The 10 Best Small Towns in Croatia
Croatia is among the few countries in Europe where you can still find idyllic villages and small towns largely preserved in their original state, many of them authentic to a fault, each more atmospheric than the next, and each rich in history and folklore. Here then are our picks of the 10 best small towns and villages in Croatia.
Vara_din is Croatia's premier Baroque town, filled with Baroque palaces, churches and other splendid buildings such as the 19th-century Croatian National Theatre and Vara_din Cathedral, and a fabulous old castle in Vara_din's Old Town to boot. It also hosts the annual Baroque Evenings, a popular Baroque festival that draws some of Croatia's best musicians, as well as an historical street festival known as _pancirfest, held in September every year. The town is situated in northern Croatia, north of Zagreb, close to the border of Hungary.
Location: Vara_din County
2. Stara Kapela
The Slavonic eco-ethno village of Stara Kapela sits on the hillsides surrounding the Po_ega Valley. It's a lovely little village, at once historical, dating from the 13th century, and thoroughly atmospheric with its Slavonian culture and traditional Slavonian architecture. There's a village hotel to cater to the summer influx of tourists, and hot springs to add to the allure.
3. Stari Grad
An archeological treasure trove, Stari Grad is one of the oldest towns in Europe, dating from the neolithic era, between 3500 and 2500 BC. It has ancient town walls, Roman villas, a wealth of prehistoric sites in the Stari Grad Plain, and a museum where you can see it all with little effort. The town also has a rich tradition of music, a scenic harbor, and a 16th-century stone castle-residence, Tvrdalj.
Location: Hvar Island, Dalmatia
Kumrovec is a small, authentic Croatian village on the Sotla River at the Croatian-Slovenian border, where you can visit the late Yugoslav strongman Marshall Tito's 19th-century birth house and also get a glimpse of Croatian peasant life at the Ethnological Museum Staro Selo, which has several restored village houses open to public tours.
Location: Krapina-Zagorje County
Popular resort town on the Adriatic Sea, with a colorful marina, great seafood, fabulous old buildings, and a well-preserved, lively historic town center where you can shop, gallery-hop and let you hair down at any of Rovinj's many nightclubs and disco bars. The town's main square, Valdibora, and its waterfront, Riva, are also buzzing with shopping and dining activity.
An enchanting, magical city on the Adriatic coast. It has a fabulous old town encircled by ancient walls and filled with medieval fortresses and picturesque old buildings winding around cobblestone streets and stepped lanes. There are museums, cathedrals, storied squares with fountains, triumphal city gates, regal palaces, and even a centuries-old Franciscan monastery. There are scores of quaint shops, boutiques, and sidewalk cafés and restaurants. The best time to visit Dubrovnik is in the summer when it hosts the 45-day Dubrovnik Summer Festival, the highlight of which is an unforgettable performance of Hamlet as well as other Shakespearean plays.
Location: Dubrovnik-Neretva County
Small, Adriatic town with a 14th-century castle – Fortress Kamerlengo – a 13th-century cathedral, and an historic harbor. Trogir's Romanesque-Gothic castle complex is actually one of the best-preserved medieval cores in all of Central Europe, with several old churches and palaces still there. And from the tourist perspective, it doesn't hurt that the town offers over 20,000 beds in both hotels and rental apartments.
Location: Split-Dalmatia County
An historic town on Croatia's Dalmatian Coast, _ibenik is a tourist hub with a cultural core and a famous 15th-century Gothic-cum-Renaissance cathedral that showcases interlocking stone-slab construction. That it has great seafood restaurants to boot only add to its appeal. The town sits at the mouth of the river Krka, practically at the entrance to the Krka National Park.
Location: Dalmatia, _ibenik–Knin County
Gro_njan is an absolutely charming town with all the medieval trappings, including crooked, directionless cobblestone streets. Artists have burrowed in and turned the small town into an artists' colony with scores of studios, workshops and galleries; while musicians from all across the world continue to gather here and liven up the summers with concerts and musical events.
Location: Istria County
Hum is a tiny town, tiny enough to hold the Guinness World Record for "the smallest town in the world." But despite its miniscule footprint, it's a lovely little spot of medieval charm, with its centuries-old architecture and fortifications still intact. A highlight here is a visit to the Parish Church of St. Jerome, which has "Hum Glagolitic wall writings" dating from the 12th century.
Location: Central Istria
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