Home Music festivals Novi Sad: 7 things to do in this year’s European Capital of Culture

Novi Sad: 7 things to do in this year’s European Capital of Culture

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Known as the “Serbian Athens” thanks to its rich cultural heritage, Novi Sad is one of the first cities outside the European Union to be named European Capital of Culture.

“After the world was completely shaken by the COVID pandemic, which also led to the postponement of the title year in Novi Sad from 2021 to 2022, the title of European Capital of Culture in Novi Sad brought a new impetus, not only culturally, but also economically,” explains Nemanja Milenković, director of Novi Sad European Capital of Culture.

Perched on the Danube in the northern province of Vojvodina, Novi Sad is home to ancient fortresses, laid-back cafes and an eclectic street art scene.

Despite being landlocked, it also has beaches, with the soft sands of the Strand stretching along the river bank.

Several nations have contributed to making Novi Sad the multicultural city it is today.

These distinct cultural influences helped Novi Sad win the title of European Youth Capital in 2019, rewarding it for its buzzing, youthful energy.

It’s no wonder that the Exit Festival, one of Europe’s most popular music events, takes place every summer in the city’s fortress.

While the local “drunk clock”, whose large hand indicates the hours and the small hand the minutes, reminds you to take your time and enjoy life.

Along with the title of European Capital of Culture will also come new spaces and cultural events.

“The important thing is what remains as a legacy,” says Milenković.

“New spaces for culture, new programs that remain after 2022 and new bridges of cooperation that have been rebuilt with the European and global art scene.”

So whether you’re planning a weekend on the town or a longer visit, here are our favorite places to visit in this bustling and exuberant city.

Petrovaradin Fortress

Built between 1692 and 1780, this fortress is on the right bank of the Danube, opposite the main heart of the city.

“The best way to get there is to cross the Rainbow Bridge, through the Suburbium, the historic Baroque quarter located in the lower part of the Petrovaradin Fortress, explains Culture Kaleidoscope.

A hiking site, the fortress contains more than 16 km of underground tunnels, which you can explore on a guided tour.

Built to protect the city from the Ottoman Empire, since the year 2000 the defenses have taken on a new purpose – hosting one of Europe’s biggest music festivals.

Dance at the EXIT Festival

Held in the Petrovaradin Fortress in July, the EXIT Festival was founded in 2000 and has since become a staple for international music lovers.

With over 40 stages and festival areas, it has won Europe’s best major festival twice, in 2013 and 2017, with artists as diverse as MIA, Kraftwerk and Slayer performing here.

Kaleidoscope of Culture, an arts gathering that takes place from September to early October, is another festival to explore, according to Milenković.

“For five weeks, it focuses on five different types of art: visual, performance, applied art, literature and architecture, he says.

Relax on the Strand

The German word for beach, the Štrand, is the best waterfront strip in Novi Sad. Opened in 1911, the long, sandy beach is a great place to relax with friends and enjoy a drink or two.

During the summer months you can take a dip in the river to cool off – but watch out for the strong currents.

To further explore the Danube, hop aboard one of the local river cruisers.

Discover the colorful murals and street art

Novi Sad has a serious street art scene. So if you’re visiting the city, be sure to spend some time unearthing some of these unique works.*

Featuring tributes to heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic and famous scientists, you’ll also find more playful artwork, including a painted basketball court near Štrand beach and the skate park.

Most murals are found at the ends of houses and buildings. So be sure to look around every time you turn a corner.

Stop for a coffee in the Trčika

If you’re looking for a cool place to have a drink, you could do a lot worse than Trčika.

Once the very first tram in Novi Sad, it now has a new lease of life as a cute and cozy cafe, complete with fairy lights and some original fixtures and fittings.

Although the temperature can drop here during the winter months, in the summer you can expect live music, DJs, and tables spilling out of the car and onto the streets.

Relax in Danube Park

Located in Stari Grad, in the center of the city, the park covers almost four hectares and is home to a diverse collection of plants and wild animals.

It’s the perfect place for an afternoon stroll or a relaxing picnic. The park also celebrates the Serbian poet, with statues of Đura Jakšić and Miroslav Antić, among others.

Get up early and get a bargain

Novi Sad has a bustling market life, with everything from fruit and vegetables to fish and antiques available at its 10 regular markets.

If you are looking for fresh seafood, head to Riblja Market. Located in Podbara, the oldest part of Novi Sad, it has a long history and the market has been held in the city since the 18th century.

For fresh fruits and vegetables, be sure to also explore the Futoška and Limanska markets.

Lovers of retro clothing, antiques and all things vintage can find great bargains at the Nylon Market, open Friday through Sunday. Toys, records, and furniture can also be found here, as well as food to sustain you while you shop.