I love Serbia, the people, the history and the food! Sampling the local cuisine is one of our favourite things to do! On this trip, the food has been rather lacklustre. Until Serbia!
Our first stop was Novi Sad, arriving by train from Budapest. A ticket costs €12. If you book the train to Belgrade it’s €25, but if you stop in Novi Sad first and take a local train to Belgrade it costs around 300RSD (€2.50).
Novi Sad’s old town is centred around the Dunavska Street, the main pedestrian boulevard which leads to Svetozar Miletic Square and the Name St Mary Church.
South of the old town is The Strand, a swimming area on the banks of the Danube, with actual sand, deck chairs, changing areas, bars, restaurants, sports and play equipment. There’s a small entry fee of 50RSD. It’s the closest thing you’ll find to a beach in landlocked Serbia.
Novi Sad’s cuisine and welcoming hospitality was certainly a highlight. On our first night we dined at Pivnica Gusan, tucked away in a cosy courtyard off Dunavska Street. Gusan serves delicious, yet simple Serbian fare. The restaurant itself has a history dating back to the 17th Century. On the menu there’s a list of former town mayors who once worked here! Another favourite was ‘ Fish & Zelenish’ . This well-known restaurant also has a new tapas style cafe-deli called ‘Project 72’
We also love to cook and there’s no better place to find incredible fresh ingredients than in the ‘Futoška Pijaca’ a produce market with stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, handmade pasta and homemade condiments, jams and other treats. Along with finding quality ingredients you also interact with friendly locals and experience a small taste of everyday life.
Petrovaradin fortress towers above the Danube opposite Novi Sad, you simply cross the bridge and you’re in Petrovaradin. Walking up to the fortress affords beautiful views, a fascinating museum and several cafes and restuarants. A great place to try a Radler (beer with soft drink, I tried grapefruit!).
Sremski Karlovci, 8km from Novi Sad, is famous for Bermet, a sweet dessert wine with spices including cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, among others. The recipe is a secret known only by a collection of local families. There are wine-tasting outlets around town, some which are run out of family homes. After stopping into the Orthodox Cathedral of St Nicholas and enjoying a pizza at Bermet restaurant, we hiked up the hill past the Chapel of Peace and to the Karlovci Belvedere, an open-air stage where we joined the statue of Serbian Poet Duško Trifunović, looking out over the village.
Hiking in the Fruska Gora
This is a great way to burn off some delicious calories! There are more than a dozen monasteries in the hills of the Fruska Gora, to see them all you need a car and more than one day. You can hike to two monasteries in an easy half day hike, or to four in a longer hike. For both options, if you’re coming from Novi Sad you take a bus from the bus station going towards Irig. We asked the driver to drop us off next to the turn off for the Manastar Novo Hopovo. From there turn left and walk down a hill until the monastery comes into view. You then hike to Monastic Staro Hopovo, (2.5 km). To do the full day hike continue to Manastir Grgeteg (12km) and then on Manastir Krusedol (4.6km). From there you walk to the town of Krusedol selo (1.7 km) or flag down a bus coming from there. The only bus (I could find) going back to Novi Sad was at 3:38pm, so the only option after this time is to hitchhike or a taxi.
Prefer the easier hike? From the Manastir Staro Hopovo you can loop through a beautiful forest trail up to the Arena restaurant, its on a main intersection, you can’t miss it. Theres’ a couple of bars/restaurants and a picnic area. To return to Novi Sad, cross the road and hail down one of the buses that come past every 30 minutes.
NOTE:(on both maps) The path on the right between the first two monasteries is the one we took, you can take either way but you don’t have to loop around as google maps suggests.
Serbia’s capital doesn’t try to hide its’ flaws. Its abandoned warehouses, grungy street art, rickety soviet era metro system and remnants of shelled buildings from the not-so-distant war all add to the city’s character. It has a well-preserved old town and large fortress with various sights within/around it. Belgrade is also home to the Cathedral of Sava, the largest Orthodox Cathedral in the world. Being there on a Saturday we planned to take a tour of The Residence of Princess Ljubica. Unfortunately the tour is only in Serbian and it starts at 11am. Lonely planet lists it starting at 12pm and there was a group of us waiting outside at noon. There’s little information online so the best thing to do is go in on Friday and ask, the palace doesn’t officially open until 12pm.
The food in Belgrade was delicious, there are plenty of options in the old town with atmosphere and international cuisine. Craving sushi, we tried W sushi restaurant & cocktail bar. It was tasty but a little expensive. Supermarket Deli is a trendy cafe that was great for lunch, serving healthy sandwiches and good coffee.
Our favourite was Стара Херцеговина (Stara Hercegovina) a local restaurant near our hostel. In Serbia portion sizes are huge and include bread! One meal is usually enough for two.