Why would you want to visit Novi Sad!?

“Why would you want to visit Novi Sad!?” That’s what my Belgrade hosts asked me when I mentioned that I was contemplating a day trip to this city,  about an hour’s drive north of Belgrade. “Why don’t you just go to Zemun? It’s much prettier!”

Their reaction completely took me by surprise! Novi Sad is a popular day trip from Belgrade – I had seen some beautiful pics of the old town and, well, I just wanted to get out of the city for a bit. So, why on earth not!?

Novi Sad is a popular day trip from Belgrade, Serbia. This city is just an hour's drive north of Belgrade and has a beautiful setting on the banks of the Danube.

Zemun vs. Novi Sad

But, after some reflection, I came to understand Belgrade citizens’ bias towards Zemun. It is a mixture of simple logic and pride! You see, both Zemun and Novi Sad are situated on the banks of the Danube and both exude the wonderful Central European charm and architecture that is the happy by-product of once having been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (Yes, the empire stretched that far south!)

Furthermore, both Zemun and Novi Sad are being watched over by imposing fortresses: the Belgrade and Petrovaradin fortresses, respectively.

The big difference, however, is that Zemun is situated just 6km from Belgrade’s centre (you could walk there along the Danube) whereas Novi Sad requires a trip by bus, train or car.

So, for a Belgrade citizen it makes perfect sense that a visitor invests extra time in their beloved city by visiting beautiful Zemun, instead of going somewhere else.

In my defence, though, I had already visited Zemun, which admittedly is a really gorgeous little town. It used to be an independent town until it was absorbed into Belgrade in 1934.  (If I ever had to move to Belgrade, I would probably choose to stay in Zemun.)

The beautiful small town of Zemun is situated just 6km from Belgrade's city centre. It is now part of Greater Belgrade and you can walk there along the Danube.
The beautiful small town of Zemun is situated just 6km from Belgrade’s city centre. It is now part of Greater Belgrade and you can walk there along the Danube river.

Novi Sad, the perfect day trip

Anyway, I digress. The tourist in me was really curious to explore the world beyond Belgrade’s city boundaries, so I did the ‘unthinkable’ and travelled to Novi Sad for the day!

If you are feeling equally ‘rebellious’, here are a few things you can expect to find on your visit to Novi Sad:

‘Serbian Athens’

Novi Sad (which means ‘new garden’ in Serbian) is Serbia’s second largest city and the capital of the province of Vojvodina.

The pretty old town centre is compact and all the main sights can be reached comfortably on foot. It is fun to explore and there are many little cafés where you can treat yourself to a drink or a snack.

Freedom Square in the heart of Novi Sad. Novi Sad is a popular day trip from Belgrade, Serbia. This city is just an hour's drive north of Belgrade and has a beautiful setting on the banks of the Danube.
Freedom Square in the heart of Novi Sad.

Novi Sad is set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2021, a rather fitting title as it was the centre of Serbian culture in the 18th and 19th century (during the reign of the Habsburg Dynasty) and even earned itself the nickname of ‘Serbian Athens’. Most of Novi Sad’s buildings date after 1848 as much of the city was heavily damaged during the 1848 Revolution.

Petrovaradin Fortress

Novi Sad’s top attraction is the imposing Petrovaradin Fortress. Called the ‘Gibraltar on the Danube’, it has been keeping a watchful eye over Novi Sad for centuries and witnessed many important chapters in history. Once a year, it lets its hair down for EXIT, one of Europe’s largest summer music festivals.

Petrovaradin Fortress has been watching over the city of Novi Sad in Serbia for centuries.
Petrovaradin Fortress has been watching over the city of Novi Sad in Serbia for centuries.

A visit to the fortress is a must. Your leisurely walks along the fortress walls will reward you with magnificent views across the Danube to Novi Sad!

Magnificent views of the Danube and Novi Sad from Petrovaradin Fortress.

Magnificent views of the Danube and Novi Sad from Petrovaradin Fortress.

Don’t miss the quirky Clock Tower – famous for having its hands the wrong way around (the small hand shows minutes and the big hand shows hours) to help distant fishermen on the Danube read the time more easily.

Don't miss the Petrovaradin Fortress' quirky Clock Tower. (Novi Sad, Serbia)
Don’t miss Petrovaradin Fortress’ quirky Clock Tower. (The time on the clock is almost 12h45, not 09h05.)

Within the fortress walls, you will also find the Novi Sad City Museum where you can learn a bit more about the city’s history.

And, if you have always dreamed of sleeping in a fortress, you’ll be happy to learn that there is a 5-star hotel where you can check in!

The heart of Novi Sad – Freedom Square

From Petrovaradin Fortress, cross the Danube, via Varadin Bridge, to reach the heart of Novi Sad, Freedom Square (Trg Slobode) within a comfortable 15-minute walk.

In the centre of the square is a statue of Svetozar Miletić, a 19th-century politician and city mayor who championed the political rights of the Serbs.

The Novi Sad Town Hall on Freedom Square. The statue in front of the town hall is of Svetozar Miletić, a 19th-century politician and city mayor.
The Novi Sad Town Hall on Freedom Square. The statue in front of the town hall is that of Svetozar Miletić, a 19th-century politician and city mayor.

Freedom Square is flanked by two beautiful 19th-century buildings: the neo-Renaissance Town Hall and the neo-Gothic Name of Mary Catholic Church with its 72m-tall tower, stained glass windows and colourful ceramic-tiled roof.

Novi Sad's Name of Mary Catholic Church on Freedom Square.
Novi Sad’s Name of Mary Catholic Church on Freedom Square.
Novi Sad's Name of Mary Catholic Church with its 72m-tall tower, stained glass windows and colourful ceramic-tiled roof.
Novi Sad’s Name of Mary Catholic Church with its 72m-tall tower, stained glass windows and colourful ceramic-tiled roof.

Freedom Square extends into the city’s charming pedestrian zone with nice little cafés, shops and more historic spaces to explore.

Bishop’s Palace

On the opposite side of Freedom Square, past the Catholic Church along the pedestrian zone, you will find another beautiful building – the Bishop’s Palace (Vladicanski Dvor), which is the residence of the (Serbian Orthodox) Bishop of Backa. In front of this residential palace is a statue of  Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, a famous Serbian doctor and children’s poet, who is especially known for his nursery rhymes.

Bishop's Palace in Novi Sad. In front of the palace and the statue of Jovan Jovanović (a famous Serbian doctor and children's poet), was a group of kids, happily chasing soap bubbles. It was so lovely to see!
Bishop’s Palace in Novi Sad. In front of the palace and the statue of Jovan Jovanović (a famous Serbian doctor and children’s poet), was a group of kids, happily chasing soap bubbles!

Orthodox Church of St George

The Orthodox Church of St George is just behind the Bishop’s Palace. The present-day church was built in 1905, on the ruins of a church built in 1734 and destroyed in 1849. I was lucky to arrive at the church shortly after a wedding. There was such a lovely atmosphere with a few musicians making music, while the bridal couple still posed for a few more wedding pics. inside the church.

In the church courtyard, there is an Orthodox cross of red marble, said to be Novi Sad’s oldest public monument.

Novi Sad's Orthodox Church of St George. To the right, you can see an Orthodox cross of red marble, said to be Novi Sad's oldest public monument.
Novi Sad’s Orthodox Church of St George. To the right, you can see an Orthodox cross of red marble, said to be Novi Sad’s oldest public monument.

Danube Park

A few minutes’ walk away from the pedestrian zone, you will reach the Danube Park (Dubavski Park), a nice green space where you can relax next to a small lake. I discovered the park by chance. It is built on marshy land, close to the bank of the Danube (and Varadin bridge). While the park did not wow me (maybe because I visited early Spring and not much was flowering), I enjoyed the small collection of sculptures. And, if you are a fan of Sisi (the Austro-Hungarian Empress Elisabeth, who was killed in 1898 in Geneva), there is a small island in the lake named in her memory (‘Erzsébet Island’) with a single weeping willow tree on it …

Novi Sad's Danube Park is a lovely green space, a few minutes' walk from the old town's pedestrian zone. (Credit: www.grooveisintheheart.co.za)
Novi Sad’s Danube Park is a lovely green space, a few minutes’ walk from the old town’s pedestrian zone.

Synagogue

Last, but not least, there is the Synagogue – a beautiful Art Nouveau-style building built in 1909 by Hungarian architect Lipót Baumhorn for the once-large Jewish community. It used to form the centrepiece of a trio of buildings by Baumhorn, the other two buildings having been the Jewish school and Jewish community building.

Novi Sad's Synagogue is a beautiful Art Nouveau-style building built in 1909 by Hungarian architect Lipót Baumhorn for the once-large Jewish community. (Photo by Dekanski, via Wikimedia Commons)
Novi Sad’s Synagogue is a beautiful Art Nouveau-style building built in 1909 by Hungarian architect Lipót Baumhorn for the once-large Jewish community. (Photo by Dekanski, via Wikimedia Commons)

Today, the Synagogue is frequently used as a concert hall, because of its fine acoustics, while the old Jewish school is home to a ballet school.

To reach the Synagogue, walk away from Liberty Square past McDonald’s and the (rather ugly – no town is perfect!) National Theatre onto the busy Jevrejska (Jewish) Street. After a five-minute walk along this street, you’ll reach your destination.

National theatre in Novi Sad and statue of ballerina opposite theatre. (Credit: www.grooveisintheheart.co.za)
The Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad… and a surprise ballerina statue nearby.

Not a shabby way to spend a day trip from Belgrade, right? To learn even more about Novi Sad, visit the city’s official website.

Have you ever been to Novi Sad? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? 

 

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The city of Novi Sad is a popular day trip about an hour's drive north of Belgrade, Serbia. From the imposing Petrovaradin Fortress to Freedom Square, across the Danube, with its beautiful Town Hall and Name of Mary Catholic Church, there is plenty to see. Click the pin to read the post from www.GrooveisintheHeart.co.za

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32 thoughts on “Why would you want to visit Novi Sad!?

    • March 23, 2018 at 8:04 pm
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      Thanks Mary. Glad you enjoyed it. It’s such an interesting country to visit … I’d love to explore more!

      Reply
  • March 22, 2018 at 5:50 am
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    Although a little further out than Zemun, it seems like Novi Sad is a great day trip as well. I personally would like to see the clocktower (the swapped hands is such a fun fact!) as well as the Synagogue!
    Bryna | Dotted Line Travels recently posted…Temples of Angkor: Preah KhanMy Profile

    Reply
    • March 23, 2018 at 8:02 pm
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      Yes, the clocktower was such a quirky discovery! And the views from there across the Danube are stunning…

      Reply
  • March 21, 2018 at 4:04 pm
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    I think you chose well Birgit, definitely looks like a delightful day out. I love the hustle and bustle on the main square – and the beautiful buildings! Thanks for sharing a little of a region I don’t know very much about and I’m intrigued about Zemun now as well! #FarawayFiles

    Reply
    • March 23, 2018 at 7:55 pm
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      You’re welcome 🙂 I had a lot of fun exploring a city I also knew very little about beforehand. And I can definitely recommend Zemun too!

      Reply
  • March 20, 2018 at 5:06 am
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    I’m glad to know after reading some of the comments that I’m not the only one who has never heard of Novi Sad before! But it sounds delightful, and good thing you didn’t listen to everyone else. That clock is way too funny! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

    Reply
    • March 20, 2018 at 10:04 pm
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      It was such a lovely day trip and there’s still so much more to see in the area. I’d love to go back and explore more one day. I hope you get to do so too 🙂

      Reply
  • March 19, 2018 at 4:44 am
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    After visiting Eastern Europe, I fell in love with the area. Now, I want to visit as many countries and cities in the region as possible. The only difficult thing is that my husband needs a visa to visit Serbia. Anyway, Novi Sad is a place where I can see myself exploring the streets and stopping by different cafes. Hope I can visit one day! #TheWeeklyPostcard
    Ruth recently posted…Petite France Strasbourg: Fabulous Walking TourMy Profile

    Reply
    • March 20, 2018 at 10:01 pm
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      I know the pain of having to get visas all too well… with my South African passport it’s an ongoing problem! I hope that you and your husband will get to visit this beautiful part of the world one day.

      Reply
  • March 18, 2018 at 4:18 am
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    I would have opted to visit Novi Sad if I had a choice between the two. It looks prettier than the small town of Zemun. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    • March 18, 2018 at 4:33 pm
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      There’s definitely more to see in Novi Sad! And Zemun could be explored in a few hours as part of a visit to Belgrade. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
    • March 18, 2018 at 4:30 pm
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      That’s interesting. I didn’t know that! Now you have another reason to visit Novi Sad 🙂

      Reply
  • March 14, 2018 at 7:52 pm
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    Looks like you were right in sticking to your guns and going to Novi Sad. It looks absolutely beautiful and full of wonderful trinkets like the clock.

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    • March 14, 2018 at 8:00 pm
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      Thanks, Karen. It was a very enjoyable day out!

      Reply
  • March 13, 2018 at 11:44 am
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    We had thought about going to NS last year but headed straight to Timisoara instead. It looks lovely so will have to go another time. Thanks for the tip about Zemun too. Wilbur #citytripping
    Wilbur recently posted…Sunday Photo – Bosporus, Ferry ViewMy Profile

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:48 pm
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      Oh, and I would’ve loved to visit Timișoara just across the border. Looks so beautiful. I hope we both get our wish on a future trip!

      Reply
  • March 9, 2018 at 3:16 am
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    What a beautiful city – I had never even heard of it before! Thanks for teaching me something new. I would love to visit that synagogue – so pretty! #citytripping

    Reply
    • March 11, 2018 at 8:39 pm
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      Thanks Caity 🙂 It really is pretty. And don’t worry, before travelling to Serbia, I also had never heard of Novi Sad… not even of their famous music festival! For me, that’s one of the great joys of travelling: discovering new places and their wonderful stories.

      Reply
    • March 11, 2018 at 8:34 pm
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      Thanks. Yes, I can highly recommend a trip to Belgrade and Novi Sad. I hope to go back to Serbia myself as there is still so much more of Serbia to discover!

      Reply
  • March 8, 2018 at 12:45 pm
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    I haven’t been to Novi Sad yet, even though I’ve had it on my list for a while now. It really looks beautiful .

    Reply
    • March 8, 2018 at 8:12 pm
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      I hope you get chance to go! You won’t regret it 🙂

      Reply
  • March 8, 2018 at 6:00 am
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    What a lovely post, I really enjoyed a virtual trip to this cosy town!

    Reply
    • March 8, 2018 at 8:13 pm
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      Thanks for your lovely comment, Antonina. Glad you enjoyed the virtual trip!

      Reply
    • March 7, 2018 at 10:07 pm
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      Ha ha, yes! It did totally mess with my mind! I had to remind myself that I visited the fortress around lunchtime, because looking at the photo just confused me all over again!

      Reply
  • March 7, 2018 at 10:40 am
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    Thanks for introducing this exquisitely beautiful town of which I had only heard the name before. What a gem to discover!What’s next?

    Reply
    • March 7, 2018 at 8:40 pm
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      Thanks for the visit, Raphefo. Glad I finally got a chance to write about this beautiful place!

      Reply

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