Best Things to Do in Novi Sad, The historical impact of Budapest may be felt in this city, which is the second largest in Serbia and located on the Danube upriver from Belgrade.
Novi Sad is a young city by Serbian standards; it flourished in the 18th century as a commercial center opposite the massive Austro-Hungarian garrison of Petrovaradin Fortress. The city flourished during the 1700s and 1800s, becoming the de facto cultural center of Serbia. The Hungarian garrison at the Petrovaradin Fortress disrupted this in the short term during the Revolution of 1848.
What you see here is the result of swift reconstruction, but none of Novi Sad’s charm was lost in the process. The EXIT Festival, one of the largest summer music festivals in Europe, is a testament to the city’s continued devotion to the arts.
Best Things to Do in Novi Sad
The sandy beach along the Danube in Novi Sad is accessible year-round. However, the best time to visit is between May and September.
It’s the best time to rent a deckchair or sun lounger for the day next to one of Europe’s great rivers, and the row of restaurants and pubs behind you will be open for business.
While a swim in the Danube is an option for the truly brave, there is much to see and do without getting wet.
The park in back features a beach volleyball stadium that hosts international events, as well as mini-golf, multiple playgrounds for children, and other recreational amenities.
Live performances are held on this beach during the EXIT festival.
St George’s Cathedral
You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but this is the main Orthodox church in Novi Sad.
Since the old building from the 18th century was destroyed during the 1848 Revolution, the style is best described as a Baroque revival.
It has a low-key exterior, but the inside is as vivacious as it gets.
The two enormous throne icons by Realist Paja Jovanovi will steal your focus from the rest of the icons on the iconostasis, which features a total of 33 icons.
You can also take in Stevan Aleksi’s (another major Serbian artist and a member of the Munich school) frescos while you’re there.
Matica Srpska Gallery
A necessary stop for every art lover interested in Serbia.
For the best collection of Serbian art outside of Belgrade, look no farther than this gallery, which is managed by Matica Srpska, Serbia’s premier cultural institution.
It includes everything from contemporary sculpture and paintings to post-Byzantine icons, most of which date from the 1500s to the 1900s.
The gallery has an extensive collection of over 7,000 works and rotates temporary shows on a monthly basis.
Towards the southeast of Novi Sad, less than half an hour away, the right bank of the Danube turns mountainous as you enter pasture, woods, and vineyards, all of which are within a National Park.
Located in the middle of the Pannonian Basin, Fruka Gora is a massive mountain range.
These slopes, which 90 million years ago were the beaches of an ancient island in the Pannonian Sea, are now home to vineyards producing Riesling and Traminer grapes.
Fruka Gora is a popular destination for day visits, picnics, and camping excursions during the warmer months.
You can also get a list of 15 orthodox monasteries, most of which date back to the 15th and 16th century and are waiting to be discovered in the woods.
Just a short distance over the Danube is another of Vojvodina’s picturesque villages, encircled on all sides by vineyards.
Sremski Karlovci’s historic district is small enough to explore on foot, yet it’s full of churches, halls, and palaces that have stood since 1848 and are brimming with character and interesting anecdotes.
Caves like Podrum Bajilo and the Zivanovic Wine Cellar, which also has a museum dedicated to bee-keeping, are great places to sample the region’s wines.
Sremski Karlovci, however, is well-known due to its cultural institutions and uniquely Serbian character.
In the late 18th century, the town became a major educational hub with the opening of Serbia’s first Gymnasium (Grammar School).
The library is home to one of the world’s largest collections of Serbian literature and has produced notable alumni including the poet Branko Radievi.
EXIT originated at the Petrovaradin Fortress in 2000 as a protest movement against the government of Slobodan Miloevi, which was toppled in October of that year.
What started off as primarily electronic has welcomed every other style of music, from hip-hop to folk, reggae, metal, and alternative rock.
Snoop Dogg, the White Stripes, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Morrissey, Patti Smith, Massive Attack, and a plethora of other bands and musicians have all graced the stage at EXIT.
Five days long at the beginning of July, the event features three main stages: one for rock and pop, one for dance, and one for hardcore and metal.
The city is teeming with off-the-main-stage performances, DJ sets, and acoustic shows.
Petrovaradin, a strategic prize on a rocky outcrop by the Danube, had been in Ottoman hands for 150 years prior to the Habsburg Empire capturing it in the Great Turkish War.
The Austrians wasted no time in 1692 constructing a massive Vauban-style stronghold in the east to protect against the Ottomans.
The majority of the structure is still surviving, including the layered, angular ramparts and underground network of catacombs and anti-siege tunnels.
You may either take a guided tour of the tunnels or just wander around the fortress, which features a museum and cafés with breathtaking views of the Danube.
Petrovaradin Clock Tower
The fortress’ Baroque clock tower stands high above one of the gates and overlooks a square with a breathtaking panorama of the Danube and Novi Sad.
Observing the clock face, you may notice that the giant hand has been replaced by the small one, signaling that something is amiss.
In doing so, we helped fisherman down on the Danube see the time from their boats.
The terraces have benches where you may sit and take in the view of the city of Novi Sad, and as they face west, they are especially beautiful when the sun sets.
A better starting location for a leisurely stroll around the city could not be found.
The street Dunavska (Danube) runs east to west and is partially pedestrianized, with grand homes and townhouses lining either side.
For as long as the city has been, this is where the people of Novi Sad have gathered to stroll and socialize.
After Novi Sad was destroyed in the 1848 Revolution against the Austro-Hungarian Empire, practically all of the structures you see now date to the middle of the nineteenth century.
There are stands along the path selling popcorn and ice cream, while the buildings are painted in soft pastels and filled with restaurants, inns, bookstores, boutiques, and cafes.
The majority of Dunavska’s historic structures are designated historic landmarks.
This central area in Novi Sad is surrounded on virtually all sides by ancient buildings, making it one of the city’s most photogenic spots.
There is a statue of a 19th-century figure named Svetozar Mileti in the centre of Trg Slobode (Liberty Square), which is also known as Svetozar Mileti Square.
For years, Mileti was a political irritant for the Austro-Hungarian Empire in his role as mayor of Novi Sad.
His bronze statue was hidden from the Nazis while they occupied the city in the 1940s and was only restored after the city was freed in 1944. The area also features the Neo-Renaissance town hall built in 1895, the Gothic-style Church of the Name of Mary, and the elegant Hotel Vojvodina, which first welcomed guests in 1854.
In 1895, the site of Novi Sad’s annual fair was transformed into the city’s most beloved park.
There is a pond and a wide variety of trees, including birches, hazelnuts, willows, and even a listed, centuries-old English oak, that make this area a tranquil oasis in the spring and summer.
Enjoy the ice rink in the park during the colder months.
The monument of the 19th-century poet ura Jaki and the nymph sculpture by ore Jovanovi both hint at the cultural wealth of Novi Sad during this time.
Museum of Vojvodina
The history of the Vojvodina Province is chronicled in this museum, housed in a stuccoed palace from the 19th century in Danube Park.
The permanent display is divided into two sections: the first covers the time period from prehistory until the middle of the nineteenth century, and the second discusses the many developments that have taken place since then.
The museum’s crown jewels are a pair of three Roman helmets from the fourth century AD. Made of gilded silver and studded with glass jewels, these are in mint condition.
A replica of a Vojvodina street from the turn of the twentieth century is on display for those interested in the region’s modern history.
The Name of Mary Church
On Trg Slobode, also known as Liberty Square, stands the 72-meter-tall St. Sava Cathedral, the highest church in Vojvodina.
After being damaged in the Revolution of 1848, this magnificent structure served as a replacement for an earlier church.
Designed in the Neo-Gothic style, this Roman Catholic church was built in slightly over two years in 1894. Look up at the spire and you’ll see glazed tiles that were made in the Zsolnay manufactory in Hungary.
The church’s main altar in the apse was crafted in Tyrol, while the stained glass windows in the nave were created in Budapest.
Novi Sad Synagogue
At 11 Jevrejska (Jewish) Street has been a synagogue since the 1700s.
This structure, the fifth iteration by Hungarian Art Nouveau architect Baumhorn Lipót, dates back to the turn of the century.
Not far away, he erected the Jewish town hall and school.
While there were around 4,000 Jews living in Novi Sad prior to World War II, today only about 400 remain. The synagogue is an impressive sight from the sidewalk, but entering requires prior planning.
Or, since the acoustics are so good, you can reserve a seat for one of the regular concerts.
The Bishop’s Palace is also an essential part of any Novi Sad sightseeing excursion due to its position among the city’s most stunning structures.
After the former Bishop’s Palace was demolished in 1848, this one was constructed, along with much of the city’s other 19th-century architecture. The medieval monastery in nearby Fruka Gora clearly influenced the design of this “modern” edifice in the Serbian-Byzantine style.
The fact that the Bishop of Baka, Irinej Bulovi, still resides in the palace is unusual, and the reason why you can only see the building’s facade.