This town. Great vibes and good food. Plus the odd corner, district or street that has yet to see its “coming of age”. Novi Sad, you’ve honestly fascinated me in a way that I haven’t felt for a long time. And who would have thought: Discovering a creative (wool) art studio inside the town’s main fortress?! Glancing at a clock tower that reminds me so much of the one in our Austrian city Graz, only 600 kilometres further north? “Yes, Novi Sad has always been connected to Austria in a way, especially thanks to the Empress Maria Theresia”, Milos Dunjic tells us, explaining that “it is her who has given this town its present-day name, ‘Novi Sad’, literally referring to fresh sowing, or new garden.”
Milos, our city guide for the day full of stories, stands in front of the clock tower at Petrovaradin Fortress, located at the southern rim of this mighty old fortress. From here, you can enjoy generous views over the town of Novi Sad, including the Danube river as well as the gently undulating hills of the Fruška Gora forest beyond, a travel destination that besides Novi Sad is also truly worth your while.
Creative Novi Sad. Where fortress meets fun.
But back to the old fortress now. What first comes to mind, conjured up by Milos’ stories of old, are images of huge armies and battlefields, right here at the crossroads of the Ottoman (Turkish) as well as the Austro-Hungarian empires. Today, though, on this mild sunny September morning, those tales seem rather removed given what the fortress can offer its visitors now: “A new designer store with really cool prints”, Milos points out, “as well as, right round the corner, the creative wool ladies of ‘Atelier 61’. Come with me, I’ll show you.”
PS: Did you know that Novi Sad will be European Capital of Culture in 2021? Super suitable, it seems.
Culinary Novi Sad: This is where you should eat at.
Yes, there’s a lot to Novi Sad in culinary terms, even though you may first know little, or next to nothing, about Serbian cuisine. Downtown Novi Sad beckons you to try the country’s more Mediterranean-style cuisine, which we have sampled at “Fish & Zelenish” (Fish & Vegetables, exactly what you’re in for here). Their website, too, will get your taste buds going, so do check out the menu here: http://www.fishizelenis.com. On Instagram, they happily brag about the beauty and variety of their meals – and rightly so.
Further on, you may head over to Sokače Restaurant offering typical BBQ meals from Serbia. They also have vegetarian, even vegan options though, and I love eating my way through the variety of food, particularly as is the custom in southern Europe to share different plates among yourselves.
Corners of Novi Sad (that aren’t on your usual map): Chinese Quarter it is.
“So why is this part of town called ‘Chinese Quarter’?”, we ask Milos, who continues to guide us around town. He first came to Novi Sad as a student and now knows the city, its many different districts and developments very well. A broad grin spreads on his face. “Well. It’s called like that because so many people used to walk and work around here. Not necessarily Chinese but .. well, you know what people are like.” Walking around a part of Novi Sad that is likely on the verge of gentrification right now, we cannot help but agree to Milos’ statement: “It’s not so nice now, but it could be.” During the day, it’s worth your while if you like fancy graffiti and a look at some of the lesser known parts of town, actually located right beside the city’s Danube beach & boat harbour. At night, it’s perfect for pop up concerts, clubs and gigs, definitely a go-to place for the young people and visitors in Novi Sad. I am perfectly sure it will feature high on Novi Sad’s “European Capital of Culture 2021” agenda.
Christina and Maria, by the way, have also written and shared about their experiences in Serbia:
- Christina (CitySeaCountry.com): “Vegan Essen in Serbien: Tipps für Belgrad, Novi Sad und Fruška Gora“
- Maria (Kofferpacken.at): “Belgrad: Eine Stadt im Wandel” & “Novi Sad: Ziemlich gechillt und Europäische Kulturhauptstadt 2021“
Disclaimer: We have been invited by Serbia Tourism on this trip to Belgrade, Novi Sad & Fruška Gora. All opinions are my own.