Places to visit and things to do
The UNESCO World Heritage Lonjsko Polje National Park is the largest protected wetland area in Croatia. Famed for its diversity of flora and fauna, it’s home to magical emerald forests, ancient villages and Medieval castles; where wild horses roam and migrating white storks nest in the old wooden houses of Čigoć.
The stunning natural landscape is also home to our villa and apartment complex, Croatian Haven. If you are looking for a holiday destination where you can recharge mind, body and soul, look no further.
Perhaps you want to delve into the culture of Croatia? Take advantage of the beautiful natural playground to hike, cycle, kayak or climb? Or just want to enjoy sunny days driving through Croatian backwaters, stopping at a village for a lazy lunch?
If you are researching where to head for your post-coronavirus holiday, then Zagreb should be high on your list. It was recently listed by Forbes Magazine in the Top 20 Safest European Destinations!
Whatever you love to do, there are so many amazing things to see and do during your stay with us, here are some of our favourites…
CROATIAN CULTURE: Zagreb City
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is an easy 45-minute drive or train journey away. Which makes our accommodation ideal if you want to combine a City + Nature break, or if you are travelling on business to Zagreb.
The city is a melting point for art, history, culture, uber-cool style and music. Small enough to get lost wandering through the city’s cobblestoned streets, Zagreb has to be a European capital on every culture lovers bucket list.
There is an eclectic fusion of architectural styles through the city. Split into upper and lower sections, you’ll see everything from traditional red-roof colourful homes, church spires and domes; art deco and neo-baroque buildings, and the less romantic, modern grey concrete zones, which have been wonderfully brought to life with street art. In fact, Zagreb is alive with street art. When you start to look closely, you’ll find it in the most unusual places!
The best place to start your tour is in the old town and it’s where you’ll find the majority of the city’s historic attractions. Of course, Zagreb is packed full of cultural attractions - too many to mention here, look out for our Zagreb article. Whatever rocks your boat in a city visit, you’ll find it in here.
We love the Museum of Broken Relationships, which is a collection of mementoes people have kept as reminders of a bad relationship. The stories behind the pieces are a mix of sadness and laughter.
Finally, if you are looking for a winter destination, why not come and stay with us during December when you can visit the amazing Zagreb Christmas Market? Three times winner of the Best European Christmas Market. If you love all things Christmas, you need to experience the Zagreb Christmas Market!
The Lonjsko Polje National Park is teeming with wildlife and a birder’s paradise. It’s not surprising as the diversity of the region is incredible, with forests, lakes, rivers, marshlands, and pastures. So rich in its diversity, it’s even been compared to Amazon and African wetlands. Here a myriad of wildlife species moves uninhibited through the pastures and meadowland, including beautiful wild Possavina horses, Turopolje pigs and Podolac cattle.
Probably the most famous of all the region’s wildlife locations is Čigoč, known as the European White Stork Village. This small traditional village, located on the banks of the Sava River, attracts migrating storks, who come to find food for their young ones from the surrounding pastures, meadows and ponds. They make their nests in the rooftops of the Posavina-style traditional wood homes.
Birders can observe over 243 species in the Lonjsko Polje National Park, such as Heron, White and Black Storks, the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Kingfishers and Sea Eagles. There is a bird observation tower a short hike from the Park Information Centre, The park guides will take you to the centre and share their insider’s ornithology tips.
Fishing is allowed but only in designated spots, and as the whole of the Lonjsko Polje National Park is a protected wetland it is essential that you check first before partaking in activities that may disturb the wildlife.
Croatian Gastronomy & Wine
The gastronomy of Croatia is one of the most diverse in Europe. Known as the “Cuisine of the Regions”, its mainland roots are a fusion of early Proto-Slavic cuisine and more modern Hungarian, Turkish and Viennese gastronomy. It can be best characterised as rich, rustic and lightly spiced.
If you are a foodie who loves nothing more than discovering your next favourite plate of food, you absolutely have to make Croatia your next gastronomical stop off. Did you see Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’ Croatia episode? Watch and get inspired for your trip!
Typical dishes of the Zagreb region include meat and vegetable stew (Cuspajz), sweet potato dumplings (Knedli) and a delicious dough filled with cottage cheese and sour cream (Štrukli).
Zagreb is also renowned for its wineries. Vineyards pepper the region’s countryside attracting wine connoisseurs from all over the world. Split into three distinct wine denominations: Samobor, Plesivica, and the closest to our accommodation, Sveti Ivan Zelina.
An easy 45-minute drive will bring you to this picturesque town close to the banks of the Lonja River. Although most of the wines of Croatia are red, Sveti Ivan Zelina produces a white wine with low alcohol content. The wine is produced using various grape varieties: graševina, chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, yellow muscat, riesling, pinot blanc, pinot gris and the highlight, the Kraljevina grape.
If you prefer beer to wine, you’ll love the craft beer movement in Zagreb city. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest places to buy craft beer in Europe, all of which are brewed locally in the region.
Finally, when you visit the city of Zagreb, make sure to take your reusable shopping bag (we left you some in the accommodation) and head to the Dolac Market for the best local produce. The open farmer’s market is characterised by the bright red umbrellas that give shade to every stall. Here you can buy everything you need to cook a traditional Croatian meal when you get home. It brings people from all over Croatia and is iconic in the gastronomy of Croatia.
See & Do
Croatian Day Trips
If you want to head further away and spend a whole day or a night away from Croatian Haven, exploring the rest of Croatia, here are a selection of our favourite day trips, which you can reach by car or train. Don’t forget Croatia’s motorway system is a joy to use and the scenery unsurpassable, so don’t be put off by a two to three-hour trip to visit some of Croatia’s iconic destinations.
Plitvica Lakes National Park: A two-hour drive, but worth it. The forest reserve has a chain of 16 turquoise lakes, which are interlaced by waterfalls and extend to a limestone canyon. Hiking trails wind around the lakes and the scenery is to-die-for.
Samobor: One of the region’s wine destinations, the pretty town of Samobor is also a great day trip in its own right. Visit the wineries, stroll around the colourful and quaint old town that sits on a lazy river, and don’t leave without trying a slice of samoborska kremsnita - a traditional Croatian custard cake; Samobor is supposed to make the most delicious version.
Pop to the coast: Well perhaps a two-hour journey couldn’t be construed as ‘popping’ to the coast, but the coastal city of Rijeka is where you can catch the island-hopping ferries. And if you want to visit a beach, head to the town of Zadar (3 hours), which has a fantastic history and beautiful beaches to match!
Catez Water Park: This is a great one for the whole family. If you get bored with rivers and lakes, the Catez Water Park is the best artificial water fun in just over an hour’s drive from Croatian Haven. The water adventure park has indoor and outdoor attractions, perfect whatever time of the year you are visiting. Packed with slides, lazy rivers, Kamikaze toboggans and heaps more, you probably won’t see the kids all day if you treat them to a day out at this crazy aquapark!