Novi Sad is having a moment. It made the Lonely Planet’s 2019 list of best cities, it was named a European Youth Capital for 2019, and it’ll be one of the European Capitals of Culture in 2021.
With its Austro-Hungarian architectural flair, pastel-colored cityscape, and lively student scene, Novi Sad surprises and delights. If you’re planning to spend 2 days in Novi Sad, we’ve mapped out the best way to do so.
We start this Novi Sad itinerary with the city center of Novi Sad and the lovely Petrovaradin Fortress on day one, and then on the second day, we expand outwards to the charming region of Fruška Gora with its monasteries, wineries, and cute towns. Ready? Here goes!
Your Novi Sad Itinerary: Day One
We’ll go into detail below, but you can use the first day of this itinerary for Novi Sad like a self-guided walking tour. We’ve included a map below.
Start at the Novi Sad Synagogue
The Novi Sad Synagogue used to be the heart of Jewish cultural life in Novi Sad, when the Jewish community of Novi Sad numbered some 4,000 Jews. Sadly, only 10% of the former Jewish population still resides in Novi Sad, as thousands of Jews were deported or executed during the Holocaust and many of the survivors fled to Israel after the war ended.
Now, the Synagogue is no longer actively used for religious purposes, but it is occasionally used for concerts and other events.
It’s not always possible to visit the Synagogue (in my two visits to Novi Sad, I’ve only seen it from the exterior), as it is generally closed to the public unless you call ahead of time to make arrangements to visit. The phone number is +38121423882. Other visitors have had luck finding the caretaker and asking to be let in, but this is more of a gamble than calling ahead.
Even if you don’t get the chance to view the interior, it’s really beautiful from the outside, with its Austro-Hungarian design and ivy-covered walls.
Address: Jevrejska 11, Novi Sad 21000, Serbia
Walk to Liberty Square
Trg Slobode, translated to Liberty Square in English, is the heart of Novi Sad’s city center and a fantastic place to start getting the pulse of the city. You’ll see what’s often called the Novi Sad Cathedral, but that’s actually a misnomer as the Cathedral of Vojvodina is actually located in Subotica, an hour north of Novi Sad.
In actuality, the ‘Cathedral’ is just a Roman Catholic Church – albeit an exceedingly beautiful one – named the Church of the Name of Mary. This peach-colored church features a colorful roof tiled similarly to what you’d see in Vienna or Budapest.
The City Hall is also extremely beautiful, with its pastel green colors and beautiful neo-Renaissance styling. Since it mirrors the Catholic Church on the other side of the square, it’s hard to miss – nor should you, as we think it’s one of the most photogenic places in Novi Sad.
Address: Trg Slobode, Novi Sad 21000, Serbia
Head to St. George Church and the Bishop’s Palace
Continuing on your way from Liberty Square, wander along Zmaj Jovina street in the direction of the beautiful peachy-pink Bishop’s Palace.
This building is another one of Novi Sad’s architectural gems and it’s well worth the stop on your Novi Sad itinerary for its photogenic exterior as well as its historical importance as the residence of the Bishop of Bačka (which encompasses Vojvodina) – who still lives there today!
The facade of today’s palace represents the symbiosis of Byzantine cultures, Eastern cultures, as well as the architectural and decorative elements of the medieval Serbian monasteries. The facade is rather unique and combines some Serbian-Byzantine motifs with traditional monastic elements.
Behind it, you’ll see the St. George Orthodox Church, a typical Serbian Orthodox Church. It’s definitely worth a short visit, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Orthodox churches, as they are quite different to their Catholic and Protestant counterparts.
Address: Vladicanski Dvor, Novi Sad 21000, Serbia
Wander on the colorful pedestrianized streets
You’ll have already strolled down one of the most important streets in Novi Sad, Zmaj Jovina, making your way to the Bishop’s Palace. Now, make your to the lovely Dunavska Street, one of the loveliest and most colorful streets on Novi Sad.
It’s full of joyful colors, cozy cafes and wine bars, and delightful places to stop and have a snack, gelato, or coffee. At the end of Dunvska Street, you’ll be at the next place on your Novi Sad itinerary: Danube Park!
Address: Dunavska ulica, Novi Sad 21000, Serbia
Enjoy the beautiful oasis of Danube Park
At the end of Dunavska Street is one of the entrances to Danube Park, a lovely urban park that is a great place to sit and unwind after some city wandering.
Sit on a bench by the lake and rest your feet while enjoying the nature at this lovely green space in the heart of Novi Sad.
Address: Dunavski Park, Novi Sad 21000, Serbia
Seasonal: Visit the summer river ‘beach’ at Štrand
If you’re visiting Novi Sad in the hot summer months and you want to do some relaxing in between your sightseeing, make your way down to Štrand – Novi Sad’s urban beach on the banks of the Danube, with soft sand, beach bars, lively music, chairs and umbrellas for rent, and great views of the bridges over the Danube.
If it’s hot out, be sure to bring your bathing suit so you can go for a quick dip if you like! There’s a shower you can use to rinse off afterward.
End the day the sunset at Petrovaradin Fortress
Whether or not you stopped at Štrand, you’ll want to make your way towards Petrovaradin Fortress for a late afternoon wander and be sure to stay for the epic sunset views!
Going up the hill to the fortress through a series of steps and tunnels is really magical, and once you get to the top and see the iconic clocktower – a symbol of Novi Sad – you’ll be totally enchanted by the views.
We recommend walking towards Petrovaradin Fortress about 1.5 to 2 hours before sunset, so you have plenty of time to walk around the impressive fortress grounds and marvel at its design. You could also allocate some time to visit the Novi Sad City Museum, which is located inside the fortress complex.
Should you get hungry, thirsty, or desperately in need of caffeine, you can stop at the restaurant on the fortress grounds to enjoy a break with an epic view!
Enjoy the Novi Sad nightlife scene
Novi Sad nightlife offers something for everyone! Want a laid-back bar? Check out Skripa Pub if you want to get introduced to the creative Serbian craft beer scene. We personally love the craft beer from Dogma, a Belgrade-based craft brewery.
More into wine? Visit either the swanky Bouquet Wine Bar on Dunavska Street or the charming Wine Therapy, which has a pared-down Scandinavian DIY vibe and specializes in Serbian red and white wines.
If you want a nightclub, check out either Fabrika or The Quarter.
Your Novi Sad Itinerary: Day Two
For the second day of your itinerary for Novi Sad, you’ll want to rent a car or hire a driver to get out of the city center and check out the surrounding area!
Start your day in Fruška Gora at Krušedol Monastery
There are several important monasteries in the Fruška Gora region, but the awe-inspiring Krušedol monastery is well worth prioritizing.
It has gorgeous frescoes on the interior and exterior walls, a gorgeous monastic complex, and an adorable pinkish-red gatehouse (which is not original, but beautiful nonetheless).
As it’s the most popular monastery in Fruška Gora, you may occasionally be confronted with some tour groups (as we were on our last visit) so be prepared for this!
However, both times I visited it, I found it totally worthwhile. Should you want a more offbeat monastery in the area, I also enjoyed Novo Hopovo Monastery, which I visited on my first visit to Fruška Gora. This sunny yellow monastic complex hides a gorgeous 16th-century church within it, and it’s absolutely stunning.
Stop at some vineyards to try Serbian wine
Before we go into Serbian wine, here’s a caveat: do not plan to drink and drive! The alcohol limit in Serbia is 0.20% BAC, which is quite strict. Limit yourself to half a drink to be safe when driving.
Multiple small wine tastings can really add up fast in terms of alcohol and sneak up on you, so it may be worth it to hire a driver or a taxi for the day if you plan on trying the wines here.
We visited the charming Probus winery on our last visit to Novi Sad, which we arranged as a day trip from Belgrade. We loved the white wines, but we especially loved the bermet – a traditional dessert wine brewed with a secret recipe of herbs from the town of Sremski Karlovci, that was once so beloved it was on the Titanic’s wine list!
Visit the charming town of Sremski Karlovci
Finally, make your way to the downtown of Sremski Karlovci, an adorably cute town just a 10-minute drive from downtown Novi Sad.
Admire the red and yellow gymnasium (Serbia’s first high school!), the palaces which flank the main square of Sremski Karlovci (one of which has been converted into a city museum), St. Nicholas Cathedral, and perhaps stop for a coffee at one of the restaurants in the square.
Should you want to get even more off the beaten path, wander away from the main square a few blocks into the local Beekeeping Museum, which delves into both the honey-producing and winemaking culture of the region!
Where to Stay in Novi Sad
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Novi Sad. Generally, budget means hostel beds for around $10 a night and singles/doubles for around $30, mid-range is from about $40-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night.
Luxury: Since Novi Sad in winter is definitely the offseason, we wouldn’t be surprised if you could snag a fantastic deal on one of these top luxury hotels in Novi Sad: Prezident Hotel or Hotel Leopold I
Planning to visit Belgrade as well on your trip? We’ve curated a list of all the best Belgrade hotels and hostels.
More Serbia Travel Resources
Hopefully, you can get a good idea of what there is to do in Novi Sad in this post, but if you want more inspiration, we have a guide of the best Instagram spots in Novi Sad as well as what to do in Novi Sad in winter.
Most people to visit Novi Sad also allocate some time for Belgrade – where we have tons of resources. We have this mega-guide to 101 things to do in Belgrade, the most Instagrammable spots in Belgrade, and the best Belgrade street art. We also have a Serbian souvenir guide if you want to do some shopping.
If you love guided tours, here are eleven great Belgrade tours to pick from. If you want to get out of the city for a day, here are our guide to Belgrade day trips and what you should know before renting a car in Serbia. We also have lists of our favorite places to visit in Serbia and the best Serbian towns and cities if you need more day trip inspiration.
Headed to Serbia? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
If you’re planning a trip to Serbia in winter, it’s a good idea to travel with a valid travel insurance policy, so that you will be covered in case of an emergency. Travel insurance covers you in case of theft or an accident, which can save your trip if there’s an incident, fall (a big winter risk!), or cancellation or trip interruption.
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
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Originally from California, Allison has been living in Bulgaria for the last two years and is obsessed with traveling around the Balkans. She has been published in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, Matador Network, and the Huffington Post. She loves befriending dogs, drinking coffee, geeking out about wine, and cooking food from around the world.