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 EscapeOn the other side of Medvednica, serenity awaits. Zagorje is just 30 minutes from Zagreb, but it is an entire world away from the hustle and bustle of the capital and offers ample opportunity for rejuvenation in gorgeous surroundings. The green hills of Zagorje are a haven for active visitors, with a fabulous range of hiking, walking and cycling trails available for explorers of all abilities. The summer events calendar is packed with festivals and entertaining happenings that give the people of this region a chance to show off their famous hospitality. If you’re looking for serenity this summer - autumn, look no further than Zagorje. For detailed information visit www.biserzagorja.hr.
Summer Fest Tuhelj - July 15 — August 20
A packed schedule of fun and entertainment for all the family awaits at this popular summer festival. Jazz enthusiasts and lovers of the classics can enjoy Friday concerts on the terrace of Mihanović Castle, while Terme Tuhelj will host presentations of local products showcasing the region at its most delicious and Laughter and Fun nights with jugglers and circus performances. August 6 is Fair Day, when traditional crafts combine with a great gastronomic show and a beautiful horse parade to create something unique. August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption, a significant feast with religious customs, food and much more.
Autumn Appreciation Days September 29 – October 1
Autumn is a magical time of year, so any celebration that appreciates this beautiful season is good in our books. The Autumn Appreciation Days in Klanjec celebration is all about traditional crafts and customs, with plenty on offer for foodies. Gastronomy, history, heritage and culture will sparkle in Klanjec as September turns to October.
Photo by Višnja Arambašić
4.Golden valley, golden wines
Požega lies in a fertile basin in western Slavonia known in Roman times as Vallis Aurea: the Golden Valley. Still today this valley is a source of some of the finest wines in Croatia, including Graševina (Welschriesling) – perhaps the best-known of all the whites wines of Croatia. A tour of the vineyards and tasting rooms around Kutjevo northeast of Požega is the highlight of a trip to this region. In Požega itself, a pretty little town of harmonious baroque buildings, don’t miss the museum where you can learn about the history of the town. Nearby Mount Papuk (953m) and its Nature Park are ideal for hiking, while horse lovers should head for Lipik and the stud farm for Lipizzaner horses (founded in 1843), where you can book a horseback or carriage ride. Afterwards, ease away your aches and pains in the Lipik spa, a complex of fine old buildings in beautiful grounds.
5. A Day in the Country - AquatikaKarlovac is famous for its four rivers, each one just as lovely as the other. This beautiful modern aquarium is devoted to local freshwater life, enabling us to get to know our fishy friends better and understand more fully just how rich in beauty and biodiversity the Karlovac region is.
Croatia Opend Land Archives
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. What about Second Breakfast? And lunch? And dinner?If you have wondered where to spend the day packed with fun and delicious food, you have now found a perfect place. ‘Living room on the Kupa river’ is on till 31 August, providing you with great fun and lots of different activities. After a refreshing swim in the river at one of many swimming spots in the area, sample some traditional dishes with a modern twist at the main Ozalj ‘riviera’. Try lamb in a fritter, veal tongue burger, ginger and bacon strudel from Jaškovo or Katarina Zrinska cake with a touch of white pepper. Rich and diverse gastronomic offer in the lush surrounding of the emerald river boosted by the rich entertainment program, is surely a winning combination.
Don’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..
9. 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
10. 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.
11. 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
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15.JazzIst FestivalJazz is musicianship at its most exquisite, and the darling island of Ist hosts one of the great festivals on Croatia’s jazz calendar (yes, there is a jazz calendar). JazzIst takes place over two nights in August, with both nights promising something extraordinary. Borna Šercar’s Jazziana Croatica will light up night one (August 9) with an authentic sound heavily influenced by Croatian musical heritage. Night two (August 10) is all about Bruna Matić, one of the most exciting drummers of her generation, who will wow the audience with N O I S E, an intense 70-minute audiovisual suite. Not to be missed.
16.Island of Corals
Zlarin is known as the Island of Corals, and that gorgeous heritage finally has a home to celebrate. The Croatian Coral Center (slated to open at the end of May or the beginning of June) is spread across two gorgeous stone houses, both offering something different to visitors. Kažerna houses a permanent exhibition of ecosystems and protected species, information on the tradition of coral farming in Zlarin, and a library containing the works of much-loved poet Vesna Parun. Šare is an educational research centre with a theatre and accommodation space for researchers and scientists. Coral farming has been integral to life in Zlarin, and the Croatian Coral Center showcases that in a marvellous manner.
17. 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.