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Explore the cheap and chic sides of Belgrade

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Tables with posh patrons spill out of cafes onto cobblestoned sidewalks. Roaming musicians ply tourists for tips against a backdrop of restored art nouveau buildings. Across town, the thump of techno beats keeps the young and well-heeled dancing until dawn.

It’s not Barcelona or even Berlin. It’s Belgrade, baby.

The city is still dirt cheap for visitors, but its chic future is arriving fast. In some ways it’s like Budapest with its ruin bars 10 years ago, or Prague in the ’90s – gritty, full of life and undiscovered by Americans – but with an added dash of style that neither of those hotspots had until they were already overrun with tourists.

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Now might be the time for this offbeat destination. Air Serbia started flights from New York last summer, the first nonstop service from the United States in 24 years, and construction has begun on a 10 million-square-foot development that promises to transform a brownfield right in the city’s core.

Winter temperatures average in the 30s F (around 2 degrees Celsius), but New Year’s Eve is an exciting time to be there, with wild street parties when hundreds of thousands of tourists, mainly from neighboring Croatia, Slovenia and Bulgaria, dance at open-air concerts and attend fireworks displays.

Here’s a quick guide to a city on the verge.

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