I feel like whichever road you take towards Serbia, it will always lead you to Novi Sad, it is simply how it is. You might think I am being very subjective here, which is true, but hear me out. Being one of the must see cities to visit in Serbia, Novi Sad was named to be one of three 2021 European Capital of Culture cities. All I can tell you is that this charming northern city will definitely promise you an unforgetable time. If you are craving for the new, exciting destination, with friendly people, soothing vibe and at the same time never ending nighlife, then this is the right article for you. Keep reading to find out more about Novi Sad in a nutshell!
There are a million cities you can go to, but only one in which you can return. Djordje Balasevic, Serbian singer and songwriter
Novi Sad as the second largest city of Serbia, is the capital of the autonomous province of Vojvodina and the administrative center of the South Backa District. Since its founding, the population of the city has been constantly increasing. As ethnicaly most diverse city in the region, it is situated in the southern part of the Pannonian Plain, on the border of the Backa and Srem geographical regions, on the banks of the Danube river, facing the northern slopes of famous and glorious Fruska Gora mountain, about which I will write about in the inspirations to come. Since the 18th and 19th centuries, Novi Sad has indeed became an important trading and manufacturing centre, as well as a the centre of Serbian culture of that period, even earning the nickname of the Serbian Athens. Heavily abolished in the 1848 Revolution, but subsequently restored until today to, along with the capital city of Belgrade, the city gains a status of the industrial and financial center of the Serbian economy.
Renowned and considered as one of the most beautiful Balkan cities, its 19th century architecture dominates the city centre, which makes it unique and gives it a specific charm. Around the center, you may come across buildings dating before 19th century, while in the other areas of the city the old small houses have been replaced by modern multi-story buildings. During the socialist period, new blocks with wide streets and multi-story buildings were built around the city core. All in all, this is something that makes Novi Sad rather unique, as you will definitely notice the compositions of the contrast that somehow beautifuly and perfectly functions.
What you will most certainly enjoy to see upon arrival to Novi Sad are some of its oldest neighbourhoods such as Stari Grad (Old Town), Rotkvarija, Podbara and Salajka. Sremska Kamenica and Petrovaradin, on the right side of the Danube river, used to be separate towns in the past, but today they are parts of the urban area of Novi Sad, like Liman(divided into four parts, numbered I-IV), as well as Novo Naselje, only a few decades old, with modern high residential buildings and wide boulevards.
The fact that Novi Sad is the crucial ingredient in the Serbia's cluture is testified by the huge number of the greatest Serbian novelists, poets, jurist, and publicists who have lived in this magnificent city at some point of their life. From the 18th century, Novi Sad is one of the most important centers of higher education and research in Serbia, with four universities and numerous professional, technical, and research institutes, including a law school with its own publication. You will be impressed to learn that the city, as a great cultural hub, has several museums and galleries, out of which the most famouns one is Museum of Vojvodina, founded in 1847, which proudly exposes a permanent collection of Serbian culture throughout its rich history. If you love art, then you simply cannot miss Gallery of Matica Srpska, the biggest and the most prestigious gallery in the city centre. And if you are a fan of contemporary art, make sure you check out The Gallery of Fine Arts - Gift Collection of Rajko Mamuzic and The Pavle Beljanski Memorial Collection and discover all of the greatest Serbian collections.
Moreover, the city's most dominant landmark is definitely the Petrovaradin Fortress, dating from the the 17th century. In fact, what history lovers will surely find amazing is that the Museum of Novi Sad in Petrovaradin Fortress offers a detailed collection of history of the fortress. A fortress that no enemy has ever taken through centuries, also has a small Observatory and Planetarium. In fact, in 1991, Petrovaradin Fortress was added to Spatial Cultural-Historical Units of Great Importance list, and it is protected by the Republic of Serbia. The Fortress, with it beauty and rigidity, testifies the dynamic history of the region through centuries. The"Reversed clock" as it is known, is one of the trademarks of the fortress. What you will find very interesting, as I have, is that the minute and hour hand on the clock tower are reversed, with the small hand showing minutes, and the big hand showing hours, so that fishermen on the Danube river can see the time from a long distance. Finally, Petrovaradin Fortress is a spot of Novi Sad you have no excuse to miss, and I am convinced that you will enjoy it.
What is notable to mention, along so many things in this city, is Zmaj Jovina Street, one of the oldest streets in Novi Sad. It extends from Liberty Square to the bishop's palace and it used to be a place with a number of craft and trade shops, named Magazinska alley. By the early 20th century, it was a central spot for an evening promenade. At the end of the street, in front of the bishop's house, since 1984, there is a monument of Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj, the most famous children's poet, by whom the famous street got its name.
Moreover, what you will surely find very convenient in Novi Sad is that all the monumental trademarks in the city center are at a walking distance, and in case you get lost, you can always take the taxi with its extremly affordable rates for foreigners. Check out The Old Town Hall, as well as several of the most famous churches of the city such as The Church of the Great martyr St. George, Serb Orthodox church in Pasiceva street as well as The Church of Virgin's name.
More importantly, what I would warmly recommend you is to take a stroll around the city's imposing boulevards and along the Danube river, for example the route Kralja Aleksandra-Trg Slobode-Zmaj Jovina- Dunavska-Beogradski Kej-Kej Zrtava Racije. If the weather is nice, sit down at one of the cafés around Spens and enjoy the view and the relaxing atmosphere. During the summer, a thing not to be missed is surely Strand, the most beatiful sand beach on the Danube river. I know I have definitely enjoyed it. But don't despair, as it is open through the whole year with free entry, so you should at least catch a glimpse of it.
Nevertheless, the article simply would not be fulfilled if gastronomy is not mentioned, and we should certainly give this city some credit to it, as its offers many places where you can find best of the decadent Serbian cuisine and drinks, such as Dubocica, Konoba, Marina, Jet Set, Dunav, Fontana, Dukat, Lipa and many many more, about which I will write about in detail. For the sweet tooth, Mocart Cafe, Vremeplov and Figaro are a must stop spots. As a young and lively city, Novi Sad will never cease to disapoint you with its rich bar and clubs scene. But more about it will come.
One of the first associations of Novi Sad, especially for music and festival lovers, is the annual Exit Festival, the key summer music festival, attracting visitors from all over the world. Apart from the uncountable festivals and cultural manifestations that Novi Sad organises, Exit Festival, due to the quality of performances, renowned performers, impecable organisation and irreplacable atmosphere remains the most prominent one. It has grown from the biggest festival in South-Eastern Europe, to one of the biggest in Europe which testifies its greatness. Sex Pistols, Nightwish, Garbage, Goldfrapp, Fatboy Slim, Franz Ferdinand, Morrissey, Billy Idol, Pet Shop Boys, The Cardigans, HIM, Robert Plant, Guns N' Roses, The Prodigy, Beastie Boys, Lauryn Hill, Basement Jaxx, Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan are just a few names that have performed at EXIT festival. Having any doubts? Just take a look at the video below and see it for yourself. I know you will already book your ticket for the upcoming summer.
After all, this has been only a short introduction of this beautiful city, which has so much more to offer with its rich history, cultural monuments and manifestations, soothing atmosphere, friendly hospitable people that will make you feel at home and unforgetable night out. I promise I will keep you posted about more spots you can visit in Novi Sad, if you promise to yourself that you will soon explore this precious gem of northern Serbia, as I am convinced that upon visiting it, you will not forget it. So stay tuned for more inspirations!
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.