Ada Ciganlija, or just Ada (as people in Belgrade call it), is a river island in the Sava River’s course. But, when people say ‘Ada’, they usually refer to artificial Sava Lake and its beach. So, Ada is an oasis in the downtown of Belgrade, a sort of getaway from the hot summer days.
The Sava Lake itself is 4.2km long and about 200m wide. It is surrounded by woods and beautiful nature, and during past decades many artists and writers were magically attracted and inspired by Ada. Because of its beauty, one of the greatest Serbian writers even named it ‘The water flower’.
Ada Ciganlija is a unique ecosystem. Vast majority of the island is forested. The original, thick deciduous forest, usually described as centenary, mainly consists of oaks, elms, birches and willows. Apart from numerous amphibians and insects, it is considered that mammal fauna on the island is special as it enables for foxes, hares, roe deers or wild boars to live free in urban city area. But, there is also one hidden romantic area called Ada Safari, where some people own a lo-fi restaurant and keep domestic animals such as goats, chickens and swans near a small pond.
Anyway, the island has been conceptualized as Belgrade’s focal point for mass sporting activity and recreation, such as tennis, volleyball, soccer, football, basketball, skateboarding, rollerblading, riding a bike, paintball, baseball, mini golf, bungee jumping, artificial rock climbing, kayaking, diving, cable skiing, canoeing and many, many more. But off course, the most popular activities, especially during summertime, are just lying on the sun, swimming and chilling with friends in one of many hip cafés located along the entire shore!
Ada has been gaining on popularity in the last 10 years since it became the only resort available to masses of people who can’t manage to go to the seaside (because of financial or some other reason). So, it can get really crowded, considering that there is no entrance fee. So, Ada became a highly popular gathering place, especially among youth, and a must-see destination for foreign tourists visiting Belgrade. And I almost forgot: one of the attractions is also an artificial geyser which is standing in the middle of the lake! Very useful thingy for the summer heat, especially when the wind blows!
So, if you ever find yourself in Belgrade, you should definitely come and see Ada, no matter if it’s summer, spring or fall. And who knows, you might even stumble upon a river mermaid!