The best cities and attractions in North Croatia

As part of a series of guides to different areas, attractions and activities in Croatia, last week Croatian newspaper Jutarnji focused on the area of north Croatia. An area mostly overlooked by visitors and travellers to the country, this lovely part of Croatia still has a number of interesting places to visit. If you’re looking for something a little different (and can drag yourself away from the coast!), why not give this area of Croatia a go?

St Nicolas Church in Varazdin

The most beautiful towns in the region – as selected by Jutarnji – are Varazdin, Varazdinske Toplice, Ludbreg, Bjelovar, Daruvar, Cazma, Sisak, Petrinja, Kutina and Novska. (Links go to Jutarnji articles on those towns and cities. [Edit: links removed as no longer work.])

Stand-out city from the list is the wonderful Varazdin. Once upon a time the capital of Croatia (and therefore one of its oldest cities), Varazdin has many wonderful sights, including a 16th century castle and an Old Town dating from that century as well, a cathedral and the Baroque Ursuline Church (one of a number of Baroque churches and palaces in the city). Nearby is Varazdinske Toplice, a spa town (the oldest thermal spa in Croatia), which now has health and rehabilitation facilities, but was once a Roman settlement named Aquae Iassae. Part of the Roman settlement has been excavated and can be visited.

Meanwhile,  attractions that are recommended in the region include the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park and Cigoc, a stork village where around 200 storks nest on the houses and locale of a village of around 120 inhabitants – so there are more storks than people! There’s also the Museum of Evolution in Krapina (the remains of Neanderthals were discovered in the local area) and the town of Ozlja, with various Roman and medieval finds, and sights such as its castle and town museum.

Activities in the area include everything from the more standard kayaking, cycling and hunting, though Jutarnji also mentions that quad-biking, paragliding and “speleology” (the study of caves) is possible!