Although Slavonia, in eastern Croatia, is one of the smaller counties in the country and fairly untouched by touristic standards, it definitely has no lack of places to go and things to do. Decorated with wild meadows, farmlands, forests, lakes, streams, vineyards, caves, historic manors, castle ruins and a few lively metropolitan areas, Slavonia offers both diversity and tranquility. Discover Croatia’s heartland beauty with our list of seven things to do in Slavonia.
1. Tour a Slavonian vineyard
Croats have always known they make good wines and in recent years the international community has realized this too, recognizing them with top awards. The region of Slavonia is home to some of the country’s finest wines, many of which come directly from Kutjevo Vineyards, located in the town of the same name.
The oldest wine cellar in Croatia can be found on its grounds and dates back to 1232. Get a look inside this old-timer and any of the vineyard’s 19 other wine cellars. Finish off your tour with a tasting of their high quality wines and buy a bottle or two to take home as souvenirs from your trip. Kutjevo Vineyards also offer rooms for overnight stays as well as four restaurants—a great choice for a wine-tasting holiday.
2. Visit Osijek
Visiting Slavonia without a trip to Osijek just doesn’t seem right. Osijek is considered the heart of Slavonia as it the region’s largest city and its administrative, industrial and cultural center. It sits on the banks of the river Drava and is marked by 19th century Secessionist architecture and old baroque buildings.
Walking through Osijek, be sure to stop by the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, the tallest building in Croatia outside of Zagreb, the 1742 Church of St. Michael the Archangel, the pedestrian suspension bridge over the river Drava, Viseci Most and to try some kulen—a minced pork sausage that’s a specialty of the region.
3. Trek through Papuk Geopark
Papuk Geopark of Velika has been populated since the neolitic times and gets its name from the mountain that surrounds it. Papuk was originally designated as a protected nature park but in 2007 it became Croatia’s first natural area to be awarded the geopark title and since then has been a part of the European and Global UNESCO Geoparks Network.
Inside the park, discover mountain springs that are home to the endangered brown trout, 13 different types of forests, 40 speleological objects like caves, holes and abysses and archaeological sites and monuments. Activities available to enjoy include horseback riding, rock-climbing, paragliding, geocatching, hiking and mountain biking.
4. Investigate the Trbusnajk Cave
Trbusnaljk, set in the area of Grahovljan, is Slavonia’s longest cave, recently measured at 200 meters long but may even reach much further than that. Over 3,000 bats call the cave home along with discolored cave crabs and other small animals.
5. Picnic at Lake Sovsko
Lake Sovasko is a wonderful place for a picnic as it offers the opportunity for stunning photos and enjoyment of crisp, clean mountain air. The lake is located right on the northern foot of mount Dilij and is surrounded by Sessilee Oak, Hornbeam and beech forests.
Fossilized remains of marine organisms have been found in the deepest parts of the lake, leading scientists to believe that the Sovasko is the last remaining part of the ancient Pannonian Sea.
6. Explore the old forts of Kaptol and Velika
A number of manors and old castles are scattered throughout Slavonia. Two of particular note are the ruins of the old forts, Kaptol and Velika. Kaptol was built in a late gothic-renaissance style but the fort’s actual construction date has proved difficult to determine as it has been destroyed and rebuilt throughout history. Yet, the castle is known to be a former sacral institution and was once the center of the Diocese of Pecuj during the early 13th century. Today, work is being done to restore it to its original glory.
In Velika, on the southern foot of the Lapjak hill, sits another fort—Fort Velika. It is estimated that the fort was built in the 13th century and originally owned by the noblemen of the area, Befekijecvi. The Turks later invaded and turned it into a military base but today is abandoned and only partially preserved. The surrounding area offers good hiking grounds and marked hiking paths lead up to the old fort.
7. Relax the day away at Spa Velika
If you’d prefer a lazier day in Slavonia, then Spa Velika is the place to be. Located in the town of Velika, the spa has been functioning since the Roman times and was once enjoyed by the Ottoman Turks.
Beneath the grounds are two natural hot water springs that supply water to the spa’s four swimming pools which include one large pool and three smaller ones. Spend the day swimming and sunning and also enjoy a few rounds of sports at the spa’s recreational sport facilities. A restaurant and ice cream shop are also open on the premises, ensuring you a day without worry.