It is written in Varaždin’s biography that once it was the capital, and through the whole of history it was known as one of the centres of Croatia’s cultural life. Until today the preserved urban centre guards the legacy of central European baroque, and it is not rare to hear it being called “Little Vienna”. One of the symbols of the town are the Varaždin guards, the so-called purgari, who in their beautiful blue grenadiers’ uniforms, attend the more important ceremonies next to the town hall. Wander through the centre of the town, and afterwards visit the Stari Grad, the fortified castle from the 12th century, surrounded by greenery. Don’t miss one of the most beautiful graveyards in the world, the Varaždin cemetery which is protected as a horticultural monument.
In honour of the baroque and its splendour, every September and October the town is host to the Varaždin Baroque Evenings, one of the most important musical events in Croatia. The clock of time returns to the period when in splendid Varaždin palaces, could be heard indescribable musical creation and graceful dances and cultural entertainment could be experienced as well. In September, the Špancirfest street festival is held, which also celebrates the baroque, and is interesting because of its exhibitors’ area, where different old crafts and handmade items can be seen, and a large number of delicacies of the local cuisine can be tasted.
The surroundings of Varaždin holds a handful of interesting spots for outings, such as those mountaineering ones, which are offered in Ivanščica and Ravna Gora, bathing ones which are offered by the Varaždin Spa and the Varaždin lake, with the bathing facility Aquacity, or those cultural-historical ones such as medieval castles. Probably the most beautiful, and most preserved is the Trakošćan castle from the 14th century, surrounded by a lake and a wood. The castle has an excellently preserved interior and you can see the day and night chambers, furnished with drapes and decorated with portraits of the aristocrats that lived there. The 16th century Maruševec castle is also open to the public, but unfortunately you won’t be able to see the interior of the 18th century castle in Ludbreg, in which the Croatian Restoration Association is located, or the castle Opeka in Vinica, also from the 18th century. This castle is known for its beautiful well-kept gardens, formed during the 19th century, which are specific for the exotic types of plants from all parts of the northern hemisphere, because of which it is protected as a monument of garden architecture of the highest category. Wine enthusiasts can make their way along the Topličke and Jalžabetske wine routes. Of course, where there is wine, there is good food – in the whole region there are a large number of village farms, which offer local specialities and as this is a hunting region, on the menus you can often find venison.