Osijek lies 283km (175 miles) east of Zagreb, and just 29km (18 miles) from the Hungarian border in the northeastern corner of Croatia. It is the largest city in Slavonia and the fourth largest in the country. During the war, all but 15,000 of Osijek’s 80,000 citizens fled the city and sought shelter in other parts of Croatia or in foreign countries. Many have returned, a sign that the local economy is on the upswing and finally recouping some of its former vigor, some 20 years after the end of hostilities.
While the western skyline is a wall of socialist-era structures that belie the city’s beauty, the city center is packed with parks, tree-lined streets, and mansions. The center is made up of three distinct areas: Tvrđa, Upper Town, and Lower Town, each of which has its own personality. The Tvrđa area is Osijek’s biggest tourist draw, with its vestiges of Roman culture and Ottoman occupation, and many of the grand old buildings that line its cobbled streets are currently under restoration. It is also the site of Osijek’s summer cultural program, which brings in big-name performers from afar.
The city's other highlight is its river walk, a paved path flanking both banks of the Drava that’s used by joggers, cyclists, in-line skaters, and people fishing or exercising their dogs. The marina on the river houses hundreds of powerboats and sculls. A small bridge leads to Copacabana, the city’s most popular beach.