While Belgrade had more than enough to occupy us for the full three and a half days we were there, we wanted to make sure we got out of the city for a day with the intent of experiencing a different side of Serbia. All of our research indicated that Novi Sad might be just that place. As the capital of the Autonomous region of Vojvodina, Novi Sad is considered a historical and cultural treasure – and is definitely different than the capital.
After a one and a half hour bus ride through the Pannonian Plain, a region of farmland reminiscent of the Canadian Prairies, we arrived in Novi Sad. A quick walk down the main street took us to the large old town full of wonderfully colourful buildings and large churches. While Belgrade is a very appealing city in its own right, Novi Sad has a completely different feel. Wide tree-lined streets and low, colourful buildings dominate the old town, and make Novi Sad feel much smaller than it is.
Across the Danube from the old town is Petrovaradin Fortress and the lower town it once protected. Set up on a hill on the bank of the Danube (very reminiscent of Belgrade fortress), Petrovaradin dominates the Novi Sad cityscape and is a great place to spend an afternoon. As one of the largest fortresses in all of Europe, Petrovaradin takes a good hour or two to explore. Many of the buildings remain intact and the views are absolutely spectacular.
A wander through the crumbling lower town below the fortress is like a window to the past. The buildings, while not as well-preserved as the old town (actually, some are pretty much falling apart), the buildings are still stunningly beautiful under the peeling paint and crumbling tiles.