FIRST SAY “JUMP”, THEN TAKE THE LEAP: Summer meandering Published 21/06/2024


If you find yourself in Osijek or anywhere in Slavonia and Baranja during the hot summer months, refreshment is just a leap away into the water. This part of Croatia boasts numerous swimming pools, so all you need to do is get ready to dive in. The meanders of local rivers, immortalized by the great painter Julije Knifer, who was born a century ago, are a significant part of local history. According to writer and college professor Jasna Horvat, creativity itself can be seen as a kind of meander.

Experts on the Danube and Drava rivers would surely recommend boating to the sandbars, famed for their exclusivity and beauty. As a child, I remember family camping trips where we pitched tents on these banks, feeling more adventurous than Huckleberry Finn.

Drava and Danube beaches easily compete with sea beaches, and the local patriots would say that they are even more beautiful! Experts often recommend the sandy beach on the right bank of the Drava near Bistrinci, one of the largest sandbars on the Drava, which appears when water levels are favourable. Occasionally, high water levels prevent a summer swimming season, but when the sand reappears and dries, these sandbars turn into some of the most popular beaches in Croatia.

The more famous beaches are Copacabana Osijek (Drava River), Draž (Old Danube), Bistrinci Beach (Drava River), Zeleni Otok (Batina, Danube River), Jama (Dalj, Danube River), Labov (Nard, Drava River), and those close seconds are Želja (Osijek, Drava River), Podravlje (Osijek, Drava River), Topolje (Old Danube), Petrijevci (Drava River), Valpovo beach (Drava River), Iliman (Drava River) and Nova Drava (Donji Miholjac). Although the first-mentioned Osijek beach was named after the most famous beach in the world, the Brazilian Copacabana does not offer great games of “picigin” (Croatia’s traditional water sport). On the Draž beach, for example, you will start to believe that you are in a tropical region, even if you haven't had too much to drink in the local cafe.

For lake lovers, the region offers plenty of options. Lake Đola in Darda, the four lakes of Đakovo known as Bajer, the artificial Lake Lapovac near Našice, and the lake at Bizovac’s ciglana (Eng. Brickyard) provide excellent spots for swimming, sunbathing, and various sports, from ball games to fishing.

Osijek features open pools at the Copacabana beach complex and indoor pools at the City swimming pools (Cro. Gradski bazeni). The Aquapolis pool at Bizovačke toplice offers additional water activities, including a wave pool. Swimming pools are also available in Beli Manastir, Kneževi Vinogradi, Đakovo, and Belišće.

Finally, be aware that most of these swimming spots are not officially designated, so it’s best to swim near the shore.

Written by: Ivana Rab Guljaš