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Belgrade vs Novi Sad: Comparing Serbia’s Vibrant Cities

When planning your next vacation, you might find yourself choosing between two captivating cities in Serbia: Belgrade vs Novi Sad.

Both cities offer a unique blend of history, culture, and stunning landscapes, but choosing the right destination for your needs can be a daunting task.

I have visited both Serbian cities and in this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between these cities, helping you make an informed decision for your upcoming trip.

Belgrade, the bustling capital of Serbia, is known for its energetic atmosphere and rich history. There are many things to do in Belgrade, the two highlights are Belgrade Fortress and the beautiful Church of Saint Sava.

On the other hand, Novi Sad, a smaller and charming city, is famous for its picturesque setting along the Danube River and the well-preserved Petrovaradin Fortress. The city emanates a more laid-back vibe, perfect for a leisurely vacation.

During your stay in either city, you can expect similar weather conditions since the two cities are only 70 km apart.

Geographical Location

Belgrade and Novi Sad are two major cities in Serbia. Belgrade is Serbia’s capital city and the country’s largest city. It’s located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.

Novi Sad is Serbia’s second biggest city and lies about 83 kilometres (51 miles) northwest of Belgrade in the region of Vojvodina. It’s the capital of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina.

Transportation and Accessibility

If you arrive in Serbia by plane chances are that you’ll arrive in Belgrade since Novi Sad doesn’t have an international airport.

In case you’re coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the plane might not be the best way to get from Sarajevo to Belgrade. By the way, I actually liked Sarajevo more than Belgrade.

But in case you want to get from Serbia to Hungary after your holiday in Serbia, the plane is the best option to get from Belgrade to Budapest since there’s no. train connection and taking the bus is the worst way to get from Serbia to Hungary.

But now back to the accessibility of Belgrade vs Novi Sad. Once in Belgrade, you can make your way to Novi Sad by bus, by train or by car. You can get from Belgrade to Novi Sad on a day trip or spend more time in Serbia’s second biggest city.

Belgrade vs Novi Sad: Popular Attractions

The most prominent reasons to visit Belgrade or Novi Sad for tourists are the attractions. So, let’s have a look at the attractions of both cities and will see which city wins the battle Novi Sad vs Belgrade.

I’ll give a short description of the attractions in each city and afterwards crown a winner for each attraction.

Belgrade vs Novi Sad: Castles

Belgrade and Novi Sad both have a castle which is considered one of the main attractions in each city. And even though both castles are worth visiting the winner of the best castle award goes to Belgrade.

This might come as a surprise since Petrovaradin Fortress is one of the best-preserved fortresses in Europe. But somehow it doesn’t really have a great fortress vibe with normal apartment buildings inside the fortress.

Belgrade castle, on the other hand, already feels very imposing when you enter through the big castle gates. And there’s so much to explore inside the castle.

Belgrade: Kalemegdan Park and Belgrade Fortress

Bridge to Belgrade fortress
Belgrade Fortress

Belgrade Castle, also known as Belgrade Fortress, is a historic fortress located in Kalemegdan Park overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers in the city of Belgrade, Serbia.

The fortress has a rich history and it even gave Belgrade, the only Balkan capital located on the Danube River, its name “Beograd” which means white city since the fortress was built with white sandstone. It contains several important landmarks and structures, like the Ružica Church.

Today, the fortress is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of Belgrade’s rich cultural heritage.

🤩 See the best Belgrade attractions on this amazing tour!

Novi Sad: Petrovaradin Fortress

Path to a gate leading to Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad
Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad

Petrovaradin Fortress is Novi Sad’s castle. It’s located on the bank of the Danube River. The fortress was built in the 18th century and it’s considered one of the largest and best-preserved fortresses in Europe.

It’s known for its intricate system of underground tunnels. Today, the fortress is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Novi Sad and an event location. The famous EXIT music festival is held there every summer.

🤩 I love this walking tour of Novi Sad for the professional guide!

Belgrade vs Novi Sad: Parks

The winner of the best park in the battle of Belgrade vs Novi Sad goes without a doubt to Belgrade.

Novi Sad’s Danube Park is a nice green area in the middle of the city but it can’t compete with Kalemegdan Park.

Belgrade’s main park doesn’t just offer a green retreat from city life, it’s also home to some amazing sights and you can spend easily hours exploring this massive park.

Belgrade: Kalemegdan Park

View of Belgrade city
Amazing view of Belgrade new city

The biggest park in Belgrade is Kalemegdan Park. It’s a gigantic park at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. The park is home to the historic Belgrade Fortress, which boasts a rich history and stunning views.

Other famous sights inside the park are for example the Victor statue.

🤩 I love this Belgrade tour for the small tour group size!

Novi Sad: Danube Park

Statue in a park with a lake
Danube Park in Novi Sad

The most popular park in Novi Sad is the Danube Park. It’s located in the central neighbourhood of Stari Grad in Novi Sad.

The park is situated close to the Danube River and offers visitors a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, perfect for a stroll around the small lake or a picnic.

🤩 I love this private walking tour of Novi Sad for the affordable price!

Belgrade vs Novi Sad: Museums

Museums are abundant in both Belgrade and Novi Sad.

Belgrade: Museums

Plague of Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla’s ashes are inside the museum in Belgrade

In Belgrade, the Museum of Yugoslavia is a popular destination, featuring the history of the socialist state and the House of Flowers, which houses the tomb of Josip Broz Tito.

I only visited one museum in Belgrade, the Nikola Tesla Museum. It’s about the life and work of Nikola Tesla and it’s also the last resting place of Tesla’s ashes.

Novi Sad: Museums

Novi Sad also offers several noteworthy museums, such as the Gallery of Matica Srpska, the Novi Sad City Museum, and the Museum of Vojvodina.

I didn’t visit any museums in Novi Sad since I was only there for one day and didn’t have enough time.

Belgrade vs Novi Sad: Main Square

The winner of the best square in the Novi Sad vs Belgrade match goes to Novi Sad. Because Liberty Square in Novi Sad feels more inviting.

It’s the perfect place to sit down and enjoy the beautiful architecture. You can even buy some popcorn from one of the stalls in Zmaj Jovina just off Liberty Square and eat it on a bench on the square.

Belgrade: Republic Square

Public square with statue of a horse in the middle
Public square is the main square of Belgrade

Republic Square is a central town square in Belgrade. The square is surrounded by some of Belgrade’s most recognisable public buildings, including the National Museum and the National Theatre. In the middle of the square is the statue of Prince Michael.

🤩 I love this Belgrade tour for the professional guide!

Novi Sad: Liberty Square

Lamppost and post box in front of a square with historic buildings
Liberty Square in Novi Sad

In the heart of Novi Sad lies the picturesque Liberty Square. It’s surrounded by stunning architecture like the Roman Catholic Name of Mary Church. There are multiple benches on the square which invite you to take a seat.

🤩 I love this walking tour of Novi Sad for making the most out of the day!

Belgrade vs Novi Sad: Rivers

Both cities, Belgrade and Novi Sad are located right on the banks of the Danube River. Belgrade is also located on the banks of the Sava River.

Overall, Belgrade may be the better option between the two cities because it offers a bigger selection of water activities.

Belgrade: Confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers

Big letters spelling "Ada Ciganlija" in front of a river at sunset
Ada Peninsula is the perfect place to go for a swim in summer

Belgrade is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, which makes it a popular destination for water activities such as boat tours, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

There are several companies that offer boat tours and water activities in Belgrade. But you can also spend some time on one of the Belgrade beaches, like Lido or Plaža Ada Ciganlija.

Novi Sad: Danube River

On the other hand, Novi Sad offers fewer water activities compared to Belgrade. However, Novi Sad’s Strand Beach is a popular destination for swimming and sunbathing during the summer months.

Belgrade vs Novi Sad: Architecture

Belgrade used to be the capital of the communist Yugoslavia. Because of that many buildings are rather like concrete blocks than beautiful architectural buildings.

Novi Sad, on the other hand, is known for its colourful buildings. So, in the Belgrade vs Novi Sad most beautiful architecture category, the point goes to Novi Sad.

Belgrade vs Novi Sad: Most beautiful religious temple

My choice Belgrade vs Novi Sad for the most beautiful religious temple is Belgrade. To stand inside one of the world’s biggest Orthodox churches and to marvel at the golden mosaic is just stunning.

Belgrade: Temple of Saint Sava

woman in front of Belgrade temple of St. Sava. Is Belgrade worth visiting? Yes if you want to see the countries largest church
St. Sava temple is one of the biggest Orthodox churches in the world

The most beautiful religious temple in Belgrade is undoubtedly the Orthodox Saint Sava Temple. It’s the largest Orthodox church in Serbia and one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world.

The church is dedicated to Saint Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Construction took almost 70 years and was only finished in 2004.

Today, the Saint Sava Temple is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Belgrade, and a symbol of Serbian identity and culture.

🤩 I love this Belgrade tour for making the most out of the day!

Novi Sad: Synagogue

Facade of a Synagogue in Novi Sad
Unfortunately, the Novi Sad Synagogue was under construction when I visited

In Novi Sad it’s not as clear which of the religious temples is the most beautiful. But in my opinion it’s the Novi Sad Synagogue.

The synagogue is considered one of the most beautiful examples of the Hungarian Art Nouveau style in Europe. Its exceptional acoustics make it a popular venue for concerts and cultural events.

The building features a stunning facade with intricate decorations and a large central dome that rises 40 meters high.

Today, the Novi Sad Synagogue is recognised as a historic landmark and is open to visitors who want to learn more about the city’s rich cultural heritage.

🤩 I love this walking tour of Novi Sad because its a great way to learn about the history of Serbia!

Vegan food in Serbia

Since Belgrade is the capital city of Serbia and also the country’s biggest city, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Belgrade has the most vegan restaurants in Serbia.

But to be honest, the number is still rather small compared to the number of vegan restaurants in other European countries.

I still dream of the delicious vegan food I had in Barcelona and Barcelona isn’t even a capital city of a country. But anyway, back to Serbia.

So Belgrade has definitely the most vegan restaurants. And I was really surprised by the number of raw and sugar-free vegan cafés and bakeries.

Novi Sad is a smaller city but because the city is so young and hip, there are quite a few vegan restaurants in Novi Sad as well. So, you’ll definitely won’t go hungry in either of the two cities.

Accommodation

When comparing Belgrade and Novi Sad, the accommodation options in both cities cater to different preferences and budgets.

In Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia, you can find a wide range of hotels to choose from.

Deluxe or 5-star hotels are available for those looking for a more luxurious stay, while various budget-friendly options cater to travellers on a tighter budget.

The city offers a mixture of internationally recognised hotel chains, as well as locally-owned boutique hotels for a unique experience.

Novi Sad, on the other hand, is a smaller city compared to Belgrade but still offers quality accommodation options for its size. Deluxe or 5-star hotels can be found in Novi Sad, providing a luxurious experience during your visit.

However, the variety in hotel options may be smaller compared to Belgrade, with a focus on mid-range, state-owned hotels and some privately-owned boutique hotels.

Belgrade vs Novi Sad; picture of Belgrade castle and Novi Sad Fortress

Atmosphere of the city

The atmosphere in Belgrade is vibrant, lively, and full of energy. As the capital city of Serbia, Belgrade is a bustling metropolis that offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity.

Belgrade is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants that cater to a diverse range of tastes.

Novi Sad is a more relaxed and laid-back city compared to the bustling atmosphere in Belgrade. It was the European capital of culture in 2022 and it’s known for being very popular amongst young people.

As a visitor, you can expect less crowded streets and a more tranquil ambience. The city offers various cultural sites, a beautiful fortress, and nearby vineyards which you can visit for some wine tasting, providing a more peaceful and charming experience for you.

Who the winner in the atmosphere category in the Belgrade vs Novi Sad competition is, depends on what kind of atmosphere you prefer. Belgrade is the best place to be if you want a big city vibe and Novi Sad if you want a young and artsy vibe.

Belgrade letters next to three flags
Belgrade sign at Ada peninsula

Belgrade or Novi Sad: Why I prefer Belgrade

When you visit Serbia, choosing between Belgrade and Novi Sad can be challenging.

Even though I really liked the friendly and open atmosphere of Novi Sad, I would choose to visit Belgrade if I only had time for one of those two cities.

The best things to do in Belgrade are exploring the Kalemegdan Park with the Belgrade Fortress inside and marvelling at the golden mosaic in the Saint Sava Church and they make Belgrade worth visiting.

And because of Belgrade’s easy accessibility, it’s always a good idea to do a day trip to Novi Sad. So you can submerge in Novi Sad’s amazing atmosphere.

No matter which city you choose, Novi Sad or Belgrade, the best time to visit Serbia is in the summer. At that time of the year, you can enjoy outdoor activities in the sun, have a drink outside and even go for a swim in the Sava or Danube River.

FAQ about Novi Sad vs Belgrade

Is Novi Sad bigger than Belgrade?

No, Novi Sad is not bigger than Belgrade. Belgrade is the biggest city in Serbia. It’s also the country’s capital. Novi Sad is the second biggest city in Serbia.

How long from Belgrade to Novi Sad?

It takes a bit over an hour to get from Belgrade to Novi Sad by bus, car or train.

What are the 2 biggest cities in Serbia?

The biggest city in Serbia is Belgrade and the second biggest city is Novi Sad.

Novi Sad vs Belgrade: Let me know which city is your winner in the comments.

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A picture of the town square in Novi Sad and a picture of St Sava Church, text reads "Belgrade vs Novi Sad Serbia"
Comparing Serbia’s vibrant cities: Belgrade vs Novi Sad

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