Tips to travel in Serbia north

The rolling ranges of Fruška Gora national park are the perfect antidote to Vojvodina’s pancake plains. Clean, green and almost impossibly bucolic, the 80km stretch is dotted with picture-perfect villages and a sprinkling of 16 working Orthodox monasteries built between the 15th and 18th centuries. It’s one of Serbia’s oldest winemaking regions, and the hospitable locals are more than happy to clink a glass or three with visiting oenophiles. Look out for signs reading vinski podrum – this means there’s a wine cellar within and you’re welcome to sample from it. Wander at your whim by car or on foot, or see fruskagora-dunav.rsfor a list of monasteries and wineries. The Tourism Organisation of Sremski Karlovci (karlovci.org.rs) can arrange private visits.

Mellow meanderings

For exploration sans exertion, the flatlands of Vojvodina can’t be beaten. The region is criss-crossed with gentle hiking paths (see vojvodinaonline.com), including easy ambles along the six lakes of Bela Crkva and around placid Palić Lake; boat hire is also available at both spots. If you don’t mind getting (slightly) vertical, a 160km marked trail runs along the low hills of Fruška Gora.

Prefer to pedal?  The Danube Bike Path (danube-cycle-path.com) – suitable for cyclists of all stripes – wends along the eponymous river past idyllic villages and Pannonian panoramas all the way to the majestic Iron Gates gorge on the Romanian border. Its sister trail, the Euro Velo 6 (eurovelo.com), crosses the Deliblato Sands. Billed as the ‘European Sahara’, the 300-sq-km area is the continent’s largest sandy terrain and home to a massive array of rare plants, birds and animals, including a large wolf population.

A potpourri of the past

Vojvodina is liberally sprinkled with reminders of its mixed-bag past – everyone from the Huns to the Hapsburgs had a stint here – but to see it all would take weeks. For a concentrated hit of history, head to Bač (turizam.bac.rs), 65km west of Novi Sad. The town’s star attraction is its glorious, partially ruined fortress. Records indicate it was first built in AD 873, before being annexed, renovated and destroyed repeatedly by various empires until the 18th century. The Knights Templar planted their flag in Bač too, establishing a monastery in 1169. The cloisters were taken over by the Franciscans in 1312; it remains operational today and welcomes visitors. For a taste of Turkish times, check out the preserved rooms and water pipes of Bač’s 16th-century hammam, the only surviving Turkish bath in Vojvodina.

Architectural ambles

Sitting snug against the Danube, Sremski Karlovci has a huge history that belies its cosy size. Originally home to an ancient Roman fortress, the village peaked as a major cultural and spiritual centre during the 18th century, a legacy still visible in beautiful baroque edifices including the St Nicholas Orthodox cathedral (1758–62), the working Karlovci Orthodox Theological Seminary (1794) – the second of its kind in the world – and the magnificent Four Lions fountain.

Further north, Subotica charms comers-and-goers (it’s on the border with Hungary) with a comely collection of art nouveau buildings. An easy amble will reveal streets and squares lined with architectural eye candy; the tastiest is the sumptuous Raichle Palace (home to a modern art gallery), a 1904 marvel of mosaics, floral patterns and wrought-iron flourishes.