Novi Pazar is an anomaly within Serbia. The centre of Islamic culture in the country, you aren’t likely to see overexcited groups of folk in cafés enthusiastically churning their way through bottles of rakija, but you will definitely see a lot of animated conversation and no small amount of coffee. Strong, strong, strong coffee.
Most of Novi Pazar’s finest spots are congregated on the main drag, and Cosmopolitan sits proudly at the top of that list. The name is something of a giveaway, and it doesn’t disappoint. This is where the beautiful people of Novi Pazar seem to congregate, although this place is as much about substance as it is style. As great a choice for breakfast and coffee as it is a 9pm discussion, Cosmopolitan is a mandatory stop in Novi Pazar.
Another excellent choice on the main street, Med Caffe ticks most of the boxes we’ve come to expect from cafés in this part of the world. You know what you’re going to get with the drinks – intensely strong Turkish coffee and a selection of vibrant teas – but the authenticity of everything else is the real pull. The ‘A’ word is a brave one to throw around the Balkans in the modern world, but Med Caffe is the sort of place that seems uninterested in anything outside of its own environment. It’s all the better for it.
We aren’t entirely sure what to make of the name, but Ooh La La transcends that slightly silly moniker with an onslaught of style and quality. The food is good, the coffee is great, but the atmosphere is even better than both. Contemporary European cuisine slides in next to a wide range of teas and hot drinks, as the younger generations of Novi Pazar settle in for a long day of what looks like arguing, but is actually something a lot more convivial.
It might only be open during the summer months, but there is no better place for a coffee in Novi Pazar than right here. Caffe Hamam is located inside the 15th-century Turkish bath, commissioned by Isa-Beg Isaković (Novi Pazar’s founder), and you won’t find a more Ottoman aura in town. The combination of stark colour and brick wall works perfectly with the stronger-than-a-bull coffee on offer.
The anomaly within the anomaly. Novi Pazar’s City Pub is pretty much the only place on the main street to get a beer, and this concentration of pivo creates a genuinely unique atmosphere in town. The beer selection leaves a lot to be desired, but the energy and friendliness of everyone involved more than makes up for it. This is absolutely the place to go to watch sports too, especially if we’re talking about football.
You aren’t going to find the excesses of Belgrade in Novi Pazar, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anywhere to drink vodka and dance your socks off. Carpe Diem serves that purpose for the people of Sandžak, a club full of staggeringly attractive people who just can’t stop smoking. There is also plenty of live music here, although don’t expect anything outside of your usual Balkan pop. If you want the stereotypical Serbian night out in Novi Pazar, head to Carpe Diem.
Novi Pazar is a city full of traditional cafés, but many of its highlights lie in the more contemporary options available. Dunja Caffe is one such option, offering European cuisine alongside the usual run of hot and cold drinks. If all that sounds a little bit functional then do not fear, there is plenty of vibrancy and excitement to be found here, in the passionate koreros taking place all around.