Lonely Planet Writer

New generation breathes life into Belgrade's farmers' markets

Belgrade’s farmers’ markets – “pijace” – have been a crucial part of the city’s daily life throughout its history. Much more than just a source of the freshest local foods, they have been the city’s social focal points where neighbourhood gossip was disseminated and deals made.

Two women choosing raspberries at a Belgrade market.
Belgrade’s markets are being revived. Image by vgajic/Getty Images

In the past decades, supermarkets and malls have been steadily eroding their popularity, but these colourful hubs of activity around the city are now working hard to adapt to the modern times and attract new generations of Belgraders.

Crowds of people at a night market.
Belgrade Night Market. Image by Srdjan Garcevic

Leading the way is the Belgrade Night Market, a roughly monthly event where traditional merchants and new artisans display their wares in the evenings at one of Belgrade’s markets. These events are usually packed and are great occasions to listen to some good music while washing down the traditional snack of “čvarci” (fried pork rinds) with latest local craft beer.

A market in an industrial building.
Beogradski Market Image by Srdjan Garcevic

Rapidly gentrifying lower Dorćol neighbourhood is now home to Beogradski Market, which is attempting to recapture the traditional market atmosphere. Located inside a former brutalist industrial building, it features a number of food stalls and hosts various events promoting local produce, from rakija (local brandy) to handicrafts.

The outside of Palilula market.
Palilula market is set to reopen as a the city’s most modern in September 2019. Image by Srdjan Garcevic

The central Palilula market, set to reopen in Autumn 2019, will be transformed along the lines of Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel and Barcelona’s La Boqueria, with many small restaurants showcasing Serbia’s best foods.

Furthermore, guided tours, like Taste Belgrade or Belgrade Food and Culture Tour, are including Belgrade’s farmers’ markets as stops to help the city’s visitors to taste this slice of local life.

Of course, you can still have the unadulterated, traditional experience of Belgrade’s most popular markets – Bajloni, Kalenić, Zeleni Venac and Zemun – on your own, every day except Monday. The markets are open from early mornings until around 4pm (when most merchants pack up) and remain prime spots to sample seasonal local produce (often for free), get a cheap meal or haggle for a nice trinket to bring back home.

Words: Srdjan Garcevic