Tucked away in Varazdin County, close to the Hungarian border, is the quirky little town of Ludbreg. Croatians know it as the Centre of the World. Now get to know it for so much more.
- Welcome to the Centre of the World!
- How to get to Ludbreg and get around
- 5 things not to miss
- Where to stay?
- Where to eat?
- Top 5 day trips from Ludbreg
- 5 things you didn’t know about Ludbreg
It is perhaps best-known as being the centre of the world, but there is far more to Ludbreg than its most famous claim. Meet Croatia’s only certified miracle, a rhino called Erika who is 23,000 years old, and taste the young wines of the Ludbreg Wine Road.
Access to Ludbreg is by road. Close to the Hungarian border and less than an hour from Slovenia, it is easily accessible for foreign tourists. Travel times by car are approximately 30 minutes from Varazdin, Cakovec and Koprivnica, and 75 minutes from Zagreb. The town lies a few kilometres from the A3 motorway from Zagreb to Budapest.
Looking for a fast, reliable and trouble-free transfer to or from Ludbreg? Contact TC transfer partner Adriatic Transfers for your one-stop solution.
Once in the town, everything is walkable, and you do not need transport to see the sights, unless you are planning to explore the Ludbreg Wine Road.
The Ludbreg Bus Station is close to the centre of town, and there are regular buses to local destinations. If, however, you want to travel further afield, you will need to go via a bigger destination, such as Varazdin.
If you are not in a rush, Ludbreg has a train station with a limited network. There are trains going to Zagreb, journey time between 2 hour 20 minutes, and 3.5 hours. There are also connections to Varazdin and Osijek.
Iovia Archaeology Museum
A great addition to Croatia’s continental tourism opened in May, 2021, as the Iovia Archaeological Park opened its doors a few steps from the Centre of the World on the main square.
The park consists of external exhibits in the park behind the 3-storey museum. Inside, there is a great timeline exhibition of the simultaneous historical timelines of the world, Croatia, and Ludbreg. The exhibition is available in several languages via multimedia, and it also covers the Grand Old Dame of Ludbreg. Rhinoceros Erike is apparently 23,000 years old, and she is looking great for her age in a new straw exhibit. You can learn more about Iovia from the opening event, as well as the official website.
The Centre of the World
Ask a Croatian what Ludbreg is famous for, and they will invariably tell you that it is because Ludbreg claims to be the centre of the world. The tale is a curious one indeed, and it obviously comes with a little local legend. And some on the other side of the world have heard of the claim. Check out more in the video above, but do make sure that you stand in the middle of the circle on the main square. Then clap your hands and feel the echo below. Not such a crazy notion now, perhaps?
The Eucharistic Miracle of Ludbreg, Croatia’s only certified miracle
More than a million religious tourists visit Medjugorje each year, even though the alleged apparitions are still not officially recognised by the Vatican. Ludbreg, on the other hand, is home to the only authenticated miracle in all Croatia. Not only that, but if you are a religious tourist, you can actually attend Holy Mass in the presence of the chalice which contains the Eucharistic Miracle of Ludbreg.
While conducting Mass ini the private chapel of Count Battyhany in 1411, the priest cast doubt on the process of transubstantiation. The wine turned to blood, and the priest hid the chalice in a wall and told nobody. Terrified, he kept the secret until his deathbed, when he confided in a friend.
The chalice found its way to the Vatican, and Pope Leo X declared the Eucharistic Miracle of Ludbreg in 1513, before parading the miracles through the streets of Rome. There is a copy of the Papal Bull in the Chapel of the Holy Cross where the miracle took place. The chalice is on display in the main church close to the centre of the world.
Every year, on the first weekend of September, more than 100,000 pilgrims descend on the town to commemorate the miracle. This is the only time of the year that a third unusual church is used, and it is one more curious story.
The Croatian Government makes good on a promise 255 years later
In 1738, when nearby Varazdin was the capital city, a plagued ravaged the region. The Government issued a decree (a copy is in the same room as the Papal Bull) that if God stopped the plague, it would build a church of thanks in the miracle town of Ludbreg.
The plague receded and – not for the first or last time – the Croatian Government did nothing. Until 1994, in the middle of the Homeland War, when a new church was built in a nearby park
The park is beautiful, but the church is not. And it is completely unused apart from this one weekend in September.
Ludbreg Wine Road
Ludbreg has a deserved reputation as a quality wine destination, predominantly for light, young wines.
The Ludbreg Wine Road includes: Restaurant/Tasting Room “Arabella” Globočec, Wine Cellar “Makar”, Wine House “Kirić”, Restaurant “Črn-Bel”, Winery “Stručić”, and Tasting Room “Kežman”.
Here you can try: Graševina, Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, Sauvignon, Green Silvanac, Chardonnay, Traminac, Moslavac and Manzoni, Muscat and Pinot Noir, Frankovka, Cabernet Sauvignon and Poštenjak.
Bakina Hiza – Ludbreg as It Once Was
A couple of minutes from the centre of town is the delightful Bakina Hiza (Grandma’s House), a must-visit for all the family. A group of local enthusiasts started collecting items from the past, in an attempt to preserve Ludbreg’s heritage for future generations.
The result is an impressive collection of traditional tools outside, and a rich tapestry of memorabilia from the Ludbreg way of life as it once was. Check it out in the video above.
While most coastal destinations close down over the winter, Ludbreg boasts no less than three hotels which are open all year round. Hotel Amalia on the main square, and Hotel Raj opposite the park are the more established, but Hotel Crnkovic in the centre has proved a great addition since it opened in 2020.
There are also several great private accommodation options, including villas with pools. Check out what is available here.
Surrounded by vineyards and beautiful nature, the Crn-Bel restaurant is a brilliant spot for lunch or dinner. They do great grilled meats, superior pizzas from a wood-fired oven and sharing platters, with most ingredients sourced locally. Restoran Raj in the town centre is much more of an informal, family place, with pizzas for the kids and shared grills or deep-fried seafood for the parents. They also serve Mexican food, as well as ribs.
If you think Ludbreg is unusual, drive south-east for 50 minutes to the delightful little town of Djurdjevac. Home to Croatia’s only desert, complete with its own family of camels (yes, really), Djurdjevac is also home to Croatia’s smallest old town. Its brave defenders managed to defeat the besieging Ottoman army by firing their last rooster inot the Turkish camp. The Turks thought this was a sign that the town was well-stocked with supplies and gave up on the siege. This historic event is celebrated in late June with the Picokijada festival. Learn more about Djurdjevac from my visit a few years ago.
The former capital of Croatia, Varazdin is the capital of Varazdin County, where Ludbreg is located. It is a magnificent Baroque city with one of the most delightful old towns in South-East Europe. Try and combine your visit with Spancirfest in August, the biggest street festival in Croatia. More in Varazdin in a Page.
A new initiative, Podravina Adventure, from the local and regional tourist boards to present the culture, gourmet, heritage, nature and active tourism potential of the Podravina region was launched in May, 2021. You can see more about the launch in the video above. For more information, check out the Koprivnica Krizevacka Tourist Board website.
Ludbreg is very close to Zagreb. Just 75 minutes away by car (largely motorway), the capital is an obvious draw for a day trip or more. But is also means that Ludbreg is very accessible for a day trip from Zagreb. And with such a large Catholic population, why not have a day trip with Sunday Mass in the presence of Croatia’s only miracle? You can learn more about what Zagreb has to offer in Zagreb in a Page.
If you like the wines of Ludbreg, then the short trip to Medjimurje should be next on the list. Around 30 minutes by car, Croatia’s smallest county is tucked up in the northernmost part of the country on the Hungarian and Slovenian border.
This is gourmet, cycling and spa heaven, as Medjimurje excels in all three. Learn more in the TC Medjimurje in a Page guide.
Ludbreg has hosted Croatia’s largest international young wines competition for 30 years
Wine is a very serious business in Ludbreg, as one can see from the establishment of the Ludbreg Wine Road, which is now over 10 years old. Lesser known, perhaps, is the fact that the town has held the largest international festival for young wines in Croatia for 30 years. Now organised by the Trsek Association, it takes place each January and is quite an affair.
The largest statue of St Vincent, protector of the vineyards, is in Ludbreg
Wine is a very serious thing in Ludbreg, and who better to protect the vineyards than St Vincent himself, protector of vineyards? The Ludbreg Wine Association, Trsek, constructed the largest St Vincent statue in the world back in 2010. The statue is a few kilometres outside the town, but worth the effort, as well as the climb to the top. For the views are magnificent, and you can see far into Hungary.
An active destination which translates as Crazy Hill
Lud (crazy) and Breg (hill) combine to give Ludbreg a rather unusual name in Croatian – Crazy Hill. The name has been used a little in the branding of the town, especially when it comes to adrenaline tourism. Check out the Crazy Hill Trail Ludbreg 2021 above, then learn more about the town’s considerable active tourism offer in this TCN feature – Discover Active Ludbreg: Canoeing, Kayaking, Cycling, Hiking, Walking.
An Olympic gold medallist is celebrated on the main square
In 2016, at the Rio Olympics in Brazil, a relatively unknown 21-year-old Croatian javelin thrower called Sara Kolak stunned the world with an immense throw of 66.18 m, which was enough for her to return to her native Ludbreg with Olympic Gold.
A crazy party greeted her return, and that legendary throw has been immortalised with a statue on the main square, close to the centre of the world. Follow her line as you walk through the square, and you will see more numbers to recognise her achievements, as she threw even further the following year in Switzerland.
A Ludbreg resident was designing seaplanes 100 years ago
Ludbreg may be far from the coast, but one local resident had dreams of the Adriatic. Close to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, where the miracle took place, is a small replica of an aeroplane. This is to commemorate the town’s most creative son – Rudolf Fizir.
Born in 1891 in Ludbreg, Fizir had a prolific career in aviation design and construction, despite the fact that there was no aviation industry locally at the time. In total, he designed and built no less than 18 types of aircraft (including 3 seaplanes and 2 amphibians), some of which were mass produced. You can learn more about his immense contribution in this TCN feature.
Ludbreg Tourist Board
Trg Svetog Trojstva 14
Tel: +385 (0)42 810 690
To follow the latest news from Ludbreg, check out the dedicated TCN page.