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Croatia beyond the coast

Earlier today I signed on to update the next edition of Lonely Planet Croatia, with research scheduled for the spring. It’s always exciting to revisit the motherland and discover new things about my country. For someone born and raised there, the challenge always is how to see it from a tourist’s perspective.

That all got me thinking about how much I appreciate Croatia’s interior – the tame hills of Zagorje, the medieval hilltop towns of Istria, the rugged mountains framing the coast of Kvarner and Dalmatia, and the rolling flat lands of Slavonia. I’ve been on a mission to get visitors to leave the overcrowded coast and islands of the Adriatic and explore the countryside that remains practically untouched. That’s not easy, due to the world limit issue when I do guidebooks and the general hype surrounding the Adriatic. So to entice you to check out what Croatia has to hide beyond its beaches and seaside treasures, I thought I’d share a few photos of what awaits if you get off the beaten track.

The hills of Zagorje, just north of Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city, hide bucolic landscapes, church-topped hills, rustic taverns, natural hot springs, and medieval castles, such as Veliki Tabor pictured above. An international short film festival takes place at the castle every summer – a great time to be there.

In this photo, I was researching the area of Kvarner in the north of the Adriatic. I had been told to check out the Učka Nature Park, an hour from the port city of Rijeka. When I got there, surrounded by sheep, with stretching views of the sea in the distance, I was stunned by how untouched it all seemed – alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers, half-abandoned shepherd’s villages where you can get fresh sheep’s cheese…

In the swamplands of Kopački Rit Nature Park , located in the fertile region of Slavonia east of Zagreb, you can spot 141 species of birds – including the rare black stork – on a scenic boat tour around the series of lakes right where the Danube and the Drava rivers meet.

One of Istria’s many offbeat treasures, the town of Raša is a surreal showcase of Fascist architecture. Purpose-built to house the area’s mining community in the 1930s under Mussolini (Istria was once part of Italy), this now sleepy place still has the mining theme running through it, although the last mine was closed years ago. The town church has the shape of an upside-down wagon, with the belfry reminiscent of miners’ head lights.

Blog Comments

This post has me even more excited for March when I'll be in Croatia for a short time.

so thats what you look like!!!!!! I've always wondered!

Have a great time in Croatia, Anil! Where exactly will you be?

True, I guess I never really post photos of myself, Matt. Thought this one was discreet enough. 🙂

I'm a terrible planner but know I'll start in Zagreb and then will likely head slowly by road towards Belgrade and see what as much as I can in between. Not sure I'll be able to see the coast in this trip though :/

Mislim da ne postoje ljepši putopisi od ovakvih, živućih, bez celofana, a sa toliko ljepote, iskrenosti i žara. Bilo je i vrijeme da naletim na jedan takav 😉 Bilježim se sa štovanjem!

Croatia's been on my list for awhile—this post got me more excited!

Sooo can't wait to get to Croatia!!

This is an amazing place! A close to my heart! It really feels like heaven being on this marvelous place! Keep posting!

Tako mi je drago cuti da su moji putopisi, "živući, bez celofana, a sa toliko ljepote, iskrenosti i žara". Puno hvala na komplimentu!

Glad the post got you even more interested in Croatia, Lauren. That was the idea!

Let me know if and when you decide to go to Croatia, Lola.

So glad to hear that, Susan!

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