WHY VISIT AND WHERE TO STAY IN OSIJEK
This is a story about accommodation in the largest city in eastern Croatia – Osijek. Why the story?
Because I believe dry data on square footage and content aren’t the only things you need to know and discover before you arrive. Behind every clean bed, beautiful ambience, delicious meal and feeling of welcome stands a man. A hotel or an apartment, a camp or a rural estate, is firmly intertwined with its owners, the people who work in them, as well as the places where they are located.
Their story could touch, inspire and move you.
Let’s find out what Osijek has to say.
ONCE UPON A TIME…
Located along the Drava River, one of the longest rivers in Croatia, Osijek is surrounded by fertile fields and rich forests and has always been the crossroads of various nations. For thousands of years, it has been a place where they have met and intertwined their culture and heritage.
The Illyrians, Celts, Romans and then the Ottomans and Austro-Hungarians did not travel to Osijek as tourists. It was more about survival because of “business” ventures that involved the conquest of new territories. Each newcomer erased the traces of the previous one, but in the end, together for centuries, they paved the way and established routes for future lovers of culture, history, wine and gastronomy.
In the eighteenth century, the city divided into three parts – upper, lower and inner, merged into one, and thus its development took an upward path. At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Osijek, as a free and royal city, lived to its fullest at its peak. In addition to the existing taverns, cafes and a theatre are being opened, a museum is being established, the Osijek cult cinema Urania and the first inns are being opened.
Elegant Secession buildings and parks and the Baroque part of the city Tvrđa, give to Osijek the finesse of ‘Mitteleuropean’ cities of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
5 QUICK SUPER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT OSIJEK
- Osijek no longer has taverns, but it has cafes, clubs, pubs and restaurants with stories about craft beer, great local wine and gastronomic delicacies. You can also visit the already mentioned theatre, cinema Urania and Osijek museums. Enjoying the beauty of the con-cathedral and the suspension bridge, Secession buildings and parks between the city centre and the Tvrđa is pure meditation. And finally, after long walks, you will ‘recover’ the fastest with coffee and Osijek cakes.
- Osijek is pleasant and mild. It is not crowded, noisy and hysterical. It’s not overcrowded. People are unobtrusive, kind and sociable, and if you get to know them better, you will find them very witty. It has wide, green streets. It is charming and has a calming effect. Feel free to take my word for it.
- Other towns in eastern Croatia, as well as neighbouring countries, are almost so to say within reach. Also, Osijek is ideal to stop and rest a few days if you travel across it to the Adriatic coast.
- Parts of the city are well connected by public transport, bus and tram, taxi services are ridiculously cheap, and for lovers of ecology and movement, the city is networked with more than 40 kilometres of bike paths
- It seems that in Osijek and its surroundings things happen all the time. Whether it is wine, food, sports or cultural event, the inhabitants of eastern Croatia will always find a reason to rejoice and socialize. HeadonEast, WineOs, Osijek CRAFT BEER festival are just few of them. Advent in Osijek, ie Osijek Advent, was declared the most beautiful in Croatia in 2021. Sports competitions such as tennis, archery and handball, as well as events like the Pannonian Challenge have an international reputation. In any case, they are a great reason to stretch your legs and set off for Osijek.
ACCOMMODATION IN TVRĐA (FORTRESS)
Osijek Fortress was founded in the eighteenth century as an Austro-Hungarian military fortress. It was crowded with soldiers and officers from all parts of Europe back then, and with them, by the logic of things, craftsmen, brewers, innkeepers and ladies of the night. It was also a stronghold of merchants thanks to the ferry that transported wine and various goods across the Drava River, and further with the social development with intellectuals, artists and noble citizens.
When you go for a walk on the cobblestones in the streets and squares of the Fortress today, past Baroque buildings inhabited by museums, educational and cultural institutions, filled with various events, pubs and the murmur of their visitors, it is quite easy to imagine what life here once looked like.
GUEST HOUSE “MAKSIMILIAN” ***
Somewhere between the squares, the liveliest places in the Tvrđa, in a quiet location, somewhat hidden behind the canopy, is placed Maximilian. It was named after the first owner of the building, the Austro-Hungarian officer Maximilian Riegel. I believe that if he could see how the current owners have revived and tidied up his former home, Mr. Riegel with a smile on his face would have contentedly twisted the tip of his carefully grown dandy mustache.
As soon as you open the big wooden gate and step into the inner world of the building, it immediately becomes clear with how much enthusiasm, vision and love it has been redone. Everything here is beautiful. From a beautiful garden decorated with unusually shaped bushes, through Secession details to comfortable rooms and a wine tasting room where you can equally enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day, as well as a cup of coffee in the morning. I have 🙂
Maksimilian offers single and double rooms, family and one adapted for people with disabilities, a total of twelve rooms. For a complete experience during your stay in this part of Croatia, you can also book a guided city tour and excursions to the surrounding area, such as Baranja, Vukovar and Ilok.
Why do I like Maksimilian? It irresistibly reminds me of a time when many preferred to live in hotel rooms rather than rented apartments. It has an intimate atmosphere. It doesn’t matter if you came to Osijek for business or pleasure, its old-fashioned flair and warm atmosphere come as a balm to the wound after a hard day filled with meetings or wandering around the city and its surroundings.
You can find out more about their offer on the Maksimilian website.
ACCOMMODATION IN THE CENTRE
The city centre is part of Osijek’s Gornji grad (Upper City) district. You may be confused by this name because Osijek is located in a plain that cannot be flatter than it is, so that would mean that it is located upstream and only two kilometres from the Fortress. It flourished in the nineteenth century when palaces, con-cathedral, theatre and factories sprang up in its area.
In my opinion, it is the most romantic part of the city. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Secession gained momentum here, so fairytale-beautiful buildings sprang up like a magic wand. You can admire their decoration today on a walk from the main square to the Tvrđa. In addition to Secession architecture, there is also Sakuntala Park with sphinxes, Urania Cinema and Osijek Promenade. Numerous cafes have taken over the legacy of Osijek’s former social life and socializing in noble city cafes.
HOTEL “CENTRAL” **
Hotel Central is located on the main square, in the heart of Osijek. It has the longest tradition of hotel management in the city, ie it is the oldest hotel in Osijek. The story of the Hotel begins at the end of the nineteenth century when the owner of Osijek’s Steam Brewery, a Malt and Ice factory, decides to demolish the inn, which he also owned, and build a hotel in its place. The newly built two-storey hotel building had twenty-five rooms, a modern café and a terrace where music was listened to. Concerts, cinema screenings and theatre performances were organized in the cafes at that time, and they were the focus of not only social but also cultural events.
Hotel Central today has thirty-two rooms. It is ‘pro destination’ oriented and offers free use of bicycles and theatre tickets for individual guests. Special attention is paid to the choice of local food for breakfast.
Why do I like Hotel Central? It is almost impossible to watch the main square of Osijek from the window of one of the hotel rooms and not feel special. At least I felt that way. Every time I climb the stairs with a decorative iron railing I can’t help but imagine ladies in formal dresses and gentlemen in tailcoats and the sound of horses’ hooves and carriage wheels. Whenever I enter it, I am enveloped in a breath of romance and a past that I simply cannot resist.
You can find out more about their offer on the Central Hotel website.
The list of accommodation in Osijek will be filled up by following future visits.
Until then check out what else you can find out about the charming city on the Drava in my second article MEET OSIJEK.
Accommodation photos: Maksimilian and Hotel Central