Osijek is the biggest city in the eastern Croatian region of Slavonia and the fourth biggest city in Croatia, located on the bank of the Drava river. It is the economic and cultural center of the region, full of new, urban architecture as well as the historical remains that narrate the city’s tumultuous past. The imposing 18th-century fortress dominates the city that is getting more and more popular among Croatian students who choose Osijek as the place to jump-start their university experience. The city has a lot to offer to tourists and visitors as well, and the number of hotels and restaurants has been growing exponentially during the last decade.
What to visit
The city’s fortress, so-called Tvrđa, was built under Habsburg rule to defend the city from Turkish attacks and has remained almost undamaged ever since. Well-preserved baroque-style streets, spacious squares and beautiful mansions will take you to some other time and allow you to experience a unique atmosphere of this special site. The Museum of Slavonia is known for its well-curated collection of findings, it’s housed in two separate buildings and it presents a real gem for history-lovers. If you like museums, but you’re not so much into history, don’t worry, as Osijek has many others amazing museums, such as Gloria Maris which is dedicated to sea shells and marine life or Museum of Fine Arts that contains a collection of artworks by Slavonian artists from the 18th century onwards.
A somewhat new and fresh attraction of the city is the replica of wooden Watermill, anchored on the river of Drava. In the little cottage, you can witness the demonstration on how the grain is ground as Osijek had around 60 watermills in the 19th century which have all been closed down.
Wandering around the Square of Ante Starcevic, you may notice the red-brick neo-Gothic cathedral of St Peter & Paul that is definitely worth entering due to its elaborate interior design and breathtaking frescoes by Croatian artist Mirko Racki.
If you travel with kids (or even if you don’t), take some time off to visit Zoo Osijek which is the Croatia’s biggest one with more than 80 animal species and a reptile aquarium.
Sport & Recreation
Whether you’re just in a short visit or you’re planning to spend some time in Osijek, there are numerous ways to stay active. The city has lots of gyms, sports centers, and various sports events. Take a jog on the banks of the river Drava, rent a bike, try some of the extreme sports or put aside a few hours for fun paintball round with friends.
The region of Slavonia is famous for its wine production, so make sure to taste some of the local, high-quality wines. The cuisine of the region was strongly influenced by the Hungarians, which means that it is somewhat spicier than in the rest of the country. Regional specialties you may try while in Osijek are fish paprikash (fish stewed in paprika sauce and served with noodles) and kulen (paprika-savoured sausage, often served with cottage cheese, peppers, and tomatoes or pickled vegetables).
There is a lot to see and do around the Slavonian region! Kopacki Rit Nature Park is one of the most beautiful parks of Croatia, ideal for birdwatching, hiking, cycling and admiring the magnificent nature. Pejačevic Castle is perfectly maintained late baroque neoclassical castle run by ten nuns that will take you on a little tour when you get there. There is also a museum in the complex. For those craving some relaxing time, there are Bizovačke Toplice, the natural thermal spas consisting of indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools, jacuzzis and much more. To experience life in a traditional Slavonian village, we recommend visiting Karanac Ethno Village and for those who like urban settings, go to the nearby Đakovo and Vukovar.
Popular souvenirs include traditional table cloths, instruments and handmade objects from various ethnicities. You can find everything you’ll need in souvenir shops around the center or at the open-air market located on the main square.
Along with numerous pubs and bars, the most popular night destinations in Osijek are the Promenade along the Drava River and the Tvrđa, both guaranteeing warm and cozy atmosphere, good music and friendly local people.