Zemun is a law unto itself, a town within a town, a separate world within Belgrade that has a different history and a different way of doing things. The commitment to a good night out remains the same, and these are the municipality’s best spots.
The cluttered interior of the Red Crab | @ Crveni Rak Pab/Facebook
The Red Crab is dark, crowded and noisy – three adjectives that could be taken as negatives were they describing anything other than a pub. An old staple of Zemun, there are only seven or eight tables here but it is worth it if you manage to snag one. Don’t expect any frills, but the atmosphere more than makes up for any lacking luxuries.
The phrase ‘it does exactly what it says on the tin’ has never been more apt. Serbia is famous for rakija, so where better to sample the strong schnapps than Rakia Bar? The famous brand has made it out to Zemun, so anyone looking to experience the different flavours knows exactly where to go. Just be careful not to drink too much, as the fresh air will undoubtedly do a number on you.
As much a place to nip in for a coffee during the day as it is a spot to drink the night away, Savana is one of the most popular boat bars in Zemun. Make no mistake about it too, this is a ‘bar’ and not a ‘club’, meaning a relaxed atmosphere and no fear of being ripped off for a bottle of Euro-lager. There aren’t many more enjoyable experiences in Serbia than sitting on the deck with a drink in your hand, enjoying the last rays of the evening sun as the Danube stretches out in front of you.
The Back Cat is a Zemun icon when it comes to pubs, an old authentic joint that gives the impression that it could endure a nuclear winter and still pump out tapped beer in the aftermath. There is plenty of live music on the schedule, and most Sunday evenings will see live bands plying their trade in this most Bohemian of Zemun outlets.
The view from the Fat Cat in Zemun | @ FatCatPub/Facebook
Black Cat, Red Crab, Fat Cat – it seems as though all of the pubs in Zemun are named after animals. The last of that trio may well find itself in the best location, with a prime spot near Gardoš overlooking Zemun and the Danube. The pub itself is a small shack-style place on the hill, but the terrace makes this one of the finest drinking holes in the area.
Simplicity personified at Tranzit | @ Tranzit/Facebook
Another fine pub in Zemun, Tranzit isn’t going to blow you away with any innovative strategies but it will get the basics very, very right. What more does a pub visitor want? Good service, better beer and an engaging atmosphere, everything that is enjoyable about bars in the Balkans can be distilled down to a night at Tranzit.
Another busy night at Gustav Pub | @ Gustav Pub/Facebook
Established in 2013, Gustav Pub ticks all of the boxes one wants a pub to tick. The service is good, the drinks are fresh, the atmosphere is convivial to say the least, and the location rounds out the entire whole offer. Situated in the heart of Zemun, you can’t really go wrong with Gustav Pub.
An enraptured crowd of sports watchers at Jarbol | @ Jarbol Caffe Bar / Facebook
Situated a little walk from the centre of Zemun, Jarbol is located in a residential street and thus offers something a little bit different to the rest of the district’s pubs and clubs. You are more likely to catch locals here for a start, nipping in for a beer after work or settling in to a long night of imbibing ahead of a day off. This is also the best place to come in the summer to watch sport on television, although the terrace does get packed very quickly.
Zemun is an alternative to Belgrade, and the district’s live music mecca is another alternative within that alternative. Klub Fest is an old-school punk rock club with sweat on the walls and broken dreams on the ceiling, home to as many disillusioned young punks as it is to ever-enthusiastic old rockers. It is an absolute blast whatever the event, and a guaranteed night of fun in funny old Zemun.