Istria is probably the most developed tourist region in Croatia with towns such as Rovinj and Poreč that attract a serious number of tourists. Besides the beautiful coastline the peninsula of Istria boasts excellent cuisine and medieval hilltop towns much like the region of Tuscany in Italy. However, there are still many off the beaten track places in Istria and in Croatia in general that you can visit.
There is a significant number of fortresses in different stages of disrepair and ruin around Croatia that can be visited for free. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit one of such forgotten and abandoned fortresses. But there are many well-preserved castles and fortresses too that attract tourists.
Since my husband and I both love medieval festivals we recently visited a small medieval festival at Dvigrad Ruins in Istria (only 25mins from Rovinj inland). I found out about it by coincidence, an ad popped on my Facebook news feed. So, we took our 20 months old boy to see some medieval knights. It was a hot Saturday afternoon which might explain the lack of visitors (admission was free, the ruins can be visited any time for free too). I think there were more performers than visitors at this festival. Firstly, we walked all over the Dvigrad Ruins. Dvigrad was a prosperous town with a fortress and a church until the plague and the malaria depopulated it in the 16th century. The last surviving families moved out at the beginning of the 18th century and since then this town has been abandoned.
Dubrovnik or now widely known as the King’s Landing from the Game of Thrones TV series is a spectacular, walled, old town on the southern Adriatic Coast of Croatia. Dubrovnik was a powerful independent merchant Republic in the history and fought against the Ottoman Empire and the Venetian Republic. Everyone should visit Dubrovnik! However, much as Venice or Barcelona, it has become too popular among tourists so my advice is to visit Dubrovnik off-season, in spring or fall or even in the dead of winter. There’s so much culture and history in this gorgeous city but there are also beaches and fine restaurants. So, if you haven’t already visited Dubrovnik let this post convince you to experience Dubrovnik.
10 Photos to inspire You to visit Dubrovnik
Dubovac Castle, Karlovac, Croatia
It’s been a while since my last Discover Croatia post and it’s also been a long time since our last day trip as a family. But it’s completely different to travel with an active toddler than a baby. Needless to say, I found it easier to travel with a baby and now regret not travelling more with my son when he was younger. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t travel with him anymore. At the moment with him running in all directions and me being pregnant again the most simplest of walks can be difficult. Nevertheless, this day trip was great and our boy was on his best behaviour and really enjoyed exploring Dubovac Castle.
So, let’s write about Dubovac Castle. This castle is situated on a hill overlooking the town of Karlovac which is halfway between the capital of Croatia Zagreb and its biggest seaport Rijeka. Dubovac Castle is a Renaissance castle with Gothic elements whose oldest parts date back to the 13th century. The name of the castle originates from the word for an oak tree in Croatian language since it was surrounded by a large oak trees forest. There’s still a lot of greenery around the castle but not a proper forest.
Veliki Tabor Castle
Once upon a time…..that’s how all fairy-tales begin, don’t they? Croatia is full of fairy-tale castles and legends. You just need to go further inland to discover more of Croatia, not just its stunning coastline.
Veliki Tabor Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Croatia. It’s been on my to-visit list for a while. When I discussed visiting it with my husband the original idea was to spend a weekend in Zagorje region of Croatia and to visit both the castle and the baroque town Varaždin as well as several other worthy tourist attractions in the area. But we had to let go of that idea this time and we settled on a day trip to Veliki Tabor Castle with our baby boy.
This is Church of St.Donatus and the belltower of Zadar cathedral in Zadar, Croatia
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My baby boy V. is 9 months old. Whaaaat? Yes, I can’t believe it too. The pregnancy seemed to drag on forever but these past 9 months have gone by so fast. A blink of an eye and he has changed from a sleepy newborn to active and strong baby. This made me think of my babymoon last August. I didn’t travel internationally during my pregnancy apart from a day trip to Italy with my best friend. Instead my husband and I made lots of day trips locally and we also took several weekend trips.
I really wanted to go away somewhere by the end of my pregnancy so after some serious thinking and some luck I found a great deal for a lovely apartment in Gorski kotar region of Croatia. Now, Gorski kotar is fondly nicknamed little Switzerland because it’s an area full of forests and mountains and it’s rich in wildlife. Gorski kotar is totally off the beaten path destination in Croatia unlike its coast.