While I’ll forever love Belgrade, without a doubt, Novi Sad is one of the prettiest cities in Serbia.
With its Austro-Hungarian architectural influence, pastel color palette, and its position on the Danube with its stunning Petrovaradin Fortress anchoring it on the banks of the river — Novi Sad is hard to beat on that front.
While Novi Sad is Serbia’s second city, it unfortunately doesn’t get nearly as many visitors as it deserves. Many people tend to go to Belgrade and then tick off Serbia as ‘done,’ ignoring the fact that less than an hour away is a beautiful city worthy of a few days of exploration.
While Novi Sad is beautiful any time of year, it tends to be more of a summer destination, when river cruises along the Danube make a stop here and summer road trippers make stop here along their Balkans road trip.
But I’m here to argue that Novi Sad in winter is a good idea — provided you dress appropriately for the cold weather that Serbia is known for in winter! (Don’t worry – we go into detail what to pack for Serbia in winter on this packing list, and we’ll include our clothing and product recommendations at the end of this post as well.)
Without further ado – here’s why we think winter in Novi Sad is actually a great time to visit!
What to Do in Novi Sad in Winter
Wander a snow-covered Petrovaradin Fortress
Even on the gloomiest of days, the Petrovaradin Fortress is a sight to behold. One of the largest fortresses in the Balkans (and indeed, one of the largest in Europe), the Petrovaradin Fortress stands proudly over the Danube, surviving centuries virtually unphased.
While the Petrovaradin Fortress is best-known for being the yearly host of the EXIT music festival which occurs each summer, that doesn’t mean it’s not equally lovely at other times of the year!
Visiting Novi Sad in winter, you’ll get to enjoy Petrovaradin virtually tourist-free, with likely no more than a few locals accompany as you wander the snow-covered fortress at your own pace.
Stroll down the light-lined pedestrian street
During the winter months, the main pedestrian street of Novi Sad, gets bedecked in Christmas lights. It adds a dash of cozy charm which does a bit to make up for the fact that the sunset time is roughly around 4 PM in Novi Sad in winter…
Novi Sad is a student city, and so while some people will go home during the winter break, others will stay and work. This keeps the main street rather lively, even in the throes of a cold Serbian winter!
Walk through the snowy wonderland of Danube Park
If you don’t mind taking a chilly winter walk (especially if it means being around snowy trees and a winter wonderland), be sure to bundle up and visit the lovely Danube Park!
While you may not want to sit and relax here with some beer as the locals do in summer, Danube Park still has its charms in winter – though they’re admittedly best experienced at a brisker pace!
Stroll along the banks of a frozen Danube River
The Danube is one of the mightiest and most powerful rivers in Europe, snaking through ten countries and linking several important European cities – Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade amongst them – to the Black Sea. It’s actually the second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia.
The Danube is at one of its widest points in Novi Sad, and it’s incredibly impressive to see no matter where in the city you are. While you’ll get an incredible view from Petrovaradin Fortress, it’s also great to walk along the Danube’s riverbank on the Novi Sad side, admiring the fortress from below.
From this vantage point, keeping in mind the Danube’s strategic importance, you’ll realize just why Petrovaradin was such an imposing and impenetrable fortress, which was never invaded throughout the centuries.
Enjoy a hearty Serbian meal
Serbian food is rich and filling, with sausages, grilled and roasted meats, stews, and beans making up the bulk of its cuisine. Vegetables play a far smaller role in the Serbian diet than in other Balkan countries, which mean that winter is the right time to enjoy a delicious Serbian meal!
You can’t miss indulging in pasulj, a rich bean and sausage stew that is beloved by Serbians (and myself!). It’s such a warm, soul-filling winter dish that I can hardly imagine a winter Novi Sad trip without it. Other traditional Serbian dishes that’ll warm you up include
Warm up with some tasty Serbian wines
The area around Novi Sad – Fruska Gora – is one of Serbia’s premier wine regions. While in my opinion, Serbia’s white wines are stronger (I’m a huge lover of Temjanika, an indigenous Serbian grape), you may want to opt for red wines like Vranac in the winter.
Another tasty wine that screams winter is bermet, a delicious dessert wine that is a local secret, guarded by winemakers in nearby Sremski Karlovci (about 5 kilometers away) for centuries. This wine is so beloved that it was in one of the palaces of Austria and some of it even sits on the bottom of the Atlantic, having been ordered for the Titanic’s first and only voyage.
Snack on a tasty and traditional Licitar heart at a Christmas market
The Licitar heart is found in several ex-Yugoslav countries, though it originates from Croatia and also has strong roots in Slovenia. However, it’s become a critical part of Serbian Christmas celebrations as well due to the decades Serbia and Croatia were part of Yugoslavia.
You’ll undoubtedly see some while wandering around the festive winter markets in Novi Sad, and if you see a colorful Licitar heart, you should try one! They are unique to this part of the world and take nearly a month to make from start to finish.
What to Pack for Serbia in Winter
We have a full Serbia packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!
A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. Lonely Planet Western Balkans is the main guidebook we recommend for Serbia, as it covers the country well plus others in the region.
Plenty of winter clothing: You can check our packing list above for our full winter packing suggestions for men and women. At a minimum, you’ll want to bring a warm winter jacket (I love this North Face parka), cozy snow boots, warm wool socks, touch-screen friendly gloves, a scarf, and a winter hat.
Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up in the best of times — and winter travel in addition to skiing will really do a number on it! If you use a moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside in the cold all day.
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.
However, since you’re visiting Novi Sad in winter, the lowest of the low season, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could snag an awesome deal on an upscale hotel!
Novi Sad | Budget: / Mid-range: / Luxury:
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 winter from this post, but if you want more inspiration, we have a ton more resources! Start with this post on Belgrade in winter, and this post on the ski resorts of Kopaonik.
For activities in the city, check out our guide for 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, we have more than what’s listed above. Here are eleven great Belgrade tours to pick from – just keep in mind that all might not be available in the winter months.
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.
Pin This Guide to Novi Sad in Winter for Your Trip!
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.