As much as I enjoyed exploring Belgrade and Novi Sad, Serbia has so much more to offer. I recommend spending at least a week in Serbia, and if possible, make it a road trip! Driving may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Serbia’s roads are amazing (well, in most part) and their highways are a pleasure to drive on! It also gives you the flexibility to get out of the large cities and explore the laidback, charming smaller towns in the outskirts. I’m writing here about why you should visit Subotica from Novi Sad, an art nouveau town in Serbia.
Hardly a 1-hour drive via A1 (which I absolutely recommend you take instead of the toll-free Route 100), Subotica is a sleepy, quiet town which is multi-cultural and has immense historical significance. But what stands out about Subotica is the architecture – it almost feels like you are walking into a fairy tale town with colourful buildings & charming, cobbled stone streets. The town has been correctly identified as one of the most beautiful in Serbia and makes for a great half-day trip.
What to do in Subotica
Firstly, try not to land here on a Monday as most of the tourist sites are shut. Having said that, if you don’t have much choice and Monday’s the only option available, don’t skip it!
Visiting Subotica from Novi Sad is a must because you will still love looking at the stunning mosaics, or simply sit in a patio café and watch the people go by. Park your car in the city center and walk around exploring the key sights. The most eye-catching building here is the magnificent City Hall, which is also the centerpiece around which you will find several lanes strewn with cafes and restaurants. Walk 5 minutes and you will come across another aesthetically delightful building – the Subotica Synagogue (closed on Mondays). One can tour this building which has immense historical and cultural significance as the “only Synagogue in Europe which contains elements of the Hungarian Art Nouveau”. Take a tour inside (tickets are very inexpensive) because the interiors are as awe-inspiring as the exterior façade of the building. If you’re interested to know more about its history, then you have the option of taking a guided tour too.
Also in the same area is the Raichle Palace (closed Sundays & Mondays), home to Subotica’s Museum of Modern Art. I am not much into museums (or modern art) so I chose not to go inside the building. Nevertheless, the architecture is so unique & different that I recommend passing by anyway. Some of the hidden lanes away from the town center are even more charming to explore so do not restrict yourself to the beaten path.
Due to its proximity to Hungary, you will find a lot of restaurants in Subotica serving Hungarian dishes such as goulash & burek. Take some time to find a restaurant of choice in the city center or head out away from the crowds into the nature & peace of Palic Lake.
Although I wouldn’t classify this lake as being beautiful, the area is lively on weekends and a great place to enjoy a nature walk and lunch/ coffee with a view (or even a picnic). The lake itself stretches 17 kilometers long with promenades, and several hotels, restaurants and smaller villas surround it. There is also a zoo for the younger visitors. You will need to drive to this location from the city center as it is about 10 kms.
Subotica is known for it’s unique & remarkable architecture, as well as being the melting pot for several cultures & religious beliefs. There are Catholic churches, Protestant churches, Orthodox churches, a Franciscan monastery, a mosque, and a grand synagogue. Include it in your 1-week itinerary for Serbia, you will not regret it.