Beyond the Lonely Planet in Croatia and Slovenia
A quick look into the Lonely Planet guide for Croatia and Slovenia will help you understand the countries just a tiny bit. However, you will miss out on a lot if the guides are all you rely upon. Croatia and Slovenia have much more to offer than a few generic tours that only recommend the biggest and most densely packed tourist centers. So join us as we explore a few places across Croatia and Slovenia that you may find exciting and perfect for your next trip.
City of Varaždin, Croatia
Varazdin is a city in Northern Croatia, about 81 km or 50 miles north of Zagreb. The center of Varaždin County is located near the Drava River. It is mainly known for its baroque buildings, music, textile, food, and IT industry.
The first written reference to Varazdin, whose historical name is Garestin, was on 20 August 1181, when King Béla III mentioned the nearby thermal springs (Varaždinske Toplice) in a legal document. Varazdin was declared a free royal borough in 1209 by the Hungarian King Andrew II. The town became the economic and military center of northern Croatia. Due to Ottoman raids, the city was structured defensively around the old fortress and acquired the shape of a typical medieval Wasserburg.
In the early 13th century, the Knights Hospitaller came to Varazdin, building a church and a monastery.
Trakoscan Castle, Croatia
Castle Trakoscan was built in the late 13th century in the northwestern Croatian defense system as a small observation fortress for monitoring the road from Ptuj to Bednja Valley.
It is protected as a historical entity, consisting of the castle, the building next to the castle, a park, and a forest park with a lake. Today, the castle is owned by the Republic of Croatia. It is an excellent example of the glorious past of the prestigious history of the Balkan region.
Kamnik is one of the oldest cities in Slovenia. Did you know that Kamnik had its mint in the Middle Ages, thanks to many aristocratic families living there? Kamnik was also an important route for trade between Ljubljana and Celje.
There are two castles in Kamnik. However, we can only refer to them as ruins right now. They are pieces of history that you can still explore and learn about the ways of life in the past. Situated atop the 585-foot high hill, Krniška Gora, Stari Grad, or Old Castle, is one of Slovenia’s most strategically placed castles.
When exploring Kamnik, you must walk across Sutna. It is the main street in the city and was first mentioned in the 13th century along with the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Although a modern Baroque church, it only dates back to the 18th century. The locals have painted their houses in colorful pastels, adding a bit of flair to the street.
Kamnik is also the site of a mass grave from the period immediately after the Second World War. The Cuzak Meadow Mass Grave is located in the southeast of the town, in a grassy area encircled by a road on the premises of the Svit factory. The grave contains the remains of several hundred soldiers and civilians, mostly Croats but also some Serbs.
After exploring Kamnik, you must head to Velika Planina, just a few kilometers away. You can also take a direct trip to Velika Planina from Ljubljana as a day trip.
Velika Planina translates to big pasture, a dispersed high-elevation settlement of mostly herders’ dwellings in the Karst extensive Pasteur plateau in the Kamnik Alps.
When you arrive, you will find the cable car’s base station that will take you to Velika Planina. Here, you will find the most amazing green pastures of a magnificent mountain plateau amid the Kamnik Alps.
The most amazing things to explore and do here are the herdsmen’s settlement and tasting the freshest dairy products.
You will also amaze yourself with the cottages’ unique architecture, which gives Velika Planina its charm. In addition, the mountain offers several hiking routes and mountain cycling paths if you are up for more adventure. Velika Planina has always been in a strong position on a wishlist of Slovenia Private Tour itineraries.
The Karst Wine Route, Slovenia
If traveling to Slovenia, you must take advantage of the country's fine wine. Although small in its geographic size, Slovenia is home to some of the best wines in Europe.
We recommend a wine-tasting experience or a tour of the Karst wine route.
Teran is a very famous wine from the Karst region. The wine’s rich, robust character is evident while the grapes are still on the vines. Teran grows in large clusters of densely packed berries with resistant skins. When you bite into a berry, its pulp bursts into your mouth. Teran is the right choice if you want an authentic experience or something new.
Karst prosciutto goes exceptionally well with the wine from the region. The people of the Karst prize the traditions and ancient customs passed from generation to generation in every house.
No feast or holiday in the region is complete without prosciutto; a plate of prosciutto on the table is the time-honored way to welcome a guest.
Brkini Fruit Route in Slovenia
If you are not a big fan of alcohol or meat, fruit lovers must never miss the Brkini fruit route.
Known for its first-class apples and plums, Brkini will enchant you with its picturesque green landscape, full of small clustered settlements, orchards, and cultivated fields.
Whether on a bike or on foot, you can enjoy the many views of Brkini Hills.
The Brkini Fruit Road aims to increase the sales of fruit and other agricultural produce and products from farms and attract as many buyers as possible.
The Brkini fruit road connects 67 farms marked by signs “One plum, one glass of brandy.”