Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Bikademy App Emphasises Potential for Cyclo Tourism in Slavonia

August 3, 2022 - Bikademy – an academy where a good, strong connection is mandatory. The only other requirement is a bicycle. This innovative app explores cyclo tourism and places Croatia on the map of big European cyclo tourist destinations.

Bikademy is a unique Croatian product intended for all those who like cycling to explore new destinations and their cultural and natural heritage. It promotes cities and regions as desirable cyclo tourism destination, rewarding cyclists for their efforts. A bicycle is an ideal means of exploration, being slow enough to take in your surroundings, and fast enough to cover longer distances.

The Bikademy application is completely free for users who, just like in other academies, are called Bikademy Students. Within the application, you can choose from different Bikademy Studies, each representing a particular region, county, or city. Within each Study, there are different Exams, that is, locations and places of cultural or natural significance.

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Photo: Bikademy

The main task of a Bikademy Student is to cycle to each Exam in the chosen Study. It is required to take a selfie and check in via the application. After passing all the Exams of the chosen Study, Bikademy Students receive a prize from the Bikademy sponsor, GIANT Croatia.

In just four steps, you too can pass the Bikademy Exam (photos attached).

1 Install the application and register

2 Cycle to the Exam (location)

3 Check in through the application

4 Repeat the previous two steps

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Photo: Bikademy

One of the first Bikademy Studies was the Brod-Posavina County with seven Exams: Vrpolje, Gajna, Tvrđava Brod, Petnja, Stara Kapela, Cernik and Tvrđava Stara Gradiška. 

Check out the highlights of the Brod-Posavina Study here.

This Study is intended for more experienced cyclists who want to cover longer distances. The Exams are of similar difficulty for the four other four Slavonian counties. They reveal that Slavonia is not only made up of fields and valleys but also rich cultural heritage, natural resources, superb gastronomy and hospitality, at every turn. Although everyone knows about Slavonia, it is yet to be discovered as a hidden tourist gem perfect for cycling.

In cities like Zagreb, Šibenik, and Berlin, there are less demanding Studies for every traveler who wants to explore the area by bike.

Through its social networks, Bikademy presents its cyclo tourism destinations, and examples from practice, but also continuously rewards its followers. They are preparing new surprises and opportunities soon, so make sure you follow them on social networks.

If you would love to see Bikademy in your area, feel free to contact them, as they are expanding beyond the borders of the Republic of Croatia.

As for your holidays, choose your destination and explore it by bike, get to know the culture and nature of the region, and win prizes. Cycle your exams!

To learn more about some of the people behind the movement, check out TCN's interview with Krešimir Herceg.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, explore our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Wine Tour de Slavonia: From the Golden Valley to Easternmost Vineyard in Ilok

July 20, 2022 - From the Golden Valley to the easternmost vineyard in Ilok, a 'Wine Tour de Slavonia' with Mirena Bagur and Winfried Burke.

With Graševina representing one out every four vines in Croatia and being the most produced wine in Croatia, it felt appropriate to celebrate it by introducing influencing guests from the US to the Graševina Festival in Osijek, where several Croatian organizations hosted the conference to discuss the past, present, and future of the variety. 

Hence, we decided to “Head on East Croatia,” the cleverly designed marketing campaign by Slavonia Travel, to truly enjoy and explore all the gourmet experiences Slavonia has to offer.  With three counties, several appellations, and indefinite wine labels later, we can say we were in for a real treat. Most importantly, the people of Slavonia are to be applauded for not only incredibly warm and welcoming hospitality, but also for their expertise in differentiating this experience from the rest of Croatia, so more visitors would come here. We will be back, what about you?

This is a short overview with just a few photos from the inaugural “Croatia Full of Flavors” trip to Slavonia. The two American writers joining this trip included Todd Godbout of WineCompass, and Richard Auffrey, Passionate Foodie Blog, and Sampan, who were initially introduced to us by Luiz Alberto, the American-based wine judge and founder of the  #winelover group, a 10-year old community of 30,000 members on Facebook which also holds periodic in-person gatherings in wine regions. Needless to say, Todd’s and Richard’s brief posts while traveling in Slavonia have already reached a huge number of wine lovers.  

We hope many other writers will want to visit to get the historical and flavors’ profile of the region and visit Slavonia’s wine roads.  We will be writing about each area separately. And, as you can imagine, we are in discussions with various wineries about how to add more Slavonian wines to our portfolio at www.CroatianPremiumWine.com, an online store shipping 70+ Croatian wines to most US states. 

Three Counties, Many Appellations, and a Unified Hospitality 

When thinking of Eastern Croatia, most foreign visitors don’t realize there are three distinct counties and two wine regions in Eastern Croatia. All are blessed with fertile land for many crops, but in addition to “flatlands” there are many rolling hills where vineyards thrive -- hard to imagine without visiting.  The focus of our trip was eno- and gastro-offering of the region, but with the assistance from the Tourism Offices that work together from the Požega-Slavonia, Vukovar-Srijem, and Osijek-Baranja counties, we were able to get a rounded cultural experience. 

We were so full of impressions of an indefinite number of wineries and underground cellars – both very old and ultra-modern ones with vertical archives, with a plethora of traditional and gourmet food offerings, and interactions with people of all walks of life, from tourism to winemaking, that it seemed the trip lasted several weeks. 

Graševina is an incredibly versatile grape variety, and the top-quality wines produced in Slavonia today are obviously prevalent. While a lot of table wine is still produced in Slavonia, we have not visited one winery that did not have great top-quality wine. This is a result of the winemaking renaissance in Croatia led by many experts in the academia as well as a result of hard work in the wineries where the young generation of winemakers is carrying the torch started by the legends like Vlado Krauthaker and others. 

We tasted a lot of Graševina in various forms - from sparkling to fresh or aged, and ultimately ice wine. Our verdict – join the people in the know who are “Heading on East” to get that full experience. It is hard to describe without sharing ratings of various wines and experiences. 

Slavonia wine region (Kutjevo, Feričanci)

Our first stop was Kutjevo, and the area is called the Golden Valley, where we visited three large wineries -- Kutjevo Winery, Krauthaker, and Galić Winery.  From the 1232 wine cellar to the ultra-modern winery, the American wine writers and importers got the front-row seats in exploring Slavonia’s wine routes.

 

Photo: Kutjevo’s cellar from 1232 and the Galic newest Galileo barrel 

Vlado Krauthaker and his team introduced us to more than 30 wines. And Vlado also showed off not only his legendary charisma, but also his family – from Martina, the winemaker's daughter, to Ivan, the business leader nephew with the “prepare your glasses” moto, and the granddaughter that gave him a big hug at the family dinner to which we were invited. (Needless to say, we were grateful we had a driver!) And the next day, we visited a big winery in Feričanci, formerly known as Feravino, which has recently rebranded itself to Enosophia Winery. The new product line is both produced and designed in a modern way. Interesting to note that wines are aged in Slavonian oak and that the barrels are made by Auric Barrels, a company whose entire forest is FCS certified and is just a few kilometers down the road. Talking about the perfect pairing!

Photo:  30+ wines with Vlado Krauthaker and his team, and listening about the newest brand Enosophia aged in Auric barrels

Croatian Danube Wine Region (Ilok-Srijem, Erdut, and Baranja)

Our travel path from Slavonia took us first to the most eastern area -- Ilok-Srijem, where everything seems to be historical and big. One cannot visit Iločki Podrumi without realizing its long and royal history as well as recent ingenuity in saving the archived wines. Then at TRS Winery we witnessed the modern winery built literally on top of historical cellars, which are in the process of being rebuilt.  And, we had the chance to juxtapose the might of the big wineries with the success on the smaller scale – the most eastern winery in Ilok, Papak Winery, is a family winery of the former leader at Iločki Podrumi whose experience has been transferred to smaller scale but the wine is equally superb, and the young lions at the Čobanković and the Buhač wineries who are starting to win awards with top-quality wines.

Photo: Iločki Podrumi vertical cellar, Principovac, ice wine from Papak Winery, and the TRS juxtaposition 

In the Erdut Danube wine region, we visited one of the biggest wineries, including their biggest wooden barrel of 75000 liters at Erdutski Vinogradi, which makes it the largest wine barrel in use in the world. The barrel is always full, and there is always Graševina in it.

From the gigantic, we moved to charming -- the boutique Antunović Winery is fully in the embrace of the Danube and vines as well as the wisdom, knowledge, and persistency of a woman winemaker – Jasna Antunović is the only Slavonian winemaker with a Decanter Platinum for her wine.  Yes, platinum!

Photo:  The world’s largest barrel at Erdutski Vinogradi and the charming environment and winemaker at Antunović Winery

Lastly, we visited Baranja in its mystical glory. From historical fortification “Tvrđa” in Osijek to the Belje Winery, both old cellars and the new, and finally rural Zmajevac, and the Josic Winery. The allure of this most northeastern part of Croatia is in the combination of their traditional customs with the new twists, and the might and modernism of the winery serving 630 hectares of continuous vineyards as well as the charisma of the village life transposed to rural wine tourism.

Photo:  Belje, the old and the new cellars 

 

2 Days in Slavonia Equals 2 Kilos Gained 

In addition to wine, we tasted everything from the very traditional “kulen” to the modern representations of modern food. Regardless of the lighter touches of the gourmet cuisine, we were told by the charming lady at the even more charming Maksimilian Hotel in Osijek, “if visitors didn’t gain at least two kilos over one weekend, Slavonians didn’t do their hosting well.”  In retrospect, it appears we didn’t want to offend them – don’t want to reveal any numbers, but we both gained at least that much. Mission accomplished, Slavonia! 

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Photo: From old-fashioned, but deliciously spicy “fiš paprikas” at Josić Winery and Restaurant to the presentation of a traditionally-inspired dessert with a reduction of Josić Grand Cuvee.

Our trip to Slavonia ended with a well-visited Wine & Art Festival in Osijek with artists expressing their talents and wineries sharing their high-quality wines with the public. It seemed the whole of Slavonia came to celebrate. As it should. We hope this will make more Croatians and foreign visitors make their plans to visit and taste all the wines and food. Živjeli!

 

Authors: Mirena Bagur and Win Burke are co-founders of Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Inc, a company that distributes, retails online, and educates about Croatian wines in the US, and ships 70+ Croatian wine labels to most US states. The initial team of American wine writers included Todd Godbout of WineCompass, a directory for winery, brewery, and distillery locators, and BevFluence, an organization created by beverage content creators, for content creators, and Richard Auffrey of Sampan, the New England English-Chinese newspaper, and Passionate Foodie Blog, where he wrote dozens of articles about Croatia and its wine scene before even heading to this trip.

We wanted to thank all organizations and people who helped us put this tour together – from the Croatian National Tourist Board in the US, and regional tourist boards as well as Vina Croatia.hr, a segment of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, and Graševina Croatica, an association of wineries in Slavonia and Danube region. 

And as always, we are thankful to the global #winelovers community for helping us navigate the American wine scene before we even started the business.  The beauty of the group lies in its members consisting of tradespeople and simple wine enthusiasts, amateurs and pros, serious collectors and newcomers, who all share a passion for wine and facilitate communication and education of all facets of the wine industry from vineyard to glass. 

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Authors in front of Principovac Summer Residence

All photos by Croatian Premium Wine Imports

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 2 July 2022

Jandroković: Numbers Show Osijek, County, Slavonia Growing

ZAGREB, 2 July 2022 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković met in Osijek on Saturday with city and county officials and said the numbers showed that after years of stagnation, Osijek, Osijek-Baranja County and the Slavonia region were growing and making progress.

He met with Osijek-Baranja County head Ivan Anušić, Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić and Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak.

Speaking to the press afterwards, he said Slavonia and Baranja-County for many years were seen in a negative light due to political instability, emigration and economic stagnation.

Now, he added, a lot of money from the state budget and EU funds is coming here and the effects on the quality of life are visible.

Money is being invested in infrastructure and logistics projects as well in agriculture, the economy and science, Jandroković said, adding that today's meeting also discussed sports development, the IT sector in Osijek, and the further strengthening of the cooperation between the state and local levels.

When there is political stability and the city and the county function, that cooperation is much stronger, he said.

As a member of the EU and soon-to-be member of the euro and Schengen areas, Croatia is significantly changing its position, which impacts counties and region, he added.

Tramišak said HRK 7.6 billion was being invested in economic, municipal, health and school projects.

Croatia's east has proven that it can be more progressive in terms of the economy and development and to attract people to live there, she said, adding that the programming process had ended and a partnership agreement was sent to the European Commission yesterday for approval.

This means new funds and opportunities for enterprise and much higher aid for those who want to start a business here, Tramišak said.

Prefect Anušić said that under parliament's recent change of statistical regions, Osijek-Baranja County was now part of the Pannonian Region and that this facilitated development and EU fund absorption.

Mayor Ivan Radić said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's visit yesterday and Jandroković's today showed how much attention was being paid to eastern Croatia.

We have very good tourism results as well as good economic and demographic indicators, he added.

Tonight, Jandroković will open the 22nd Osijek Summer of Culture.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Visible Steps Forward Made for Slavonia, PM Says

ZAGREB, 1 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Osijek on Friday that visible steps forward had been made for the Slavonia region in the past six years by implementing Project Slavonia thanks to the synergy between the national and local levels.

The project is aimed at helping the region's revitalization, demographic recovery, and economic growth by investing in infrastructure, agriculture and education, he told the press after meeting with Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić and Osijek-Baranja County head Ivan Anušić.

Plenković said he was pleased that HRK 1 billion worth of projects were being carried out in Osijek in the last year.

During our term, investments worth HRK 3 billion have been contracted in the city and over HRK 7 billion in the county, he added.

Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak said the results were visible in the economic, social, municipal and road infrastructure after six years of investments co-funded by the EU.

She said plans for regions in industrial transition had been approved in operational programmes until 2027. We are looking forward to the new opportunities, notably in the economic sense, she added.

Mayor Radić thanked the government for investing in Osijek and said the bulk of the current investments in the city, over HRK 1 billion, was financed by the EU. For the first time in ten years, we have more people moving in than out, which interests us the most, he added.

Prefect Anušić said this region was making progress in demography, the return of emigrants and tourism development thanks to the cooperation and the promotion of positive trends.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Conference Held on Untapped Slavonian Potential, Green/Digital Transition

June the 11th, 2022 - A recently held conference discussed untapped Slavonian potential, looking more deeply into this wrongly overlooked part of the country and exploring what the green and digital transition(s) could mean for it.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Agency for Sustainable Development of the Municipality of Antunovac held a conference on untapped Slavonian potential, organised by the International Network of Business Women and the Croatian Association of Employers of the Osijek Regional Office.

"This is a fantastic topic for Slavonia, but also for Croatia in general, because a lot of funds will be available. Digitalisation and the green transition is something that awaits us in the future and without which we can't move forward. Neither big nor small enterprises can turn a blind eye to this, because without it they won't be competitive and that's something they'll simply have to introduce,'' said Ivana Radic, President of the International Business Women's Network.

Milan Peterka, head of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, added that in addition to the tenders from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, for digitalisation and the green transition, it will be possible to withdraw funds from the European Union's multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, and as much as 7 billion kuna will be available.

The conference focused on two main topics: the green transition and digitalisation, as these are increasingly current topics that the European Commission has also emphasised in the new budget period. Here in Croatia, only 15% of business entities use green technology and we're still very much lagging behind in terms of the degree of digitalisation. Croatian companies are insufficiently prepared and insufficiently informed.

“The green transition is a strategic decision of every company and it's a process that requires a lot of financial resources, depending on the industry in question. If we talk, for example, about the chemical industry, those funds can be very significant,'' explained Mirjana Samardzic Novoselec.

She also referred to the recent research conducted by Apsolon related to digitalisation, in which Croatian companies continue to make insufficient use of digital technologies. "The coronavirus pandemic has pushed some processes forward, but this still isn't enough,'' he said.

However, there are some good examples of digitalisation and the green transition among businesses in Croatia. Blazenka Cisko Anic, the director of the Saponia Institute d.d., also spoke at the conference, at which she announced that in the coming period, Saponia plans to invest 20 million kuna in increasing its energy efficiency by using green energy through the installation of solar panels and the energy renovation of six production facilities and the company's headquarters.

"Saponia has long since recognised the need for a green transition and for products that are environmentally friendly. Within Saponia, great care is taken of the raw materials that are purchased, the production process and standards,'' said Cisko Anic.

On behalf of the Olimpias Group, their Wasatex project was presented, which enables water savings in the fabric production process, where 70 percent of the water is reused in the production process. The investment is worth a massive 1.2 million euros, half of which was obtained from EU funds, and the return on investment is two years.

Zvonko Popovic, the director of Kanaan, said that part of their planned activities when it comes to the green transition has already been implemented by Kanaan, and the next step is robotisation.

"We've done perhaps the most in agriculture. We bought software that now makes it much easier to control the situation out in the fields. The new equipment we bought consumes a lot less resources, both in the human and energy senses. We've invested almost 10 million euros in robotics, which may not be the most popular thing, and our goal in the next two years is to robotise all possible drives. The reason is that there isn't enough manpower, and labour is becoming more expensive and the quality is declining. I must say that the only thing that pays off for the future is the purchase of state-of-the-art technology and to have adequate people who will follow it,'' stated Popovic.

PlantOn CEO Mario Salai explained how their company helps farmers on the one hand and customers on the other because it allows them to nurture their remote garden through the app.

“Anyone can enter our system, apply, get 40 square metres of their plot and process what the customer wants. It may be surprising that most of the current users are family farms and companies that want to produce organic and healthy fruit and vegetables for themselves or their employees,'' concluded Salai.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 2 June 2022

PM: A Feeling Of Zest, Enthusiasm And Progress Felt In Slavonia

ZAGREB, 2 June 2022 - A special session of the Osijek-Baranja County Assembly on Thursday marked that county's day, and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that great momentum, enthusiasm and progress could be felt in Slavonia with visible results of the Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem Project.

Plenković underscored those important investments that were made in transport infrastructure as part of the project and announced that works on the section of the international 5C traffic corridor, from Osijek to Beli Manastir, and a bypass road near Beli Manastir, would be completed this summer.

It is the government's task to continue to be engaged and to help implement development projects and for this and other Slavonian counties to experience prosperity in the fourth decade of Croatian independence and democracy. The government will support you and strive to be the actor you can rely on in crisis circumstances, Prime Minister Plenković said.

County Prefect Ivan Anušić assessed that in the past five years the perception of Slavonia and Baranja has changed - from a non-perspective and economically and demographically devastated area to a promising part of Croatia, which is open to new ideas and projects.

In recent years, we have seen continuous economic growth, the return of emigrants and reduced unemployment, and thanks to government measures, which contributed to the preservation of jobs during the epidemic, the process of the county's growth and development has not stopped, he added.

He informed that the Osijek-Baranja County is currently implementing EU projects worth HRK 7.2 billion, including the completion of a Regional Fruit and Vegetable Distribution Centre, the construction of the first building of the Osijek Economic Centre and new Fairgrounds, the construction of six irrigation systems with another dozen in preparation, and the construction of a new Osijek Clinical Hospital Centre, which will be built in cooperation with the government.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 20 May 2022

Vinkovci to Expand Industrial Zone Through €25m Project

ZAGREB, 20 May 2022 - Vinkovci Industrial Zone Zalužje, which has 49 business entities with more than 1,700 employees, should soon be expanded by an additional 111 hectares, which should, according to the city administration, spur strong economic development in that Slavonian city.

The project to expand the industrial zone Zalužje with land worth over 184 million (€25 million) will be Vinkovci's largest development project in the coming period, said Vinkovci Mayor Ivan Bosančić on Friday.

On Thursday, the government decided to give land to this eastern Croatian city for the expansion of the zone.

"The expanded part of Zalužje will be constructed as a sustainable, smart, and digital zone, and in addition to the available land, we will provide investors with full complete infrastructure, transport connectivity, and local and regional authorities involved in attracting investments and open to cooperation," said Bosančić.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Best Beaches in Slavonia - Freshwater Paradise

May 12, 2022 - Summer is on the horizon, temperatures are higher and people are already planning how to cool down in the coming hot months. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford or reach the Adriatic coastline for much-deserved relaxation. However, Croatia has countless beautiful rivers and lakes used for swimming and recreation and Slavonia is full of those. A look into the best beaches in Slavonia.

As mentioned before, some people living outside of regions located near the Adriatic coast can’t afford or travel great distances for the ultimate Croatian summer. Because of those limitations, people needed to find ways to cool themselves and relax in their cities during unbearably hot months. Slavonia is definitely one of those regions. Older Slavonians will remember those summers decades ago when only a few families could afford to go to the Adriatic coast, after saving money all year, and others “less fortunate ones”, would go to rivers and lakes near their hometown. Those swimming places were made up on the go - “beaches” were mostly covered with untouched nature and unexplored terrains. Let’s just say they weren’t particularly safe but after a few accidents and realizations that structured swim places can be profitable and safe havens for families with kids, local authorities started investing in swimming and recreational infrastructure on those lakes and rivers. Water quality began to be reviewed for swimmers and after tests showed that the quality is excellent, the building could start. Without further ado, these are the best beaches in Slavonia.

“Copacabana” on Drava River in Osijek - “Kopika” 

The list of best beaches in Slavonia starts with non-other than “Kopika”. One of the most popular river beaches in Slavonia, this is one of the swimming places in Slavonia that you can’t miss. Beach that offers views of iconic places in Osijek like Tvrđa, co-cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, Hotel Osijek, and the Bridge of Youth? Amazing. Since 2020, the beach and recreation center went through a lot of renovations and “Kopika” will shine in its new guise this summer. Modern pools, showers, cabins, and many more, make this beach unmissable this summer.

 

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"Kopika" beach in Osijek (image credits: Mario Romulić)

Križnica Island on Drava River 

This island is located on the Drava River near the small town of Pitomača, the westernmost municipality in Virovitica - Podravina County. Once the border between the Kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia, this ancient island was the last one in the historic Pannonian Sea and its sandy beach attracts swimmers and recreationalists all over the country. Its bike routes, local cuisine, and natural private retreat make this river beach one of the best in the country and it’s an unmissable place to visit for refreshments and relaxation.

 

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Križnica Island on Drava River (image credits: glaspodravine.hr)

Poloj Sports and Recreation Center 

Apart from the Drava, the Sava River and its Poloj beach takes the crown as one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. During summer, this beach attracts plenty of swimmers in need of refreshments. The white sand beach that can compete with some on the Adriatic coast, offers a lot of content - sandy fields for volleyball, futsal, places for barbecue, bike and pedestrian routes, and many more. Slavonski Brod and its surroundings is an amazing place for Digital Nomads and other tourists because it offers everything for everyone. So, visit this amazing place during summer, you won’t regret it.

 

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Beach Poloj on Sava River, Slavonski Brod (image credits: Alen Vrlazić/tzbpz.hr)

Lakes Banja in Vinkovci 

Once upon a time, these two artificial lakes had different usage. More precisely, it was used for clay excavations for a brick factory back in the day and only brave men would go and swim there. However, in 1997, the realization of the potential these lakes have for sport, recreation and relaxation hit, and since then, Lakes Banja became a popular swimming place for residents of Vinkovci. The amazing quality of water and clean and tidy beaches are a perfect place for fishermen and people who want to have a proper swim. After that, barbecue, beer, and an amazing time.

 

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Lakes Banja in Vinkovci (image credits: Banja Vinkovci/Facebook)

Ada Island on the Danube River in Vukovar 

Ada is a beautiful Croatian river island on the Danube River covered in a sandy beach and it’s a favorite swimming place in the city of Vukovar. Only 10 minutes away from cities center by boat and ranked among the ten most beautiful and interesting beaches in Croatia located along rivers and lakes. All those interested in peaceful vacations or maybe active vacations and adventures will surely find something for themselves. Amazing tourist offer that includes boat tours, volleyball on sand, and a gazebo full of refreshing drinks under the shade of the forest, makes this one of the best beaches in Slavonia.

 

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Residents of Vukovar playing beach volleyball on Ada Island (image credits: Branimir Bradarić/lokalni.hr)

Lake Orahovica near village Duzluka  

Only 1500 meters away from the historic town of Orahovica, this artificial lake is probably the only proper place to swim in its radius. Last year, this famous lake celebrated its 60th birthday and it’s not stopping soon. This lake is a magnet for fun. From the most popular music festival in Slavonia Ferragosto Jam to the rich recreation offer, Lake Orahovica is an unavoidable place to visit and what’s also really important to mention, its water comes from the mountains! Besides its clear natural water, location is idyllic - just at the foot of Papuk Mountain and the historic fortified city Ružica City that, according to one legend, was a gathering place of fairies. It’s truly looking like a fairytale from Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić novels indeed.

 

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Lake Orahovica is surrounded by historic sightings and mountains (image credits: orahovica.hr)

 

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Ferragosto Jam brings the best of Croatian music every year to Lake Orahovica (image credits: screenshot/ferragostojam.com)

Honorable mentions are recently officially opened for swimmers Bajer Lake in Đakovo, Lake Borovik located west of Đakovo, natural Lake Đola in Darda near Osijek, beaches in Batina and Aljmaš where Drava River flows into Danube River, Lake Petnja, northwest of Slavonski Brod and so many more.

All of these places are rooted in Slavonians' lives. Great tourist offers and safe place for families, makes river and lake beach a must-visit during this summer. Yes, summers in Slavonia can be more insufferable than in, for example, Dalmatia (different climate), but for that, these freshwater beaches make every hot summer durable. Furthermore, it makes it the most anticipated season in Slavonia. Hopefully, this list of best beaches in Slavonia will encourage tourists to come - Slavonians will welcome you with open arms.

For more, check out our travel section.

Friday, 29 April 2022

48 Hours in Osijek: Slavonian Pot of Content

30th of April 2022 - Green City, Lega City, Bike City, a City on Drava River... Osijek has earned a lot of names through the years and today is one of the most contemporary places in Croatia. A look into how you can spend 48 hours in Osijek.

In recent years, TCN wrote on multiple occasions about how the city of Osijek has every characteristic of a modern European town - culture, history, recreation, developed IT sector, student city with a lot of youth, enormous potential, and so on. Furthermore, the tourist offer became so diverse in the last few years that Osijek became a city for everyone.

For this list, we decided to split time frames into two sections: day one, which would be reserved for relaxing exploration of the city, and day two, for more recreational and exciting options. Now, without further ado, let’s start our 48 hours in Osijek guide!

9.00 a.m - 10.30 a.m 

Every good day needs to start with a good breakfast and what is better than Restaurant Waldinger’s cuisine? Very few. Cozy ambient, calm atmosphere, great food, and the beautiful Osijek Co-cathedral of St Peter and St Paul just down the street with breakfast that stems from Slavonian and traditional to modern and worldly. For day one, we definitely suggest Waldinger.

 

Day two can start with something stronger - food on a stick. Fast food and street food restaurant Hokus Pokus is located just down the street from the previous selection and serves everything from breakfast to dinner. Meaty products aren’t the only food available - veggie options are also proudly displayed in this urban restaurant. Tortillas, kebabs, ćevapčići, and tasty salads are truly a good start for an active day in Osijek.

 

 

11.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.

Day one can be spent in various ways - just stroll through the city on foot and visit numerous green parks like King Petar Krešimir the Fourth Park that’s surrounded on all four sides by beautiful maple trees and King Tomislav Park which connects European Avenue and Tvrđa with its beautiful row of poplars. Since you’re already there, why not use that opportunity and visit, already mentioned, the old town of Osijek, Tvrđa. It’s the best-preserved ensemble of Baroque buildings in Croatia and has a Habsburg star fort built on the right bank of River Drava. Tvrđa also has a culturally rich Museum of Slavonia, that consists of art and heritage stemming from baroque to recent creations. 

 

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Tvrđa (photo credit: Mario Romulić)

 

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King Petar Krešimir The Fourth Park (photo credit: Mario Romulić)

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 King Tomislav Park (photo credit: Mario Romulić)

 

After Tvrđa, use that time to sit down and have a cup of coffee - an obligation that’s never skipped in Croatia with the view of the Museum of Slavonia, faculties, schools, and old Churches of Saint Michael and Holy Cross.

The recreationally active day two can be used for biking through the city - Osijek has one of the most developed bike tracks in Croatia so if you’re even a little bit interested in being active while on holiday, biking through Osijek is a must.

 

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 City bike routes (screenshot: www.osijek360.com)

While you're biking, cross River Drava over the popular "Bridge of youth", now symbols of Osijek, or take "kompa" and go to Osijek ZOO. "Kompa" is one of the symbols of Osijek as well - a means of transport powered only by Drava River currents transporting residents of Osijek since 1916. There's another option: take both! You can transport your bikes on "kompa" as well.

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 Popular "kompa", faithful "carrier" of Osijek residents since 1916 (photo credit: www.tzosijek.hr)

Osijek ZOO has been founded in 1955 and thanks to the location away from the city noise, it’s the perfect place for the peaceful stay of 80 species of animals. Next to the ZOO, there’s a hotel and catering facility with a children’s playground and a view of River Drava. All of that is near the beautiful Podravina forest. 

 

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Osijek ZOO (photo credit: www.tzosijek.hr)

2.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m. 

After some sightseeing, day one should surely feature a really good lunch. If you’re near Tvrđa, definitely check out El Paso for traditional Slavonian food and strange location - on a boat on Drava River! Restaurant and pizzeria Strossmayer no.2 is located near Drava River and has already mentioned traditional dishes, however, they have multiple options like dishes from all over Europe, great pizzas and many more, with amazing Slavonian wines like pinot, chardonnay, merlot and graševina.

 

 

Options outside Tvrđa are located near the center of Osijek and its Downtown like restaurants Zeleni Val and Makedonka which are battling for the title of best čevapćići in Osijek. It’s for you to decide, Slavonians are still discussing. All of that soaked with the famous black Radler from Osječko? Name us a better combination.

  

More active day two requires a healthy amount of heavy food (which is a blatant oxymoron) so why not visit pubs which are definitely not lacking in Osijek. Rich beer culture always comes with pub food that can only be found in Croatia. So why not try local beer brews like American Pale Ale, Irish Dry Stout, and Czech Pilsner from Beckers Craft Brewery with homemade hamburgers that make you salivate? Few options are available: Merlon Pub located in the heart of Tvrđa, there is American Bar Dollar in the center of Osijek, and many more.

 

5.00 p.m. - 7.00 p.m. 

After stuffing yourselves with Osijek cuisine, your 48 hours in Osijek can't pass without more sightseeing and why not use that time to visit famous European Avenue. At the beginning of the century, Osijek was the “stage” for European trends in architecture and the biggest trace left Art Nouveau. Walking on the Avenue, you’ll witness magnificent urban villas from that time with the Main Post Office and Urania Cinema, which is one of the oldest working cinemas in Croatia. On the way, visit Sakuntala Park - a specific park that has a sphinx at the entrance. Strange, isn’t it?

 

 

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Museum of Fine Arts Osijek located on European Avenue (screenshot: www.mlu.hr)

 

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Art Nouveau villa at European Avenue in Osijek (photo credit: Mario Romulić)

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Cinema Urania (photo credit: wikiwand.com/Arhitektura_secesije_u_Osijeku)

On the way, you have already mentioned the beautiful Osijek Co-cathedral of St Peter and St Paul which is an ultimate symbol of Osijek. One of the most important people in Croatian culture, Osijek native and icon, Josip Juraj Strossmayer, gave the initiative to build this magnificent neo-gothic building in the 19th century that still stands tall even today. Besides Zagreb Cathedral, Osijek Co-cathedral is the tallest one in Croatia - its grandiose appearance and ethereal atmosphere bring you back to past forgotten times.

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Osijek Co-cathedral of St Peter and St Paul (photo credit: Mario Romulić)

The active second day can be continued with biking near the Drava River, Podravina forests that astonish with its greenery, and used for refreshment on the famous Osijek beach on Drava River Copacabana or how locals call it, “Kopika”. This famous beach went through multiple renovations in recent years and today offers various options for relaxation and hanging out with your friends. If you’re up to it, get rid of your bikes and put on your swimsuits because this feature in our 48 hours in Osijek guide, is most certainly a must.

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Famous Kopika (photo credit: Mario Romulić)

8.00 p.m. - onwards 

After refreshments, it’s time to explore the nightlife in Osijek. This section is for both days in one since options are plentiful and, in most cases, you won’t make a mistake. However, these are the most famous ones that can make any list in Croatia. Definitely visit Radić Street which is teeming with pubs of all kinds and some of them are named after famous European cities - Barcelona and Amsterdam. In the recent past, there were New York and London but unfortunately, they haven’t survived. Even with those two gone, Barcelona and Amsterdam are still the ultimate picks if you want to see where the urban youth of Osijek and other parts of Slavonia love to go. Also, pub quizzes are amazing.

For drink/cocktail connoisseurs we recommend The Craft Room. The Craft Room bar is located right in the center of the town of Osijek. This concept bar is unique in this region because they offer a wide range of Gin and Whiskey from all over the world. Creative cocktails with innovative ingredients and award-winning bartender Miroslav Kljajić make this bar an unavoidable place to visit.

 

 

Beer lovers, do not fret! Gajba, a pub and tasting room, has every beer you want. From pale ales, lagers and so many other homegrown and worldly types of beers, this place is heaven for people who want to explore beer culture, not just of Osijek, but any European brew. If you want to visit soon, come just in time for the Craft Beer Festival that’s organized by, you guessed it, Gajba Pub.  

 

If you think that’s all, it isn’t. Real nightlife is located in Tvrđa, where multiple nightclubs like Memories, Q Club, and more attract youth from Osijek and beyond. Foreign and domestic music “strikes” in all directions but one is an odd one out. If you want to hear Croatian live music tamburitza, go to Fort Pub - the Slavonian atmosphere and excited people make this place even better.

The end of the 48 hours of Osijek is almost done but not before leaving you visit Gold by Waldinger and Slatka Tvornica for some Slavonian sweetness - krempita, cakes, traditional Slavonian sweets, and a cup of coffee with travarica on the side? You can't go wrong.

We will end it here. This is our 48 hours in Osijek and hopefully, this guide will encourage you to come to visit Osijek, the heart of Slavonia. We deliberately left out nature park Kopački rit and the Baranja region because we wanted to emphasize how the city itself has so many things to offer. Still, that doesn't mean you shouldn't visit Baranja and the nature park because, at the end of the day, everything's connected. When talking about Osijek or Slavonia, people always say that the city or the region is underrated. I truly think it's not. What makes this area so beautiful and attractive to visitors is that people are not burdened by unrealistic expectations: we will never have tourist offers like Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, and Istria or the beautiful Adriatic Sea. We know our worth and that's why most of the time tourist goes home with a smile on their face. Charm, humility, and accepting people with open arms are our best tools. That's why Osijek is not underrated - it's properly rated.

Interested in bike tours of Slavonia? Check this article.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Sunday, 24 April 2022

From Požega to Ilok: Best Bike Tours in Slavonia

24th of April 2022 - A few days ago, the world commemorated Earth Day, so it’s only convenient to present one of the most ecological and recreational ways of transportation - bikes, or in this case, bike tours. A look into the best bike tours in Slavonia.

Spring is in full swing which means a yearly reminder of recreational tourist offers Croatia, or in this case, what Slavonia has to offer. Bicycles are a huge part of Croatian lives. Bike clubs, amateur cyclists, and regular people who want to be part of these events became more and more frequent and stayed part of these movements and events. Of course, with every recreation or hobby, there’s always a potential for tourist opportunities. For example, Dalmatia with its already diverse tourist offers incorporated bike tours, which suit really well with the geographical location of the region. Hilly and somewhat mountainous terrain with the scent of sea salt and a view of the Adriatic Sea, attracts every tourist who wants to experience the beauties of the Dalmatian region recreationally. Even islands like Brač, Hvar, and Korčula where you can transport your bikes with catamarans, have various offers of bike tours. Istria does an amazing job as well and northern Croatia with Međimurje, Zagorje, and Zagreb regions attracts more and more bike lovers every year!

However, the full circle couldn’t be rounded without the region of Slavonia which is doing an amazing job in promoting its land and presents new and creative tourist offers every single year. From Požega and its Golden Valley to the wine roads of Srijem and Baranja, bike tours in Slavonia could easily have one of the best tourist offers in Croatia. So, without further ado, let’s start with the best bike tours in Slavonia.

Vinkovci, Vukovar - Srijem county 

If you want to explore Vinkovci and surrounding places a bit more adventurously, definitely consider these available trails which stretch through the whole Vukovar-Srijem county. There are a few different types of surfaces available - macadam, earth, gravel, grass, and asphalt, which are intended for riding mountain or other types of quality bikes. The trails are marked in blue, red and yellow and they all have one thing in common - the bridge on river Bosut in the center of Vinkovci which is the start of every bike trail. The blue trail is 19 kilometers long and leads from Vinkovci to the village of Borinci to a rural home called “Antin Stan” in Ivankovo and back to Vinkovci. The red one is 15 kilometers long, moving the new dam on Bazjaš canal to the Kunjevci forest and back to the center of Vinkovci. Last official trail is marked with yellow color and is the longest, around 21 kilometers, stretching from bridge on Bosut towards rural house and picnic area Sopot in direction of Rokovci. After that, the trail continues to Kunjevci forest and back to Vinkovci. If you’re ever interested in trying these bike tours, contact the Vinkovci Tourist Board for maps of these routes here.

 

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Apart from these official bike trails, there are a few routes that go further in Vukovar-Srijem county:

  • Danube cycling route (EuroVelo 6) - This one passes along the Danube River and its length is 138 kilometers in Croatia. Probably one of the most popular bike routes in Europe cuts through Vukovar-Srijem county, connects with cycling route Srijem and continues toward the Black Sea. The route can be checked here.
  • Srijem route - Connects the southern area of Vukovar-Srijem county with the northeastern part. Its starting point is the center of Vinkovci near the popular Lamp and goes through Rokovci, Andrijaševci, Cerna, and Gradište towards Cvelferija (9 villages of Županja’s area) then through Gunja, Vrbanja, and Drenovci to the city of Otok.
  • Route Otok - This bike route offers two possibilities: the first one is a ride across Privlaka to the city of Vinkovci and the road from Nuštar and Bogdanovci to Vukovar while the other route is going through the village of Komletinci to Nijemci, towards Tovarnik and Ilok.

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Route Otok and Srijem with other bike tours in Slavonia around Županja area, (Screenshot: tz-zupanja.hr)

Even though the area of Vukovar-Srijem County seems small, it has a lot to offer. Golden fields of wheat and sunflowers that have been just planted, sun in the sky, multiple options for eating and drinking, and most importantly, the people. If you need quick transport, buses and trains are available - most of the time.

Osijek, Osijek - Baranja County 

Besides already mentioned EuroVelo 6 Danube River route that goes through Osijek and its county as well, there is the Greenway Cycling route that connects Croatia and Hungary with the goal of cross border relations, building up tourism and eco-tourism in the area along the Danube-Drava Rivers. There is already a great piece on our dedicated to cycling Total Croatia Cycling site, about the Greenway route and the whole project that took place in 2016. You can read it here.

Another European bike route goes through Slavonia - EuroVelo 13 or “Iron Curtain Trail”. The name stems from the fact that the border was part of the infamous “Iron Curtain”. Beautiful landscape, pristine forests, Drava River in all its glory, and of course gorgeous cities along the way - Beli Manastir, Belišče, Valpovo, Donji Miholjac, Koprivnica, and many more. Of course, great food and drinks for relaxation. For more information about this route, check here.

When it comes to cycle tourism, Osijek and Baranja regions are top-notch. It’s not a surprise that Osijek has the most cycle paths in Croatia which spread through the whole city. If you own a good bike and love cycling moreover public transport, Osijek is a great city for you. Here are a few suggested bike tours exploring Osijek and its surroundings:

  • OSIJEK - UŠĆE KARAŠICE - OSIJEK: This route starts from the city of Osijek and goes to Višnjevac. After that, there is a wooden bridge towards the west that continues through beautiful forests and natural landscapes near the Drava River. The route stretches all the way to fishing house located on mouth of Karašica and Drava rivers. The length of the route is around 20 kilometers and it’s not particularly complicated. Suited for mountain and track bicycles. You can check the details of the route here.
  • OSIJEK - KOPAČEVO - BILJE - OSIJEK: This time, the best city exit is the one towards Podravlje where the ride goes to Kopačevo and the reception center of Kopački rit. Beautiful landscape and the only traffic participants are cyclists, pedestrians, and animals. From there, the route goes through Kopačevo, Bilje in Baranja all the way to Osijek. This bike route is around 32 kilometers long and suitable bicycles are mountain and tracking ones. Visual details can be found here.

A few others are:

  • KOPAČEVO - ZLATNA GREDA - TIKVEŠ - KOPAČEVO, route details
  • BIZOVAC – ČOKADINCI – KOŠKA – LADIMIREVCI – BIZOVAC, route details
  • KNEŽEVI VINOGRADI – KOTLINA – KAMENAC – KARANAC – KNEŽEVI VINOGRADI, route details.

On the other hand, Baranja used its tourist offer of great food, wines, and other products and, most importantly, beautiful wine yards that unfurl through the whole region to the maximum.

Wine roads are the most popular routes in Osijek - Baranja County, so it’s not surprising that out of a total of twelve tourist and wine roads in the county, just in Baranja are eight. During these bike tours, tourists can visit multiple wine cellars along the way and explore beautiful landscapes. For all details about wine bike tours in Baranja, check here. Beautiful nature park Kopački rit also included bike tours recently for an easier and more exciting experience of Slavonian nature and enriched tourist offer even more. Check the website here.

Požega, Požega - Slavonia County 

When we talk about cycling or any other type of recreation, we have to mention the center of Slavonia. The Hilly mountain terrain of old Slavonian mountains Papuk, Psunj, and Krntija, make this region even more exciting for bike lovers. Thirty marked bike trails make Požega - Slavonia County a place for one of the best bike tours in Slavonia. Besides the already mentioned EuroVelo route and other state bike trails, Požega and its surroundings offer an amazing variety of bike trails for everyone. If you thought Slavonia is flat, you’ve been grossly deceived. The landscape around nature park Papuk is a great reason anybody trying these routes needs to have high-level body fitness.

  • The so-called “Green route” that passes through the Požega Wine region - beautiful wine yards (almost similar to Ilok’s or Baranja’s wine roads), hills, and exquisite views of old mountains. Route details.
  • Požega vistas trail is another one that stands out in that region - This trail has all sorts of terrains - from asphalt ones in the old town of Požega to forest trails and open landscapes with dirt roads, all the way to Požeška gora and trails and obstacles that pumps up the adrenaline, passing by old wells and trails of old, ancient life and back to Požega. Route details.
  • The trail through fields and meadows - goes through traditional Slavonian villages and hilly places rich with agriculture. Exciting long upward and downward roads between villages and eventually back to Požega. Route details.

For more details about the most exciting bike tours in Slavonia, definitely check here.

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Papuk (photo credit: Mario Romulić)

To conclude this list, we need to shoutout few honorable mentions that definitely deserve their own article: off-road routes of Virovitica - Podravina County, muddy, exciting forest roads around rivers, sunny fields of Podravina, and glimpses of Western Slavonia, which has probably one of the best bike trails in Croatia. Pannonian bike roads pass through the calm landscapes, across the hills, through the woods and fields, along rivers, streams, and lakes. With the wind on your face, definitely discover the beauty of Pannonian cycling trails. For more details, check here.

Slavonski Brod and Brod-Posavina County with a must-visit to the monumental Brod Fortress, the largest of continental Croatia with its unique Tambura Museum. Posavina villages of Klakar, Donja, and Gornja Bebrina offer even more pleasures and forests that express the greenest places in Slavonia. Lipik, Pakrac and their Lipizzaner and Kuna Trail... What are you waiting for? For more details, check counties official website.

After an exhaustive analysis that can reach five more such articles, it’s only left of us to invite you and visit these beautiful places. From Požega to Ilok, these truly are one of the best bike tours in Slavonia, but not just that - in Croatia as well. For more cycling articles, visit our dedicated website.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

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