Other than Belgrade, a trip to Serbia must include Subotica. According to many, Subotica is the country’s most beautiful city. Additionally, the city is a multicultural heaven, with Hungarians, Serbians and Croatians living next to each other. Although ideally located on the railroad connecting Budapest and Belgrade it has somehow remained undiscovered. There are plenty of things to see and do in Subotica: the city is famous for its elegant architecture, green parks, great food and laid back atmosphere. Hence, spending a day or two in this wonderful place is a must.
What to see in Subotica – Art Nouveau
Subotica is blessed with many outstanding examples of Art Nouveau architecture. In Austro-Hungary the movement was called Secession. Most buildings are quite colorful and are decorated with world famous Zsolnai ceramics from Pécs. You will see numerous interesting buildings but the following three deserve special attention.
City Hall (Gradska Kuća)
The City Hall is undoubtedly Subotica’s most famous landmark. Built between 1908 and 1912, it’s Serbia’s most imposing public hall. Budapest born architects Komor and Jakab designed it. Notice how art nouveau’s floral elements blend with Hungarian folklore decorations harmoniously. The impressive Council Hall with stained glass windows is the buildings highlight. You can take any of the daily organized tours through the building.
The Subotica synagogue is one of Europe’s most exquisite religious buildings. The same architects that designed the City Hall designed it. The temple was built in 1908 and incorporates typical elements of Hungarian Secession like tulips, carnations and peacock feathers. Unfortunately, the building was left to rot for decades, until it got a complete reconstruction a couple of years ago. Strangely enough, it is closed most of the time. Therefore, you can go inside only on special occasions.
Raichle Palace (Rajhlova Palata)
If you arrive to Subotica by train, the first building you’ll notice is the fabulous Raichle Palace. Unlike the first two buildings it is not free standing and it’s much smaller in size. Ferenc Raichle built it in 1904 as his home and artistic studio. The Palace was built with expensive materials and is quite exotic. Perhaps, the latter is due to its vibrant colors and odd forms. Fortunately for us, it is still in use, housing Modern art gallery ‘Likovni susreti’.
Other sights – Religious architecture
As mentioned above Subotica is Serbia’s most multicultural city. Apart from the beautiful Synagogue, the city is full of interesting religious buildings. Amongst these, three churches built in the 18th century stand out: the Cathedral, the Franciscan church and the Serb Orthodox Church. The Subotica Cathedral is baroque and dedicated to St. Theresa of Avila, the city’s patron. On the other hand, the neo-romanticist Franciscan Church is dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. Finally, the baroque Serb Orthodox Church is dedicated to the Holy Ascension. Considering that Subotica is rather small you should be able to visit all three on foot.
Just 8 kilometers to the east of Subotica we find Palić. The place is pretty famous all around Serbia due to beautiful Palić Lake, the largest natural lake in the country. The Lake is now connected to Tisa River and apparently unsuitable for swimming. Nevertheless, it is a great place to walk about. Even more, amongst the lush Great Park (Veliki Park) you will spot elegant art nouveau buildings. Our favorites are the beautiful Water Tower, Grand Terrace, Music Pavilion and Ladies Bath (Ženski štrand). There is also a large Zoo, but Happy Frog doesn’t approve of keeping animals in cages for our entertainment, so please avoid.
What to do in Subotica
- Spend some time exploring Subotica’s central pedestrian area. Walk about Freedom Square (Trg Slobode), the main street Korzo and the small Matije Korvina Street. Be sure to notice the pretty buildings that dot the area.
- Relax in Mulberry Forest (Dudova Šuma). You won’t be walking entirely alone, since the park is inhabited by hedgehogs and squirrels. On the other hand, if you want to exercise there are a couple of basketball courts, tennis courts and plenty of gym equipment. Additionally, there is a refreshing open air swimming pool.
- Get a city bike card at the SU BIKE office in Djure Djakovica 23. The card allows you to take a bike at any of the bike station scattered all around town. In fact, you can bike all the way to Palić Lake.
- If you have some extra time, visit the Kelebija Livery Stable, close to the Hungarian Border.
Where to stay – Hotels in Subotica
We are sad to report that Subotica’s accommodation offer doesn’t match its beauty. There are only three** hotels inside the city, all of them overpriced. Patria and Galleria are 4 star hotels while PBG Garni Hotel is 3 stars. Hotels in Palić are much better value for money. All 5 of them have 4 stars and are housed in historical buildings. Nevertheless, staying in downtown Subotica is a much better idea, unless you are looking for a quiet getaway. Perhaps the best option is to rent an apartment through the official Subotica web or any other apartment rental website.
** Since 2019 there is a nice apart-hotel downtown. Hotel Forum Garni offers spacious rooms in a great location.
Where to eat – Restaurants, bakeries and cafés
Subotica is full of great bakeries, restaurants and coffee shops. However, three places are not to be missed. Without a doubt the best restaurant in town is Caffe Boss in Matije Korvina. The place is so big it practically occupies half of the street. You can sit under a tree and indulge in delicious national dishes as well as in international flavors such as Mexican and Chinese. Special mention goes to their dessert menu! The best burek (baked dough pastry) is in Lipa, and though the place is small the food is first class. Watch out for all the grease! Another place worth mentioning is Pelivan in front of Subotica City Hall. They have been preparing superb ice cream for almost 100 years!
Do not worry about putting on some extra weight. As we mentioned above, you will need energy to walk for hours about the city, bike through the park, play tennis or swim. Who would have thought that Subotica, Serbia’s most beautiful city, has so much to offer?