Things to see in the vicinity of Zagreb
Croatia's attractions include more than just coastal towns packed with historic monuments, which must know well by now. Among them are also beautiful and charming places in the vicinity of Zagreb. See the completely different face of the country. Feel its unique cultural heritage and wonderful nature.
As is appropriate for a capital city, Zagreb's neighbourhood has an atmospheric town which is a common destination for a Sunday outing. The time Samobor is situated only 10 km to the west, among gentle slopes of the Samobor Foothills. Samobor's old town is not vast, but it is very nice and you can feel the atmosphere of a small provincial town hidden in the shadow of the capital city. Easy-going life is concentrated in the main square of the city named after King Tomislav, which serves as the town's marketplace, The Gradna stream which flows nearby adds to the beauty of the site. Samobor is famous for local products. Have a seat for a while in one of the nice cafés and have a cup of coffee and the local delicacy - kremšnita, a cake that resembles Polish custard slice. If you fancy something stronger, have a glass of the Samobor bermet. Popular also in northern Serbia, this beverage has alcohol content of 15-16% and is based on red wine or rakija with the addition of some wormwood, angelica, coriander, anise or sage.
Just a few kilometres from a border crossing with Slovenia, there is the town of Trakošćan with its famous castle by the same name surrounded by thick woods. Bear in mind that Croatia is not just the coast, and there are many beautiful places also in other regions. Trakošćan is the most fabulous Croatian castle, and its scenic location makes Croats particularly proud of it. It resembles Bavarian castles, although in a smaller scale. Even if you think that comparing it to german castles is a but of an exaggeration, it well reflects its character and atmosphere. Trakošćan is situated on the top of a small but steep hillock. At its feet there is a lake whose blue water beautifully reflects the light silhouette of the castle. Inside, you can see fully furnished 19th century interiors, which is a surprise and rarity in that region.
Castles are an important asset of the vicinity of Zagreb. Veliki Tabor is one of the best preserved Late Medieval fortresses. Surrounded by a beautiful ring of defensive walls with four towers, this site played a very important role in history of Croatia. Today, it houses a regional museum, but also organises interesting cultural events in the summer.
Situated in the north of the country at the River Drava right at the border with Slovenia, there is Varaždin, a truly Central European city typical of the Habsburg monarchy. Despite that, its central point is at King Tomislav Square, which is called Korzo (with a touch of Italian). This is where the similarities to seaside towns end. The old town is packed with Baroque palaces of aristocrats built between the second half of the 17th century and the early 19th century, as well as townhouses and houses of once famous craftsmen of Varaždin: tailors, blacksmiths, carpenters, jewellers, furriers and shoemakers. Visitors come to Varaždin mainly to see one specific historic monument - the castle with shining white walls and the roof covered with red tiles, rising from a green hill. Sounds like a fairy tale? But it is true! Built between the 14th and 19th century on the site of an earlier fortification, it is yet another little known attraction in Croatia.
Fancy relax in thermal waters? Pop into the nearby Varaždinske Toplice, which are situated among mild hills covered with orchards, meadows and forests. It is said to be the oldest health resort in Croatia, and its health properties were known to ancient Romans. This is a sufficient proof of the high quality of the local water. If you get bored with the blissful rest, you must visit the local castle. Built in the 14th century by the Bishop of Zagreb, it was converted later on two occasions and now houses a local museum.
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