Because of a peculiar reason I have been staying in the Croatian city of Osijek for two months now. Osijek is not your typical Croatian tourist destination. Why? First of all: it is all the way in the eastern tip of the country, far away from the coast and the capital where most tourists go. Secondly: Osijek does not have famous touristic highlights. Still Osijek is de fourth biggest city of Croatia and a very pleasant place to spend at least some days, maybe even weeks! But what to do there? Don’t worry. I wrote my own personal travel guide and found 10 things to do in Osijek for you!
Admire the colorful buildings
The first thing that I noticed, as soon as we drove into the center on the main avenue, is that Osijek has some majestic and charming buildings. They were probably very fancy once, but now in many cases the plaster is coming off. Some buildings have been renovated others are abandoned. The total mix is just beautiful. Walk down Europska Avenija and you’ll see for yourself.
Cool off at Copacabana
Yes, that’s right: Osijek has it’s very own Copacabana. It might not be as tropical as it’s Brazilian brother, but the Osijekian Copacabana is still vert pleasant. This is a great spot for a fresh swim in the river Drava, a cold beer in the sun and some good people watching. Do you prefer a more private beach, then just follow the river downstream, go under the train bridge, and you will find more quiet swimming spots.
Visit the wetlands
About 15 kilometers from Osijek you’ll find one of the biggest wetlands in Europe: Kopački Rit. This natural park is great to spend your day enjoying beautiful nature. You can follow the walking trails, rent a bike, or go on a boat tour. We took a boat tour, which was beatiful! We even spent one night here in Box, which was an adventure in itself. You can find more information about the park on the website of Kopački Rit.
Buy home made wine
When you are already out of the city, you might as well pay a visit to one of the nearby villages. The area around Osijek, Baranja, is a famous wine region. You will find many houses and little restaurants that sell home made wine. We went to winery Kolar in the village Suza. Take your own bottle and they will fill it up directly from the tank! In Eastern Croatia are many more places where you can taste and buy local wine and food. If you want to spend some more time out of the city you could explore the villages of Ilok and Karanac.
Watch movies at Urania
Are you in Osijek when it rains? Or you just need a moment for yourself? Then visit cinema Urania. This cinema is built the year 1912 and knows a long history with ups and downs. The cinema has not been doing well for a while and had many setbacks during the years, including demolition during the war. Since it has been part of a European cinema funding program, Urania is back in the game. You can find the program of Urania here.
Take the Kompa
Ask an Osijekian about interesting activities in the city and he or she will tell you about the ‘Kompa’. A small ferry that connects the city to the other side of the Drava. The Kompa is connected to a rope above the river and mainly uses the strong current to move to the other side. The boat driver leaves whenever he feels like there is enough people on board to make it worthwhile to cross. The boat ride is free of charge. On the other side of the river you will find the Zoo.
Stroll along the Drava
Do as the Osijekians do and head towards the boulevard at the end of the afternoon. Buy an ice cream at Petar Pan and stroll along the boulevard, to the pedestrian bridge or all the way to Tvrđa. Stop at one of the many outside terraces and have a drink. Watch girls passing by on skeelers and boys speeding their speed boats, all with a backdrop of the sunset in the river Drava.
Eat nice food
When you are in a decent city like Osijek, of course you can not skip eating in a nice restaurant. Cooking in the van is great, but sometimes there is just nothing better than a good old burger. My favorite place to eat in Osijek is American Bar Dollar. They have a very cool court yard (the one on the photo), VERY tasty burgers, fresh smoothies and juices. That kind of stuff. Two other personal favorites are Italian restaurant Rustica and restaurant Kod Ruze, where you can eat great regional food.
Pronouncing the name of this part of the city is not easy, I’ve practiced it many times. (Tvrdzja….)Well, maybe it’s easier to just visit. Tvrđa literally means citadel and this part of the city is indeed built in a fortress. This area has origins in the 17th century. Where Tvrđa was originally built to protect against the Ottomans, now it’s a centre of Osijek’s nightlife and it also hosts the Museum of Slavonia.
Jump into the night life
Osijek is not a metropolitan, but for it’s size it has a decent night life. Especially in Tvrđa are many bars and clubs. But I’m going to be honest to you. My night life usually exists of watching movies in bed…ahem… But while staying in Osijek, every weekend I could hear the beats from under my blanket. So I know Osijek has a night life, all right? You can find a nightlife agenda here. Just try it yourself and let me know how it is in a comment!
Bonus activity: find these cute robots
They are just so cool that I could not leave them out of this post
Things to do in Osijek on a map
All places mentioned in this blog post are marked on the map below. I also marked a few nice places to sleep in a van, which we found around the city. And we found a place to do laundry!! A very important and welcome find for us after washing our clothes in the river for 2 months. It’s on the map as well…
Osijek loves you too….
Do you have other tips for things to do in Osijek? Or did you try things from this list that you liked or disliked? Just let me know in a comment below!