Located on the confluence of the rivers Danube and Sava, Belgrade’s identity is shaped by these two beautiful waterways. Always at the centre of life in Belgrade, the majestic rivers provide the very personality of the Serbian capital. Historically, they provided protection and trade routes for the city, but today they are at the centre of Belgrade’s blossoming food scene.
From street food stalls to haute cuisine restaurants, Belgrade is enjoying a culinary renaissance, attracting visitors from around the world keen to sample the dining experiences of the city. And at the very heart of this exciting foodie scene are the Belgrade Splavovi – floating rafts housing restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs.
Offering authentic local fare with unbeatable views across the waters, the Splavovi collection lets you sample a true taste of Serbian culture atop the Danube and the Sava. Many of the restaurants on the rivers are lovingly referred to as Splavs, each offering their own take on traditional Serbian cuisine and more international flavours.
Serbian cuisine draws from a huge back-catalogue of influences, from across Europe and the Middle East. Sharing similarities with other Balkan nations, the country’s favourite dishes tend to have roots in peasantry, using modest ingredients to create delightful flavours. Spiced meats, stewed vegetables and thick hearty soups make up many of the national dishes enjoyed in Belgrade.
But this is not a country stuck in the past. A new generation of exciting chefs have taken up the mantle and are using Belgrade as a hub to develop incredible dishes and dining experiences. With many based on or around the rivers, the chefs of the Splavovi can take you on an unforgettable culinary journey.
Our Splavovi Picks
Even if you’ve only been in Belgrade a matter of hours, you’ll have noticed the abundance of Splavovi set off the riverbank. To make sure you don’t accidentally end up in a nightclub when searching for the perfect Splav for your supper, we’ve picked our five favourite dining spots on the Danube and Sava.
Positioned where the Danube meets the Sava, Splav Viva feels like the very heart of Belgrade. The charming little yellow and red restaurant reached by a red gangway is ever popular with the locals. Open from morning to evening, Splav Viva serves authentic Belgrade breakfasts, lunches and dinners, as well as an array of international dishes. Perfect for groups with eclectic palates; choose from fresh fish, pizza, pasta, steaks, local delicacies and much more.
Splav Viva has also earned a reputation for its friendly waiting staff, always happy to share recommendations and advice with you.
Renowned for its wonderful fresh fish and delightful wine selection; Vodenica is a spectacular setting to watch the world go by on a pleasant Belgrade afternoon. Vodenica’s chefs have earned a reputation for cooking fresh fish the traditional Serbian way, over coal. Rather than covering the fish in sauce, Vodenica allows the natural tastes of the fresh-caught fish shine out as the star of the meal.
But be warned, the popularity of Vodenica is spreading – so be sure to arrive early or book to ensure you get a seat at one of the city’s best-loved fish restaurants.
Pretty flower arrangements line the short bridge to the Splav Forma, providing a delightful welcome to this beautiful river-top restaurant. Proudly serving classic Serbian dishes, Splav Forma is an idyllic setting to get a taste of authentic Belgrade life. Serving one of the city’s best Pljeskavica dishes (a hugely popular national dish based around a grilled, spiced meat patty); Splav Forma is popular with locals and visitors alike.
Freshly prepared corn bread, olives and cheeses are served whilst you wait for your mains to arrive, creating a lovely setting for a relaxed day in Belgrade.
Located on the Sava in an area of the city the locals refer to as New Belgrade, Stari Pingvin has gained such a reputation that the tables are still easily filled during the winter months. A menu consisting of local specialities, including a great vegetarian offering, complements the peaceful ambience of the setting. And you certainly won’t go hungry at the Stari Pingvin, the generous portion sizes of the delicious dishes will ensure you’re well fed, ready for more exploration of enchanting Belgrade.
Splav Kota 70
Great food and great cocktails, Splav Kota 70 is a celebration of modern Belgrade. Splav Kota 70 provides a spectacular setting all year; with floor-to-ceiling windows wrapping ¾ of the structure, you can dine anywhere indoors with the same spectacular views. The interior of the restaurant is primarily made of light wood, creating a wonderfully airy atmosphere on the Sava.
If dining at Splav Kota 70, we’d recommend the Argentinian skewers –grilled spicy chicken with feta, yoghurt and chilli sauce.
Whether you’re in Belgrade for breakfast, lunch or dinner, exceptional culinary experiences are never far away in the Serbian capital. And when sailing through the city on-board an unforgettable Emerald Cruises' cruise, the meals served in our Reflections Restaurants are prepared to echo the culinary heritage of the regions, countries and cities we are travelling through – giving you an authentic slice of local life.
Visit Belgrade as part of our Enchantment of Eastern Europe river cruise. For more information and bookings, call our friendly sales team on +44 161 236 2537.
Image credits: Wikimedia CC