Bypass Croatia’s claim to fame—its 1,185 sunny islands strewn down the Adriatic Coast—and head east instead, to the aqueous wonderland that is the intersection of the Danube and Drava Rivers. A canoe excursion through fairy-tale floodplains finds you in a newly minted UNESCO biosphere reserve, where you can paddle through the mazelike waterways, oxbow lakes, and hidden sandbars of Kopački Rit Nature Park. Book the outing through ecominded tour company Zlatna Greda (from $35; zlatna-greda.org), which offers six-hour, environmentalist-guided day jaunts from its base at the park’s edge. Canoeing is especially well-timed for spring, when alpine snows melt and water levels rise, flooding the park’s forests. After gliding through submerged woods of centuries-old oaks and dainty willows, swap the canoe for a car and get a spot of history in nearby Osijek, the largest city in the eastern region of Slavonia. Dig into staple stews like perkelt with fish, frogs, and polenta at Kod Ruže (Kuhačeva 25a; 385-31-206 066), a rustic tavern with taxidermy-heavy décor, then explore the eighteenth-century district of Tvrđa, a Baroque showpiece of cobbled streets, restored townhouses, and a grand main square. For a glimpse at Slavonian village life, book a pine- and oak-trimmed room at Ivica i Marica (from $38; ivica-marica.com), an upscale farm stay in Karanac, and pay a visit to the cellar of award-winning wine producer Josić (Planina 194, Zmajevac; josic.hr), where you can sample the burgeoning wine region’s tipple of choice (graševina) in its vaultlike restaurant.
The thrill-o-meter: Minor buzz.