Literature plays an important part in the day to day life of the Serbs, but quality bookshops are surprisingly light on the ground in Belgrade. There are a number of exceptions to that rule of course, and you’ll have no problem finding great books (in Serbian and English) during your visit to the capital.
The ultra-convenient location on Kralja Petra may be long gone, but The English Book continues to plough its self-explanatory furrow in Staro Sajmište just over Branko’s Bridge. The country’s premier English language bookshop stocks plenty of great literature by gifted writers from all over the world, along with the best selection of translated local literature. If the book you’re looking for isn’t available in store, they will gladly try to order it in if you happen to be sticking around.
A longtime favourite of ours, Apropo eschews the coffee and cigarette addiction of the nation in favour of focusing on tea and a no-smoking environment. The clean atmosphere is for the bookstore side of things, and boy does it make a difference. The selection isn’t huge but there is plenty to enjoy, and there aren’t many better things to do than pull up a chair with a good book and fine cup of tea.
Speaking of good combinations, how about a good book, a colourful interior and a fine glass of cold craft beer? It doesn’t get any better than that, and that is exactly what is on offer at Knjigodrom Topolska 18. It isn’t difficult to find, having the address in the name an all that, and it elegantly meshes the character of a quirky cafe with the tranquility of a fine bookstore. One of the city’s best, without doubt.
The name might be a little idealistic, but Utopia may well prove to be just that for any lover of literature in Belgrade. A short walk from the Church of Saint Sava, Utopia has a fantastically varied selection of books available, covering everything from the classics to obscure tales of fantasy and more. It is a little awkward to discover (you need to search around a mini-mall near the nightmarish Slavija Square), but you’ll be glad you did.
When it comes to bookshops, even the big name chains are worth popping into in order to check out the selection. Delfi is one of the biggest bookshops in the region, and as such you can rest assured that you’ll likely be able to find what you are looking for here. The store next to the SKC has a nice little cafe inside, handily placed in the travel section.
If there is a capital city in Europe without a bookshop named after the great Plato, we are yet to visit it. Belgrade is no different, and the Plato bookshop in the Serbian capital lies on its most fashionable street. Head to Knez Mihailova for a decent selection of literature in a variety of languages, and you too can reach the academic heights of the great philosopher. Maybe.
Don’t be put off by its somewhat terrifying name (it means ‘volcano’, if you aren’t too knowledgeable when it comes to Serbian), Vulkan is another big-name bookstore option in the Serbian capital. Vulkan stores are usually found in the shopping centres that continue to clog up Belgrade, and will almost always be filled with friendly staff and a huge selection of works in the major European languages.
Along with having probably the best name for a bookstore in the entire country, Zepter Book World backs up its fabulous moniker with a vast array of literature and non-fiction for the entire spectrum of readers. The original store opened in 1997 in the Zepter Palace, and the literature wing of the Zepter Empire has since grown to include its very own publisher.