After plenty of travelling abroad

Lonely Planet Local Nevena Paunovic was born and raised in Belgrade’s green, hilly neighbourhood of Banovo Brdo. After plenty of travelling abroad, today she chooses to live here because for her, Belgrade still holds that charming balance between a metropolis and a provincial town. You’ll find her cycling along the city’s rivers, attending fantastic music gigs or enjoying Belgrade’s coolest vegetarian restaurants.

When I have friends in town… first I make sure they are properly fed, as every well-bred Serbian should do. I take all my friends to Radost Fina Kuhinjica, my favourite vegetarian restaurant with a beautiful garden. You don’t always need to eat pljeskavica or ćevapčići (ie meat and more meat) in Belgrade! We order Radost’s signature mezze platter and then dive into some of the innovative tasting mains. As the restaurant is located beneath the Kalemegdan Citadel, we follow up the dinner with a walk around the fortress or along the Sava river beneath its ramparts.

When I’m up for a big night out… the evening usually starts with a gig. I’m really into music, and many of the concerts I attend take place at Dom Omladine, where I’ve enjoyed some fantastic acts such as Cat Power, Wovenhand, Mark Lanegan, The Residents, Lisa Hannigan, Supersilent etc. The after-party continues either at one of the cool bars in Cetinjska 15, like Dvorištance, or at Chilton in Vračar neighbourhood (go with a local as it will be hard to find on your own!), or at 20/44 club on a river barge where we dance and drink until the stars fade out.

My favourite place in Belgrade is… the park on Banovo Brdo hill where I live. I can never get enough of it. In the summer it buzzes from early morning when mums with babies go out while the air is still fresh, until 2am when the last teenagers show mercy to the neighbours and stop howling at the moon. In the winter I enjoy counting squirrels running over leafless trees, and all year long I get my veggies from the green market at the bottom of the park.

My week can’t pass without… yoga, many times a week, either practising or teaching dynamic yoga styles. In the Ashtanga yoga studio where I practise, we often have foreign guests because yoga is a universal language, so don’t be shy to drop by when you’re in town!

A typical weekend involves… coffee! Not only weekends, but every day gets normal only after I sit down for a coffee, often at Ski Staza near my house. Belgrade is jam-packed with cafes, from tiny local ones to the fancy bistros. The coffee ritual is a life necessity over here – you don’t do any business or expect to get a boyfriend or a girlfriend without engaging in long coffee-sipping sessions. My favourite coffee place for the past 15 years has been Greenet in Nušićeva Street with their signature mocha coffee.

For cheap eats… a bit untypical for a Serbian, I try to keep myself on the healthy side of Belgrade’s food offerings. I often go to FitBar for its salads, grilled veggies and quinoa burgers. When I want to combine work and lunch, Tri Restaurant is a great choice as you can sit with your laptop and munch an amazing salad on the side.