Updated: 15/11/2011 17:50 | By David Whitley, contributor, MSN Travel
12 hot European destinations the crowds haven’t ruined yet

Belgrade



Belgrade (© Alamy)
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Belgrade has only recently sneaked its way on to the budget airline map - Wizz Air flies there directly from Luton airport. It'll never go down as one of the most beautiful cities in the world but, like other arguably ugly cities (such as Berlin), it more than compensates with a feverish nightlife. If you go for the buzz rather than the sights, Belgrade's riverboat clubs are just the ticket - although there are some more conventional highlights, such as the fortress in Kalemegdan park, to take in, too.

52Comments
10/11/2011 15:08
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I'm getting married at Lake Bled next week, can't wait to get there - just looks so amazing!
10/11/2011 08:59
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Have been here three times it's so beautiful, just want to go back in the winter.
10/11/2011 18:22
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I got married there 2 years ago in the castle overlooking the lake (on the right of the photo). Absolutely beautiful place. Would recommend anyone to visit it
10/11/2011 18:37
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Kelly White, you will love it.  Fairytale surroundings. Are you doing it through Primavera Bled? If so, they are brilliant, so friendly and helpful. They'll make your wedding day stress free. Have a fantastic day!Smile
11/11/2011 00:55
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Firstly I'd like to apologise for using this forum to address anti Republic Of Macedonia rhetoric. I would love to just look at Macedonia and its wonderful environment. It really is a fantastic country to visit, and needs recognition of its culture, history and society.
In response to Kyriakossss: The expression of self, of who you are, and what identity and name you wish to go by is not 'stupid and provocative propaganda', it is the basic human right of self determination. I am always confused about this Tito 'creation myth', as if he plucked an ethnicity, culture, and nation from post world war II Balkans. For example The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (a revolutionary national liberation movement whose aim was autonomy for the geographic Macedonian region) was founded in 1893, one year after Tito's birth. The 5 basic principles of this organisation were:
  1. The revolutionary organization should be established within Macedonia and should act there, so that the Greeks and Serbs couldn't label it as a tool of the Bulgarian government.
  2. Its founders should be locals and living in Macedonia.
  3. The political motto of the organization should be the autonomy of Macedonia.
  4. The organization should be secret and independent, without any links with the governments of the liberated neighbourly states, and
  5. From the Macedonian emigration in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian society, only moral and material help for the struggle of the Macedonian revolutionaries should be required
This expression of nationhood and identity quite clearly predates Tito's recognition of a Macedonian federal state. In fact the first Macedonian republic although short lived was proclaimed after the llinden-Preobrazhenie uprising in 1903. The history of The Republic Of Macedonia is varied, from numerous neolithic sites to the ruins of Roman and Ottoman settlements, many peoples and civilizations have contributed to The Republic Of Macedonia's history. Heraclea Lyncestis a ruined city just outside Bitola in the south of the republic was founded by Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great's father. The ancient Hellenic world whether you like it or not is a part of the modern republic's history as well as modern Greece. I am British, the Britons are made up many peoples and traditions, they are more than the history of such classical figures as King Arthur or Boudica. Macedonia and Macedonians are more than the history of Macedon and the ancient Hellenic world. The Republic Of Macedonia is a modern European democracy struggling against its southern neighbour to express is identity, sell its goods, advertise its culture. In regards to its borders, The Republic Of Macedonia as well as changing its flag in 1995 to appease Greek pressure, also changed elements of its own constitution to try and address Greek paranoia over supposed Macedonian territorial claims! I don't feel what I express is 'stupid and provocative propaganda', the main issue is the denial of a basic human right, the right of self determination. Don't take my word for it though, you should visit the country, speak to the people, and understand that they are what they are. They can not change. There is nothing they could do about it even if they wanted to. Rather than oppose any dialogue and deny a nations human rights, those Greeks who deny The Republic of Macedonia, should look to the shared history between the nations, both ancient and modern. Maybe then realize that the relationship between these peoples and culture is far more fascinating and perhaps not so dissimilar.
Again many apologies for using this forum to address these issues. Respect.
17/11/2011 00:58
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Mr Kyreakoss, it is a shame that yet again we have to see the insecurity of people shadow something that was meant to be about beauty, nature and love of life,travel and what's around us. Please could you focus your negativity around your own carpet. As provoking as you are, I don't feel that we have to start explaining history to you, you can only teach the ones that are willing to learn.. It's time to look to the future and building a better one rather then live in history and let it haunt you! Enough of trying to divert your "problem highlights" elsewhere, it does not work any more, time to solve your own "now", "today", "tomorrow".
Macedonia is beautiful country and all should go to see it. Bringing at least 10 British Citizens this summer and more the next :), promise not to spoil it, all appreciate culture, traditions, nature and what's left of it! x
10/11/2011 12:33
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I dont agree that Belgrade is an ugly city, far from it. It may have an eclectic mix of old and modern and there are still some signs of the NATO bombing campaign as a reminder. Its a city of real character.

The views from the Kalemegdan fortress are stunning over the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. 

It is a great place to visit on a short break. The cafe culture & nighlife are brilliant, people are extremely helpful and friendly. Its still reasonably cheap to eat out.

Would thoroughly recommend it. 

10/11/2011 19:40
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Got married here about 7 years ago it is an amazing place.
10/11/2011 10:22
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I just visited Lake Bled last month during a 3-week trip around Europe and it was stunning, especially by night. LjubLjana was my favourite city of all the ones that I visited; so relaxed, beautiful, people so friendly, and the day I spent travelling to both Lake Bled and the caves was especially great. Highly recommend Ljubljana ('j' pronounced 'y') for any traveller.
11/11/2011 11:06
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Hello Kyriakossss; I am not anti Hellenic. I am however very strongly against those who would deny an individual, a group, a community or indeed an entire nation one of its base human rights, whether they come from Greece, Britain or Timbuktu. I welcome any amount of economic and social support that The Hellenic Republic will receive during these difficult times. I do indeed come from a country that has a shameful history of colonization, slavery and forced servitude; does that mean I support these historical crimes? Obviously not. I certainly don't hold you or your nation as a whole responsible for the actions of the Greek security battalions during the second world war, or the forced removal of ethnic Macedonians from their homes during the post war period. I am also from a country that has shown great support for the Hellenic Republic, even (as I am always reminded by Macedonians) the RAFs use of napalm against ethnic Macedonians during the civil war. We should also not forget on this important day the more than 18000 British and Commonwealth servicemen whose final resting place is in Greece. This is an issue of human rights, of self determination not territorial claims. The right to express who you are, what you are, and how you feel. 'Macedonia' and 'Macedonians' have and always will mean many things to many people, as a world we should all except issues such as this and look for the similarities in our culture, history and art and rejoice not defame the differences. You should visit the Republic Of Macedonia, not only would you have a great time (Skopsko beer and Kebabs a must combination) I think you would be surprised at how friendly and not anti Hellenic Macedonia is as a nation, Respect.
10/11/2011 10:21
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Hi can vouch for Bled and Belgrade!  Fantastic places!

 

Belgrade is a bit like a cross between New York and Paris, I know that sounds wierd but its very cafe culture but in wide open boulavard roads with cable hung traffic lights.  Its open late and quite well lit at night so pretty vibrant.  Word of advice though if your a veggie be prepared to eat a fair bit of rubbishy salad as meat is a staple of many of these sorts of country! lol

 

Bled is awesome in the summer, its full of adventure sports activities and lots of paths for cycling and walking.  Its also great for swimming or boating...or if you can't call your skills good enough to be considered boating (like ours weren't) then you can just mess about on the water with some oars ;-)  The island is worth a visit and you can row there yourself or take a giant gondola ride and just lie back and trail your hands in the green blue waters.  I have seen pics in the winter and as I ski I am considering going back to see it in the flesh with snow and use the ski slopes nearby.

 

Montenegro is nice too, some decent coast and lovely inlets where the old towns and citadels are just great for relaxing with coffee or beer.  We stayed in Kotor old town on one of these inlets and the boats that come in are BIG!  Lovely views especially with the old fortress all lit up at night.  A nice quiet out of the way spot to just relax, potter about and take in the views for a couple of days and then head off to somewhere brighter and more vibrant

 

I would also say there are some great places in some of the other countries too.  My father lives in Skopje and loves it and Croatia although touristy has some serious coast for yaghting, especially the out of the way island based hidden cove restraunts!  Even Kosovo has some lovely hiking in the mountains, although Pristina the capital is not great.

10/11/2011 18:18
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slovenia is such a pretty country! i went there last year with my guides and we stayed about 2 minutes from lake bled and we saw it every day! there is an amazing water park in the lake, where your allowed to swim! it was the best holiday i've ever been on! on the last day, we went to ljubljana  and it was the middle of a carnival. it was absoloutly enchanting and it left me wonderstruck. i purely recommened it to every one.
10/11/2011 13:27
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We went to Slovenia this year and visited Lake Bled which is beautiful, also went to Lake Bohinji which is not as well known but just as stunning.  We loved the country and the people

are great, friendly and helpful. Would recommend visiting .  Also not to be missed are the Postojna caves, truly amazing.

10/11/2011 16:47
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Kwasi - the article is about unsung places in Europe not yet spoiled by the crowds.  It's not a political comment on the beliefs of the country.  Information is being provided for us to make a choice about whether we may wish to go there and open our eyes to the places not commonly known or on the beaten holiday track.  Surely that's what a holiday article is about?  There are lots of lovely places in the world where I may not agree with its culture or values,  but it's my personal choice therefore to decide whether or not  I spend my holiday pound there.

 

 

10/11/2011 10:57
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My Girlfriend is Polish and took me to Wroclaw last spring, it is a beautiful city a must if anybody has the chance to go. Also my ex was Czech and from a place called Liberec which was again a beautiful city, (and not yet polluted by any of us Brits, lol), and also great for Skiing in the winter.
10/11/2011 21:04
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Lake Bled is as magical as it looks. We walked right the way around, which is easy. This is one of the best views and is gobsmackingly awesome! This just goes to show how many fabulous places there are to visit!
10/11/2011 16:05
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My nephew got married there 2 years ago ...It was an amazing fairy tale wedding,something we shall never forget..we got to the church in the middle of  Lake Bled in a gondala...It really  was an unforgetable experience......So have a lovely wedding Kelly...a beautiful place to get married
10/11/2011 16:02
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Macedonia is an amazing place to visit. The people, the food. the culture, the history are all unique. From one of the oldest observatories in the world Kokino in the north, to the beach front clubs of Ohrid there is something for everyone. You can get flights from Luton from as low as £30!
 'The Republic Of Macedonia' to give the country its constitutional name, is currently called 'The Former Yugoslavian Republic Of Macedonia' by the UN, and is refused entry to NATO and ironically the EU by Greece. This offensive term is forced upon it by its southern neighbour, who would like to monopolize the term and identity 'Macedonia' for itself. Rather than except that a country and people have the basic human right of self determination, and that a history and culture is not just based upon a despot and self proclaimed god from 2000 years ago, the powers that be in The Hellenic Republic choose to ignore the fluid, complicated history, culture and ethnicity that is Macedonia. For example, you very rarely hear them speak of the Macedonian uprisings of the late 19th Century, the partition of Macedonia in 1913, or the ethnic cleansing of Macedonians from Greece during the 1940s. Maybe one shouldn't be surprised by this view from a society that claims ethnic homogeneity.
 Anyway, I can't recommend a visit more! I have been many times and am always amazed at the new and exciting experiences and places I've encountered. Hospitality is second to none, the food and drink are fantastic, the prices are cheap. Oh, and make sure you try the Rakia!

10/11/2011 20:27
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Stayed at Lake Bled 15 years ago, The castle is a restaurant, had lunch there a couple of time, sat outside admiring the view. Getting to the top is a bit strenuous, it's a zig zag walk to get to the top. Too old to walk up there now, there is horses and carts that will take you up, sort of a horse taxi. A nice walk round the lake though, it is flat, no hills to climb, and plenty of places to get a coffee or a beer and have a rest. Gondola boat rides to the island, they say if you ring the church bell on the island, you will go back, or something like that. I never rang the bell, needlessly to say i have never been back. Slovenia and Lake Bled is worth a visit, it is surrounded by mountains.
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