It was nice to be in a city where people were excited to hear you were from Australia. A place where we had fun using charades to signal what we needed. A place (for once) not filled with tourists. Locals were curious as to why we had chosen to visit Novi Sad and to be honest, we weren’t so sure ourselves.
I was simply going off a blog I had read. The writer raved of this quaint, little city, making me intrigued to see more. I decided to trust the digital nomad and thank goodness I did. Just two hours apart, Novi Sad provides a completely different experience to its capital, Belgrade. With places to explore both within and outside of the city, I’m here to explain why Novi Sad deserves more than just the standard day trip…
1. Novi Sad loves a festival!
As I leafed through a brochure, I looked down the long list of local festivals. With at least two festivals per month, it appeared that Novi Sad offered something for everyone! We were lucky to catch the honey festival; an event accompanied by traditional dancing and music held in Liberty square. We were blown away by the dancers as they performed high-intensity, intricate footwork, while singing in their ancestral costumes. With the magnificent town hall and cathedral in the background, it was a lovely way to be introduced to this exciting and cultural city.
2. The Strand
Located on the bank of the Danube River is ‘The Strand.’ This simulated beach is a popular place to cool down on a warm summer’s day! With a small entrance fee of approximately 50 euro cents, the Strand offers a choice of cocktail bars, food markets and plenty of fun for the kids. We enjoyed lounging in beach chairs by the water and listening to the vibrant sounds of the local bars. If time permits, you could easily spend an entire day (or weekend) here!
3. The Architecture
Once ruled by the Austrio-Hungarian empire, Novi Sad was designed to display a range of Viennese architecture. However, following the NATO bombings in the late 90’s, little of the original architecture was preserved. Thankfully, surrounding the main square and, in particular, along Dunavska street, some of the few original buildings remain. We therefore enjoyed wandering some of the oldest and most beautiful streets in Novi Sad. I particularly loved the alternating colours of the facades; beautiful pastel colours of pink and blue, decorated with white finishings. We were hoping to follow the street through to Dunavska Park, but our plans drastically changed when a storm came quickly rolling in. Our leisurely stroll turned into a sprint towards cover as we ran from flying chairs and umbrellas!
4. The Café Culture
As a Melbournian, I have a passion for coffee and brunch! In fact, it’s the café culture that I miss most about home. So, you can imagine how excited I was to stumble across ‘Loft.’ This café not only offers a relaxing and friendly vibe, but also provides tasty food and (drumroll please) decent coffee!! With a thunderstorm limiting our plans for the day, we decided to spend hours at Loft, allowing us to try various flavours of coffee, including their incredible banana iced latte. Loft makes you feel like you’re at the fanciest place in town, without the high prices to match. We loved it so much we had to come back for breakfast the next day.
Strazilovska 37, Novi Sad 21000, Serbia
Mon – Sat: 8am – 11pm, Sun 11am – 7pm
5. Sremski Karlovci
When visiting Novi Sad, a day trip to Sremski Karlovci is a must! Just a short bus trip away, this cute, little town is known for its influx of local wineries. After hearing that you could simply walk down the street and pop in from one cellar to the next, we were so excited to visit. On arrival however, we found that each winery actually ran from the back garden of a local’s house. Although this meant for a more authentic Serbian experience, it unfortunately lead to a few difficulties, most commonly caused by language barriers.
I would therefore recommend one of the two following options. Either a) organise yourself a guided tour or b), my favourite of the two options, set up camp with the lovely couple at Winery Dosen. These two locals have turned their back garden into the most wonderful little winery, decorating their balcony with doileys and other antique collectables. We immediately felt welcomed into their home and enjoyed watching them create their product by hand!! We just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave. So, after sampling their black wine, we decided to stay…and drink three more glasses! It was easily my favourite day spent in Serbia.