Whether you’ve moved to Belgrade for a job or you’re just passing through on your Instagram-fueled travels, you might want to check out Dispatches Europe’s first city guide for English-speaking expats.
This Central European capital has a split personality. Divided in two by the Sava River, the city is a mix of historical authenticity and modern convenience.
One of 10 cities on Mercer’s Most-improved Quality of Living ranking, Belgrade has a great transportation grid, shopping that’s equal to any other medium-sized European city, and a thriving entertainment scene.
The official language, Serbian, is used throughout the city in restaurants and shops, in government offices, and on public transportation. Something that may take English-speaking expats some time to get used to is that many signs are printed using the Cyrillic alphabet.
You’ll soon find, though, that most residents, especially the younger generation, speak English fairly well and are willing to point you in the right direction. In addition, the staff at the Tourist Info Centres and most hotels are also multilingual.
From my post about Belgrade from August:
I’m a true digital nomad. I’m not quite a tourist, but neither am I a resident as I go in and out of the Schengen Area, traveling on an American passport. Which is how I spent two months in Serbia, from the end of March till the end of May.
The thing that struck me is, Belgrade is not a beautiful city; not a touristy city. But it’s waking up and breaking out of its Communist past on the way to becoming a destination for pretty people looking for something new. Its art-filled public spaces, well-maintained parks, and national cultural venues make Belgrade an up-and-coming tourist destination.
If you’re heading to Belgrade or already live there and need information in English, or you just want to hang out with people who speak your native language, check out these English language programs and services:
A member of the Fellowship of European Churches, Belgrade International Church has Serbian and English language worship groups in members’ homes.
ICF has Sunday services in English as well as ministry and service opportunities, prayer groups and Bible studies during the week.
Part of the Church of England, St. Mary’s holds weekly services, prayer meetings, and Bible studies in English.
The British International School Belgrade accepts students from preschool through high school. This is, of course, a British school and follows the International General Certificate of Education (IGCSE) in Year 10 and 11, the AS Level courses in Year 12 and the A Level courses in Year 13.
Exams are by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). BUT, BIS offers an American High School Diploma option as well through Nebraska-Lincoln University to students in Years 12 and 13. Students will graduate from the school at the end of Year 13, eligible to apply to U.S. universities.
PRIMA International School is an accredited Cambridge Assessment International Education Center that offers instruction for preschool, primary, and secondary students.
Neither school lists their fee schedule. However, fees are likely to be far less than in Berlin or Amsterdam and include school trips and other extracurricular activities. Getting your students into an international school can be a lengthy process and most have more applications than space.
A word to the wise: If you’re moving to Belgrade, contact your school of choice before you leave your home country.
The city’s emergency services have English-speaking operators available. Dial 92 for the police, 93 for the fire department, and 94 for an ambulance.
Most movie theaters show foreign films in their original languages and dubbed in Serbian. You can see a full list of cinemas and movie theaters on the Move to Serbia website here.
(Editor’s note: Serbia has a big domestic film industry that distributes to all the countries that speak Serbo-Croatian or other South Slavic languages. Foreign movies such as Ryan Gosling’s current hit, “First Man,” have titles in Serbian. So it’s “Prvi Čovek na Mescu.” You kind of have to look at the photos on the websites.)
Cineplexx is a cinema chain with multiple locations across Serbia. In Belgrade, there are Cineplexx theaters at Ušće Shopping Centre and Delta City. These are new, glossy and with the latest technology … and are usually pretty crowded.
• Tuckwood is more of a traditional cinema in the center of the city.
This is a theater for the kids. Based at the Children’s Cultural Centre in the heart of Belgrade BelTheatre runs theatre workshops in English for young people from 6 to 18 years old.
From the website:
Lead by native English speaking actor, director and professor Dr. Paul Murray and managed by Julija Nogic BelTheatre offers young people the chance to take part in two regular classes a week and perform in at least one production per school year. With an emphasis on fun, creativity and working together, BelTheatre offers each of its members the unique chance to play, learn and perform in English.
When you want to order takeout, you’ll find that neither Deliveroo nor Grubhub operate in Belgrade. The good news is that Donesi.com does. English language menus and instructions make the online ordering process simple.
You can find English-speaking Airbnb hosts by clicking on the “More filters” tab and scrolling to the bottom of the page.
You can find short-term and long-term housing sites with English language listings at Move to Belgrade, a website maintained by a group of independent Serbian organizations.
Long-term stays are typically at least six months to one year, but you can make arrangements for short-term apartments.
In addition to housing, Move to Belgrade also has information about what you’ll need to work in Serbia as well as about arts and culture and other info.
If you find that you need to consult with a lawyer while in Belgrade, you can locate law offices with English-speaking staff on this list maintained by the British Consulate in Belgrade. The list includes translators, as well.
The British Consulate in Belgrade maintains a current list of medical facilities with English-speaking staff. The U.S. Embassy in Serbia has a similar list of English-speaking doctors, dentists, and hospitals in Belgrade.
The city’s tourist information centers have multilingual staff members and English language guidebooks and pamphlets.
• Urban Adventures
Viator has an updated list of English-speaking tour guides.
Meetings are held in English throughout the week at several locations around the city.
We’d love to have your help in expanding our guide. If you know of English language programs and/or resources that we should consider adding, please comment below or send us a message on Facebook.
About the author: Beth Hoke rejoined the expat life after spending her childhood in Europe and the United States, then settling in Chicagoland to raise two daughters.
Now an empty nester, she is roaming Europe, armed with a TEFL certificate and an online position teaching English for EF.
Beth has been traveling around Europe for two years. She’s filed posts for Dispatches Europe from at least six countries including Italy, Germany, Croatia, and Madeira, Portugal.