Novi Sad, the city that is the home of one of the best and most anticipated European festivals, can be more than just fun, full of music and young people who want to put every second of their free time to good use. From July 5 to 9 you will have the opportunity to get to know the place chosen as one of the European Capitals of Culture 2021, with good reason, featuring excellent museums, galleries and festivals. What might surprise you is the attitude and candor of the locals and their desire to be good hosts to everyone who winds up at the Petrovaradin Fortress, the beautiful and magical place, hailing from the Middle Ages. Whether you identify as a foodie, a nerd, a culture buff or just someone who wants to have some fun, relax and meet new cultures, Novi Sad can provide a huge amount of content. The Summer of Love at the Petrovaradin Fortress will bring more than just great concerts by bands such as The Killers, Years & Years, Liam Gallagher or Jake Bugg.
1. Walks, food and drink in the city center
The picturesque city is a mixture of Austro-Hungarian style and modern chic, in its tiled, sun-bathed streets such as Dunavska or Zmaj Jovina. The restaurant scene and offer of Novi Sad is growing and developing every year, and now you can find treats that would not be out of place in much more popular tourist destinations of Europe. The majority of the restaurants are located close to the Cathedral, and you will not need to roam far in order to have a nice bite to eat. The best example is the arched passageways at Zmaj Jovina 24, where all the travelers can partake of tasty burgers, killer sandwiches and a great selection of local craft beers, the offer of which has exploded in the last few years. Ask the kind staff to recommend their favorites and show off in front of your friends with the knowledge of Serbian IPAs. The best part of eating and drinking in Novi Sad is that the prices are very low for such high quality products and whatever the budget you have reserved for a good time, it will be enough to enjoy yourself to your heart’s desire.
2. Marketplaces of Novi Sad
If you are yearning for fresh fruit, local cheese, phenomenal ham and authentic savory vegetable condiments such as ajvar, and the budget forbids you to visit restaurants every single day, use the picturesque local marketplaces to regain the strength necessary for all-night benders. Fish Market (Riblja pijaca) in the center is charming and offers everything that makes Novi Sad special. It is also the place where local restaurants get their provisions from. Futoška marketplace is some 10 minutes of walk from the bus and train station, so you’re bound to come across it, while Limanska marketplace is one of the main arteries of the city every weekend and it is the favorite place of gourmets of Novi Sad to get their stuff, talk and exchange recipes.
3. Najlon bazaar
A flea market at the edge of town which can be reached by bus line No. 5 has, in the recent years, been the favorite place of lovers of vintage clothes, pulp fiction, absolutely necessary and completely unnecessary house baubles, as well as mekike (traditional deep fried kneaded dough). Find a complete summer outfit for €20, dress up for the festival from head to toe, and find kitschy trifles or even larger ornaments for your home. It is ideal for finding unique gifts and trinkets that will remind you of the Novi Sad summer the following winter. Najlon is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning. Bargaining is not necessary as the prices are usually great, but it is heartily recommended.
Although Novi Sad is surrounded by the hillsides of the very green Fruška Gora, the city itself is almost entirely flat, which makes it ideal for cycling. Most key points in the city offer the option of renting the favorite vehicle of Europe which should get you to even the furthest reaches of Novi Sad in around 20 minutes. Riding a bike through Novi Sad gives you the chance to check out your surroundings without paying for a taxi, while getting your workout on and also allows you to visit Danube beaches and local parks.
The favorite city beach called Štrand is right next to the Exit camp, which makes it the unofficial after-party place for all the tired guests. Green areas full of cafes and small restaurants gently give way to the sandy beach of Europe’s greatest river, Danube. Cool your dancing feet in the water, have a mini donut, ice-cream, or a cold one, whichever you prefer.
6. Ribarsko ostrvo (Fisherman’s island)
Sometimes it can be hard to find a meal in Serbia that is not made entirely out of meat, meat and more meat. Luckily, there is the cute Danube island (actually a peninsula!), that managed to save the ancient tradition of creating great fisherman’s soup, the pride of Novi Sad. The island is full of restaurant and cafes and whichever option you choose, you’re in for a treat. Apart from fish specialties, there is a rich offer of great local wines. You can feel the sun and fruit of a Novi Sad summer in rosés that originate from the hillsides of Fruška Gora.
7. Board games
In the last five years, Novi Sad has become a Serbian Silicon Valley of sorts, a city where IT sector found a home. This brought along a new generation of nerdy citizens who prefer different types of fun – especially that which includes dragons, building medieval cities, fighting aliens or playing memory games. Novi Sad has probably the strongest board game scene in the country, with places like Gaming Centre, Player’s Guild or the Dragon where you can meet local people who enjoy this kind of thing and there will always be another free spot at the table for you. Who knows, perhaps you’ll bump into the nerd culture representatives who are actually performing on the fortress. If you’re lucky, Princess Nokia just might kick your ass in Mortal Kombat, while singing her great hit, Kitana.
These are the special oases near Novi Sad that offer successful hangover cures, consisting of local food based on handmade dough and free-range chicken that roam these typically Vojvodina households. Famous Salaš 137 provides the opportunity to rest your body and soul, pet a horse, take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, or take a nap in the shade, surrounded by tapestries and charming wooden furniture. If you’re lucky, there will be a tamburica ensemble to introduce you to this authentic local instrument, a jolly mixture of a mandolin and a guitar. Whichever salaš you go for, you won’t make a mistake, and they can be reached by bicycle, taxi, or local buses.
9. Sremski Karlovci Wine
Apart from the above mentioned wineries on the hillsides of Fruška Gora, a short bus or train ride will get you to Sremski Karlovci, a small but famous Serbian town. What makes Sremski Karlovci interesting is the amount of sun that bathes its hills. Those hills are the home of some of the best wines you can drink in this part of Europe. Leave early from Novi Sad and warm up for the festival in one of the local wineries. It is not unusual for the hosts to treat you to some of the smoked home-made specialties, such as kulen, prosciutto or excellent sausages.
10. Discover some well-guarded festival secrets
Do not limit yourself to the festival stars alone, make sure to check out the smaller stages and discover your new favorite band. Make sure to start for the fortress and the festival before the sun has gone down. Take a walk down the Danube-hugging key, where you will find courts for basketball, as well as areas for light sports such as bocce (a bowling variety enjoyed by retired people and the local hipsters). Cross the bridge enjoying the view and let yourself feel the magic of the festival that was awarded the title of the best festival in Europe several times. Apart from the music, you will find a planetarium, hidden among the walls of the 17th century fortress. Full of tunnels and secret passages, the stony roads of the fortress will lead you to Main Stage and the world famous Dance Arena, but also introduce you to the smaller, but promising performances, such as Princess Nokia. You will discover bands that changed the music forever, such as The Damned, and you will gain insight into the local bands and DJs that are the talk of this part of Europe, at Fusion and Future Shock stages.