Saturday, June 27, 2009

Belgrade "Nikola Tesla" Airport - Surprisingly small

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Belgrade "Nikola Tesla" Airport is located some 20 km from Belgrade. Since Belgrade is a city of two million inhabitants, you would expect a much larger airport, but even this one seems to be big enough. It has only one runway, so delays of all sorts are not unexpected, but surprisingly rare. It is consisted of two buildings which are simply called Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. There is not much to see in Terminal 1, as the building is old and not so well preserved, but the good news is that you probably won't have to use it at all - since Terminal 2 was built few years ago, all passenger traffic was moved to the new terminal. The only thing you can look in terminal two is one kiosk which is very hard to find, because it's almost hidden, but worth a try (IF you have time to spend) considering the fact that prices are normal - unlike in all other shops in the airport. So, if you need something, it is better not to buy it in the airport, or else you'll have to pay even double or triple price (except for cigarettes and magazines).

Arrivals are in the underground floor of Terminal 2 and that gives a very ugly first impression. Glass doors and walls are white, so you cannot see if someone's waiting for you until you pass Custom and Passport check points and step outside in the "lobby". The "lobby", or should I rather call it "waiting room" is something like a narrow corridor, with little space, so it creates a problem if you want to meet someone. You can go outside using the exit doors on the ground floor, but if you want to grab a taxi, it is better to use the stairs and go to the ground floor of the terminal. The ground floor and first floor are much better looking, spacious with lot of natural light during day. It is quite clean. There are modern check in desks, cafes and shops (but don't say I didn't warn you about prices), banks and exchange offices. Smoking is still allowed within cafes. During seasons' holidays terminal is nicely decorated so it has the holiday atmosphere. Exchange offices on the ground floor (I haven't checked those in underground floor) are OK, there is no significant difference in exchange rate from ones in the city, so you can freely exchange your money here. Duty free shop has some special offers, and they're OK, but all other prices are similar (sometimes even higher) as prices in the city.

Departures are on the 1st floor, where you also have bank, post offices and cafes. The waiting area is spacious enough, but there is not enough seats, which forces you to sit in cafe. If your flight is delayed, I would recommend you not go inside as the prices in cafes behind Passport Control check point are even higher.

If you need special bags for carrying liquids, you can find them all over the airport, or you can as personnel at the check-point desk to provide it to you. Unfortunately, that is not the case with pushcarts at the departure.


If you don't have prearranged transfer (the option which I recommend warmly) you'll have to exchange your money at the airport, as the only acceptable currency is Dinar.

Transportation from the airport is questionable, since you don't have much choice. There are taxis, which should be around 10-15 Euros for ride and some additional money for your luggage (per piece) that is where problems can occur, so be sure that taxi driver tells you price for the luggage BEFORE you enter the vehicle. Not to mention that the taximeter should be turned on - do not except any bargains.

The other possibility is the bus of the JAT Airways, but it's timetable is depending on its carrier's flight schedule, so check if there is some flight near your time of arrival. The bus goes through New Belgrade to Slavija Square (pronounced as "Slaviya"), which is in wider territory of city center. The ticket is about 2 Euros and some additional Euros for each piece of luggage.

The third possibility is the worst one, and that is public transportation. You can buy the bus ticket in newsstands at the airport, or you can buy it in the bus (it costs less than 1 Euro, no additional charges for the luggage, as far as I know). The bus goes every 30 minutes, but during afternoon rush-hour (between 3 and 5 P.M.) it might be late up to 1 1/2 hours. It goes in the very center of the city, but has a strange route, which is 3 times longer than normal, so it takes at least 45 minutes to reach the center (during rush hour it takes a lot more than 1 hour).

I took all photos during winter Holiday season 2008 (with mobile phone).


Milo said...

The trick with taxis is to not take the taxi sharks downstairs when you walk outside of the terminal, do not even walk outside, take the escalator upstairs to the departures area, and get a taxi outside of it, these are the ones that people take to get TO the airport, and they are all normal and will use the taximeter without even asking. There is no haggling and they wont even charge for luggage, although I do recommend a tip for the luggage.

merkat said...

Milo is absolutely right! So if you still take the taxi downstairs (you can see them in be VERY CAREFUL.

peter said...

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Hank Freid to manage your travel

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