Produced by The Local’s Creative Studio in partnership with Novi Sad Cultural Capital of Europe 

A ‘Kaleidoscope of Culture’:
the Balkan gem waiting to be discovered

A ‘Kaleidoscope of Culture’: the Balkan gem waiting to be discovered

With vacation season almost over, is it too soon to start dreaming about the next getaway? Here’s why the fabulous but undiscovered Novi Sad – a European Capital of Culture 2022 – makes a perfect destination for a city break. 

This city on the Danube, spanned by beautiful bridges rebuilt after the Yugoslav Civil War as a symbol of peace and reconciliation, has a wealth of wonders to discover. These delights range from remnants of an ancient past, wine and food, and shopping secrets, to its spectacular arts program as a European Capital of Culture

Novi Sad is only just emerging as a tourist destination – so visitors arriving now get to see the city at its most authentic and vibrant.

Seeking a unique destination for your next European city trip? Here are five reasons why Novi Sad needs to be at the top of your list. 

Photo: Getty Images

A stunning position on the Danube

Located on a curve on the Danube River, and crowned by a bluff upon which the imposing Petrovaradin fortress stands, Novi Sad enjoys an enviable position – one that has attracted newcomers for thousands of years. 

Novi Sad is situated across the river from the Fruška Gora National Park and you can expect a balmy climate, averaging a high of 25 degrees Celsius throughout September and October. The warmth here lasts considerably longer than much of the continent. 

The city’s river banks are lined with terraces, cafes, restaurants and green spaces, so it’s the perfect place to soak up the last warm days of the year. 

Enjoy late-season sun on the banks of the Danube in Novi Sad

A ‘new’ city built on ancient, storied land

Its climate and fertile soil means the land upon which the city of Novi Sad grew has always been a desirable place to settle. 

The oldest traces of human civilization extend back several thousand years, with artefacts unearthed from necropolises on display in the Museum of Vojvodina. 

Also on display in the museum are three brilliantly bejewelled helmets from when Novi Sad was the Roman fortress known as Cusum. Nothing like them has been found anywhere else in Europe – they are so iconic that they’ve become unofficial symbols of the city. 

Having passed through the hands of the Byzantines, Hungarians, Ottomans and Habsburgs, Novi Sad became a city in the eighteenth century, featuring beautiful baroque architecture that today still projects a grand atmosphere. Despite almost being destroyed during nineteenth-century revolutions against the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the city still features impressive buildings such as the Name of Mary Church, Bishop’s Palace, Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad Synagogue and many more. 

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Aleksandar Milutinović TONS PROMO

Sensational regional food and wine

Among the treasures brought up from the wreck of the RMS Titanic were bottles of Bermet, one of the many wines produced on the slopes of the mountain facing Novi Sad, Fruška Gora. This sweet dessert wine was once the toast of Europe, featuring on the menu of most royal courts. 

To this day, the vineyards that face the city have been a favourite destination of locals, who enjoy tastings on a weekend afternoon, along with savouring local dishes. 

Novi Sad has distinct delicacies that have drawn gourmands from across Europe for decades. These include pljeskavica, a spicy rissole made from pork and lamb, kulen, minced pork sausage flavoured with fiery paprika, and futoška sarma, a variation on the classic Balkan cabbage-wrapped dumpling. 

All of these dishes are available at eateries throughout the city. And if you’re on the move while exploring, try the Index sandwich – a ham, cheese and mushroom concoction in a crusty bun, perfect for snacking. 

Plan your stay in Novi Sad, with the best of regional food, wine and culture at your fingertips 

A destination for shoppers seeking something unique

In recent years, Novi Sad has become a regional destination for shopping, thanks to several exciting local producers selling their wares. 

Beautiful leather goods that draw on a long tradition of manufacturing in the region can be found at The Manual Co on Zmaj Jovina Street, while over on Pašićeva Street, Misha sells clothing and jewellery inspired by the traditional intricate patterns and bright colours of Serbian folk art.  

For a souvenir you’ll remember, Kovač on Poštanska Street has been making high-quality hats for over a century. If it’s homewares you’re looking for, Werkstatt on Štrosmajerova Street sells pieces with distinct Serbian motifs. 

Perhaps the best way to discover the shopping treasure of Novi Sad is to wander through the city’s districts, easy due to the city being relatively flat. 

Capital of Culture 2022

The most exciting reason to visit Novi Sad in 2022 is its title as a European Capital of Culture for the year. The city is celebrating rich cultural traditions, found both locally and across Europe. Artists have been invited, a number of performance spaces built and a keenly experiential focus woven throughout the city’s districts. 

Running until early 2023, the festival programme is based around a symbolic theme of bridges, in honour of the city’s bridges, and reflecting the idea of building new connections between Serbian artists and organisations and the European cultural scene. The programme is packed with theatre, music, and visual and digital art, with something for every taste. Coming up are two consecutive programs of events under the bridge of ‘Hope’. 

The ‘Kaleidoscope of Culture, running from September 1 to October 7, takes five diverse means of expression – architecture, performing arts, literature, visual arts and applied arts – and reflects the diverse past and present of Novi Sad through a series of events, exhibitions and happenings throughout the city’s districts. 

Following that, ‘Other? Europe’ from October 8 to November 27 examines issues and ideas of European identity through the lens of subcultural rebellion. If counterculture and non-traditional forms of artistic expression resonate with you, this is the season to be exploring Novi Sad, as the underground comes to vivid life around you. 

Like the rebuilt bridges that rose in the aftermath of war, Novi Sad and the cultural bloom taking place throughout 2022 are connecting a city full of delights to the wider world. There’s never been a better time to see what this underrated city has to offer. 

Explore the different faces of Novi Sad during their time as European Capital of Culture

Unless captioned, all images are supplied by the city of Novi Sad. 

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MONEY

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

If you're visiting Italy from outside the EU you risk running up a huge phone bill in roaming charges - but there are ways to keep your internet access while avoiding being hit by extra charges.

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone registered in an EU country then you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but people visiting from non-EU countries – which of course now includes the UK – need to be careful with their phone use abroad.

First things first, if you are looking to avoid roaming charges, be sure to go into your settings and turn off “data roaming.” Do it right before your plane lands or your train arrives – you don’t want to risk the phone company in your home country starting the clock on ‘one day of roaming fees’ without knowing it.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

But these days travelling without internet access can be difficult and annoying, especially as a growing number of tourist attractions require booking in advance online, while restaurants often display their menus on a QR code.

So here are some techniques to keep the bills low.

Check your phone company’s roaming plan

Before leaving home, check to see what your phone plan offers for pre-paid roaming deals.

For Brits, if you have a phone plan with Three for example, you can ask about their “Go Roam” plan for add-on allowance. You can choose to pay monthly or as you go. Vodafone offers eight day and 15 day passes that are available for £1 a day.

For Americans, T-Mobile offers you to add an “international pass” which will charge you $5 per day. Verizon and AT&T’s roaming plans will charge you $10 per day. For AT&T, you are automatically opted into this as soon as your phone tries to access data abroad.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

These all allow you to retain your normal phone number and plan.

Beware that these prices are only available if you sign up in advance, otherwise you will likely be facing a much bigger bill for using mobile data in Italy. 

Buy a pre-paid SIM card

However, if you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM card in Italy.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

Here are some of the plans you can choose from:

WindTre

WindTre, the result of a 2020 merger between the Italian company Wind and the UK network provider Three, currently offers a “Tourist Pass” SIM card for foreign nationals. For €24.99 (it’s sneakily marketed as €14.99, but read the small print and you’ll see you need to fork out an additional €10), you’ll have access to 20GB of data for up to 30 days.

The offer includes 100 minutes of calls within Italy plus an additional 100 minutes to 55 foreign countries listed on the WindTre website. Up to 13.7GB can be used for roaming within the EU. The card is automatically deactivated after 30 days, so there’s no need to worry about surprise charges after you return from your holiday. To get this SIM card, you can go into any WindTre store and request it.

A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.
A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Vodafone

Vodafone has had better deals in the past, but lately appears to have downgraded its plan for tourists, now called “Vodafone Holiday” (formerly “Dolce Vita”), to a paltry 2GB for €30. You get a total of 300 minutes of calls and 300 texts to Italian numbers or to your home country; EU roaming costs €3 per day.

Existing Vodafone customers can access the offer by paying €19 – the charge will be made to your Vodafone SIM within 72 hours of activating the deal. 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

The Vodafone Holiday offer automatically renews every four weeks for €29 – in order to cancel you’ll need to call a toll-free number. The Vodafone website says that the €30 includes the first renewal, suggesting the payment will cover the first four weeks plus an additional four after that, but you’ll want to double check before buying. You’ll need to go to a store in person to get the card.

TIM

TIM is one of Italy’s longest-standing and most well-established network providers, having been founded in 1994 following a merger between several state-owned companies.

The “Tim Tourist” SIM card costs €20 for 15GB of data and 200 minutes of calls within Italy and to 58 foreign countries, and promises “no surprises” when it comes to charges.

You can use the full 15GB when roaming within the EU at no extra charge, and in the EU can use your minutes to call Italian numbers. The deal is non-renewable, so at the end of the 30 days you won’t be charged any additional fees.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

To access the offer, you can either buy it directly from a TIM store in Italy, or pre-order using an online form and pay with your bank card. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive a PIN which you should be able to present at any TIM store on arrival in Italy (along with your ID) to collect your pre-paid card. The card won’t be activated until you pick it up.

Iliad

Iliad is the newest and one of the most competitive of the four major phone companies operating in Italy, and currently has an offer of 120GBP of €9.99 a month. For this reason, some travel blogs recommend Iliad as the best choice for foreigners – but unfortunately all of their plans appear to require an Italian tax ID, which rules it out as an option for tourists.

Contract

Though buying a pre-paid SIM card is a very useful option for visitors spending a decent amount of time in Italy, as mentioned above, there’s a significant different difference between buying a one-time pre-paid SIM versus a monthly plan that auto-renews.

Make sure you know which one you’re signing up for, and that if you choose a plan that will continue charging you after your vacation has ended, you remember to cancel it.

UK contracts

If you have a UK-registered mobile phone, check your plan carefully before travelling. Before Brexit, Brits benefited from the EU cap on roaming charges, but this no longer applies.

Some phone companies have announced the return of roaming charges, while others have not, or only apply roaming charges only on certain contracts.

In short, check before you set off and don’t assume that because you have never been charged extra before, you won’t be this time.

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