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Even though I’ve been traveling solo for over a decade now, I’ve always had this mental block that I couldn’t go to a music festival solo. So when I had an opportunity to go to Exit Festival as press this summer, I decided this was my chance to give it a try.
And as it turns out, music festivals solo are actually super fun! In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about Exit Music Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia, and tips for making the most of your time there – especially if you’re traveling solo!
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary press pass to Exit Festival. As always, all opinions are my own.
What is Exit Festival?
Exit Festival has been running for over 20 years. It started as a student activist movement in the park in Novi Sad for democracy, freedom, and peace in Serbia and across the Balkans.
Since 2001, it’s evolved into a music festival held in the fortress every year, but the mission has stayed true to its roots: to achieve social change with music.
Social responsibility is still a key aspect of the festival activities, with activism programs that focus on the promotion of peace, environmental protection, human development, and mental health.
This four-day festival is about coming together through music, and has made its mark on the European festival scene. It won “Best Major European Festival” at the EU Festival Awards in 2013 and 2017, among many other awards.
To get a quick overview of what the 2022 festival looked like, check out their video on YouTube.
More than 1000 artists play at over 40 stages and festival zones, so the music is diverse, to say the least.
This year’s headliners included Iggy Azalea, Afrojack, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Calvin Harris, Boris Brejcha, Honey Dijon, Calvin Harris, James Arthur, Alok, and more.
Why attend Novi Sad Exit Festival?
You get to party in a fortress!
Exit Festival is held in Petrovaradin fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia. Yes, you read that right – it’s a festival in a fortress!
It’s one of the coolest venues I’ve even attended a festival. I mean, how many times can you say you’ve raved in a 16th-century fortress? It was so cool walking through the tunnels between the stages!
It’s a lovely setting for a festival, as the Danube River also surrounds the ancient castle-like location. You’ll love the gorgeous views as you walk over the bridge to the festival and the sunrises on the way home (because yes, this festival runs late).
It can add up if you’re planning to attend a few festivals in Europe during the summer. But Exit is among one of the cheapest on the continent, with tickets as low as 99€ in 2022 for 4-days of amazing music (and even cheaper if you’re from Serbia). A ticket to see Calvin Harris alone anywhere else would cost you more!
It’s not just the ticket that’s cheap either. Even the food and drinks are affordable, which is rare for a festvial. You can get a meal for a few dollars, and there are many options, including vegan-friendly ones.
Serbia is one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe, so your expenses outside the festival won’t be that high either.
I recommend booking your accommodation in advance in Novi Sad to get the best price, but even booking mine just a few days before, I found a place for 100€ for four nights.
You can spend some time exploring the rest of the country before or after the festival, or visit neighboring European countries. I came from Bansko, Bulgaria, which is by far the cheapest place I’ve lived as a digital nomad.
You’ll meet incredible people from all over the world
One of my favorite parts about music festivals is making new friends from all over the world, and Exit attracts a special crowd.
I spent most of my time with my hostel roommates from Scotland and Croatia, but we met many other fun people there from Costa Rica, the United States, Spain, Colombia, UAE, and more. Of course, there are also plenty of locals who attend too.
The amazing sunrises
Unlike most festivals I’ve been to that start in the day and go into the night, Exit runs somewhat opposite. The setlist officially starts at 7pm and goes until 8am, but most people make their way there around 11 pm. Showing up at midnight is entirely acceptable!
Sets start as late (or as early) as 6:30 am, so you’ll get to experience a gorgeous sunrise over the EXIT Dance Arena, or as you’re walking home across the Danube river after a fantastic night of dancing.
I love the atmosphere of festivals like BPM as the day changes into night, but night into the day was a whole new experience!
Especially at the Dance Arena, where most people congregate by that time of morning. It’s a lifetime experience – the crowd seems to go on forever.
My experience going to Exit as a solo female traveler
There are few times I get nervous in my life these days as a seasoned solo traveler, but admittedly I was worried that going to Exit festival alone was weird and I wouldn’t meet anyone. It didn’t take long for those fears to be put to rest.
About half an hour after arriving in Novi Sad and walking into my dorm room, the universe gave me two awesome girl roommates whom I spent the weekend with.
They immediately invited me into their group, and we had a super fun weekend dancing and meeting people from all over the world.
I arrived at the hostel around 6 pm that first night, so I was pretty surprised they were still there, only to realize it’s because the festival doesn’t even start until 7 pm!
A typical day/night for us was sleeping until 3/4 pm, exploring Novi Sad, eating a nice dinner, and then going to the festival around 10/11 pm, usually with some pre-drinks by the river. We’d dance all night at the fortress, exploring the various stages.
The sun comes up around 4:30 am, but the party keeps going for another few hours. I’d usually walk home around 7/8 am. But if you don’t want to stop, there’s an after-party that starts at 8 am. Balkan party culture is truly amazing.
I think even if I hadn’t met those girls at my hostel, I would have been okay going solo since people are so friendly there. But as a solo female traveler, I always feel better going out as a group.
Tips for surviving exit
Wear comfortable shoes
Spread across four stories and spanning 16km in length, you’re going to walk A LOT at this festival.
Apparently, the average person takes up to 130,000 steps during the length of the festival, which I can confirm is pretty accurate. According to my phone, I walked about 30,000 on average each day of the festival.
Be well rested
Exit is an all-night party, so make sure you rest up before the festival and during the day! Drink plenty of water and eat lots in Novi Sad or at the festival – the food is fantastic.
Stay in a hostel or camping if you want to meet people
If you’re coming to exit festival solo and want to make friends go with, stay at the campsite or in one of the hostels in Novi Sad.
Many people go solo, so you won’t have any trouble making a fun group of friends to go with! Come with an open heart and good vibes, and you’ll have a wonderful time.
Pre-drink by the river
Many people go for pre-drinks before the festival on the bank of the Danube river under the bridge. This is the perfect setting to start your night, staring across at the brightly-lit fortress.
Explore the stages – and visit the silent disco
With over 40 stages throughout the venue, make sure to take the time to explore. You can find every type of music here, from reggaeton to metal to drum and bass.
I really enjoyed dancing in the silent disco area, which was the largest one I’ve ever been part of! It was so popular that we couldn’t even get in one night.
Bring warm clothes (maybe)
This year (2022) the weather was abnormally cold, so I had to go and buy warmer clothes because I wasn’t prepared.
I can’t predict the weather next year (I’ve been told it’s usually quite hot), but know you may need layers, especially if you’re camping.
Where to stay in Novi Sad
The festival takes place in the fortress, which is in Novi Sad, so you have many options for accommodations. However, I recommend booking in advance, as the town fills up.
Exit lists several options for accommodation on their website, which you can book through.
Buying a camping pass is one of the most affordable accommodation options for Exit. It’s not on the festival grounds but about a half-hour walk away.
I didn’t stay there but met many people who did. It’s right by a beach which sounds like a great place to cool off and refresh during the day!
If you’re not camping, stay in Novi Sad. It’s a gorgeous town, about 20-minute walk to the festival grounds depending on where your accommodation is.
I came last-minute and booked my accommodation through the Exit website at a hostel – which was actually student housing that they turn into hostel-type accommodations for the festival. It was clean, well-located, and surprisingly quiet to sleep in during the day.
Just 500m away from the fortress, Hostel Sova offers shared dorms and private, clean rooms. The location can’t be beat, right in the city center, ten minutes away from the bus station.
If you’re looking for something in the city center that won’t break the budget, Garni City Hotel is a great option.
Feeling like splashing out? Check out Prezident Hotel. This centrally-located hotel boasts modern rooms with balconies, an AC, a lounge bar, an on-site restaurant, and a gym. But the best part is the indoor and outdoor swimming pools with hot tubs where you can enjoy massages and relaxation after a night of partying.
Traveling with a group? Check out the Petrovaradin Chalet! This gorgeous secluded property is just 2.6 km from Exit Festival but gives you serious cozy summer cottage vibes.
Overall, I loved my time at Exit fest. I met many cool people at this festival, saw some fantastic performances, and grew confident that I could go to a festival alone.
If you’re looking for a fun and cheap summer festival in Europe, it doesn’t get better than Exit fest! I didn’t know what to expect, but I came out with a happy heart full of beautiful memories.