Croatia is a well-known tourist destination, especially when it comes to the sea and beaches, coastal cities and numerous cultural events which take place during the summer, but believe it or not, that is just 10% of what Croatia can offer to the tourists. Undiscovered rural parts of Croatia have inspired me to write this article, simply because of the fact that 90% is inland rural areas.
Can you imagine how much is there to explore? Inland areas offer National and Nature Parks, bike and hike trails, vine routes and spas, traditional rural houses. There is a wide range of local customs and traditional rural lifestyle in villages. I will share with you unexplored and undiscovered inland secret jams that continue to inspire me.
Discover 10 Places Only Locals Know About In Croatia:
1. Nikola Tesla Memorial Center
For those interested in the achievements that Nikola Tesla achieved nearly 120 years ago I recommend them to visit Nikola Tesla’s Memorial Center which is situated in the small city Smiljan (his birthplace) near Gospić city in Croatia. Unfortunately, Nikola Tesla Memorial Center is nowadays mostly visited and used as a great educational center for Croatian students but not enough used for tourism purpose.
In the museum, you can watch a multimedia exhibition, presentations and a documentary film about Nikola Tesla every 30 minutes. If you would like to visit the Nikola Tesla Memorial Center as a family trip with your kids, there is a futuristic looking children’s playground which your kids will love for sure.
2. Excursion site ADA – Vukovarska Ada
Most travelers imagine Croatia as a Mediterranean country with a beautiful coast, sea, and amazing sandy beaches. But what if I told you that you can see, relax and experience exactly the same on our rivers to be precise in the Island of Vukovar city. Sandy island on the Danube river is a favorite local beach and it is only 5 minutes away by boat from the center of Vukovar city. The island has an area of about 1,000 hectares, depending on the level of the river.
An interesting fact is that the Vukovar fishermen get together and edit the beautiful sandy beach where locals now enjoy. In the gazebo under the shade of the trees are offered refreshments, and on the grounds, you can play beach volleyball. So for those who want to experience and who imagine their summer vacation differently, I suggest you to experience it on the Danube river in Vukovar city.
3. Lake Sakadaš in Kopačkirit
This lake is a natural beauty. It consists of two parts, Small Sakadaš, and Big Sakadaš. A really long bridge like wooden structure leads through Small Sakadaš, it is really beautiful and while walking, you get to see the fishes, birds and different insects that live in those parts. Big Sakadaš is a lake where young people go sometimes for a swim. It isn’t really allowed but sometimes when it’s really hot, they break the rules and they jump into the cool water to refresh themselves. It’s forbidden to fish in the lake. Only one person in the whole country has a fishing license for fishing in this lake, and only because his fishing techniques are traditional.
4. Devils Gate
Even though the name of this amazing natural attraction sounds scary I recommend it to all nature and adventure enthusiasts. Get going and explore it. The area of Vrajži prolaz (the name in Croatian means “devil’s gate”) and Zeleni Vir (“green vortex“) have a spectacular breathtaking landscape characterized by a great force of water, magnificent rocks and lush vegetation.
Vrajži prolaz is an impressive canyon, very narrow, carved by water into steep carbonate rocks. Water makes interesting panoramas, small swirly “pots” and waterfalls. The Vražji prolaz walking trail leads from the restaurant, along the canyon, slightly uphill. It is partly carved into the rocks, and partly built as bridge constructions over the creek. Along the path, there are educational panels set, on which you can read basic information about its rich vegetation.
5. Veliko Trojstvo – Etno Park Great Trinity
Ethno Park Great Trinity is a Croatian cultural heritage which is preserved in a way to represent the Croatian history of rural architecture even though it is known only to locals, it is worth visiting. It represents the set of ethno-collection which consists of the special cultural value of Bilogora region. Ethno-park in the center of the Great Trinity is a unique complex where Josip Broz Tito lived and worked way before. Behind the museum is located an ethno-garden which in the traditional way shows the rural way of life and architecture.
6. Jesuit Castle in Kutjevo
For those interested in awarded Croatian wines and amazing gastronomy this is a must visit site. Kutjevo is remembered and recognized for the famous Kutjevo wines, whose tradition goes back to the Middle Ages and even Roman times. Today Kutjevo is a small settlement. In the eighteenth century, the Jesuits fought to have it proclaimed a town but it never managed to gain a status more than that of a market place.
Medieval documents usually call it Gotho, more rarely Kothoa. During its history, the name of the village and the monastery were written in many different ways: Gotto, Coto, Kotho, Kothoa, Cuttieva, Cuttijeva, Kutoa, Kuteva, Kutjeva, Kutiva, Kutjevo. The entire complex was built by Jesuit order between 1704 and 1735.
7. Stone Gate, or as the locals call it “Kamenitavrata” in Zagreb
This gate was built in 1266 and is the only one which wasn’t knocked down in the 19th century. It once served as the main entrance into the city and in the 17th century, during the black plague this gate was the only one which remained unlocked. It also serves as a shrine to St. Mary, people bring candles there, light them and pray for their loved ones. If their prayers are fulfilled, people write it down on a metal plate and they put it on the wall there.
It was also mentioned in a famous Croatian novel from August Šenoa, Goldsmith’s treasure.
8. Stara Kapela
There are no words to describe this charming village which consists of 12 houses where only 21 inhabitant lives. Locals can be really proud of their village because it became the first ethno-village in Brod-Posavina county. From a small half devastated village without tomorrow they managed to bring it back to life and proudly created a tourist destination. They want to show their rural way of life, their heritage, gastronomy and preserve it for the future generations as far as it brings benefit to the present society.
Coming to village Stara Kapela you will be able to experience not only the traditional way of rural life but also enjoy nature while cycling, fishing, and horse riding.
9. Papuk Geopark
Nature park Papuk was declared as first UNESCO Geopark. Indeed those who visit it describe Papuk Geopark as the most beautiful mountain in the Eastern part of Croatia (in Slavonia) rarely seen elsewhere in the world. Protected Nature Park consists of extraordinary geological and biological diversity and valuable cultural heritage. Geopark is a great opportunity to introduce visitors to sites that tell the 600 million-year story of the planet Earth.
Nature and adventure enthusiasts will love the fact that in Geopark Papuk there are numerous hiking trails, free-climbing, and paragliding possibilities. There are also 104 kilometers of marked bicycle trails and three educational paths where the visitor can learn about the natural and cultural heritage of the area.
10. Castle Tikveš in Baranja
Built in the style of Romantic Historicism, it is one of the prettiest places in Baranja and also a nice place for a long walk. It is in the heart of nature and it’s full of wildlife. Throughout history, it served as a hunting center for families like the Teschens, Habsburgs, the members of the Karađorđević dynasty, and also Josip Broz Tito, the Marshal of late Yugoslavia. Today the European Centre for Environment is located here and some call it the Oasis of Peace. Also, it is said that it’s the most beautiful during the spring months. It’s really close to Kopačkirit Nature Park, so if you’re nearby, make sure to visit both of these locations!
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