The Best Bars in Serbia

A lot happens in 10 years. On our first visit to Serbia in 2013 a nascent craft beer scene had barely taken off, with anything outside the usual gross macro lager available only in clutches - you also had to be in the know back then, which we certainly weren't. Spin on to 2023 and Belgrade is studded with brewery taprooms, craft beer bars, but more importantly, good beer is available in most pubs regardless of if they specialise or not. This is as much the case in the other major cities too. Belgrade's alternative scene has also developed, but possibly not to the better, with many of its bars co-opted into the mainstream, although there are still some interesting genuinely alternative cultural centres. Working class culture remains resolute with the Pivnicas and Bifes still smokey, unpretentious but open ended and welcoming in their gruff way. Yes, smoke. That's something you'll be getting used to on every single night out and nearly every bar. Although prices have risen sharply in recent years, relative to virtually anywhere Serbian craft beer is among the cheapest in Europe, and pretty good quality too. Overall, while you may struggle for absolute standouts and iconic venues there is a diverse selection varying from the most product focused to the 'experience'.
Name Location Our Rating
Chillton Belgrade 8.3
World Travellers Club Belgrade 8.2
Kvaka 22 Belgrade 8.1
KC Grad Belgrade 8
Monk's Bar Belgrade 8
The Black Turtle Belgrade 7.9
Pivski Zabavnik Belgrade 7.9
Alo Alo Belgrade 7.8
Bluz i pivo Belgrade 7.8
Samo Pivo Belgrade 7.6
Riddle Bar Belgrade 7.6
Strogi Centar Belgrade 7.6
Kafe Šupa Belgrade 7.6
Verona Belgrade 7.5
Tramvaj Niš 7.7
Komitet Pivara Taproom Niš 7.5
Graffiti Novi Sad 8.6
Crni Ovan Novi Sad 8.3
Foxtrot Novi Sad 8.1
Škripa Pub Novi Sad 7.9
Rock Kafe Dramil Novi Sad 7.6
Bife Joca Novi Sad 7.5

Belgrade // pop. 1,374,000

A large historic city that is the modern antithesis of the rural Slavic peasantry that typified old world Serbia. Grey, hulking, often unsympathetically harsh and brutal, there is a snub-nosed remorselessness to the place, a lack of the usual light and shade even in other reasonably stark Eastern European cities. Whatever is happening around it, there is a vibrant social scene that spans the generations and bar operations from the most family-run dyed in the wool Pivnicas to efforts apeing cutting edge craft beer, cocktail and lounge bars. Getting around can be a challenge with the ticket system not entirely tourist friendly and timings also a coin toss, but try to visit Donji Grad and the Kalmegdan Fortress area for some much needed greenery and architectural variety. It remains one of the best value cities in Europe for food and drink, with the step up from basic lager to craft beer easily affordable for Western wallets. Many of the old alternative bars have become more mainstream but with our help you'll find the new replacements. A tough nut to crack, but there's no doubt this is a lively capital city with plenty to see and do.

Niš // pop. 185,987

The biggest city in the south of Serbia (depending on your opinions about Kosovo), known for its fortress and Turkish heritage, but these days a provincial Serbian city. The town planning is a predictably ugly mess of garish civic amenities, brash capitalist signage and malls among fading grey buildings. It isn't all bad, as the fortress and river are nice, there are some leafy boulevards and a small old town. It is also a lot more chilled out than the capital. In terms of bars there is the oddity of Tramvaj, a theme pub that's a labour of love, almost a museum, and a local craft beer taproom that is so many leagues ahead of anything in the area it is a must try. Otherwise you'll find some steady pivnicas and courtyard bars that will just about keep the show on the road for 1 night out here.

Novi Sad // pop. 289.128

The flipside of Belgrade, although it definitely won't feel like it as you depart the rail/bus terminal to be greeted with a row of towerblocks as far as the eye can see. While not apparent, in the space of 20 minutes that recedes to reveal a classical Austro-Hungarian old town of classical buildings and some of that Vojvodina secessionist architecture that can be found everywhere along that ridge from Kaposvár in Hungary to Oradea in Western Romania, giving a particular character. The atmosphere is far more relaxed with wide squares, café terraces and riverside views. Speaking of which, don't forget to visit the pocket-sized old town and fortress of Petrovaradin over the river from Novi Sad. When joined together, it really makes the city repeatable. As far as nightlife goes, you'll find the best bar in Serbia - Graffiti, and a close second, Crni Ovan, along with the distinctive Foxtrot. All 3 in their own very different ways are truly distinctive and among the best venues in the whole Balkans. So that's a pretty good start. Aside of that, you'll find a more mainstream party street Laze Telečkog which is noisy and vibrant at night. Craft beer bars are dotted all over, so for those of you that prefer product over actually going somewhere with a nice social atmosphere, you will never be more than 15-20 minutes away from a taproom, most of which offer better beer for incredibly good value.