River ships dock in the town of Vukovar on the Danube to reach the much larger city of Osijek, about 45 minutes away. This area was greatly affected by the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s (especially Vukovar), but Osijek has rebuilt in the previous decades and much of its historic baroque center was spared during the conflict.
What We Love
Drava River Walk: Osijek is a laid-back town, and one of the best ways to take it all in is to amble down the boulevard by the river. Stop for lunch at Kod Javora and enjoy traditional Slavonian food and some of the best views in town.
The Red Fico: One of the most powerful images of the war between Croatia and Yugolsolvia was of a tank running over a small red car (known as a fico) in Osijek. A monument now stands on the site as a symbol of Croatia's victory — here, it is the car that runs over the tank.
Best Known For
Church of St. Peter and Paul: This red brick neo-gothic building has the second highest tower in the country, reaching 295 feet in height. The interior is just as striking with elaborate stained glass windows and frescoes by Croatian painter Mirko Rački.
Tvrda: This is Osijek's Old Town, and you'll feel like you have gone back in time thanks to the 18th-century cobblestone streets, expansive pedestrian-only Holy Trinity Square, and ornate buildings that look more Viennese than Croatian. In fact, Tvrda is the most well-preserved baroque area in Croatia and was the heartbeat of cultural life in the 19th century.
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Who It's Best For
Foodies: This area was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Hungarian influence is still found in the region’s spicy cuisine. Vineyards have also been cultivated here since way back in the third century and several boutique wineries produce in the region. Try Ilocki Podrumi, which is known for its chardonnay.
Cyclists: Those looking to explore on two wheels can spend time in Osijek riding along the Danube Cycle Path. If your ship doesn't have bikes to borrow, you can rent them in town from agencies such as Centratour.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
The War Is Still Fresh: The conflict is very recent history and in Osijek and Vukovar the damage is still very evident, including many buildings with bullet holes.
Dena Roché is a Phoenix-based contributor to ShermansCruise whose work has been featured in Modern Luxury, Robb Report, and Destination Weddings & Honeymoons.