Whenever someone asks me whether there are any fun things to do in Novi Sad, I answer them with “plenty.” This charming capital of the Serbian Province of Vojvodina is quite different from anything else in Serbia. Its people are somehow more relaxed, and the food seems classy. The overall atmosphere when walking around Novi Sad is bewitching.
Maybe it’s the architecture, maybe it’s the memories of the former Austria-Hungary reign or the horrific NATO bombardment monuments. Whatever it is, no one can forget the mixed feelings of being a happy traveler in a town with such a sad history. Yet, the wonderful people of Novi Sad seem unbothered of their past as they welcome tourists in a friendly manner and make them feel at home. I know I certainly felt so.
Novi sad is one of the hidden gems in Europe and the world that should be visited and explored for its rich history, culture, architecture, and cuisine.
First Impressions of Novi Sad
When our road trip across several Balkan countries as well as Hungary took us to Novi Sad, it was my fourth time in the town. So, I can’t really speak of first impressions. Although I do remember feeling as if I was walking in an Austrian city the first time, I took a stroll around Novi Sad.
Anyway, we were lucky it was a sunny day and even ended up giving one of the pay-toll employees a ride to the town center. Unsurprisingly, I’d say that the outskirts of Novi S do the town a bad favor, but everything is forgiven once you get to the heart of Novi Sad.
The place in general
Novi Sad is a wonderful town. It’s not too big and you can explore it within a day or two. However, if you want to properly enjoy it, I’d say spend at least three or four days over there. The architecture in Novi Sad is beautiful, with many old buildings giving it a special charm.
Well, we were lucky enough to have free parking as part of our accommodation. However, it was free street parking anyway, so I believe anyone can use it. However, you should keep in mind that there are three main parking zones throughout the town: Red, Blue, and White. Their respective prices per hour are 53 RSD, 44 RSD, and 35 RSD. Only the first zone comes with the restriction of max 2 hours allowed. As things may change in the meantime, we advise you to double-check this information on site.
The magnificent Danube River flows through the town and it’s one of the top Novi Sad things to do. You can take a boat ride through it, take a swim in it, or simply enjoy its calmness. Moreover, there are a few relaxing parks as well as the entire Petrovaradin Fortress with its many hidden corners. If these things aren’t enough for you, you can always take a short trip to the Frushka Gora National Park.
Naturally, there are numerous shops across Novi Sad. You can go shopping for branded clothes, but local specialties and all kinds of souvenirs. You won’t have problems finding any grocery shops or supermarkets either.
Novi Sad food is delicious and, mostly, based on meat specialties. The town has a river though, thus you can expect lots of fish dishes as well. The many restaurants offer both traditional Serbian specialties and dishes popular in Vojvodina. Additionally, you can easily find international specialties and fast-food chains like McDonald’s. The prices range from cheap and reasonable to expensive, depending on where you decide to eat. Also, don’t be surprised to find some dishes that resemble the tasty Hungarian cuisine as there are many Hungarians living in Vojvodina.
The official currency in Serbia is Serbian Dinar (RSD). At the time of this writing, the exchange rates for 1 Euro were 118 Serbian Dinars. The exchange offices have generally fair rates, and we advise you to stick to official exchanges, rather than find “good” deals on the streets.
Driving through Serbia comes with certain charges as there are pay-tolls on the highways. So, depending on your route, you will have to keep in mind pay-toll fees. For example, those going Belgrade to Novi Sad or Novi Sad to Belgrade will have to pay 800 RSD + 210 RSD (two pay-tolls).
Novi Sad Things to Do During Your Stay
During my several stays in Novi Sad, I have experienced the city in diverse ways. One trip included focusing on delicious Serbian cuisine and relaxing, while another was specifically for the Exit Festival. I enjoyed my 2018 Novi Sad walking tour, just like I enjoyed having coffee at the Petrovaradin Fortress. I don’t know too much about the Novi Sad nightlife, but I do know that there are clubs where party animals can enjoy great music and dancing.
Top Things to See in Novi Sad
Interestingly nicknamed the Gibraltar of the Danube, the Petrovaradin Fortress stands tall, overlooking Novi Sad. The Petrovaradin Fortress is a popular tourist attraction and where the Exit Festival takes place each summer. I advise you to visit the fortress even if you have only one day in Novi Sad.
It is popular for its many underground tunnels and magnificent views of Novi Sad. You can go there by foot, car or taxi. The walk shouldn’t be underestimated, and I would recommend it only to people in good physical shape as I, honestly, got tired even before the hiking part started.
Once there, you can have a nice dinner, get a cup of coffee or simply wander around the fortress and be sure to check out the city views from the Clock Tower. Fun fact about the Clock Tower in Petrovaradin Fortress, the minute hand, which is longer than the hour’s hand, represents the hours on the clock while the hours represents the minutes. The clock tower was constructed this way, so fishermen could see the hour from distance in the Danube River.
There are no entrance fees for the Petrovaradin Fortress, but parking comes with certain charges. Thus, this spot is perfect for those that want to go on a Novi Sad free walking tour.
Svetozar Miletic Square/Freedom Square
This is the main square in Novi Sad. Somewhere you’ll find it under the name Freedom Square, while it is also called the Svetozar Miletic Square as well since it features a statue of the prominent Novi Sad citizen and mayor. It is an amazing spot you can’t miss, even if you wanted to. It’s where all the charming streets meet and offer a great view of the popular Novi Sad Cathedral.
This is the Mayor building in Novi Sad and believe me it’s worth seeing. With its magnificent look, the building will take your breath away regardless whether you are a fan of architecture, history or simply beautiful things.
Taking a walk along the charming Dunavska Street, one of the oldest streets in Europe is a must. This romantic street with rustic lanterns and glorious facades is one of the most beautiful pedestrian zones I’ve ever seen. You’ll love it, regardless whether it’s a busy hour or a quiet night. Thus, it comes as little surprise that Dunavska Street is featured on all what to do in Novi Sad lists.
The Gallery of Srbska Matica
Matica Srbska is the oldest literary, cultural and scientific institution in Serbia. It’s not your standard museum; Matica Srbska has many sections and a gallery that represents the Serbian culture and art throughout the ages. The entrance fee is about €2, and worth the money for an hour or two in the life, traditions, and history of the Serbian people.
If you are more into the traditional sense of a museum, then be sure to check out the Museum Vojvodina. You will get to see very cool collections and artifacts from the Neolithic times and learn more about Vojvodina’s history.
The Name of Mary Church
This is a magnificent Roman Catholic parish church, impossible to miss. It is the largest one in the city and overlooks the Liberty Square. The church was completed back in 1894 and boasts with a Gothic revival architectural style.
Danube Park and Danube River
A wonderful park created to honor a wonderful river – both are must-see Novi Sad attractions. It doesn’t matter if you prefer quiet walks along the river or reading a book in the park, you will love this combo of wonderful nature.
Danube Strand (Danube Beach)
Danube Strand is the best beach on the Danube River in Novi Sad. This complex lets you take a swim in the river, enjoy some sunbathing, play mini-golf, have lunch or enjoy a number of other fun activities.
This cable-stayed bridge was first built in 1981. However, during the NATO bombardment in 1999, the bridge was destroyed and then rebuilt in 2005. The bridge is magnificent and lit at night, so it also has great photographing potential.
Synagogue Novi Sad
Located on the Jewish Street in Novi Sad you will find the non-active Synagogue of Novi Sad. Even though not used for religious ceremonies, the Synagogue hosts lots of cultural events such as concerts.
Iron Man Palace (Gvozdeni čovek)
No, it’s not the Marvel Iron Man Palace, but the palace topped by an iron knight. The building stands on the corner between the Freedom Square and the Njegosh Street – right next to the Name of Mother Church Catholic Cathedral.
Wander smaller streets
Most of the streets in Novi Sad are small, charming and beautiful in their own way. So, I strongly recommend to simply let yourself get lost wandering around those streets and be surprised by their beauty. Plus, you never know which street will reveal yet another secret gem of Novi Sad.
BONUS: Novi Sad Exit Festival
Well, the EXIT Festival is probably the most popular event to take place in Novi Sad every summer. However, visiting the festival takes time, money and lots of planning as tickets are sold quickly while finding Novi Sad accommodations is challenging too. So, if you want to go to the EXIT Festival, which by the way is a great experience, you should plan it at least three months beforehand.
Novi Sad Accommodation
For those wondering where to stay in Novi Sad, we stayed at Apartment Inna, which was only 5-minutes away from the center and Dunavska Street. We recommend this place as it came with parking, good Wi-Fi signal and high level of cleanliness. Moreover, it was quite budget-friendly considering what you get for your money. Keep in mind that there is no elevator, though, and it’s on the second floor. Plus, the final stairs are quite narrow, so I’d advise elderly people to avoid it.
Those that prefer a more luxurious experience can go for one of the many Novi Sad hotels. Such an example would be the Vojvodina Hotel, which is right in the center and near the shopping store and offers all commodities one would expect.
Verdict: Sad to Leave Novi Sad, Serbia
Overall, I was generally sad to leave Novi Sad. Even though there aren’t many things to do in Novi Sad, Serbia compared to bigger cities, I always manage to have an excellent time in this charming Serbian town.
I love the views of the Danube River, I love the Petrovaradin Fortress and I love relaxing on the Shtrand (beach). So, every time I need to leave Novi Sad, I wish I had a few more days left there.
- Wonderful nature;
- Lots of historic sites;
- Home of the popular EXIT Festival;
- Small and charming;
- Free Wi-Fi zones in the city center;
- Swimming in the summer season;
- Local people often speak English;
- Too small for those looking for a huge metropolis;
- Can be too cold and depressing during the winter season;
If you’re interested in other Balkan destination reviews, check out the following ones: