From its baroque architecture and antique galleries to its idyllic romantic sports, Varaždin in the north of Croatia packs a variety of attractions. The fusion of old-day architecture with music and youthful moxie create a feeling of timeless luxury – one you should endeavor to soak in every time you’re in Croatia. And here’s how to experience this beautiful place.

Explore the culture – Instead of the usual visual sightseeing, immerse yourself in the city’s historical, intangible, cultural and natural heritage. Aim for the following first-hand experiences to make your trip truly fulfilling.

Participate in creative pottery and craft

Get a nice tour guide to introduce you to the local trade and craft. Visit the pottery shop and learn how to craft unique handmade dolls, traditional wine steins, and štubleks. Learn how to make honey-baked bread, biscuits, and how to extract oil from pumpkin seeds.

Visit the Stari Grad fortress

Old Town Fortress in Varaždin

This medieval fortress houses the city museum that bears the city’s history spanning to the 12th century – the Counts of Celje. Visit the Petar Hektorovic Castle – built by the Renaissance poet -here you will get a chance to interact with fish, people, and birds. See the stone inscriptions bearing his motto in Latin and Italian.

Visit the city cemetery

Deemed among Europe’s best cemeteries, this is a beautiful place to take a stroll. Relax in the mystique created by the tombstones and meditate about life.

Sample the cuisine and local craft drinks

Croatian culture together with its cuisine has for years attracted tourists to the country. In Varaždin you can have a taste of:

  • Mlinci – pasta baked in juices
  • Croatian brudet – fish stew
  • Lignje – a stew of fried squid served with polenta
  • Zlevanka – cornmeal pastry with cheese, cream or plum jam fillings
  • Plavac mali popsip and medonja drinks.

Explore the beautiful architecture

King Tomislav Square / Photo by Dinamostar

Marvel at the architectural buildings such as Varaždin castle and the Cathedral of Assumption of The Virgin Mary. A trip to Varaždin is like a step back through a time machine to the reformation and renaissance era. The baroque style architecture gives a shout out to the Jesuits. Visit the statue of Ninski -deemed to bestow good luck. Grgur Ninski was a Catholic bishop who initiated the use of Croatian language in his sermon.

Visit a spa

Enjoy traditional treatments that attracted the Romans to this country centuries ago. You can visit Spa Centar Lavandula and enjoy your day off in the skilled hands of body care professionals. You can pamper yourself to:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Mud treatment
  • Hot Stone massage

Get souvenirs

Varaždin is known for its cultural heritage. There’re local shops selling artifacts and antiques that are the perfect souvenirs if purchased as gifts to your loved ones. Souvenirs categories in Varaždin include fragrant souvenirs, pottery souvenirs, decorative objects, and more. Get items such as:

  • Šestine umbrella
  • Craaloosh jewelry
  • Croatian lace
  • Licitar heart

Enjoy cultural festivals

Špancirfest in Varaždin / Photo by Špancirfest

If you tour Varaždin during September and October, you can immerse yourself in lovely evening baroque music festivals and catch a performance by Croatia’s talented musicians. Other festivals include the Špancirfest where street performers and artists line the streets in costumes showcasing various talents and expressing themselves freely. Celebrate the creativity of the locals as you watch the Varaždin folk dance.

Explore the world of insects

Varaždin has the World of Insects museums that has about 4500 entomological collections. Marvel at the colorful array of butterflies as you bond with the natural world.

Explore the city’s obsession with angels

Through his baroque artistic work, Željko Prstec wants you to know that Varaždin is where angels sleep. Soak in this spiritual theme at the museum of angels that showcases some of his best work. Some other winged baroque angels are in the streets and cathedrals.

Explore the city’s romantic spots

Varaždin is a beautiful city for couples too. You can take a stroll in idyllic settings such as the Drava River waterfront – its tranquil lovefest ambiance offers pleasant sunset views.

In retrospect, whether you are looking to learn the history of Croatia or cool places to be seen spotted at during evenings and weekends, Varaždin has got your back.

Featured photo by Ex13 / Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0

Many travelers think of Croatia solely for its stunning seaside and hundreds of idyllic islands, looking inland only as far as Plitvice Lakes or the capital city, Zagreb. The eastern region of Slavonia, including Osijek, are destinations that go unnoticed. A truly big mistake, since Slavonia, and especially Osijek as its main pearl, have a lot to offer.

A brief history of the Slavonian pearl

The city of Osijek – the fourth largest city in Croatia with a population of 108,000 – lies in the eastern portion of the Slavonia region near the borders of Hungary and Serbia. The first mention of the city dates to the year 1196, but people had been living on the land for centuries before that time. Situated along the Drava River just upstream from the Drava-Danube confluence, Osijek was built on slightly elevated terrain, safely above the floodplain.

In the Middle Ages, the city thrived, but fell to the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. Under Habsburg rule in the 17th century, the city was rebuilt in the Baroque style. By the 19th century, the city was flourishing again. However, in 1991, when Croatia declared independence, Osijek came under the attack of the Yugoslav People’s Army, which resulted in hundreds of casualties, heavy damage to the city and residents fleeing the region.

Life after war – The city’s new beginning

Osijek attractions

Osijek still bears scars from the war and aftermath: pockmarks dot the sides of structures, mortar blasts blemish sidewalks and poignant monuments have been constructed in remembrance. Many of the buildings on the oldest streets in the city have been neglected, evidenced by peeling paint and crumbling facades, as more pressing city projects have taken precedence. City center store spaces sit empty; the once prime real estate waiting for an opportunistic buyer to take interest.

Rather than feeling despondent, however, you can sense a subtle buzz of energy in the city. Forward-thinking and passionate residents are working towards bringing Osijek back to its former splendor. Throughout the city, historic buildings are getting facelifts, fresh-concept cafes and restaurants are breathing new life into once abandoned spaces and events are aimed at community involvement and participation.

Three great reasons to visit Osijek

If you still lack reasons to come and explore this scared but beautiful city; we are sure that the following list will be more than enough for you to change your mind. Here’s why Osijek will surely leave you breathless and wanting to come back!

City Sights

Museum of archaeology in Osijek

Given the city of Osijek’s long history, there’s a variety of sights. Walking around the city center, you will be amazed by the architecture, museums, historic buildings, city parks and monuments.

Museum of Slavonia – The museum was founded in 1877 and is the largest general-type museum in Croatia. Centrally located in the City Magistrate building, which was built in 1702, the interesting and informational museum displays tell the history of the city and region.

Museum of Archeology – Housed in the Main Guard Building adjacent to the Magistrate building, the museum exhibits artifacts from the area’s early history and the Middle Ages. The Museum of Archeology is part of the Museum of Slavonia.

Citadel or Fortress – Tvrda was built between 1693 and 1735 by the Habsburgs in the Baroque style. In addition to the eight bastions and two gates, city walls were constructed to protect the town from Ottoman threat. Today, most of the walls have been removed, but the Tvrda stands and the Old Town is still inhabited by thousands of residents and the former military buildings are occupied by the university and museums.

Co-Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul – Completed in 1898, the brick church features a 308-foot-tall spire, which makes it the tallest building in Croatia outside of Zagreb.

Municipal Park of Petar Kresimir IV – The city park was created at the beginning of the 20th century complete with trees and fountains – and remains a relaxing central green space today.

Kopački Rit Nature Park

Kopacki rit near Osijek
Photo by Misalalic / CC BY-SA 4.0

Covering 92-square miles of the Danube floodplain, Kopacki Rit Nature Park is the jewel of the Slavonia region. The wetlands are often referred to as the Amazon of Europe and more than 2,000 animals and insects call the park home – including more than 300 species of birds. On the protected land, deer roam the open space and the rivers are filled with fish.

Even in the winter, the park is a stunning sight. Morning frost clung to trees and ice froze at the edges of the lakes. In the winter, most of the swampland was dry, but you will ba able to see how high the waters rise in the springtime, marked by discolored bark and moss clinging to tree trunks. A true pearl worth a visit.

Osijek attractions


Let’s get right to it: the food offering in Osijek is off the charts. From hearty soups to roasted game to cured meats and tasty pasta, the common ingredients are homemade and fresh. The regional specialty is River Fish Stew, which hardly sounds appetizing, but after one bite, it doesn’t matter what it is called…it is delicious. Paprika is used to flavor just about everything; the popular zingy spice is made locally from red peppers that are air-dried and ground into powder.

With wide open spaces, rushing rivers, and nutrient-rich soil, clean eating isn’t a trendy new concept, but a traditional way of life in Osijek. In more recent years, modern farming may have derailed that idea, but many local food producers are still intent on only promoting naturally-raised food, free from enhancements, chemicals, and preservatives; offering delicious characteristic meals made with fresh ingredients.

When mentioning food, we must not forget the wine. The region fo Slavonia prides on its winemaking, and for a good reason. Here you can taste some of the most delicious Croatian wine both red and white; which we are sure won’t leave you disappointed.

Not to be misguided, the 3 things mentioned above, are just the beginning. Osijek has a lot more amazing things to offer, it’s up to you to come and see it for yourself. Osijek will receive you with its arms wide open.

Slavonia may not be the richest part of Croatia but it offers many famous monuments and different kinds of touristic places that your fun-loving spirit will enjoy.

Slavonia – Croatia’s green beauty

Slavonia is placed in the east part of Croatia. It is the region between several rivers; Sava on the south, Drava on the north, Ilova on the west, Bosut and Vuka on the southeast.

Slavonia is well known for legends and myths which are passed to the descendants with each generation. Slavonians have a strong tradition of celebrating crop harvesting, domestic music, delicious food, and drinks.

Known for strong agricultural activities

Slavonian agriculture
Photo by Nick Savchenko / CC BY-SA

You’ll surely meet many hardworking and interesting people in Slavonia. Slavonians are known as very warm people who are always there to help and treat you with some delicious food. Many people in Slavonia are working in the fields, seeding, and harvesting. Most grown cultures are wheat and corn. But lately whole industry is changing and Slavonians start to grow other cultures like sugar beet, tobacco, roughage, and oilseeds. Slavonians also have big plant fields where they grow apples, pears and plums. As in every agriculture, where plants are grown, there is livestock. If you visit the villages, you’ll see pigs and cattle almost everywhere.

Treat your taste buds to Kulen, Loza and Šljivovica

Slavonian Kulen
Photo by Frka / CC BY-SA

Most important things in Slavonian agriculture are plums and pigs. Pigs are used to make a great Slavonian sausage, Kulen. Kulen is well known all over the Croatia and is one of the best sausages in the country! If you travel to Croatia, you must try Kulen. After you try it, I am sure you will buy some of it to bring home and give to your friends to try.

Other important things you should taste when staying in Slavonia or Croatia are Loza and Šljivovica. Those alcoholic beverages are consumed in high dosages by Slavonians. Loza is made of grapes and Šljivovica is made of plums. These beverages have high alcohol concentration so be aware if someone offers you these drinks, you can get drunk pretty easy!

Slavonian nature parks are a must-see

Slavonian castles

The biggest city in Slavonia is Osijek with approximately 108 000 inhabitants. But if you are interested in tourism, you should visit the places that have zero people population – places like Kopački Rit or Papuk. Kopački Rit is a nature park with over 260 different bird species. With lots of species and lots of plants that you can’t see anywhere else on the planet, Kopački Rit is a touristic place that people all over the world come to visit.

Slavonia also has another nature park named Papuk. Papuk is placed on UNESCO list of world heritage. In nature park Papuk you can see 500 years old oaks and medieval fortress Ružica. These unique places are extremely attractive to the tourists all over the world.

Things to do in Slavonia

  • Visit fortresses and castles – Slavonia is packed with them. There are over 20 of fortresses and castles all over the area. If you love history, those are the places you must visit.
  • If you love horses, you should visit Đakovačka Ergela. Đakovačka Ergela was established in 1506 and it is on the list of the oldest European stables. At Đakovečka Ergela, you can see and learn everything about Đakovački Lipicanci, the best horses in this part of Europe.
  • Religious places – Church dated from the 12 century in a forgotten place named Lovčić will make your spiritual experience glow.
  • Taste local food – Kulen is one of the most famous sausages, but Slavonians know how to make other delicious meals too. One of them is aspic (Hladetina), but be prepared for its specific taste. You’ll either love it or hate it. It’s worth a try!
  • Most famous Slavonian restaurant – You can travel to Zmajevac which is located on the border with Serbia and check in at Restaurant Josić known as the best Slavonian restaurant.
  • Off-road traveling – Whatever vehicle you choose you will have fun. You can go off-roading with a motorbike, bicycle or even a car. There are lots of open off-road areas to visit.