If you are going to be exploring Novi Sad, then why not start in the heart of the city? Freedom Square is that very heart, and it is a typically delightful square with two of the city’s finest buildings on either side. The Neo-Gothic Catholic Cathedral and the Neo-Renaissance City Hall stand across from each other like two angry bulls, with only the inspiring presence of Svetozar Miletić stopping them from locking horns.
Architectural delights stand on either side of the square, whether we’re talking about the magnificent Synagogue or the city’s impressive Bishop’s Palace. The latter stands at the end of Zmaj Jovina street, named after Novi Sad’s greatest poet, Jovan Jovanović Zmaj.
Danube street (Dunavska ulica) is one of the busiest streets in the city centre, and is a great place to stop for something to eat before heading across the river. The oldest building in Novi Sad is found on the corner of the two aforementioned streets, once called the White Lion but now an Irish pub called the Red Cow. Go figure.
After getting a bite to eat, head over to the main attraction in Novi Sad. Well, ‘in Novi Sad’ isn’t entirely accurate, as Petrovaradin Fortress is found in the eponymous urban municipality that makes up the other half of the city. The fortress is the city’s most iconic spot, however, and plays hosts to as many events as it offers sights.
The views across the Danube from here are truly magnificent, and there may be no more romantic spot to eat dinner. Time it for when the sun goes down, and you are guaranteed to have a magical meal in Serbia’s second largest city.
Head back across the river to engage with the city’s nightlife. Try Dunavska and Zmaj Jovina for a spot of barhopping or a pub crawl. Novi Sad has a growing roster of beer pubs, and the days of having to fish out for overpriced international lagers in crowded nightclubs have long come to an end.
Those staying in Novi Sad for an extra day should absolutely take the opportunity to head out and explore the beautiful surroundings. The city is a short drive (or a long walk) away from some of Serbia’s most glorious spots, along with some of its tastiest food and most engrossing experiences.
Order is less important here, but let’s take a trip to Fruška Gora first. One of Serbia’s five national parks, it is actually a mountain that has become something of a byword for ‘extraordinary countryside’. This is as green as Serbia is going to get, with lush forests covering the territory as far as the eye can see.
It comes as no small surprise then to find exquisite monasteries dotted around the land. Over a dozen Serbian Orthodox monasteries can be found at Fruška Gora, spiritual structures dating back to the 16th century (or the 12th, if the legends and myths are to be believed). Some of Serbia’s best religious art can be found here in the shape of majestic frescoes, none better than the magnificently attentive display at Krušedol.
Some of the greatest creative individuals in Serbia’s history have lived and worked at these monasteries, adding another layer of history to what is already a deliciously sacred experience. The Fruška Gora marathon takes place every May, although you won’t see us running that any time soon.
Another short distance away from Novi Sad lies one of Serbia’s prettiest towns, arguably the most aesthetically pleasing of them all. Sremski Karlovci is a special place, once the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Habsburg Empire and now one of the country’s most admired towns. This has been a Serbian political and cultural centre for centuries, and its geographical position gives one the impression of being in a real Central European spot as opposed to the more southern stylings of Serbia. It may be Serbia’s smallest municipality, but it packs one heck of a punch.
While it literally might just be another word for ‘farm’, a Salaš is a whole lot more than just fields and early starts. Almost always remote from the towns and villages, these complexes hark back to a simpler time in Vojvodina, and old-fashioned eating experiences are on offer at many of them. You won’t taste fresher food than at a Salaš, and the portion sizes are a whole different beast. Call ahead to make a reservation, but you will not be disappointed.
Head back to Novi Sad itself for your second night, but instead of the pubs and clubs we recommend taking a trip to one of the city’s cultural centres instead. Dom b-612 is a great option, an expressive and creative space put together by students but welcome to anyone and everyone. There is plenty of live music and plenty of cheap beer available, making this a lively way to end a magical trip to the Serbian Athens.