My favourite place – Kopački Rit

I live in an eastern region of Croatia called Slavonia and Baranja, a synonym for hard-working people and a beautiful natural environment. But like modern life anywhere else, sometimes you need a break to clear your mind and recharge your batteries for the next challenge. My favourite place for finding my inner peace is called Kopački Rit – one of 11 nature parks that Croatia is famous for.

I usually get up really early on a Saturday morning to start my trip to Kopački Rit by bike. The nature park is 25 kilometres from my home in Osijek and it is a relaxing ride on quiet backroads through cultivated fields and forest to get there.

My only stop on the way to Kopački Rit is the Castle de Eugen Savoy in Bilje, built as a hunting lodge in the 18th century for Austrian military leader Prince Eugene of Savoy. Today, the building houses the management offices for the Kopački Rit park.

Castle de Eugen Savoy was built as a hunting lodge for Austrian Prince Eugene of Savoy

After an hour of easy cycling, I am finally at my sweet spot – the entrance to Kopački Rit. From here, the best way to appreciate the park is to leave my bike and start walking.

Kopački Rit is recognised as one of the most important, largest and most attractive preserved intact wetlands in Europe and is made up of many backwaters and ponds along the course of the Danube river.

The park is traversed by a network of bridges and walkways with information boards telling you about the many species that inhabit the park and numerous benches where you can just sit back and listen to the sounds of bird life mixed with the gentle breeze going through the trees. I sometimes take a bird watching tour with professionals as there are around 300 bird species here! Believe me, the experience is out of this world!

The park is also home to a number of animals like red deer, some 40 species of fish and 140 plant species including the beautiful white water lily.

A boat ride is the perfect way to see hidden parts of the park

The most efficient way to heal your soul in this mesmerizing place is to take a boat tour of Kopački Rit. This is something I like to do with my family because you get the chance to see untouched parts of the park you can’t reach on foot. It often feels like everybody on the boat has found the same inner peace and the sunset can be so beautiful to watch that you don’t want to leave the boat and go back to reality.

There is one more thing really worth mentioning when it comes to Kopački Rit – the food! There are so many phenomenal rustic restaurants in the area that it’s almost impossible to make a mistake. My journey usually ends in one of these restaurants where I order fish soup – a traditional Baranja meal that is a must try!

Delicious traditional fish soup of Baranja

In my opinion, the best way to breathe in life is to connect with nature. If you spend enough time in nature, you will realise how much it can give you and how grateful and fulfilled your life can be. I believe Croatian nature is really something that every human being should experience at least once in their lifetime. Don’t wait, come and enjoy the most beautiful country in the world.

By Ivano

I am a History and English teacher from the city of Osijek. I adore exploring nature with my bike and writing poems about the natural beauties of Slavonia and Baranja. I also work as a local travel guide in my free time.