Most tourists forget this big chunk of Croatia, but it was made for road-tripping. The bucolic northern region of Zagorje is sprinkled with itsy-bitsy villages and vineyard-speckled hills with the odd medieval castle and spa town thrown in for good measure. On its eastern edge, on the route to Hungary, Varaždin is a baroque beauty of a small town with an important history that belies its laid-back appeal.

The Pannonian plains and flat farmland of Slavonia stretch out southeast towards Serbia. In this primarily agricultural region dip into culture amid the fine architecture of lively Osijek, the two museums of Vukovar and inside Ɖakovo's majestic cathedral. Afterwards head out into the countryside once more to drive the wine roads and for boat trips in the vast wetlands at Kopački Rit Nature Park.

A journey here is as far away in character from the bustle of the coastal resorts as you can get.