Serbia isn’t a tiny country by European standards, but its two biggest cities are refreshingly close together. Getting from Belgrade to Novi Sad couldn’t be easier (at least until teleportation is invented), but as with all things Serbia the visitor can be forgiven for feeling a little trepidatious. Let’s put those worries to bed with a handy guide.
If Belgrade is the chaotic nerve centre of Serbia, Novi Sad is its laid-back intellectual cousin. The biggest city in Vojvodina, Serbia’s second city is home to an impressive roster of sights and sounds that merge beautifully with a proud history of literature and invention. The Central European influence on the town is palpable, making it arguably the most traditionally ‘European’ city in Serbia.
Novi Sad also happens to be surrounded by some of the most gorgeous towns in the country. Belgrade gets the main event billing, but you can’t truly visit Serbia without exploring Novi Sad as well as the capital. But how to get there from Beograd?
Belgrade and Novi Sad are better linked than any other two cities in the country. Six trains make the journey between Belgrade and Novi Sad on a daily basis, three of which are much quicker than the others. The first of these leaves at 7.25am with the last trundling out of the capital’s central station at 9.40pm. The piggy in the middle departs Belgrade at 11.25am. The train stops at Stara Pazova and Inđija and takes 100 minutes to get to Novi Sad, with magnificent Vienna as its final destination.
The slower trains leave Belgrade at 10am, 3pm and 7.23pm, taking just over two hours to traverse the 96 kilometres between the capital and Novi Sad. Those trains stop everywhere and anywhere between the two, including gorgeous Sremski Karlovci. The train situation in Serbia is improving, but there are still plenty of problems in the system. Don’t expect the trains to run on time, be comfortable, or have a toilet in any kind of acceptable state.
If you aren’t married to a particular time and are looking for a more efficient way to travel between Belgrade and Novi Sad, the bus is your best bet. Buses depart the central Belgrade bus station for Novi Sad every hour, sometimes multiple times an hour, and the journey takes an hour and a half. Unless you run into nightmarish traffic, of course.
With the exception of EXIT Festival week, you should have no problems turning up to the bus station and buying a ticket before boarding the bus. Do be mindful of your ticket, however, as it will only be viable for a specified bus, as opposed to any bus making the trip.
The quickest way to travel between Belgrade and Novi Sad is by private car, with decent roads and no need to stop at small villages. BlaBlaCar is now officially in Serbia, but the route is so frequent and obvious that specific rides between the two are rarely posted. Many hotels and hostels (especially the latter) in both cities will offer minivan rides between the two cities, so don’t be afraid to ask at the reception desk before heading to the bus or train station.