The bucolic Zagorje region provides rural escapades right on Zagreb's doorstep. The landscape of itsy villages squirreled between verdantly forested hills, vineyards and cornfields, and medieval castles was made for easygoing road trips and present a relaxed foil to the bustling Mediterranean south. A trip here is blissfully crowd-free, although less so on summer weekends when day-tripping families from the capital debunk en masse to storm the area.
The Zagorje region begins north of Mt Medvednica (1035m), near Zagreb, and extends west to the Slovenian border, and as far north as Varaždin, a showcase of baroque architecture. Whether you want to feast on hearty cuisine at rustic restaurants, get a taste of village life or tour ancient castles, with Zagorje you’re in for an offbeat treat.
- Varaždin Admiring the immaculately preserved baroque architecture in the centre of this small town.
- Museum of the Krapina Neanderthal Getting the kids interested in history with a trip to this museum which celebrate's Krapina's important Neanderthal fossils find.
- Trakošćan Castle Experiencing the life of Croatian nobility amid the grand salons of this castle before heading out for peddle-boating on the lake.
- Kumrovec Staro Selo Museum Getting an insight into traditional village life at this open-air ethnographic museum.
- Vuglec Breg Sampling Croatian culinary specialities near Krapinske Toplice.
- Varaždin Baroque Evenings Catching a music performance at this renowned autumn festival; one of Croatia's best cultural events.
When to Go
Jun Summer weather kicks in, perfect for touring the hills, castles and thermal spas.
Aug Špancirfest in Varaždin has world music, theatre and other fun performances.
Sep A classical music bonanza in Varaždin when the long-running Baroque Evenings festival blows into town.