The Vukovar-Srijem County is the easternmost Croatian region, with a rich history and numerous notable sites. Apart from its historical tradition, the region is known for its gastronomy – shepherd’s stew (cobanac), flavoured sausage (kulen), cracklings (cvarci) and exquisite wines. The easternmost Croatian town of Ilok is surrounded by vineyards with Gewürztraminer (traminac) as the most famous grape variety. According to history, the ancient Romans planted grape vines in the Ilok area back in the 3rd century and the tradition has continued ever since. This county is also home to Vukovar, the famous Croatian “Hero City”. Apart from the largest cities, you should definitely visit the smaller towns and villages, vineyards and plains.
The Danube River and the Danube Valley (Podunavlje)
The second largest river in Europe, the Danube River, flows through Vukovar and Ilok. It originates in Germany and its delta is situated in the Black Sea. The Danube has greatly impacted both cities, with Vukovar being the largest Croatian port on the river.
The Croatian Danube Valley (Podunavlje) offers a variety of activities in relation to the Danube River. In the historically rich Baroque City of Vukovar you can stroll along the bank of the Danube, enjoy the view of the Vuka River as it empties into the Danube and even go for a swim in the Danube during the summer. Fishing is also very popular on both rivers of Vukovar. The Danube River is also a natural border between Croatia and Serbia.
Museums castles of Eltz and Odeshalchi
The best way to learn the history of Vukovar and Ilok is through their castles – Eltz Manor in Vukovar and Odeshalchi Castle in Ilok. The renovated castles have a long history and are today venues for city museums. The Vukovar museum is located in the Baroque Eltz Manor which belonged to a noble German family. The castle was heavily damaged during the Homeland War and was completely renovated and opened in 2011. The Odeshalchi Castle in Ilok was opened a year earlier, in 2010. In the 15th century it belonged to Nikola Iločki and was later given to the noble Italian family Odeshalchi who expanded the castle and built wine cellars beneath it. The Italian nobles left after 1945 and the castle was renovated and opened to the public six years ago.
The Vucedol Culture Museum
Vucedol near Vukovar is a prehistoric site where one of the most famous symbols of the City of Vukovar was found – the Vučedol Dove (Vučedolska golubica). It is a ceramic vessel in the shape of a dove found among the archaeological excavations in 1938, and it dates back to the period between 2800 BC and 2400 BC when Vučedol was home to the ancient Vučedol civilization.
You can learn more about this civilization in one of the most state-of-the-art museums in Croatia – the Vučedol Culture Museum – which was opened last year in Vučedol.
Danube River cruises (ships Bajadera and Danubius)
The Danube River is a navigable river with flourishing river tourism, especially in the form of river cruises which are becoming increasingly popular. If you happen to be in Vukovar, you can sail the Danube River with the electric-solar ship Bajadera and experience a beautiful panoramic view of Vukovar. You can also sail the Danube River from Ilok with the ship Danubius which is a special tourist ship offering several types of cruise, the most interesting of which is the one from Ilok to Vukovar.
Nijemci Birdwatching Centre
The Nijemci Municipality near Vinkovci is home to the Nijemci Birdwatching Centre which was co-financed by the European Union. It is a tourist site for all those who want to experience the rich fauna of the area. Over a 100 bird species can be found in the Nijemci Municipality, which is home to the black stork, white-tailed eagle and hoopoe.
Plus, don’t forget to visit:
Ilok Wine Road
– try the best wines of the region
Ivan Kozarac Memorial Home
– home of the famous Croatian poet
Vinkovci City Museum
– city with the oldest European calendar
Danube (Eurovelo 6) and Syrmia cycling routes
– 138-kilometer-long bicycle path
Golden Thread Road thematic route (Cesta zlatne niti)
– get to know the tradition of eastern Croatia
Rural households and rakia tasting rooms
– taste authentic Slavonian products
Fishing on the rivers
– catch a carp, catfish, perch or pike
– 273 hunting grounds in the county; the most famous one is Spačva near Vinkovci
Autumns of Vinkovci (Vinkovačke jeseni)
– famous Croatian folklore festival
Vukovar Film Festival
– film festival for Danube countries
Roman Days, Vinkovci
– event displaying the Roman influence on the area
Written by: Lana Mandoljevic / The Zagreb Times