Often called “Little Vienna” among the Croatians, Varaždin is a lovely city located in the North of the country on the southern bank of the river Drava. Its streets are saturated with breath-taking baroque buildings, full of kind and outgoing locals and rich parks at every corner.
Varaždin has been the nine-times winner of the award presented by the National Tourism Board and it is a popular destination not only during the summer time thanks to the famous street festival Špancirfest, but in autumn as well because it is when Varaždin Baroque Evenings take place to celebrate music, architectural inheritance and authentic local instruments.
What to visit
The first thing that will surely pop into your eyesight once you find yourself in the city of Varaždin is its gorgeous Castle, situated at the very center of the city. Other than admiring its beauty from the outside, you can enjoy the permanent exhibition inside the castle that includes numerous paintings, photographs, ceramics, books, historic documents, sculptures, furniture and much more.
It won’t take you long to figure out that the beautiful building of the Castle is just a tiny piece of Varaždin’s rich architectural heritage. The city is full of breath-taking Baroque palaces, some of them being Town Hall, Draskobiv Palace, Jankovic Palace, Palace of Varaždin County, Pauline Mansion etc. While you lose yourself in the fairy-tale atmosphere of Varaždin’s streets and squares, it may be easy to forget to dig a bit deeper and explore some of its hidden treasures of this city as are its secret courtyards or the famous Varaždin Cemetery that is more of a monument of garden architecture than a classical grey cemetery.
If you are into museums, don’t miss out on visiting Varaždin’s Town Museum. To find out more about culture and history, visit the Old Town Fortress, lovers of old paintings will adore the Gallery of Old Masters and those rather interested in biology or animals will appreciate the Herzer Palace that hosts a permanent entomological exhibition “The World of Insects”.
Sports and Recreation
The city of Varaždin has a complex of pools ideal for both recreational and professional swimming and a large number of various sports centers and clubs, soccer fields, fitness studios and drop-in classes. Don’t forget, however, that the locals go everywhere on their bikes and you can try out this trend as well while you’re there and get your fitness on the go!
The are lots of cute and affordable souvenirs to buy in Varaždin and they are mostly being made by the local artisans, so keep your eyes wide open when passing by the small stands around the city as you may find some true jewels of local crafts.
Traditional Varaždin’s cuisine was under the strong influence of Hungary and Austria through the history, but it has been modified and enriched later on. The “must try” local specialties are mlinci, klipič, zlevanka, štrukli, poultry dishes with vegetables and homemade puff pastry cakes.
There are many organized trips around the Varaždin area and the surroundings that will expose you not only to its stunning nature but to its cultural and historical heritage as well. You can take the Path of Castle and Museum (Varaždin-Ivanec-Lepoglava-Trakoscan), Green route (Varaždin-Zelendvor-Vinica-Klenovnik), Varazdin Hills or Medimurje trip.
If you prefer going around on your own, without a guide or a group, we recommend you to rent a bike, take a map with bike routes and start your own little adventure in the North of Croatia!
Other than regular bars and clubs open all year round, Varaždin is known for its rich offer of events like Spancirfest, Summer in Varazždin, Folkofonija, Trash Film Festival, Varaždin Baroque Evenings, Advent in Varaždin and many more.