Stretching from the Lonjsko polje to the Danube, which forms Croatia’s border with Serbia, the rich agricultural plain of Slavonia has an unjust reputation as the most scenically tedious region of the country. All that most visitors ever see of it is the view from the Autocesta – the highway originally built to link Zagreb with Belgrade, and still the main route into the eastern corner of the country – as it forges across unbroken flatlands. However the region does have its attractions, not least a distinctive and often captivating rural landscape, characterized in summer by a seemingly endless carpet of corn and sunflowers, with vineyards on the low hills to the north.
Slavonia’s main urban centre is Osijek, a former Austrian fortress town which retains a dash of Habsburg-era elegance. It’s around Osijek that the best of Slavonia’s scenery lies, a patchwork of greens and yellows dotted with dusty, half-forgotten villages, where latticed wooden sheds groan under the weight of corncobs and, in the autumn, strings of red paprikas hang outside to dry. Just north of Osijek, the Kopački rit Nature Park, with its abundant birdlife, is Croatia’s most intriguing wetland area, while in the far southeast the siege-scarred town of Vukovar is slowly regaining its provincial Baroque charm. Elsewhere in Slavonia there’s plenty in the way of history and heritage, notably in the pleasant provincial towns of Ilok, Vinkovci and Đakovo.