Rastoke is a fairy tale-like village, with only 50 people residing there, right next to the city of Slunj and about 100km (62 miles) from the capital – Zagreb. Complete with waterfalls, beautiful wooden houses, picturesque old watermills and surrounded by a forest it is truly a must-see when traveling to Croatia. The village is most beautiful in winter when it has an extremely cozy vibe to it. Rastoke is also famous for outdoor recreation such as canoeing, fishing, mountain biking and rafting for which there an annual event called RastRaft. For fans rural tourism this is definitely the place to go!
2. Nikola Tesla Memorial Center and house, Smiljan
Nikola Tesla is everyone’s favorite science underdog, most notably known for discovering the rotating magnetic field, and he was born right here in Smiljan, Croatia. On July 7 2006, in celebration of Tesla’s 150th birthday, the city of Gospić opened the Nikola Tesla Memorial Center – which consists of numerous preexisting objects and newly built facilities! Historic objects to visit are the house Tesla was born in, the Church of St. Apostles Peter and Paul and an outbuilding (barn), stone monuments and benches by the Croatian architect Zdenko Kolacio while the newly built facilities include a multimedia center (with a playground children!), an outdoor auditorium, Tesla turbine and a few other neat places to visit! It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of Nikola Tesla’s work, a fan of science or a fan of history – this is a great experience which you simply can’t miss if you plan on traveling to Croatia!
3. Castles & Fortresses in Hrvatsko Zagorje
Hrvatsko Zagorje is a cultural historic region north of Zagreb which is filled with amazing sights that will surely take your breath away! We will specifically talk about the stunning castles/museums & fortresses but this beautiful region has a lot more to offer!One of the most famous fortresses is Veliki Tabor (literally translates to “Big Fortress”) which is believed to have been a Roman fortress but no one actually knows when or why it was built! It is also the site of an international film festival. Close to Veliki Tabor lies Miljana Castle; one of the most beautiful baroque castles in Croatia. Next, there is Orisc, a baroque castle built 1756 by Krsto II Orsic, whom it was named after. Also in this region, is a castle that was listed as one of 12 most beautiful European castles by the magazine “Conde Nast Traveler” – Castle Trakoscan.
Built in the 13th century as a small fortress, Trakoscan was expanded and improved numerous times up until the 19th century. Later, a dam was built which created the lake that gives this Castle a unique charm. Today, the castle is owned by the Republic of Croatia but this wasn’t always the case. For instance, in the 19th century, George V. Draskovic (owner at the time) turned it into a residential castle with exceptional parks and a romantic garden.If those three spectacular castles aren’t enough for you, there are over a dozen more!
4. Cycling, hiking and educational trails of Skrad
Skrad is a municipality in western Croatia with a population of 1,062 people, while the city of Skrad itself has 694 residents. If you are a fan of cycling you’ll be excited to hear that every year in Skrad there is a multiple-day event called “Gorski kotar Bike Tour”! With long tracks going through beautiful forests it is a lot of fun and a great camping (Oh yes, organized camping every night!) and cycling experience! The area itself is full of painting-like views complete with waterfalls, idyllic architecture and breathtaking hiking trails for everyone to enjoy!
5. Pasman island
Pasman is an island off the coast of the Adriatic Sea, south of Zadar, with an area of just 60.11 square kilometers. Pasman is surrounded by islands Ugljan, Iz, Dugi otok and Kornati. Well, more than surrounded – Pasman and Ugljan are connected by a bridge! Pasman may small, but it has a lot to offer. Beautiful views, exciting cycling trails and some of the cleanest beaches in the Adriatic (Because of the fact that the water currents change every)
6. Walls of Ston
Walls of Ston, a defensive construction dating, which is 7 km (4.3 miles) long is probably most famous for being one of the locations Game of Thrones was shot on (in Croatia!). It was constructed to protect the city of Ston and were known as the “European Wall of China.” The wall was built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to safeguard and protect one of Ston’s precious resources; salt. It consists of three forts, seven bastions, and forty-one towers.
Ston itself is a beautiful dalmatian town you can’t help but fall in love the minute you see it. What makes Ston even more special is the food – Ston is known as home to rare and rarely delicious breed of oysters.
7. Kopacki Rit
Kopacki Rit is a flooded area in Baranja, on the northeast of Croatia, on the confluence of the river Drava into Danube.Kopacki Rit is one of the largest wetland areas in Europe and, depending on the intensity of the flooding (mostly from Danube), changes it’s appearance drastically over the year. Due to its preservation and a rare march ecosystem, Kopacki Rit was given the protected status of a natural reserve in an area of 17,730 hectares. If you enjoy the outdoors and would like to visit, the park has a variety of ways in which you can have a truly remarkable experience as angling and hunting is allowed in certain parts of the park or you may take a guided tour via boats, horses or hikes.
8. Vrazji prolaz (Devil’s passage), ‘Zeleni vir’ (Green spring) and the cave ‘Muzeva hisa’ (Husband’s house)
These locations belong to the municipality of Skrad, which was featured above. Zeleni Vir is a water source located inside a cave that fills an emerald green lake. It was named after the color of the lake’s water. Vrazji Polaz is a deep canyon teeming with crystal lakes, gushing streams and waterfalls, perfect for adventurers to explore. Muzeva Hisa is a dark, horizontal cave consisting of a lake, stalagmites, and stalactites. Rare fauna has been discovered here too, so you will find it worth exploring.
9. Samobor and Žumberak
Samobor is a colorful little in the Zagreb County, on the eastern slopes of Samobor hills a few kilometers from the Slovenian border.. It is also a famous vacation destination, mainly because of the remains of old castles and beautiful architecture. Samobor hosts many tourist events such as the Samobor Music Festival, Fasnik Carnival held before Lent and an Oldtimer Rally. If you enjoy experiencing cultural delicacies, you will find that food-related events are commonly held to display the region’s unique cuisine.
Žumberak is a Nature Park (not to be confused with the mountain), close to Samobor, established by the decree of the Croatian government on 16th of September 1999. The area of Zumberak and ‘Samoborsko gorje’ was designated a protected national resource by the Act of the Croatian parliament in May of the same year.A hilly, mountain area filled with organized activities like hiking, cycling, paragliding, horse riding and climbing, and destinations like Zumberak, one of the most beautiful creek valleys, it is fun to be here any time of year!
Varaždin is a beautiful city in the north of Croatia. Amazing architecture and a history dating all the way back to the Roman empire, Varazdin has become a tourist wonderland over the years. Every year since 1971, Varazdin has been home to a classical music festival – Varazdin Baroque Evenings which transforms the entire city, even the city and some surrounding towns, into one big stage! If you are a fan of classical music, you might want to make sure you are travelling to Croatia in time for this festival!
11. Wine Roads of Slavonija and Baranja.
With a sunny coast and lush inner region, it should come as no surprise that Croatia offers a delicious and varied selection of wine from each of its 12 sub-regions. You could order the local wine as you travel through the country, but to get the full Croatian wine experience you’ll have to pay a visit to one of their famously intimate wineries. These small establishments often double as restaurants.
Wine tourism is popular in Slavonia, especially in the county of Baranja which is located in eastern Croatia. There are four popular wine roads which you will want to visit; Branjin Vhr, Zmajevac, Suza and Knezevi Vinogradi or Princes Vineyards. In Baranja, the wine roads lead to popular underground wine cellars which can be as deep as fifty meters.
The richness and varietal characteristics of wine from the Baranja region has been enjoyed since the days when the Roman legions planted the first vineyard’s here following the wishes of the emperor. Through centuries, their knowledge has been kept, restored and refined in order to make quality wine that is made here today.
Following the various wine roads and visiting wine cellars in these areas will give you more than the satisfaction of drinking delicious wine. You will hear a lot of legends about wine and the time the Roman empire was populating the area.
12. Eco Tourism – Medjimurje – Toplice Sveti MartinSpa & Golf Resort
Sveti Martin is a unique destination in Croatia for relaxing & wellness, sports and active vacations, congress & team building surrounded by beautiful nature and accompanied by simply the most delicious food one could ask for!
Sveti Martin was born out of a naturally occurring oil spring in Medimurje; the drilling work caused the discovery of thermal springs spouting mineral rich waters. This natural water is channeled into baths and pools, making Sveti Martin a very popular and eco-friendly spa in Croatia where you can rejuvenate and relax.
Eco-tourism is gaining popularity in places such as Medimurje and its top notch spa and resort, Sveti Martin. Medimurje is the land between two rivers; the Mura and the Drava which are being campaigned to receive UNESCO protection to preserve the rich natural resources of the region which includes vineyards, oxbow lakes, orchards and miles of idyllic countryside. Eco-friendly activities are popular here and you can enjoy cycling, river rafting, and touring functional water mills.
Any true nature lover will undoubtedly fall in love with Medjimurje the moment they arrive simply because of the beautiful protected natural areas. Naturally and historically rich, Medjimurje is sure to blow anyone away with its nature charm.
13. Gacka Valley
The Gacka Valley is a large karst valley fringed with mountain ranges of Velebit on the coast side and with Kapela Mountain on the inland side and as the name says, the field dominates the third longest sinking river in the world; river Gacka! Its source area consists of many smaller sources, and the three are the largest: Tonković Vrilo, Klanac and Majerovo Vrilo. This beautiful area is complemented by old mills which are decorated in a traditional style and where you can hear an interesting story of their use in the past. All this area is rich in aquatic plants, and among the most famous fish living in the river is a tropical trout that is well known among fishermen around the world. Unsurprisingly, in its original form, Gacka’s springs remained happily protected by human discontent, so that in the deep blue eyes of Gacka we can still undisturbedly observe the reflection of clouds and celestial blue. Do not miss out on the specialties of this area and drink water from the Gacka River during your visit, because legend say that girls will always stay nice and young.
14. Zarecky Roof (Zarečki krov)
Zarečki Roof is a large cave that resembles a roof over the river Pazinčica. Its flow creates a ten-meter-high waterfall and lake nearly ten feet deep. It is located 3 km from Pazin to Cerovlje in Istria. It is one of the most interesting natural attractions of the Pazinčica valley. All waterfalls in Pazinčica have this distinctive shape – a cave under the waterfall. Downstream from Zara’s roof there is a cave and a fall of Pazinski roof.
During the summer months residents of Pazin find this a place for swimming and refreshment. Surrounding rocks are like decorated climbing directions appreciated among climbers.
15. Lonjsko Polje
Nature lovers, do not miss visiting the largest nature park in Central Croatia – Lonjsko polje, located in the valley of the river Sava, east of Zagreb. Effluents, ponds and wet meadows are habitats to wetland birds like common spoonbill, little egret, ferruginous duck, white-tailed eagle, lesser spotted eagle, black stork, corncrake and whiskered tern, species rare or already extinct in many parts of Europe. The Park is host to 250 bird species, of which 170 species are also nesting in the Park. Also Lonjsko polje will allow you to meet with other animals, and you will meet the Posavian horse, the pigs, the dog swells. Also, you will have the opportunity to see how the cattle are made on the pasture, just like before..
Lonjsko Polje park is interesting in architectural terms too. Around the park and it’s villages one can find various wooden houses – cottages, built in typical Posavina style. Those cottages are well preserved and if you are interested in this kind of architecture, it is worth to visit an visually enjoy this monument of Croatian architectural heritage. While visiting Lonjsko Polje one can do bird watching, cycling, walking, boating or horseback riding on Croatian Posavac horses. The village Cigoc, located in the area of Lonjsko Polje Nature Park, in which a very large white stork population nests, so that almost every house has its “own” nest, it has been proclaimed the European village of storks in 1994.
Only 60 km from Zagreb is this area of beautiful nature, pure air, peace, silence and tranquility, traditional way of life and preserved customs, beautiful views, rich history, preserved historical monuments and valuable sacral buildings. Kalnik attracted mountaineers and nature lovers back in the middle of the 19th century, and in 1853, Josip Schlosser – Klekovski and Ljudevit Vukotinović wrote about the beauties of Kalnik nature. Here you can enjoy a wealth of active vacations, starting with mountaineering, paragliding, cycling; walks by educational trails, but you can also enjoy in numerous legends and cultural-historical monuments. At the end of enjoying the peace and tranquility, head to the nearby restaurant and indulge in delicious delicacies of this area.
17. Hrvatsko Zagorje
A place of green hills, endless vineyards, thermal springs, castless and excellent gastronomic offer is an ideal place to escape from busy tourist destinations and enjoy in the peace. Here you will find hospitable hosts who will be happy to offer you their gastronomic specialties. Numerous thermal springs with numerous therapeutic effects were known to the ancient Romans. The Neanderthal Museum in Krapina will be happy to tell you the story of the beginnings of life in this area.
Once a peaceful and unexplored oasis of Istria, it has become a real tourist attraction that attracts an increasing number of visitors. Some of them come by car to see this unreal beauty created by the river Mirna, and some pass through Kotle on the path of 7 waterfalls.
19. Baćina Lakes
It is a place where you will surely find your place in the shade where you will be able to enjoy some summer reading in peace. Only crickets can disturb your silence. And yes, here you will be able to enjoy water sports – swimming, kayaking and the like. Moreover, you can go to a windsurfing school in the place.
20. Vrelo Une
Vrelo Une is one of the sources of the Una river and is located near Donja Suvaja. Vrelo Une is the deepest karst spring in Croatia, and also one of the five deepest in the world. What adorns the spring of the Una is the unreal blue color of the water. Here, you will find perfect peace for your body and soul.