There’s nothing like browsing through local markets in a foreign country, it’s quite possible the most genuine glance inside a culture’s candid exchange between people and food.
In Serbia’s ancient days, goods were sold from carriages that were also used for transportation. Once vendors began to build their own wooden stalls, they were not only utilized for selling goods but also for sleeping.
In Belgrade, much of its market culture was fostered by wealthy entrepreneurs who owned lands and wanted to serve their neighborhoods with convenience and nourishment. Prior to their alliance with the city, goods like watermelons and grapes were shipped by boats from Stari Slankamen – a village in Serbia. Germans sold butter, mileram (sour cream) and cottage cheese to the Serbs.
The markets we experience today, has become a democratic space where exchanges between locals are casteless and classless. Each market is known for a certain category, Kalenic Pijaca, for instance, has risen to be an iconic tourist landmark known for natural honey. Zemun is another fine example, renowned for seafood due to its location by the quay. For the best meats, baked goods, flowers or even souvenirs, check out the list below for the loveliest markets in Belgrade.
Farmer’s market “Zeleni venac”
Close to Terazije Square
Named after a tavern owner who put a wreath in front of her shop, Zeleni Venac Pijaca (meaning: green leaf) is the oldest green market still operating today. Although the actual tavern is now a McDonald’s, the market recently celebrated its 170th anniversary. In 1918, the first group of Serbian grocers gathered here, followed by the opening of the market two years later. At the time, due to its modernity, the neighborhood referred to it as: the Queen of Markets, since goods and produce were brought in by carriages while elite salesmen used their own trucks. Today, you can shop for fresh produce, local ingredients and even souvenirs at Zeleni Venac.
Kalenić Green Market
Maksima Gorkog &, Njegoševa, Beograd 11000, Serbia
In 1926, thriving merchant Vlajko Kalenic yearned for practical purpose of his inheritance from his father whose prosperity grew from manufacturing slippers. The family’s land in the small but central neighborhood of Vračar became home to present-day Kalenic market. Eventually, it evolved into the largest market in Belgrade as the number of stalls increased within the first years of the market administration being formed. To this day, Kalenic market continues to be a gathering point for the young, old, wealthy, uneducated, city and country folks. Much of it derives from the familial atmosphere rooted in the history of Vlajko Kalenic who donated all of his property to charity after his death when “Vlajko Kalenic, Shoemaker and Economist from Belgrade Fund” was established to financially support impoverished students, humanitarian and cultural institutions.
Džordža Vašingtona 55, Beograd 11000, Serbia
Despite that its official name is Skadarska, Serbians refer to this market as Bajloni – the name of a successful businessman who catapulted Belgrade’s image on the world’s stage during mid-19th century. You can find Bajloni Market between Skadarska Street, Dzordza Vasingtona Street and Drinciceva Street. Originally a swamp, the market has now shifted to a go-to market for locals and travelers in the Skardalija neighborhood.
11000, Dobračina 59, Beograd, Serbia
Situated in lower Dorćol, this 1,600 square meter cultural hub was formerly owned by a Socialist company. Today’s Dorćol Platz is an urban space for events, exhibitions, concerts and workshops. On weekends, it becomes an artistic destination for festivals, poetry nights, artisanal galleries, performances by local bands…etc. For travelers, it’s a relaxing spot for a pint of beer at the café or in the garden after checking out graffiti art covering the industrial building.
Zemun market (Пијаца Земун)
Masarikov trg 17, Beograd, Serbia
During the 17th century, peasants delivered produce and goods to the homes of Zemun neighborhood’s upperclass residents who didn’t frequent markets. In 2016, Zemun Market was refurbished with a fountain, modern sewage, hydrant and electrical works. Today, it’s home to 379 fixed, 125 mobile stalls and 47 external vendors with refrigerated goods. The fish market alone encompasses 19 stalls selling fresh catches of the day since it’s located right on the Zemun Quay, making it the ideal seafood provider for all of Belgrade with daily river fish.
Block 44 / Pijaca Blok 44
In Novi Belgrade area, Block 44 is where locals go for grocery shopping. Since its renovation in 2011, the market has been welcoming guests with a pylon overhang over the plateau, air conditioning with a spray system that also keeps the produce fresh and chilled. Here, you can find dried herbs, tea blends, seasonal fruits and vegetables…and much more. Block 44 also specializes in natural goods since it’s the first market in Serbia exclusively selling certified organic products.
Djeram Market / Ђерам пијаца
Pećska, Beograd, Serbia
If you’d like to check out the oldest market in Belgrade, head over to Djeram. Not only is it the most ancient, it’s also one of the best. Prior to World War II, goods were sold directly from carriages that were also used for transportation. When you visit Djeram today, the cobblestone streets remain to ooze of nostalgia from the past. Although it’s technically a mid-size market, it continues to serve locals in the Crveni krst, Djeram and Bulbulder neighborhoods.