The Romantic Baranja Region
The Baranja region, north of Osijek reaching up to the Hungarian border, is the most traditional, untouched part of Slavonia. It is full of quaint villages with only a few thousand residents at most, where life is lived around the Danube, on vineyards and fertile fields, and near the swamps of Kopački Rit. There are fish-stew cook-offs, harvest festivals, labyrinths of flowers, wine, goulash, and everything is sprinkled with paprika. You can visit the wineries in Zmajevac, an impressive monument to the Red Army in Batina, or the region’s biggest town, Beli Manastir. The best village to spend the evening is Karanac, just 30 km (18 miles) from Osijek, where you’ll find the popular Baranjska Kuća: a traditional Slavonian restaurant which doubles as an impressive outdoor ethnological museum, complete with a model street and houses showing what life in rural Baranja was once like (baranjska-kuca.com). Stay overnight at the beautifully-restored Ivica I Marica ("Hansel and Gretel") estate, where you can go horseback riding, fishing, or just hang out in the big backyard with the very welcoming hosts (www.ivica-marica.com). The entire region is quite compact, but it is tricky to get around Baranja by public transport; if you have your own wheels, you’ll be able to cover a lot of ground. If you would like a guided tour to a couple of villages, departing from Osijek, contact the very friendly, enthusiastic Mislav Pavosevic at Putovanja Slavonijom (031/740–091).