Ask people if they’ve been to Croatia. They recount tales of sailing around islands, exploring Dubrovnik or relaxing on the beaches. For generations, the Croatian coast has attracted visitors from all over the world. I would like to draw your attention to Osijek, a city in the continental region.
Located in the eastern part of Croatia, sharing borders with Serbia, Hungary and Bosnia, Osijek is the capital of Slavonia and the fourth-largest city in Croatia, with a population of 100k in 2022. From Roman to Austro-Hungarian influences, the city offers arguably one of the best continental scenic views and cuisines in Croatia.
Before we get to the actual list, let me tell you how I based my list.
In 2021, I found that there were very few guides on what to do in Osijek. As a native Osječanin, I wanted to make a quick guide that needs to follow these criteria:
- Easy accessible tourist attractions
- Short and simple
1. Pedestrian Bridge
The pedestrian bridge over the Drava River in Osijek was built in 1981. This bridge connects the city centre with the recreational centre on the left bank of the Drava. It is one of the most famous and beautiful symbols of the city. The bridge offers the most spectacular views of the city, and it’s one of the most instagrammable touristic sights in Osijek.
When crossing this bridge from the direction of the centre, you can walk along the promenade, visit the ZOO, or the largest skate park in the region, and take a swim at the famous continental beach, Kopika. It also has a unique look throughout Croatia.
Pro-tip: My recommendation is to arrive for sunset/sunrise/nighttime to see spectacular colours and views from the bridge.
Fun Fact: Near the Pedestrian bridge, there was “The Suleiman Bridge“. The bridge had an important role during the Ottoman-Habsburg wars until it was finally burnt down in 1686. You can read it more here.
2. Tvrđa (Citadel)
Tvrđa (Citadel) is the old town of the city of Osijek in Croatia. It is the best-preserved and largest ensemble of Baroque buildings in Croatia and consists of a Habsburg star fort built on the right bank of the River Drava. In the present day, Tvrđa is the main center for nightlife, restaurants, schools, restaurants and museums.
During the daytime, this area of the city is a Bohemian paradise, full of universities, restaurants and cute pubs/café bars. Some pubs/café bars transform into nightclubs after roughly 9 pm. I wish I could remember how many nights I spent in Tvrđa drunk dancing, singing and partying.
Here is a small list of what to see/do in Tvrđa:
- Visit the Plague monument
- Attend Sajam Antikviteta Osijek/Antiques Fair Osijek (Every first Saturday of the month)
- In the mornings and afternoons, drink coffee on the terrace of some cafés near the main square
- Visit Museum of Slavonia
- Climb the east-side water tower for scenic view of Drava river
- Walk around Tvrđa
- Visit the Church of Saint Michael
Fun Fact: In the 19th century, a cannonball was accidentally fired from the Tvrđa, which flew more than a kilometre between the Tvrđa and the Upper Town and hit a very inconvenient place, the County Palace in Županijska Street, where it is still located today.
There are multiple stories about why might this happen, but nobody can’t guarantee a true story. It’s believed that the event should not have happened for two reasons:
- There was no real danger to the city
- The distance between the two parts of the city was accurately planned so that in case of a cannonball, it would not endanger civilian.
3. Explore the Neighborhoods by Bike
Are you a bike nerd? Do you like exploring a city on two wheels? Then this is the right city for you. Almost any local will suggest riding a bike in order to get a feel for how the city functions and breaths.
The city is well-known for its 17 parks and dedicated bike lanes. Osijek, as the city with the most kilometres of bicycle routes, is the king of cycling tourism in Croatia. As many as 40 km of trails is the best invitation to explore the city on two wheels. Osijek is the green capital of Croatia.
My recommendation would be to start from Ante Starčević Square and create your own route that is suitable for your fitness level. The longest route that you can take is around 40 km. I will also suggest creating a route through apps like MapMyRide or Strava.
All the info about bike rentals can be found here. The bike rental information website is in Croatian and there is no English version available. Use Google Chrome to translate the text automatically, or right-click to translate.
Here is a small list of where to cycle:
- Ante Starčević Square and Korzo
- Sjenjak promenade
- Donji and Gornji grad promenada (Downtown and Upper town promenade)
- Pampas forrest
- Europska Avenija
- Pejačević Castle
And many more….
4. Pub Crawl
In the last decade, there has been a craft beer revolution and many breweries and pubs have popped up throughout the world. As well, Osijek offers a wide selection of craft pubs. I would recommend trying the local craft brewery “Mali Div” and my personal favourite from them is Cincilator. If you prefer lager-like beer, try Osječko, our oldest beer.
My friends and I created a pub crawl route last year that involved walking and visiting most of the craft breweries. Here’s how we did it:
- Start in Craft Pub (Sjenjak 109)
- Walk from Craft Pub to Rubicon Pub (Stjepana Radića 44)
- From Rubicon Pub, walk to Beertija Pub (Pavla Pejačevića 5)
- Beertija Pub – Runda Pub (Europska avenija 8)
- Finish in Merlon (Franje Markovića 3) for nightlife or Amsterdam Pub (Stjepana Radića 18)
Fun Fact: Osječko is the first Croatian beer ever produced, and has been produced since 1697. The main factory is located in Osijek, from which the beer got its name.
5.Šećeranski zid (Jug2)
This gem has been overlooked by tourists. Located on the Southside of the city. Over the years, these walls have been used for artistic expression by artists. The length of the walls is roughly 700 m covered in beautiful graffiti.
The “Graffiti walls” are accessible for drivers, cyclists, walkers or if you take a tram/bus from the city centre. You can find the location here.
6. Secession architecture
Osijek is particularly famous for its Secessionist architecture, very popular throughout the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Most palaces on European Avenue are today mostly used as office spaces, museums, libraries, post offices and local government buildings. This place is a must on the list to see.
Pro-tip: Take a walk along European Avenue and grab a coffee in some Bohemian café bars.
7. Walk the Promenade
It is one of the most beautiful European promenades along the river. There are many cafés and restaurants along the Promenade, which offers a stunning view of the city. The promenade starts in Donji Grad (Downtown) and ends in Gornji Grad (Upper Town). By crossing the pedestrian bridge, you can either walk left to visit the Zoo or go right to see the largest skate park in the region and the most popular beach in Osijek, Copacabana.
8. Ante Starčević Square
Following your exploration of European Avenue, head straight to Korzo (most famous for its 80s nightlife) in order to reach Ante Starčević Square. You will find that locals are colloquially referring to Trg (“the square”) not Ante Starčević Square. The square has the shape of an isosceles right-angled triangle.
From the Ante Starčević Square, you’ll see The Church of St Peter and St Paul, the co-cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Đakovo-Osijek, a neo-Gothic sacral structure located near the Ante Starčević statue.
9. Try local food!
Do you remember what I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Slavonia and Baranja have some of the best food in Croatia. They combine Austro-Hungarian oriental cuisine with indigenous Croatian flavours. Slavonians are the biggest paprika fans in the whole of Croatia.
The most famous food here is cooked in small pots: fish and meat stew with paprika, as well as spit roasts of all sizes, from small spits for grilling carp.
Here is a list of food you have to try when visiting Osijek:
10. Bonus tips
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post and for supporting this website. It is impossible to cover everything that Osijek offers. In that case, here are a few bonus tips when visiting Osijek:
- Elephant statue on the corner building of Ribarska and Strossmayerova street in Osijek.
- Head on some iconic festivals: Pannonian Challenge, UFO, Head on East, Osijek Beer Fest and much more…
- Explore neighborhoods by Trams
- Visit Portanova for shopping
- Eat Ice-cream in Petar Pan
- Visit the oldest running cinema in the city (Kino Urania)
- Try Bakeries around the city
- Explore Baranja and Etno villages
- Get lost in Kopački rit
- Visit the Catacombs across the river
- Find ruins of ancient Mursa
- Visit Main Food Market, commonly referred as “Glavni Pijac”
- Explore Parks
Did I miss something? If you have any extra tips, please share them in the comments below.