Long considered the kind of provincial town you race through en route to the Serbian border, Danube-hugging ILOK is fast emerging as one of eastern Croatia’s most compelling destinations. With wine cellars galore grouped around an imposing hilltop castle, it certainly promises enough to keep you occupied for a day or two. The town can also boast a great choice of affordable accommodation, making it a far better base for exploring the region than either Vukovar or Vinkovci. With the bridge to the Serbian side of the Danube only 2km downstream, it is also a good jumping-off point for Novi Sad and Belgrade.
Much of modern Ilok huddles around the fortress (tvrđava), its ruddy walls dominating a ridge overlooking the Danube. It owes its shape to Nikola Iločki (1415–77), the local power baron who turned the town into a major strategic point in Europe’s defences against the Ottoman Turks. Occupied by the Ottomans in 1526, Ilok became a Habsburg possession in 1688 when it was presented to the Pope’s nephew Livio Odescalchi, who built a fine Baroque palace (now the Ilok Museum) inside the walls.
The fortress walls and towers are in a good state of preservation and can be admired by walking through the park that runs around its western and southern side.