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When it’s freezing outside but your children still want to burn off excess energy, Belgrade has many options to take the pressure off parents.
With the weather too cold and wet to spend much time in city parks, Belgrade’s many indoor playgrounds or ‘igraonice’ are a practical solution for parents with young kids who are itching to run, jump and climb. If you have Serbian friends with children, you have probably been in one of these mainstays of Belgrade pre-teen culture, because the city’s soft-play centres are favourite spots for children’s parties.
Playrooms offer a change for kids to let off steam in a safe environment, while parents can take a break or catch up on work in the adjoining parents’ cafes that usually have great wifi connections.
Belgrade Insight’s team, consisting of a parent working freelance and a three-year-old test toddler, tried out some popular spots.
First up was the Circus Igraonice on Juzni Bulevar, aptly named because inside it’s a bit of a circus. As soon as you enter the huge space you are greeted by the noise of several arcade machines bleeping and pinging loudly, mixed with rather loud music from a pop radio station and the usual sounds of kids running wild.
There is a large place for parents to sit, which is non-smoking, and where you can keep a good eye on the actual playroom part. The interior looks a bit worn, but it is clean.
Our test toddler was delighted with the expansive play area, the bouncy cushion and the elaborate jungle gym/maze contraption with slides. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm for the arcade games led to some impractical wandering, because they are located near the entrance away from the supervised play area.
The staff were friendly, engaging the kids without being overbearing and spoke English when prompted. Because Circus is so large, they also had a space especially for younger children, which was a hit with the two-year-old of a friend who tagged along. For older pre-teen kids there was a special space with computer games and a beauty salon.
While not exactly the place for parents to take a breather or get a bit of work done, the kids loved it. It is so big that they have a special space for birthday events, so you won’t find it closed down for parties as with many smaller playrooms.
Address: Juzni Bulevar 40
Phone: 011 2434520
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 3pm to 9pm, Sat, Sun: noon to 9 pm, closed Mon
Cost: Flat fee for kids 300 dnr (includes 2 tokens for arcade games), Espresso 115 dinars, Soft drink 135 dinars
Svemir is a slick new playroom that is a favourite with Vracar yuppie parents. The downstairs parents’ cafe has quiet pop music playing in the background with designer chairs, while the kids’ play area is upstairs. The staff were very helpful finding things like sockets for laptop chargers.
In the play area, the space theme - Svemir means Universe - is followed through with some fun touches like a replica of a teletransporter and a contraption that lets kids suck up balls in a type of giant vacuum cleaner system. It also has the jungle gym/maze and a ball pit, but the play area was the smallest of the playrooms we visited.
The big drawback here is that you cannot see your kids from the cafe, making it unsuitable for children under three. When we were there on a Sunday afternoon there was one woman supervising some six kids which meant that our test toddler, who was the youngest there, occasionally got bored when the games got too sophisticated.
Svemir is a wonderful space for children aged four to ten, but has its drawbacks. There are also birthdays parties here, which means the venue is closed to other kids, so call ahead to check.
Address: Golsvordijeva 36
Phone: 011 24 535 29
Opening hours: Tue -Fri 1pm to 9pm, Sat, Sun: noon to 9 pm
Cost: Kids pay 200 dinars per hour, Espresso 110 dinars, Soft drink 150 dinars
In the city centre, a stone’s throw from Trg Republika, is Jump Igraonica. The entrance looks a little shabby but inside is a bright, clean modern space with a simple parents’ cafe that looks directly onto the play area. The area is divided into a maze with slides, climbing apparatus and a ball pit, as well as an open space with toys and a table and small chairs with paper and pens for drawing.
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon we were the only guests and our test toddler, happily flanked by two supervisors, zeroed in on the toys - cars, dinosaurs and little baskets filled with fake fruit and vegetables. Later the maze was also a success and our charge enjoyed the chance to alternate between quiet play with the toys and running around on the slides.
The parents’ cafe is nice and bright, with unobtrusive music. For bigger children, Jump has more rooms one floor up which have table football and computer games. In the parents’ cafe there is a video screen with feeds from all the rooms so you can see what your kids are up to. The staff are helpful and willing to speak English.
Jump is decorated in a kid-friendly minimalist Ikea style. The parents’ hang-out does not seem to have as many Serbian glossies as the other playrooms, but to compensate for not being able to read up on Ceca’s love life, Jump does offer a nice wine and spirits list that goes beyond the usual Jelen and rakija. The venue is great for younger toddlers because of the quiet play area. The only drawback is that the venue often hosts birthdays, which means the whole venue is closed, so call ahead.
Address: Emilijana Josimovica 4
Phone: 011 3242364
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 1pm to 9 pm, Sat/Sun: 11 am to 9 pm, closed Mon.
Cost: Listed as 250 dinars an hour, but we were told it was just a flat 250 dinars fee, Espresso 100 dinars, Soft drink 130 dinars
This well-known New Belgrade playroom is near the new Mercator shopping centre. It is big, with a maze, a bouncy cushion, a ball pit and a special space for smaller toddlers so they are not overrun. Puf Puf has a large central open space where kids can run and play ball games. On a Saturday afternoon it was busy with some 20 kids, but not overcrowded.
Our test toddler enjoyed the large maze and the ball pit with slides in the area for smaller kids.
Like Circus, Puf Puf is so big that they host kids’ parties in a separate area meaning that you don’t run the risk of it being closed.
The parents’ cafe is a nice enough space, with classic bistro furniture and a clear view of the play area which is separated by a glass wall, keeping the kids’ shrieks down to acceptable levels.
The interior is not as fancy or hip as Jump or Svemir and it is obviously not brand-new, but the jungle-themed decor is bright and colourful and looks well maintained.
The staff were helpful and attentive and could understand English, but were too shy to speak it.
Overall, Puf Puf is a nice no-fail option, it suits mostly kids up to ten because there were no computer games or other attractions geared more towards pre-teens. You don’t have to worry that it might be closed for a birthday party, parking is easy in the nearby Mercator centre and there are usually enough other kids around for solo children to find play pals. Unlike most other playrooms, it is open on Monday.
Address: Bulevar Mihaila Pupina 165
Phone: 011 311 17 93
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 2.30pm to 8.30 pm, Sat/Sun noon to 8.30pm
Cost: Flat fee 300 dinars, Espresso 97 dinars, Soft drink 125 dinars
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