Are you considering visiting Serbia’s second-largest city and are wondering what to do in Novi Sad? Well, look no further.
Many people who are visiting Serbia set their sites solely on lively and edgy Belgrade and fail to notice humble Novi Sad when in their trip planning. And this is a real shame. While we are always advocates in spending time in cities outside of the capital, Novi Sad really makes a case for it. Where Belgrade is gritty and raw, Novi Sad is colourful and charming.
As the capital of the Vojvodina region of northern Serbia, Novi Sad makes for a logical stop if you’re coming from Hungary, on a longer trip in the Balkans, or even as a day trip from the capital. Its compact nature means that visitors can experience the highlights of this city in just one day, however, there is enough to do that you can stay occupied for two or even three days.
So if you’re wondering what to do in Novi Sad whether you’re visiting for a day trip or for a couple of nights, look no further. After spending a number of weeks in this beautiful city, we got to know it at an intimate level and can assist you in figuring out the best things to do in Serbia’s second-largest city!
Getting To and Around Novi Sad
Before I jump into all of the great things to do in Novi Sad, let’s talk about how it is that one can get there. As the second-largest city in Serbia, Novi Sad is actually quite well connected in the region and is fairly easy to reach depending on where you are coming from.
If you want to visit Novi Sad from Belgrade, whether as a day trip or for a longer stay, you have a couple of options available. If you’re coming from the city centre, there are countless buses that leave from the central bus station each day, roughly every half hour. The journey is affordable and it takes about 1.5 hours to get to Novi Sad. You can book and see schedules here.
As of the time of writing this article, there is no train running between the two cities.
While there is no international airport in Airport in Novi Sad, you can easily reach the city with a transfer from Belgrade airport. You can either grab a taxi or bus to Belgrade’s central bus station and hop on a coach from there or you can book a private transfer from the airport. We have actually gone for the latter option, booking through Auto Turist, and found that for the €40 fee it was well worth it.
Travellers can also reach Novi Sad if coming from Hungary and it makes for a logical stop between Budapest and Belgrade. Though the train service is disrupted as of right now, there are buses available between the two cities (mostly en route to Belgrade).
If you’re visiting Novi Sad as a day trip from Belgrade and aren’t keen to try and go independently, there are also countless guided tours available. Most tours from Belgrade like this full-day tour include both a guided visit to Novi Sad itself along with wine tasting in the nearby town of Sremski Karlovci.
Once in Novi Sad, its compact nature means that it is actually quite easy to get around on food and all of the stops and things to do on this itinerary are intended to be carried out entirely on foot. There is a robust bus network if needed, though it’s not necessary.
What to do in Novi Sad in One Day
Now it’s time to finally get into all of the great things to do in Novi Sad. The first day of this Novi Sad itinerary will see you exploring the city centre and its highlights. If you’re only planning on visiting Novi Sad as a day trip or for only one full day, then follow the first day of this itinerary.
Begin your day at arguably Novi Sad’s most famous landmark, the Petrovaradin Fortress. Located on the south side of the Danube across the river from the city centre, this is the site of the world-famous EXIT Festival — a music festival that is held each July. Musical acts aside, however, the Petrovaradin Fortress is a great place to visit any time of year.
Originally constructed in the 17th Century, the Petrovaradin Fortress is home to a number of points of interest for visitors. You may be interested in visiting the Museum of Novi Sad, for instance, which makes its home in the grounds of the fortress. For something a bit more creepy, consider visiting the Petrovaradin Catacombs.
Because you are likely going to be visiting this spot in the morning, it can also be a great idea to grab a coffee at one of the many cafes up at the fortress. You can take the time to enjoy the views of the city and river below while getting excited about your day of exploration to come.
Monument to the Victims of the Raid
Crossing the bridge to the north side of the Danube, take the time to walk along the river before heading into the city centre. Not only will you be greeted with fantastic views of the imposing fortress but you also get the chance to visit a truly moving sculpture: the Monument to the Victims of the Raid.
This sculpture of a family along the banks of the Danube is there to remember the murdered victims of the “January Raid” carried out between the 21st and 23rd of January in 1942. This was when the occupying Hungarian Fascist regime brutally executed over 1,000 Jews, Serbs and Roma people.
There are plaques in both Serbian and Hebrew describing the horrific events in detail.
Now it’s time to walk along the river bank and start turning into the city centre – but not before making a stop in the lovely, leafy Dunavski (Danube) Park! This lush green space offers a great respite from a warm day and is always lively and bustling no matter what time of day it is.
There is ample grassy space, plenty of shady benches, and a lovely pond where you can even spot bullfrogs and turtles if you’re lucky.
Museum of Vojvodina
Located adjacent to the park lies the Museum of Vojvodina, the northern region in which Novi Sad resides. This can be an interesting stop as this region has a bit of a different history than the rest of Serbia, seeing as it was avoided Ottoman rule completely and was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, when it finally joined Yugoslavia.
If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating region and putting some context into the place that you’re visiting, then make sure to include the Museum of Vojvodina on your Novi Sad itinerary. The museum is open from 10AM to 6PM Tuesday through Sunday and entry is 100RSD for adults and 50RSD for students with a valid ID.
Just a bit behind the Museum of Vojvodina lies a place that I consider one of the best things to see in Novi Sad, though there are people who may not agree with me — that is the Riblja Pijaca. It’s simply just an open-air marketplace but I always find there is no better place to understand a culture of a city or country than seeing what people eat and how they shop.
Unlike many open-air markets located close to the city centre, this one is geared toward local shoppers and you won’t find many kitschy stalls hawking cheap goods. Instead, you’re mostly going to find local sellers with stalls upon stalls of beautiful fruits, vegetables and other produce.
This is a great place, for instance, to pick up a souvenir of something like local honey or a small bottle of homemade rakija (the local liquor). There are also a few stalls selling baked goods like burek, butcher shops and fishmongers and even a couple of cafes where you can stop for a refreshment should your choose.
Break for Lunch
After a morning of sightseeing, it’s likely that you’re going to need to refuel with some lunch before taking in any more of these great things to do in Novi Sad. Luckily for you, there are a lot of great places to eat in the city so you are absolutely not going to go hungry!
Our top recommendation would be to head to the wonderful Fish & Zeleniš, a restaurant serving (quite obviously) seafood sourced from the Adriatic. The fish is fresh and delicious and it is absolutely worth taking the time to have a meal here.
If you’re not a seafood fan, then consider heading to Toster Bar for a great burger, fries and even a local craft brew!
Bishop’s Palace & Serbian Orthodox Church of St George
Now that you’ve eaten and have regained your energy for exploration, it’s time to finally properly explore the beautiful city centre. And there is no better place to begin this than at the Bishop’s Palace and Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. Located at one end of the pedestrianised Zmaj Jovina street, this beautiful peach building was first constructed in 1901.
Around the corner from the Bishop’s Palace lies the Serbian Orthodox Church of St George. Though often referred to as a cathedral (it isn’t), this church does act as the main Orthodox church in the city.
Built originally in the 18th century and restored a number of times since then — the latest was in the early 20th century — this is an absolutely beautiful building that is indicative of the Art Nouveau style that is found throughout the city.
Wander Down Zmaj Jovina
After taking in the Bishop’s Palace and the Orthodox Church, take the time to stroll down Novi Sad’s main pedestrian street, Zmaj Jovina. Though a good portion of Novi Sad’s city centre is pedestrianised, this is the largest and most bustling street and it lends for excellent people watching no matter the time of day.
Lined with countless streetside cafes, shops and eateries, there are lots of things to see and experience here and this is where the true heart and energy in Novi Sad.
Take your time strolling down this lovely lane and let yourself really absorb the lively energy. There are also a few side streets that can be worth veering off at if you’re interested in seeing a quieter side of the city’s pedestrian streets.
Ice Cream at Crna Ovca
At the end of Zmaj Jovina in the square behind the Name of Mary Church (see the next stop for that!) lies the Novi Sad branch of an excellent ice cream shop – Crna Ovca. Translating to “black sheep” in Serbian, this ice cream shop has its flagship store in Belgrade (where I recommend visiting, as well!) but has a smaller outpost right here in Novi Sad.
They make wonderful, fresh ice creams with inventive flavours that change on the regular. And while there are no shortage of ice cream shops in Novi Sad, this one really does stand out with its high-quality product and unique flavours. If you get a chance, make sure to check out their bigger Belgrade shop as well.
Name of Mary Church & Trg Slobode
Now that you’ve cooled down with a scoop or two of ice cream, now it’s time to take in the tallest and arguably most iconic church in Novi Sad and its main square. The Name of Mary Church is a Catholic church that has a beautiful architectural style, a gorgeous tile roof and an imposing spire that defines the skyline of Novi Sad.
Presiding over Trg Slobode, Novi Sad’s main square, you can take in its beauty from one of the many benches lining the square. Occasionally, there will be buskers performing and it is a wonderful meeting point in Novi Sad.
If you look around, you will see countless beautiful examples of the city’s iconic Art Nouveau architecture and you will really understand why Novi Sad is definitely an underrated gem in Serbia.
Take a Break at a Café
After all of this sightseeing, why not wind down by taking a break in one of the many cafes decorating the streets of Novi Sad. There are countless great cafes to choose from and it’s unlikely that you will make a poor choice here.
If you want to stay close, a popular choice is the unique Trčika (Трчика) cafe just a stone’s throw from the Trg Slobode. This is set in a converted tram car (they also have ample outdoor seating) and has both coffees and stronger drinks available for later in the day.
Another great recommendation is Radio Cafe, however, this is a bit further out from where you will be and may want to head next. They do have a lovely outdoor courtyard complete with a tranquil koi pond and serve fantastic coffee.
Novi Sad Synagogue
After taking a coffee break, it’s time to head a bit further away from the Old Town until you reach the beautiful Novi Sad Synagogue.
Though this beautiful house of worship is not still in use today (the only active synagogue in Serbia is in Belgrade), it is a testament to the Jewish community that consisted of more than 4,000 people prior to the Second World War. There are currently only about 400 Jews living in Novi Sad today.
The synagogue was originally built at the turn of the 20th Century by Hungarian architect by Lipót Baumhorn in the Hungarian Secession/Art Nouveau style. The building itself is imposing and quite beautiful and its dome can be seen as a major part of Novi Sad’s skyline.
Dinner at Project 72
After seeing all of these amazing sites in Novi Sad, it’s likely you’ve worked up quite the appetite. Luckily this city has no shortage of fantastic eateries, however, if you want some local, unique and inventive, make sure not to miss a meal at Project 72.
This restaurant located on a quite street on the edge of the Old Town, they churn out beautiful, locally sourced dishes. The food can be classified as “modern Serbian cuisine” and Project 72 indeed has some unique takes on classic Serbian dishes — including things like ajvar ice cream. You can either share a number of small dishes tapas-style or opt to get your own main dish instead. They also have a large wine list including both Serbian and foreign wines.
If the food here is a bit too adventurous for you, however, there are countless other options available. Pizzeria Savoca, for instance, is located an easy 10-minute walk from the synagogue and they serve great pizzas and other Italian dishes. Or if you didn’t make it here for lunch, Fish & Zeleniš is also a fantastic dinner option! Alternatively, if you’re looking for something classic and a bit more casual, then head to Sarajevski Ćevap for some traditional Balkan barbecue.
Have 2 or 3 Days in Novi Sad?
If you have a bit more time in the city and you’re wondering what to do in Novi Sad for a couple of more days, these are all great suggestions:
Head to Štrand
If you’re visiting in the summertime, then no visit to Novi Sad is complete without heading to the beach. Though Serbia is a landlocked country, Štrand is a wonderful stretch of sand along the banks of the Danube that gets absolutely bustling as soon as the temperatures begin to soar in this Serbian city. In fact, in the summer, it is estimated that up to 20,000 people per day visit this city beach.
You do have to pay a 50RSD fee to enter the beach area, but there are beach bars and cafes and even a number of sunbeds available for hire. You can either opt to come here to party the night away or, if you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, head here in the morning to experience this popular spot all to yourself.
Visit Sremski Karlovci
If you’re looking for a great day trip, then visiting the nearby town of Sremski Karlovci is an excellent option for those wondering what to do in Novi Sad. This small town is located only about 8 kilometres from Novi Sad and is frequently included on day tours to the city. It is known for its charming buildings and atmosphere and also for its wine production!
So if you’re interested in sampling any wine from the region, specifically the regional speciality – Bermet. This is a sweet, fortified wine with an average ABV of about 16-18%. It is unique because the wine is also macerated with over 20 herbs and spices. Bermet is only produced in Sremski Karlovci by a handful of families in the town and the actual recipe is very carefully safeguarded.
Hike in Fruška Gora National Park
If you would rather get out into nature than sample secretive fortified wines, then make sure to head out to Fruška Gora National Park. This beautiful natural area is located within spitting distance of the city centre and is an excellent choice for active people wondering what to do in Novi Sad.
Fruška Gora is actually the name of the mountain within the park, which stands at about 540 metres (1,772 feet) tall. This is Serbia’s oldest national park and it is an absolutely beautiful green area to explore, especially if you’re interested in getting out of the city for a bit.
Where to Stay in Novi Sad
If you’re planning on visiting Novi Sad for more than simply a day trip, then you are going to need a great place to stay. Luckily, there is no shortage of these in the city and whatever your needs or travel style is, you are sure to find a great place to rest your head in Serbia’s second city. If you’re wondering where to stay in Novi Sad, have a look at these great options:
Hotel Fontana — If you’re after something a bit more upmarket during your stay in Novi Sad, then look no further than this boutique hotel. Located in the city centre, it is within easy walking distance of all of the city’s top attractions. They are a range of comfortable and clean rooms available and even include breakfast in the nightly rate. Click here to see their latest prices
Vertigo Apartment — If you’re keen to live like a local in Novi Sad, or perhaps cook your own meals then consider staying in this private apartment. It is located a short walk from the city centre and has everything you need for a comfortable stay. Click here to see their latest prices
City Hostel — If you’re travelling solo or on a budget, then this centrally located hostel is an excellent choice. They have a range of both dorm beds and private rooms available, great and helpful staff and will occasionally organise social events in the evenings. Click here to see their latest prices
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse the best deals on hotels in Novi Sad!
Novi Sad is a lovely small city that really deserves as much attention as nearby Belgrade. Though compact, there are a number of things to do in Novi Sad that can keep visitors occupied for a number of days and travellers are sure to enjoy the laid-back pace of this beautiful town.
Are you wondering what to do in Novi Sad? Have any questions about visiting this city? Let us know in the comments!