From the smallest town in the world to an artist’s square by a beautiful natural harbor: fifteen of the most beautiful lesser known towns and villages in Croatia.
Vukovar is located where the mighty rivers Danube and Vuka meet. At the same time, it is a symbol of Croatian independence. In the autumn of 1991, the beautiful city was destroyed after a resistance that lasted for several months. Vukovar owes its reputation as a city of heroes to this. Much of the city was rebuilt, but traces of the war can still be seen everywhere, even in the water tower.
The Vučedol dove, the baroque city center, the famous water tower, the Eltz castle … Vukovar, located on the plains of Slavonia and the Syrmian, never loses its splendor and charm, regardless of the season.
Next to a narrow and winding fjord is Vrboska, the smallest town on the island of Hvar. Although it is the smallest town, Vrboska is the island’s treasure. Founded in the fifteenth century, it is often referred to as ‘Little Venice’ because of its many small bridges. Narrow, winding streets, pine forests, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque stone buildings and a small island in the center of the city are reminiscent of an old romantic postcard.
Stari Grad on the island of Hvar is the oldest town in Croatia. Some historians even claim that it is the oldest city in all of Europe. Coincidentally, Stari Grad means old town in Croatian. The Old Town was born in the same year as Aristotle, but is still very vital and charming, combining the mysterious vibes of antiquity with an authentic Mediterranean spirit.
The ancient Greek city center is full of interesting hidden places: from restaurants serving local cuisine to galleries, souvenir shops and delicacies with organic local produce. Srinjo kola (Middle Street) is a bit like Monmartre in Stari Grad. Walking through this central street, you come to one of the two impressive squares. One is in front of the parish church of St. Steven, and the other is called Škor. In the summer, both squares are transformed into stages where numerous cultural events and concerts take place. Do not be surprised to hear a capela sounds echoing from every corner of the city. It is the traditional slapa song for which Stari Grad is famous. Enjoy outdoor concerts featuring traditional slap singers and Dalmatian dances as you visit this summer’s cultural program in Stari Grad.
The town of Hvar on the island of the same name is a unique blend of Mediterranean nature and a rich and diverse cultural and historical heritage. The island of Hvar is the longest and sunniest Croatian island. It is covered with pine trees and has a pleasant climate even for viticulture. Numerous picturesque beaches, crystal clear sea, lots of sunshine, a rich cultural and historical heritage and the scent of lavender, olives and wine are just a few reasons why the island of Hvar is known far and wide.
Due to its geographical location, Trogir has always been a perfect place to stay. With its naturally protected harbor, many drinking water sources, fertile soil in the hinterland and rocks from local quarries, Trogir has been inhabited for over 3,600 years. This inspiring Mediterranean city has attracted many great artists since the time of the ancient Greeks. These masters lived in Trogir and made some of their most famous masterpieces there. For centuries, Trogir has become a beautiful treasury with many historical and cultural monuments. UNESCO placed it on the list of protected World Heritage Sites in 1997.
Trogir’s cobbled streets have preserved numerous traces of local and foreign masters: skillfully carved into the city’s stone facades, seemingly insignificant depressions, dents, streaks, crescents, flowers, leaves and twigs, axes, drawings and sunflowers. Trogir is the city with the largest number of such stone signs in Europe. Each character has its own meaning. The masters also carved stone games to play during the construction break.
Šibenik is an unusually beautiful place. It is located in a breathtaking location on a natural harbor with 130 uninhabited islands off the coast that protrude like bubbles over the blue water and together form the Kornati archipelago. The exhibit in the city is the impressive Renaissance cathedral from 1434. You will also find a surprise around every corner of the historic center: an old church, a cozy square….
15 kilometers from Sibenik is Skradin, a romantic Mediterranean town with cobbled streets, arches and stairs. The town is located at the entrance to Krka National Park in a protected natural bay. The history of the city goes back two centuries. Because of its beauty, Skradin acted as a magnet for all kinds of conquerors. Sometimes this had catastrophic consequences, but as a result there are also traces of all kinds of cultures: Liburnians, Romans, Goths, Venetians and Turks.
Omis is a thousand year old city that was once ruled by pirates. The town is beautifully situated at the mouth of the Cetina river and surrounded by high cliffs. You will find fortresses with sensational views, old churches and a hinterland with family businesses making local produce. You will also find the largest sandy beach in Dalmatia here. Just ten minutes from the city center you can enjoy yourself in an active way, because the mountains here touch the sea: rafting, canyoning, ziplining and free climbing. That is why the city is nicknamed the ‘Adventure Capital of Croatia’.
Grožnjan is located on a romantic hill surrounded by the green Istrian landscape. When a music academy settled here in the 1960s, a whole string of musicians and artists quickly followed in the wake, so the town grew into a real artist village. The city has about 20 art studios and galleries. In the summer, the city is transformed into one big stage, and the music resounds through the streets – from jazz to classical.
Hum has only twelve houses and about thirty inhabitants and yet it is a town, the smallest in the world. You quickly get tired of it, but it is a sweet place in the middle of beautiful nature. The mini-city is located in Istria in northwestern Croatia and consists of only 2 streets, three city blocks and a beautiful baroque church. Next to the church is a 22 meter high defense tower, built in 1522. You can easily combine a visit to Hum with a drive to Grozhnan, Motovun and Buje.
Labin is located on a hill near the coast that rises above the surrounding area. The city consists of two parts: a beautiful charming part at the top of the hill with a labyrinth of medieval streets and a lower, less attractive part created in connection with the mining industry. Five kilometers from Labin is the fishing town of Rabac with some beautiful pebble beaches.
Rastoke is a village adjacent to the town of Slunj and is known for its waterfalls and the many historic watermills on the river Slunjcica, the oldest of which dates back to the 17th century.e century was built. It is therefore sometimes called ‘the small lakes of Plitvice’. Rastoke is also known for weaving with flax and hemp. During the Yugoslav Civil War between 1991 and 1995, great damage was done to the traditional houses in the village. But everything is rebuilt so well that the traces of the war are barely visible.
Cigoc is a very small village with just over a hundred inhabitants, southeast of Zagreb. It is known for its traditional wooden houses and storks. There are about as many storks as humans, and it bears the official title ‘The European Stork Village’. Every last Saturday in June, the presence of the big birds is celebrated with the festival ‘Storkenes Dag’ with all kinds of cultural and gastronomic events. The storks arrive in mid-March and stay until the end of summer, when they migrate to Africa to spend the winter. Couples who live together all their lives often use the same nest for years. The special thing about Cigoc is that the nests are not built on the chimneys, but on the roofs themselves, writes Croatia Undiscovered. Previously, the tax amount was determined by the number of chimneys and windows, and therefore the houses in Cigoc have virtually no chimneys.
Motovun is a picturesque medieval town on top of a 270 m high hill across the valley of the river Mirna in Istria. Like Groznjan, Motovun is also located in the green part of Istria, and the influence of Italian culture is clearly visible and tangible. Motovun is rich in natural and cultural attractions and prides itself on its excellent wineries and traditional gastronomy, which is largely based on truffles sourced from the oak forest at the foot of the hill on which Motovun lies.
Pucisca on the island of Brac is one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe. The ancient city is located on a beautiful deep bay and the buildings are made of white sandstone from the area. The richer people used to want houses on the water, and this is where the large, spacious homes can be found. Behind it, built against the hill, there are smaller, historic houses. The city is rich in stone monuments. Some are centuries old, others were made recently by students from the only stonemason school in Croatia.
Vrbnik is located on an impressive cliff on the island of Krk. It seems as if the city forms a connection between the blue sea it rises over and the equally blue sky over Vrbnik. The city is built in harmony with nature and is surrounded by several beautiful beaches. Vrbnik is known for its Glagolitic inscriptions. This is the oldest Croatian writing whose history dates back to the ninth century. A large part of this Glagolitic heritage can be seen in the Knezev Dvor Museum. Vrbnik is also known for the local wines made from the native Vrbnicka Zlahtina grapes.
Kumrovec is located just north of Zagreb and is best known as the birthplace of Josip Broz Tito, the president of the former Yugoslavia between 1953 and 1980. You can also see the house where he was born and raised. In Kumrovec you make a kind of journey back in time, to a 19ecentury Croatian village. Just north of Kumrovec are the remains of a political boarding school that opened in 1981 by order of Tito. It was built in modernist style on the slopes of a hill.
Much more information about Croatia can be found on the website of the Croatian Tourist Office.