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Beyond Belgrade: 10 unique and free experiences in the colourful city of Novi Sad, Serbia

Novi Sad, Serbia


When it comes to Serbia, Belgrade gets all the attention. Understandable; the city is enthralling.

With majestic architecture, great nightlife and a fun atmosphere (check out all my posts for more detailed info on Belgrade!), it really is a unique European hub. However, heading just one hour north of the capital is beautifully colourful Novi Sad - Serbia's second largest city.

At first glance, Novi Sad could be any other medieval town. But first impressions can be deceiving, as the capital of the autonomous Vojvodina Province is home to 26 ethnic groups and six official languages!

The city is also Europe's Youth Capital for 2019, and is set to become European Capital of Culture in 2021 - the first non-EU city in history to be awarded the honour.

Getting to Novi Sad from Belgrade is really easy. From the capital's main Beograd Station, there's a bus to Novi Sad leaving every 20 minutes from 4 a.m. to 10.30 p.m (ask for the direct line via motorway). Trains also run every 30-60 minutes from 7.30 a.m. to 11.20 p.m. A bus/train ticket costs between 500 -800RSD.

On a strict budget and wondering what to do in Novi Sad? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Here are some truly unique attractions in the city, completely free of cost.

1) Free Walking Tour:

Novi Sad has also jumped aboard Europe's free walking tour bandwagon, and offers a neat pay-what-you-want/can highlights tour. Starting at 9am every day from the National Theatre and ending at Petrovaradin Fortress, it's a brilliant and cost-effective way to go through Novi Sad's main attractions in a day.

Serbian Adventures Free Walking Tour - Novi Sad, Serbia

2) Futoška Market:

This century-old market – the city's largest – is often said to be even busier than the main street in Novi Sad. Dotted with flowers, freshly-baked goods, pyramids of spices and even home-made honey, this hidden gem is a fantastic way to see the city like a local.

Futoska Market - Novi Sad, Serbia

3) Petrovaradin Fortress:

Towering over the river on a 40m-high volcanic cliff, this mighty landmark, considered Europe's second-biggest fortress (and one of its best preserved), is aptly nicknamed 'Gibraltar on the Danube'.

The iconic clock tower is its strongest point. The size of the minute and hour hands are reversed so far-flung fisherfolk can tell the time. There's also a museum that offers insight into the site's history with pre-arranged tours in English (for 3500RSD or €30) of Petrovaradin's 16km of creepy-cool unlit underground tunnels. The fortress also hosts Novi Sad's wildly popular EXIT Festival each July.

Petrovaradin Fortress - Novi Sad, Serbia

4) City Museum of Novi Sad – Foreign Art Collection:

Providing amazing insight into the world of Slavic art and more, City Museum’s collection displays paintings alongside fine pieces of applied art. Some of the artwork dates back to the 15th century! The Ilić collection in particular has hundreds of paintings, including several notable pieces of Venetian, other Italian Renaissance and baroque masters.

City Museum of Novi Sad – Foreign Art Collection

5) The Name of Mary Church:

A beautiful landmark with a distinctively tiled roof that glints and glitters in the sun, it is Novi Sad's biggest cathedral. Opened to the public in 1894, it is located right in the heart of the city.

The Name of Mary Church - Novi Sad, Serbia

6) Dunavska:

Novi Sad is flooded with colourful buildings with an insta-worthy opportunity at every corner! One of the oldest and most beautiful streets in Serbia, it represents both past and present times. Strolling down with coffee in tow, the colourful facades and decorations neatly alternate. Dunavska also offers some of the best ice-cream in the country.

Dunavska - Novi Sad, Serbia

7) Danube Park:

A beautiful green space in the heart of the city just off of Dunavska, Danube Park is perfect for lazy Sunday picnics and sunny summer days. There is a mini waterfall, a lovely stream and scattered benches for sitting and taking in the views.

Danube Park - Novi Sad, Serbia

8) Gallery of Matica Srpska:

Originally established in Budapest in 1826, it was moved to Novi Sad in 1864 and is one of Serbia's most important and long-standing cultural institutions. It's not a mere gallery but rather a national treasure, with three floors covering priceless Serbian artworks from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Strongly recommended for art aficionados and creative admirers!

9) Fruška Gora National Park:

Serbia's oldest national park and forest, Fruška Gora is an 80km stretch of rolling hills located just a short bus ride from Novi Sad. Although, the workout and leg-burn is real! During nice weather, it makes up for a great hike and has several wineries scattered across the area. Most of Fruska Gora is located in Serbia, however; a small part on its western side overlaps into Croatia. Make sure to carry a travel document if you accidentally wander off to the wrong side! There is border control.

Fruška Gora - Novia Sad, Serbia

10) Sremski Karlovci:

No trip to Novi Sad should be complete without visiting Sremski Karlovci - 40 minutes outside of the city! It is a town particularly famous for Karlovci Gymnasium - the oldest and prettiest secondary school in Serbia. Sremski's panoramic views, insanely colourful streets and brilliant little cafes are also absolutely magical - well worth the trek.

Sremski Karlovci, Serbia

A chipper city with all the spoils and none of the stress of the big smoke - Novi Sad truly is a hidden European gem. Go visit before everyone finds out!


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