Five Reasons to Visit Northern Croatia in Autumn

Lauren Simmonds

northern croatia in autumn
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October the 27th, 2023 – We’ve looked at what Istria, Dalmatia and Lika have to offer when autumn rolls around, but what about areas like Varaždin, Međimurje, Krapina and the wider Zagreb area? Here are five reasons to visit northern Croatia in autumn.

Varaždin in autumn is always a good idea

Copyright Romulic and Stojcic

You wouldn’t be wrong in saying that Varaždin is absolutely beautiful whenever you happen to visit it, but there’s just something about northern Croatia and the autumnal weather that creates an intoxicating mix. The lingering mist over this part of the country’s characteristic rolling hills in the morning and the town’s baroque architecture framed by red, golden and yellow leaves create something magical. It’s always worth paying a visit to Croatia’s former capital at this time of year, with plenty of daylight left but without any strong heat. The old streets of an Old Town which is rarely busy (and certainly isn’t in autumn), and which can easily rival some of Croatia’s more celebrated cities when it comes to beauty, are pleasant with a chill in the air. With imposing castles and palaces dotted all around, such as the fairy tale-like Trakošćan in nearby Bednja, and situated less than two hours from Zagreb – a weekend spent here in autumn is never a bad move.

Autumn in Međimurje is ideal for lovers of active breaks (and spas)

Međimurje looks just like a painting when autumn arrives and the leaves of the trees which adorn the hillsides begin to change into different variations of gold and red. For lovers of active breaks, whether it by walking, running or cycling – you absolutely won’t miss by coming to this beautiful county that is often overlooked entirely in the wider tourism picture. The glorious countryside and picturesque vineyards take on a sunset shade as the seasons change, and there’s no better way to see it than on a bike. If you’re wanting to take a dip to relax any sore muscles, it’s worth knowing that some of the most healing thermo-mineral water pools in all of Europe are located in this county – more precisely in Sveti Martin na Muri. For over 100 years now, Terme Sveti Martin has been offering its services to its guests from all over Croatia, Europe and indeed the world. The healing waters of this spa are considered to be around 43,000 years old and is drawn up from two wells. Visiting northern Croatia in autumn allows you to swim without needing to rely on the weather.

visit Krapina’s neanderthals without the heat

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Krapina is situated in the very hilly Zagorje area, not far from Zagreb. First mentioned way back during the 1100’s, Krapina is home to an array of very grand country houses and even castles from former Hungarian and Croatian nobles and rulers. This part of Croatia is another one which takes on quite the different spirit when autumn rolls around, donning golden hillsides and welcoming lovers of active tourism. Krapina doesn’t get much of the spotlight, but one thing which makes it stand out from the crowd in a completely individual way is the fact that it is the site of the biggest, richest collection of Neanderthal findings ever discovered. Back in 1899, over 800 fossilised remains of Neanderthals were found here, and Krapina is now home to a state of the art museum showcasing them. Deemed one of the most interesting museums displaying evolutionary processes in all of Europe, the perfect time to come and visit it without the crowds or the scorching sun is precisely autumn.

You’re never far from Slovenia

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A quick hop across the border into neighbouring Slovenia can be done with ease from anywhere in northern Croatia, and doing so in autumn will be painless. With the draw of swimming in the sea no longer there when the harsh bura blows down on the coast, visiting northern Croatia in autumn opens up an array of opportunities for further exploration. Nipping into Slovenia for a few hours and then coming back again is no problem at all.

Zagreb’s soul comes out to play when summer ends

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The City of Zagreb is a strange place in some ways, it gets many visitors from abroad during summer, while most of us who live here leave for a month or so. Come autumn, the switch has happened, those of us who live here have come back and most of the foreign tourists have left. That said, Zagreb’s popularity among foreign visitors throughout the year has shot up exponentially over more recent years, and you’ll always hear an array of different languages being spoken. Zagreb’s morning fog at this time of year is atmospheric, as is the evening scent of corn on the cob being made by street vendors. The changing weather and lower temperatures provide excellent conditions for a stroll around one of the city’s many charming parks – be it Maksimir, Bundek, Jarun or Zrinjevac in the very centre. If you’re into more than a stroll, Medvednica or Dotrščina are also absolutely beautiful at this time of year. Heading up to the top of Sljeme in the cable car provides excellent views of the city and the surrounding areas, and the rich pallet of autumn hues the mountainside adorns is every photographer’s dream. Zagreb’s stunning Mirogoj cemetery comes to life on November the 1st (All Saints’ Day), as respects are paid by the light of countless candles to those loved and lost. There are countless reasons to stay in the city, but if you do decide to head out into the much more rural Zagreb County, you won’t be disappointed at this time of year. From pumpkin and chestnut festivals in Ivanic-Grad and Zelina to the multiple mushroom-oriented events across the county, a trip from the city out into agricultural Zagreb County is never a bad idea.


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