Soak up some sun, enjoy a wine tasting or two and explore the golden plains of Slavonia and Baranja in eastern Croatia.
Did you know that wild brown bears still roam the forests of Slavonia? Or, that the region produces some of Europe’s finest white wine?
Located between the Danube, Sava and Drava rivers in eastern Croatia, Slavonia, and nearby Baranja, are lands of fertile plains and ancient forests, steeped in tradition and 17th-century folklore.
Sunflowers in Slavonia
Sunflowers in Slavonia (c) xbrchx
During the summer months, the fields burst with sunflowers amid pretty, rural houses. The cities in Slavonia contain many baroque mansions and churches built with autumnal coloured bricks and painted in yellow hues.
There’s plenty of traditional foody fare to sample with influences from neighbouring countries such as Hungary and Serbia.
Discover Slavonia’s impressive architecture and folklore
Start off in Slavonski Brod (simply ‘Brod’ to the locals – meaning ‘water crossing’) a historic city that borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Slavonski Brod Fortress, an abandoned stronghold from the 1700s that was designed to accommodate 4,000 soldiers and 150 cannons, is well worth a visit. It retains many preserved fortifications and inside you will also discover a rather quirky museum, “House of Tambura”.
The museum traces the history of the Tambura, also known as tamburica or tamburitza, a traditional string instrument of the region used to play folk music.
Incidentally, if you are in Slavonski Brod in mid-June, be sure to take part in the Brodsko Kolo Festival, a joyful celebration of all things Slavonian.
The cathedral of St. Peter in Djakovo
The cathedral of St. Peter in Djakovo (c) dbajurin
Close to Brod is the city of Đakovo, home to the impressive St Peter’s Cathedral, which was built in the late 1800s in the Romanesque and Gothic styles, with two bell towers standing 84m high.
If you love horses, you won’t want to miss a trip to the “Ergela” stud-farm in Đakovo, which was established in 1506 and breeds famous Lipizzaner stallions, the masters of dressage. Here you can tour the Stallion Station, including visits to the horse stables, outdoor racetrack and terrains for dressage and hurdle racing. There’s also daily music and dressage show.
Osijek (c) ilijaa
It is also worth spending half a day in Slavonia’s capital, Osijek, which also borders Baranja. The city, a sea of orange roof tiles surrounded by lush, green fields, is easily explored on foot, with plenty of baroque-style buildings to admire as you explore. The impressive square, Trg Ante Starčevića, is featured on the 200 kuna banknote Tvrđa.
Head to the old town in the eastern part of the city and pay a visit to the 18th-century defensive fortress Tvrđa, which is built on the right bank of the River Drava. The fortress was built in medieval Osijek following the defeat of the Ottoman forces in 1687.
Top tip: Drive from Osijek to the Illok, the easternmost town of Croatia. Perched on a hill overlooking the Danube, the picturesque town is surrounded by vineyards and contains a 16th-century hammam (Turkish bath) from the Ottoman period.
Want to extend your trip to Slavonia and Baranja?
Danube coast in Vukovar
Danube coast in Vukovar (c) xbrchx
Golden sheaf of hay on the field at summer
Golden plains of Slavonia (c) Jacek Nowak
Smart Travel offer a 7-day private tour of Slavonia and Baranja including 4* accommodation, local travel on a luxury air-conditioned bus and a half-board meal plan. Prices start from €900 and the tour includes visits to all the cities mentioned in this article along with several vineyards and opportunities to discover local folklore and cuisine.