Get on Track: Belgrade’s Best Runs

In line with global trends, health-conscious Belgraders are increasingly turning to running to burn off the festive-pouches before louning at Ada and ‘splavs’ in the summers.

More and more Belgraders are joining running teams, such as Belgrade Urban Running Team and Belgrade Running Club, and the number of races in the city is growing on top of Belgrade’s traditional April marathon.

Last year’s most notable addition will be the BEG5KRunway, a five-kilometre midnight sprint on the airport runway, and the second iteration of Belgrade Autumn Half-Marathon in September was also a welcome addition.

To help you get on track and in shape, here are five of my favourite running paths in the city.

Tasmajdan [500 metres, tartan track]

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Probably the most convenient option for those living in the city centre is the 500-metre tartan track in Tasmajdan Park, with lovely views of St Mark’s Church. The good news is that the track is in good condition, goes through a shaded part of the park and has a decent slope. Those who want to stretch or do pull-ups can make use of the outdoor gym next to it, which also offers great views over the Tasmajdan Stadium.

The bad news is that it tends to get crowded in the summer afternoons. You should also watch out for inconsiderate parents who allow their children to play on the track – so best consider it in the evenings, or the early morning.

Ada Ciganlija [7.7 kilometres, paved]

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This circular track around Belgrade’s favourite artificial lake is a good choice for hot summer days, as you can take a dip in the lake to cool off after your run. While the main track allows you to cover a decent distance without feeling like you’re trapped on a hamster wheel, those who like to explore further can use many paths from the main circuit.

The only downside is that the track can be unbearably busy at weekends when the weather is nice. You should also prepare to dodge waiters from the cafés,  lining the lake’s shore. The track is mostly flat, which is great for beginners, but limiting for those wanting uphill runs.

Branko’s Bridge to Hotel Jugoslavija [3.5 kilometres, paved and tartan]

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Although the promenade on the New Belgrade banks of the Sava and the Danube stretches for around 7.5 kilometres from below the Gazela Bridge to beneath Gardos Hill in Zemun, the best part for running is between the foot of the bridge to Hotel Jugoslavija, as it offers shade and is relatively uncrowded.

The track follows the Sava to its confluence with the Danube and then the Danube fork, which hugs the Great War Island from the west. Needless to say, the views of Kalemegdan are stunning.

Equally amazing option, of approximately the same length, is the newly constructed circular running tartan track, covered in which starts by the Contemporary Art Museum and goes through the park all the way to Jugoslavija.

Lower Dorcol to Branko’s Bridge [3 kilometres, paved]

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Probably the most scenic run in Belgrade takes you from the small marina on the Danube next to Dubrovacka Street and follows the riverbanks all the way to Branko’s Bridge. During the run, you not only get to marvel at the snow-white walls of the fortress but also have wonderful views of Zemun as you run from the marina in Dorcol to the brutalist tower that houses the up-market SkyWellness gym.

Those wishing to run longer distances can continue down the Sava all the way to Ada Ciganlija for another four kilometres. Note that this route takes you through the dusty construction site of the Belgrade Waterfront complex – so you might want to avoid it when the weather is wet.

The only major downside of this gorgeous path is that it gets very busy just before Branko’s Bridge due to the proximity of the up-market restaurants and cafés in Beton Hala, so the best time to enjoy it is on weekday mornings.

Kosutnjak [1.2 kilometres, tartan track]

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A former hunting ground of the elite, Kosutnjak forest-park is pure heaven for runners in Belgrade. Some six kilometres away from the city centre,  Kosutnjak allows you to both enjoy fresh air, an increasingly rare feature in the city especially in winter, and has great exercise amenities in the main part of the park. There is a 1.2-kilometre tartan track and several outdoor gyms, all of which serve the nearby School of Physical Education and Sports of the University of Belgrade.

This may seem short for those seeking challenging longer runs, but worry not.  There are many paths and roads that radiate from this main track which offer creative uphill and downhill tracks for you to get lost on.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Belgrade Insight.

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