Varazdin travel guide
Varazdin, an evocative mid European city, that is a celebration of all things Baroque
Varazdin is situated on the river Drava 80 kilometres to the north of Zagreb - about one hour's drive. It is a thriving city with a flourishing financial sector and in the 18th century was, for a brief period, the capital of Croatia. It is famed for its Baroque architecture and considered to have one of the most intact and unspoilt baroque city centres within Europe, perhaps second only to Prague. Every September the city hosts a festival of classical music - the Varazdin Baroque evenings - featuring international performers and orchestras.
The August Spancirfest is a festival of music, theatre and creative arts. As well as the regular restaurants, street food stalls pop up around the city and a special area is devoted to wine. Children's activities are arranged so that this can be a festival for all the family.
In addition to visiting the galleries and the Varazadin castle, 'Stari Grad', the more unusual places that you must see are the cemetery - a mix of baroque architecture and formal gardens - and the Insect museum, an unusual but fascinating specialist museum with appeal to all age groups.
Rural areas around Varazdin
The rural regions around Varazdin provide beautiful countryside with forests, hills, farms and vineyards interspersed with villages and the occasional castle to provide romance and history.
Places of particular interest include the Kumrovec Ethnological Museum and Staro Selo (meaning Old Village) in which 40 of the original village houses have been restored with some exhibiting artefacts of village life and others acting as workshops for traditional crafts.
Kumrovec is also the birth place of Josip Broz Tito the president of Yugoslavia from 1953 to 1980. Tito's birth house is now a museum commemorating Tito's life and Yugolavia's history.
There are several castles in the region. One of the best examples is Trakusan. This romantic 13th century castle is perched on a pinnacle of higher ground surrounded by parkland, forest and a lake. The castle and grounds are open to the public.
The village of Krapina is home to the Krapina Neanderthal museum. The fossilised remains of a Neanderthal man were found here in 1899. The museum allows you to walk through the recreated cave habitat of Stone Age man but also places that in the time line from the creation of the universe to the present day making for a highly informative experience.
The region generally is perfect for cycle tours and walking. There are wineries offering tours and wine tasting. The region has several spas and thermal baths with therapeutic waters. The Aquae Vivae thermal baths, as well as offering the health benefits of bathing in the water of these natural hot springs, provides fun for all the family with saunas. water slides, a diving pool and a special children's pool.