAL (7 – 10 July 2022)
EXIT is an award-winning summer music festival that annually takes place at the Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia, with more than 1000 artists who play at over 40 stages and festival zones.
A testament to the diverse gastronomic scene is the premier Michelin Guide in Belgrade, published in 2021. In recent years, the Belgrade culinary scene has seen a revival, with some of the most ambitious restaurants and chefs finding their home here, alongside a slew of beloved local restaurants serving classic Balkan grilled dishes. The debut Michelin Guide in Belgrade praised its multilayered gastronomy for creating a distinct and diverse culture where the influences of Greece, Turkey, Hungary and the Balkans intertwine. Belgrade’s geographical position between East and West and its consequent rich heritage of mixing both influences had a noticeable impact on its gastronomy. Fourteen of Belgrade’s best restaurants made the Michelin list. You can read more about the Michelin Guide at: https://guide.michelin.com/en/belgrade-region/.
BELGRADE IN A FEW WORDS
Belgrade is an authentic, inviting and hospitable destination with soul; it is an emerging meeting hub at the junction of East and West. The Serbian capital is an uncut meeting diamond with extraordinary potential. In short, the zeitgeist of Belgrade is best summed up by the writer Momo Kapor with the words: “Belgrade is a low-budget New York.”
Dušan Borovčanin: “Let’s make work in tourism fabulous again”
Dušan Borovčanin, CEO of Serbia Convention Bureau, discussed what the meetings industry should do to attract young talents and why staying optimistic in times of uncertainty is crucial. Dušan said: “The industry needs to bring back the great image it had a few decades ago. Honestly, how did we manage to make people think working in the tourism, hospitality, aviation, and events industry is not a wonderful career?”
Kristina Mirosavljević: “Every business has to be mission-driven”
Kongres Magazine talked to Kristina Mirosavljević, CEO of Sava Center, Delta Holding, who shared her advice for newcomers in the meetings industry and expressed her opinion on the future of events. Kristina added: “I am inspired by the vast potential Sava Center has, not only in the meetings industry but also in supporting other businesses within Delta Holding.”
Tanja Bogdanov: “I am proud to have pioneered Serbia’s meetings industry”
Tanja Bogdanov, Managing Partner and Founder of Vekol DHC shared her advice for newcomers in the meetings industry and expressed her opinion on the future of events. Tanja said: “In highly developing and transforming countries such as Serbia, the meetings industry is the one missing link between leisure travel and trade investments.”
Danka Selić: “The trade fair industry has a real chance of surviving”
Danka Selić, CEO of Belgrade Fair, discussed the future of trade shows and the perils of new technology. Commenting on the state of trade shows: “It seems to me that uncertainty and unpredictability are both the biggest enemies and challenges that await the classic fair industry and in the same context, the convention industry in the foreseeable future.”
DESTINATION FINAL GRADE
|BELGRADE INDIVIDUAL GRADES 2022|
|Natural and cultural factors||4.73|
|General and transport infrastructure||4.72|
|ICCA index - worldwide ranking||4.28|
|Numbeo Quality of life Index||2.41|
|Numbeo Safety Index||3.96|
|ACI Airport Connectivity Index||3.67|
|Nomad List Overall Score||4.51|