By Iva Ralica
So many places to go and not enough time to do so! Nor money some would say. But while driving to the coast, or visiting Croatia in this colder time of year, there are places to see and exciting things to do in ‘hidden’ parts of Croatia.
Karlovac County is a large area partially in Gorski Kotar, made of fields, hills and beautiful forests, and the best time to visit it might just be in the winter season!
A city located between four rivers, Kupa, Korana, Mrežnica and Dobra, is certainly the best choice to have the first and only freshwater aquarium in Croatia and one of the biggest in this part of Europe. Aquatika has more than 100 fish sorts, is located underground and together with impressive glass walls makes a great experience number one on this list.
2. FLY OVER KARLOVAC FORTRESS
Karlovac was built in 16th century in the shape of a six-pointed star to defend the nearby area against the Turks. There are only two more cities in Europe to have this shape. Austrian Archduke Karl had established it and this is why its name is Karlovac (Karlstadt). You can fly over it with one small airline company and see the beautifully shaped city from the sky.
3. OLD TOWN DUBOVAC
This renaissance castle with Gothic elements is one of the most beautiful examples of middle ages architecture in Croatia. It is located above the Kupa river and can be traced back to 13th century. Its most famous owner was Frankopan family and after them Zrinski. Today it is a museum and lookout over the surrounding area. In May the experience is even better when the castle hosts the Medieval Nobility Fair.
4. BEER DAYS IN KARLOVAC
The most famous of the beer festivals is the celebration of Karlovac’ most important beverage, Karlovačko beer, brewed right here. It wouldn’t be exactly like Oktoberfest, but that could be its minor version. The party takes place late August or early September and lasts for 10 days.
5. HIKING AND HORSE RIDING AROUND PETROVA GORA
One of the most beautiful forested parts of Croatia Where you can enjoy the nature, hike and have a unique horse riding experience, see the old Roman roads and fortress and the assumed place where the last Croatian King Petar Svačić had died.
A short drive from Karlovac town is the medieval town of Ozalj, settled above the river Kupa, dating back to 13th century. It’s most famous owners were Frankopan and Zrinski (again). Today it is a museum that guards the exhibit dedicated to & ‘Ozalj culture’ and it’s literature. The surrounding scenery makes it a beautiful and picturesque place to visit!
7. NOVIGRAD CASTLE
A beautiful castle built in the 12th century and owned by the Frankopan family (again) in the 15th century. It was one of the main places for the Zrinski – Frankopan conspiracy against the Habsburg monarchy in the 18th century. It is settled near the river Dobra and the historical Karolina road in a gorgeous valley.
8. QUAD, RAFTING AND PAINTBALL EXPERIENCE
Around these parts, you can drive a quad and have a full and real (muddy) off road experience! All around Karlovac and all the way to the Gorski Kotar (and surrounding counties), you can enjoy rafting and kayaking on the river Dobra as the most exciting rafting part in Croatia, considering you have to pass the waterfall named Buk. Of course, the other three rivers are as equally exciting but are not suitable for rafting in its whole course. Here you can find some of the best territories for the ‘war’ game of paintball as well as (the other) sports. Those can be found around Korana and Slunjčica rivers, Mrežnica and Kupa
A bit further to travel, but still in a (bigger) range, is a village named Rastoke, settled above Slunjčica and Korana river. It has some of the most beautiful waterfalls and is actually announce the nearby Plitvice lakes. But in Rastoke you can see not only the beauty of nature but also small houses with mills, on the very edges of the waterfalls.
10. BARAĆ CAVES
Since the journey went South away from Karlovac, the next close stop to Rastoke are the caves, located east of Rakovica. Three of them and streams Kršlja and Suvaja create a beautiful nature’s gem.