Whether your idea of a good time is visiting museums, lazing on a beach, hitting the slopes, or sipping wine in the countryside, you can check our list of 25 Weekend Escapes in Croatia that await you this summer / autumn.
With summer in full swing there is a lot to choose from. Whether it's touring the Zagorje castles, cruising around the Karlovac rivers, indulging in local culture and gastronomy of Ozalj, immersing in the fairy-tales and legends of Ogulin, hiking in the mountains of Gorski kotar or sunbathing and exploring the coast, we've rounded up the best destinations for a superb weekend break in Croatia.
1. The Jewel of the Mura'Treasury of Međimurje' (Riznica Međimurja) is a newly opened museum that presents the historical treasures and traditional values of the Međimurje region in a fun and interactive way through its multimedia exhibition divided into a few sections. Take a walk through the dungeons where witches, disobedient serfs and prisoners were kept, get to know the history of the notable Zrinski family and learn about intangible assets of Međimurje region including traditional crafts, customs and folklore, some of which have been preserved to this day. You will be swept off your feet by the Slavic myths and legends swarming with supernatural beings. Treasury of Međimurje is a place where the past becomes the present.
Riznica Međimurja Archives
Med dvemivodami (local dialect for 'Between Two Rivers') in the eastern county of Međimurje is a water-themed natural history museum that uses interactive exhibits to teach visitors about the need to conserve the natural environment, there’s also an outdoor play-park.
3. A Perfect EscapeZagorje is a picturesque region of rolling hills covered in vineyards and dotted with churches and castles all over the place. Serving as perfect haven for relaxation and contemplation, it is also a great destination for an active holiday. Whether you choose to enjoy its numerous thermal springs, get to know the local crafts in Kumrovec open-air museum, do a tour of the fairy-tale castles of Trakošćan and Veliki Tabor or simply go hiking, cycling & mushroom picking, Zagorje has it all. Don’t miss out on the Museum of the Neanderthals in Krapina, one of the most innovative museums of its kind in the world, located on the actual archeological site. For an ultimate Zagorje experience, try Zagorje štrukli at Štruklijada festival and some of the great local wines at the Bedekovčina Wine Show. Those who love music and dance can chill out at the Hoomstock Festival that brings the best musical vibes to the region.
Photo by Višnja Arambašić
Situated in a large sloping private garden, the Science Park in Oroslavlje (www.parkznanosti.com) is a fun way to explore basic physics, with a sequence of interactive learning stations that help kids learn about mass and velocity, human senses – or simply have fun bashing things.
4. Weird Science
5. Harvest LoveThe grain boat ‘Zora’ is a replica of the boats that used to ply the Kupa river in the 18th century. This unique European attraction is going to take you back in time, show you how grain was transported by boats, along the Kupa and the Sava rivers. It is one of the three types of river boats of the Karlovac boatmen’s guild, the most prosperous town guild of the 19th century. Info at visitkarlovac.hr/zitna-lada/
Karlovac Tourist Board Archives
6. A Day in the CountryFor a perfect day at the beach with a difference, the river Mrežnica near Karlovac is a great place to picnic on the lawns and enjoy a dip in a slow-flowing river: Belavići, with its grassy riverbank, restaurants and camp-site, is the place to aim for.
Croatia Opend Land Archives
7. Dubstep CountryThe Dubovac Castle is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful monuments of medieval architecture in Croatia. Built on a prehistoric hill above the river Kupa, it was named after the dubs, the oaks growing on the surrounding slopes. The castle changed hands many times throughout history and its current appearance is the result of a comprehensive restoration carried out during the mid-twentieth century. Within the castle you will come across a museum and a nice cosy restaurant witha touch of Medieval times.
8. All Quiet on the Croatian FrontThe mid-Croatian town of Karlovac was on the front line during the Homeland War of 1991-95 and it is fitting that this national museum devoted to the conflict is located here. More precisely, it liesjust off the main road to the Plitvice Lakes in the suburb of Turanj, the place where the main enemy advance was repulsed. The display is housed in an imaginatively renovated nineteenth-century barracks, first built by the Austrians and then pressed into service in 1991 by Karlovac’s Croatian defenders, who ironically dubbed the place ‘Hotel California’. Encased in a glass shell, the barracks contains a modern multi-media display detailing the military operations that took place here together with an account of what life was like for the local civilian population. Alongside a wealth of military hardware inside the Museum of the Homeland War, Turanj, Karlovac there is a stirring display of artillery pieces, aircraft and armoured cars on the lawn outside.
9. Slava Raškajdon’t miss out on visiting the Old Town of Ozalj and its museum that hosts the paintings of Slava Raškaj, one of Croatia’s greatest impressionist painters who searched for inspiration in the lyrical landscapes of the Ozalj region – its lush gardens, water lilies, flowers, willows by the river, and local people doing their everyday chores. Her water colors represent the highest achievement of Croatian impressionist painting at the turn of the century..
10. Tale of TalesOn your way down to Plitvice Lakes National Park, make sure to take a detour to Ogulin and discover the home of fairy-tales and legends that will take your breath away. Ogulin was a birth place of the best Croatian children’s writer, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. Visit a medieval castle in the centre of Ogulin and delve into Ivana’s stories at the House of Fairy Tales (ivaninaucabajke.hr). This special museum celebrates Croatia’s foremost writer of fairy tales with animated films, interactive games, and other innovative exhibits. More adventures? Then try to spend a stormy night on Klek mountain and maybe you get a chance to join the witches and fairies in their fiery dance. This was believed to have been their gathering place. If you are after beautiful pristine nature, take a hike up to the top of Klek – the cradle of organized hiking in Croatia at the end of the 19th century. Don’t forget to visit Đula, the Ogulin abyss named after a local girl whose tragic fate is as striking as the abyss itself. On a hot summer day, make sure you freshen up in the nearby Sabljaci lake where you can indulge in various water activities. Round up your day with famous Ogulin sauerkraut prepared in many different ways.
Ivana's house of fairy tales Archives
11. What Lies BelowThe Zeleni vir area is known for its unusual geological formations. The name means “Green Pool”, and refers to the emerald pool formed by a little waterfall gushing from an opening high up in a rock face. The second attraction in this area is Vražji prolaz – or the Devil’s Pass. This is an 800m long canyon carved out of the rock by a wild, foaming stream. You can walk along galleries and bridges the whole length of the canyon, and at the end you’ll come to a cave, “Muževa hiša”, with stalagmites, stalactites and a small underground lake. Zeleni vir is near the little town of Skrad, just off the A6 motorway (Zagreb direction).
12. Where the Wild Things AreTo learn more about the big beasts of Croatia’s forests then head for the Large Carnivores Visitors Centre in Stara Sušica (www.centar-velikezvijeri.eu),where a multi-media display introduces you to the lives of the bears and wolves of the Gorski Kotar.
13. To the Waters and the WildA perfect place for spending a day in nature with family and friends. Golubinjak is located near the main road so it is easy to find and surprisingly peaceful despite the proximity of the highway. Beautiful large meadow at the entrance to the Park-forest, surrounded by tall trees that rise high above the white cliffs will simply take your breath away. In 1955 the 51 hectare of Golubinjak area was declared a protected park-forest. The park-forests in this area emerged on the karst relief. Because of this, they feature not only forest vegetation, but also a variety of karst phenomena. Golubinjak Park-Forest with its caves, rocks, sinkholes, stone bridges and other interesting formations, is a typical example. There is a walking trail through the forest which will take you to the Dove Cave and the Ice Cave whose refreshing temperatures definitely justify its name. At the beginning of the trail, you will come across the Queen of the Forest – the largest fir tree of Gorski kotar which is over 200 years old, with the height reaching 37 m which truly deserves the crown. At the entrance to the park there is a multipurpose grass-playground which is ideal for the outdoor games. You can also rent out a bbq area and have a fun day in the wild. Those who are not in the mood to do their own grilling may opt for specialties of the Gorski kotar cuisine served at the Park’s catering facility.
Kvarner Tourist Board Archives
14. The Good Spa MomentHealth and wellness go hand in hand with Opatija and the Thalassotherapia Medical Center has the complete package to suit almost all of your health needs. As their offer continues to expand, the center now includes the application of contemporary, aesthetic interventions ensured under the highest medical standards. It is possible to remove or alleviate almost all aesthetic flaws of the face and body and you get to stay in a lovely old Opatija villa.
15. Pining for the FjordsCutting into the western coast of Istria is a wondrously beautiful inlet known as the Limski kanal or Lim Channel. Popularly dubbed the Lim Fjord due to its resemblance to the Norwegian coast, it is in fact a 10km-long estuary of a local river, the Pazinčica. Edged by steep grey-green slopes that in places reach a height of 150 metres, this stunning natural feature is a popular target for boat trips from the nearby resorts of Poreč and Rovinj. One historical personality who is rumored to have come here on a boat trip and stayed is seventeenth-century Welshswashbuckler Henry Morgan, whose alleged descendants live in the village of Mrgani above the fjord’s northern rim. The Italian adventurer and teller of tall tales Giacomo Casanova briefly stayed at the nearby hillside town of Vrsar, noting the region’s “good wine and beautiful women”in his memoirs. By way of tribute to the Venetian charmer, a popular biking trail from Vrsar to the Lim Fjord is known as the “Casanova Way”. The Fjord is also famous for its oysters, which are served in a couple of renowned restaurants down by the shore.Lim’s fjord-like features were put to good use in HoJlywood Viking movie The Long Ships (starring Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier), filmed here in 1963.
16. Lawrence of DalmatiaSinj is not the only place to have preserved an ancient contest for horse and rider. The Istrian village of Barban still celebrates its equine traditions with theannual Trka na prstenac or “Race for the Ring”, in which locals and their steeds attempt to spear a specially-designed ring on the end of a long lance. The age-old ritual is celebrated in this brand-new multimedia Visitors’ Centre (Barban Multimedia Centre), where video films and 3-D technology help you to “experience” the race yourself. Entrance to the display is through a dramatic tunnel of lighted hoops; elsewhere costumes, photographs and local artefacts help bring out a sense of place.
Hotel Peteani - Labin
Gourmet experiences of the Lim Fjord - freshly caught oysters, mussels in the Viking and Fjord restaurants on the bay.
Romuald’s Cave in the Lim Fjord is a carst phenomenon and a habitat of a large bat colony.
17. An UnFa ustian BargainIn coordination with the Faust Vrančić museum, visitors can set out on some new and exciting adventures by taking an educational tour Inspired by Faust - a great way to spend a day out and about. Take a boat to Prvić island and get acquainted with Faust Vrančić – a philosopher, lexicographer and inventor who marked the 16th century. Faust invented the parachute, olive mills, grape presses and sundials, to name just a few.
The Faust Vrančić Memorial Centre
Venice, 16th century, Vrančić takes the plunge and makes it! You are looking at the first formal inventor of the parachute.
Being a polymath, he was born in Šibenik and was buried on the island of Prvić, home to this centre where you can see drawings, book collections, models and prototypes of his numerous inventions. Includes multimedia displays and educational games for youngsters!, Prvić Island, mc-faustvrancic.com
18. Living la Via BrattiaVia Brattia, a 140 km-long hiking trail, encircles almost the entire island of Brač making it an exquisite tourist attraction.
The trail connects the 12 most attractive historical locations and some of the most picturesque places on the island, challenging the recreationists and mountaineers who can collect stamps at each of the 12 points. The trail passes through the center of Supetar, Mirac, Sutivan, Bobovišća na moru, Ložišća, Milna, Murvica, Bol, Sumartin, Povlja, Pučišća, Postira, Škrip, and some of the island’s most beautiful beaches and bays (Zlatni rat, Farska, Murvica, Lovrečina, Smrka, etc.) Since the trail is circular, it is marked both ways and you can start your hike from any of the above-mentioned settlements, simply by following the blue-white blazes. If you decide to do the whole trail, it would be wise to plan a sleepover at some of the small towns on the map, where you can stock up on water and food supply. There is a map of the trail that will come in handy for all who decide to take up the challenge. Find the route map in the tourist information centers of the island of Brač.