Ilok is a popular city in Croatia, famed primarily for its exquisite wines. Today, I’ll guide you through 7 must-visit spots on your Ilok adventure.
7 Must-Visit Places in Ilok, Croatia
In my opinion, these are the seven quintessential spots to truly capture the essence and charm of Ilok.
7. River Danube (Dunav or Donau)
Danube, the second-largest river in Europe, boasts a particular beauty as it flows through Ilok. Right beside the Dunav, there’s a small section locals fondly call “Dunavac.” It’s a vibrant green stretch, perfect for capturing stunning photographs.
Venturing down to the Danube, you can indulge in a leisurely stroll along the promenade, take a refreshing dip at the beach, savor a coffee while soaking in the river views, or relish traditional dishes at Hotel Dunav. If you’re planning a stay in Ilok, I highly recommend booking a room there.
From my personal experience, mornings by the Dunav are simply mesmerizing. If you’re lodging at the hotel, resist the urge to hit the snooze button. Instead, rise early and bask in the serene morning views of the river.
6. Ilok Fortress – The Medieval Old Town of Ilok
The Ilok Fortress in Ilok is a place you can’t miss. Built in the 15th century, it sits on a hill and has a unique shape because of the land. The walls are long, around 1,350 meters, and there are many small towers. A famous man from Ilok, Nikola Iločki, was the owner when it was made.
Most of the fortress is made of bricks. There are also parts from when the Turks were here, like their tombs and a bathhouse.
5. Ilok Wine Route
The Ilok Wine Route is truly a unique experience, standing out from typical wine routes. What sets it apart is its intimate setting; almost all the wineries are cozily nestled within the town itself.
These wineries, cellars, and family wine estates each have their own story to tell. They vary in their production traditions, wine varieties, and the very essence of their cellars.
Some feature old “kelbovani” cellars, carved into hillsides or tucked beneath homes, offering a rustic charm. Others showcase new, modern wineries, reflecting a blend of tradition and innovation.
And for the best experience? Hop on the little tourist train, locally known as “vlakić,” which takes you through the heart of the wine route, making the journey as memorable as the destinations. This rich tapestry of wine culture makes the Ilok Wine Route a journey worth embarking on.
4. Castle Odescalchi
Castle Odescalchi is the heart of Ilok’s medieval core. Inside, it houses the City Museum of Ilok, while the renowned old Ilok cellars lie beneath. Built on the foundations of King Nikola Iločki’s 15th-century court, Emperor Leopold later gifted it to Pope Innocent XI Odescalchi and his family as thanks for helping free Ilok from the Turks.
The Pope’s nephews, Italian aristocrats, expanded and transformed the castle, giving it a baroque-classical touch. They also established advanced wine cellars beneath, enhancing the region’s wine culture.
After 1945, the Odescalchi family left Ilok. Their descendants, now part of the Italian nobility, live near Rome. Today’s visitors can explore the city museum, learning about Srijem’s ethnography and the region’s recent wars.
3. Church and Monastery of St. Ivan Kapistran
The Franciscans marked their presence in Ilok in the 14th century with a church founded by Duke Ugrin. Later expanded by King Nikola in honor of St. Ivan Kapistran, this historical gem is a testament to deep spirituality and rich history. The preserved cell chapel where Kapistran passed away in 1456 draws pilgrims and visitors, offering a serene and enlightening experience.
Miracles linked to Kapistran are well-documented, with some originals housed in Rome and the Vatican. The Ilok monastery library treasures copies of his manuscripts, providing a glimpse into the past. The adjoining monastery, with its neo-Gothic architecture reminiscent of the Zagreb Cathedral, showcases artistry and devotion.
For a truly immersive experience, the monastery’s tower is a must-visit. Rising 100 meters, it not only offers a panoramic view of Ilok but also connects visitors to the town’s soul and heritage.
Principovac, a 19th-century country estate, once served as the summer residence for the noble Odescalchi family. Today, it’s home to a contemporary restaurant boasting two terraces and a viewpoint, offering mesmerizing views of Srijem and Bačka. Visitors can indulge in various sports activities, and the grand Princeps Hall has become a sought-after wedding venue.
Sunsets at Principovac are truly magical, making it the perfect time for photography. With its sweeping views of vineyards and parts of the town, it’s a photographer’s dream. Plus, there’s a rare opportunity in Croatia here: you can play golf amidst this scenic backdrop.
In my opinion, Principovac stands out as one of the most beautiful estates in this part of Europe.
1. Ilok Wine Cellars
The Iločki podrumi, or the old cellar in Ilok, built in 1450, holds the distinction of being the first wine cellar in this part of Europe dedicated to wine production and storage. To me, it’s the must-visit spot in Ilok.
Inside the Old Cellar, you’ll find bottles of archival wine from the mid-20th century. I highly recommend getting a guide for your cellar tour. They’ll share fascinating stories and immerse you deeper into the town’s wine history. Plus, you’ll get to taste some of the region’s finest wines, like the Iločki Traminac.
But the Ilok wine experience doesn’t end with the Old Cellar. Almost every street in this part of town boasts a cellar where you can taste and even purchase quality wines. Just remember, most of these cellars are private, so it’s a good idea to make arrangements in advance.
So, if you decide to visit Ilok, the best time would be late summer or early autumn, especially if you want to partake in the grape harvest. The seven destinations I’ve highlighted are truly Ilok’s treasures.
Each offers something special and unique. Trust me, you’ll feel the magic of this beautiful Croatian town and leave with unforgettable memories.