Vojvodina’s third largest city might not be the industrial powerhouse it once was, but that means little when it comes to tourism. Zrenjanin is a city of genuinely stunning architecture, a grandiose Habsburg toy town that has been somewhat neglected by time. This is the perfect way to spend 24 hours in the city.
A most unusual bridge
After picking up a quick coffee on King Alexander I Karadjordjević street (a mouthful, to say the least), make a quick dart over the Small Bridge and immediately turn right, towards one of the most curious sights in town. The Town Court passes by, but it is the Dry Bridge that will be your first port of call. Built in 1962, it is one of the few bridges in the world that doesn’t actually cover any physical obstacle, rendering it well and truly superfluous. The Begej river once flowed underneath, but its course was diverted in the ‘80s. The Dry Bridge might be brought down in the coming years, so best see this while you can.
The brewery that was responsible for the major 1807 fire stands behind the bridge, but best to head back towards the centre of town instead. Divert left onto Miroslava Tirše street and check out the adorable Orthodox Church further down the street, a cute house of worship that will likely be the only sign of life on this once bustling thoroughfare.
Culture, freedom, food
The bulk of the day in Zrenjanin will be taken up by the sights and sounds of Freedom Square, but there is no better lunch option in the city than Kafemat. The modern establishment sticks out like a sore thumb in this somewhat forgotten city, and it is no surprise to see it buzzing from the moment the doors open. The menu offers plenty of the usual when it comes to contemporary cuisine, allied with efficient service and a great run of refreshing cocktails.
With lunch out of the way, head back towards the city’s main square and start ticking off the attractions. Trg Slobode (Freedom Square) is a large plaza ringed by some of the most impressive architecture in Vojvodina. A statue of King Peter I stands in the middle (the town was formerly known as Petrovgrad), directly in front of the magnificent Baroque City Hall.
Unusually for a Serbian town, a Catholic cathedral gets pride of place on the main square, in this case the Cathedral of St. John of Nepomuk (a Czech priest who was famously tortured and killed by the Holy Roman Emperor for refusing to snitch on the Empress). The cathedral is directly opposite Zrenjanin’s theatre and the National Museum. There is more than enough here to keep you occupied during the hottest hours of the day.
Pub grub at the Lion
Zrenjanin often gives the impression of being a town lost in time, and it isn’t unusual for the streets to be eerily quiet in the evening. King Alexander I Karadjordjević street is the main drag, but we suggest heading away from the main square and down Kralja Petra I in search of food instead.
At the end of the street (at the junction of Bulevar Oslobodjenja and Bulevar Milutina Milankovića) lies Lion Pub, a classic pub that is every bit as charming as it is dark. Lav has a decent beer selection, but it is the food that is the real winner. The burger trend has made it here, but the quality of the bun means you can eat the thing without making an almighty mess. It also has plenty of live music throughout the week, and you could easily spend your entire evening at this entertaining spot.
Youthful exuberance and energetic discussions
Instead of spending all evening at Lion Pub, head back towards the main square and pass Hotel Vojvodina to find yourself on Gimnazijska, a long street featuring some of the town’s best drinking holes. The aforementioned Kafemat offers good to great cocktails, while Biblioteka is as close as the city gets to a British-style pub. Our recommendation is Alter Nativa, although it isn’t the easiest to find.
Located just off Gimnazijska, it has no sign and no hint of what lies within the apartment block, but look out for a plain white header and simply go through the corridor to one of the most enchanting gardens in the region. This obviously isn’t an option in winter, but in summer and spring Zrenjanin doesn’t come much more enthralling.