Slavonia and Baranja Region

Slavonia and Baranja Region

Cyclist’s dream amongst cereal fields and idyllic rivers a combination of plains, marshes, hills and picturesque places

The picturesque villages which are imbued with the expanses of cultivated fields and green wine-growing hills are characteristic of Slavonia, Baranja and western Syrmia just like the folk dances – the kolo, the bećarac, the sound of the tambura and the luxurious embroidery, crocheting and ducats of the decorated women’s folk costume and the distinctly decorated, woollen coats – known as reklje or špenzle, which originate from the Slavonian military guard’s uniform from the beginning of the 18th century, the boots and the integral Slavonian šokački hat are decorations from the men's folk costume.

 

The region is made up of five counties, and there are also five city centres: Osijek, Vukovar, Slavonski Brod, Požega and Virovitica.

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Two cities hold the largest fortified buildings of continental Croatia – baroque fortresses right on the bank of rivers; Slavonski Brod the one of the Sava – the Brod Fortress, and Osijek the one on the Drava – Osijek’s Tvrđa.

With regards to cycling, Osijek is the Slavonian city of bicycles where you can feel like “a king on a bike” because it has the most kilometres of cycling paths and the best way to really get to know it is by bicycle. It is a city of a harmoniously connected baroque urban centre and a military fort from the beginning of the 18th century which gives it a special charm. The Osijek promenade along the Drava is in its entirety a cycling path. Along it you can reach the ferry known as ‘Kompa’ on the Drava, then over the river to the zoo and back via one of the two bridges enjoying the beautiful views of the city.

 

Within reach of Osijek is the Kopački Rit Nature Park, one of the largest wetland areas in Europe. The most beautiful way to spend time in this attractive park is by bike exploring the numerous canals and lakes full of birdlife for which it is widely recognised as being amongst the greatest attractions of UNESCO’s transboundary Mura-Drava-Danube biosphere reserve. Using the embankment along the canal which connects Veliki Sakadaš and the River Drava it is possible, by trekking or MTB on the relatively good macadam, to circularly connect the nature park and the city of Osijek.

 

Since it is possible to spend the night in Kopačevo at a campsite or in a rural tourism place, and bicycles can be hired in the Visitor Centre of the Nature Park, it is pleasant to start a trip to the woods and the gardens of the Tikveš castle via the river embankments and the roads (11.5 km) or just a little further (about 6 km) to the Zlatna Greda House in Nature with its hostel, restaurant and adventure park. From Osijek there also runs the international cycling route the Pannonian Peace Trail to Sombor, 75 km long.

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The beauty of Baranja also consists of superb wines from the sunbathed locations of Banska Kosa. For a view of the sea of green vineyards it is obligatory to climb by bicycle from Karanac to the highest peak of Kamenjak (244 m), since the picturesque vineyards will take the breath away. Worth a visit nearby in Beli Manastir is the Ethnology Centre of Baranja Heritage which presents the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the ethnic groups in the Baranja area from the end of the 19th century to the mid-20 th century and which is the best starting point before a visit to the beautiful and preserved villages in the embrace of winegrowing Banska Kosa.

The Croatian part of the EuroVelo 6 – the Danube Route passes through Slavonia and Baranja. It is 138 kilometres long. It enters at the border crossing of Duboševica in Baranja, and exits at the border crossing in Ilok. A visit is especially interesting and worthy considering that it passes through the picturesque region of Baranja with the Kopački Rit Nature Park and the cycling city of Osijek, the mouth of the Drava into the Danube in Aljmaš, the Erdut wine-growing area and the especially valuable and beautiful EDEN destinations of cultural tourism Vukovar–Vučedol–Ilok.

 

In Vukovar, on the bank of the Danube is the Eltz castle, one of the most significant works of baroque-classical architecture of continental Croatia from the mid-18th century. Alongside it, in Vukovar is also the most beautiful museum exhibition about one of the less well-known, yet above all valuable global culture of the Early Copper Age (3rd millennium BC) the Vučedol Culture. Nearby Vinkovci can be reached by bike by three cycling routes – the blue Borinci route (19 km), the red Bosut (15 km) and the yellow Sopot (21 km) described and shown on a map available in the tourist office.

 

For an idyllic ride along the river it is nice to start following the yellow route from Bosut bridge in the centre of the city and go 3 km down the promenade alongside the River Bosut, of course along Krnjaš with the birth house of the writer Ivan Kozarac, which offers the experience of the life of the city from the beginning of the 20th century and further to the picnic spot of Sopot with its archaeological site. The cycle trail leads further to Rokovci, where you can take a break and rest along the Bosut and return the same way along the bank of the Bosut (about 14 km). The designated circular Syrmia cycling route (98 km) also leads from Vinkovci, with asphalt roads through Rokovci, Cerna, Gradište, Županja (on the Sava), Bošnjaci, Vrbanja, Otok, Privlaka and Mirkovci. The route passes the attractive area bounded by the Sava, where seven rivers water the Spačva, one of the largest, intact oak forests of Europe.

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In Đakovo are the famous Đakovo State Stud Farm with its 510 years of tradition and 210 years of breeding Lipizzaner horses and the Đakovo cathedral of St Peter in the neo-romantic style from the mid-19 th century. Fans of mountain biking should take a ride outside the town to the nearby Borovik Lake around which is marked the circular Borovik-Vuka MTB route (29 km) mostly on macadam.

If you head west into the bike and wine county of Požega-Slavonia, from the baroque heart of the town of Požega, immediately along the River Orljava, a circular route 39 km long by road towards the Papuk Nature Park is possible. This is the great natural value and beauty of these areas, the only mountain plain of Slavonia (Ivačka Glava, 954 m) and the only geopark in Croatia on UNESCO's List of Global Geoparks. The visitor centre with the Square of Geoparks of the World and the Duboka campsite are located in Velika, at the same time also the starting point for a trip to the Jankovac Forest Park with its Count’s educational trail (2.3 km).

 

From Velika it is nice to plan a visit to the neighbouring wine town of Kutjevo, the town of Graševina with its castle and wine cellars from the beginning of the 18th century. The Graševina cycling route (18 km) is circular and runs over asphalt and macadam through the vineyards and is a great opportunity for unforgettable views from southern wine-growing hillsides of Papuk and a ride along the vineyards of the famous vintners of Krauthaker, Enjingi and Sontacchi.

 

In Slavonski Brod a must place to visit is the monumental Brod Fortress, the largest of continental Croatia with its unique Tambura Museum. Then from the main square – Korzo it is worth riding along the River Sava and Splavarska Street and turn onto a circular route (48 km) on asphalt roads through Trnjanski Kuti to Oprisavci and the rural tourism house ‘Kuća dida Tunje’, where there is also a flooded pastureland, the protected landscape of Gajna where cattle freely graze. The return to the town through the picturesque and elegant Posavina villages of Klakar, Donja and Gornja Bebrina offers even more pleasures in a beautiful and different Slavonia the countryside of the Sava!

 

The place where the Posavina plain passes into the forested southern hillsides of Psunj is the town of Nova Gradiška and its surroundings. With the Franjo Belar-Dida circular cycling route (19 km) over the wine-growing hills of Slavča, at the same time a beautiful vantage point over Posavina, it descends into Cernik with its magnificent Franciscan monastery and Church of St Peter. Further on are Giletinci and Cernička Šagovina, the picturesque villages at the foot of Psunj and turning with the forested, macadam road it drops gently to Mašić and returns to the town.

Also attractive for an MTB ride is the Omanovac Mountain Lodge above Pakrac on the Psunj mountain which can also be reached by road. It is an exceptional vantage point of the whole Pakrac-Lipik region and the valley of the River Pakra from its 655-metre height above sea level. Not far from the lodge are the Bike Park Psunj and Kuna XC trail about 10 km long.

The whole Lipik and Pakrac destination is covered by the Lipizzaner and Kuna Trail. The trail is made up of 98 km of marked paths of designated signposts, info panels and maps. It connects various destinations, offering an experience for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, with many well-equipped resting places.

 

The destination of Virovitica-Podravina County in the cycling sense is marked by the River Drava by the protected landscape of Križnica near to Pitomača. From the other side, apart from the river valley, also attractive for cyclists are the hilly areas with villages at the foot of the northern slopes of Papuk Nature Park - Orahovica, Slatinski Drenovac, Čačinci, Voćin and Slatina and the villages at the foot of the pleasant wine-growing area of Bilogora - Špišić Bukovica, Vukosavljevica, Turnašica, Velika Črešnjevica and Grabovnica.

 

Logistically, important points for cyclotourists in the area are the EDEN destination hotel, the horse stud farm, the Višnjica farm in the same named village in the place of the former Slavonian wasteland, the Janković Manor heritage hotel in Kapela Dvor no far from Virovitica, at the same time the county’s cycling info centre and hostel, the informative-educational centre of the Drava Story in Noskovačka Dubrava. The Drava idyll can be best experienced on Križnica, a small peninsula on the Drava where the river meanders the most right along the Hungarian border, and the whole stretch down the Drava route and the EuroVelo 13 from Pitomača by Križnica to Kapela Dvora and Lukač and further on through Budakovac, Kapinci and Sopje to Noskovačka Dubrava and Čađavica is peaceful and beautiful for a ride. A ride down the peaceful roads of the idyllic landscape along the Drava and the many backwaters can really be called a Drava fairy tale!

 

The bicycle provides the best experience of the ambience of the combination of the Slavonian cereal plains and forested mountains and gentle, cultivated hills!