Karlovac, situated at the confluence of four majestic Croatian rivers – the Kupa, Korana, Dobra, and Mrežnica – is a hidden gem waiting to be uncovered. This green haven, established in the sixteenth century, exudes history and allure. Although the city might not be well-known among the typical tourist, it is this tranquillity and authenticity that many find appealing. Here, you won’t find the luxury Croatian all-inclusive resorts, but more humble (and affordable) guesthouses. Additionally, if you’re a fan of the famous Croatian beer, Karlovačko, you’re in its birthplace. Let’s explore what this atmospheric city offers! Also, check out the real estate offerings in Karlovac.
The heart of Karlovac is its historical center. Though not sprawling, it emanates a unique charm with photogenic squares, remnants of ancient forts, and streets filled with pastel-colored buildings. Strolling here lets you immerse yourself in the city’s rich history. On a hot day with temperatures above 86°F, the numerous fountains and ice cream stands provide welcome relief. Don’t forget to sample a cold Karlovačko beer – although now owned by Heineken, its roots are deeply embedded in this town.
On the outskirts of Karlovac stands Dubovac Castle, a beautiful 13th-century structure overlooking the city. While recent restorations have given the castle a modern touch, you can still feel the bygone eras as you wander its rooms. For just a few euros, the castle allows you to climb its tower, rewarding you with a breathtaking view of the surrounding Karlovac hills. The best time? Around sunset when the sky is painted with magical colors. After your visit, enjoy a meal at the excellent restaurant within the castle.
Karlovac isn’t just a city of history but also of nature. The Korana, with its calm and crystal-clear waters, beckons for a refreshing swim. On summer days, it’s a perfect spot for families with kids. There’s a free playground and ample spaces to enjoy the sun (including shaded spots under trees). Floating water toys are also available for use in the river.
Tucked deep beneath Karlovac’s soil lies the unique “Aquatika” aquarium. This subterranean marvel showcases the amazing world of freshwater fish, some of which you might rarely see in their natural habitats elsewhere. It’s an educational journey with multilingual information boards in both Croatian and English, detailing the aquatic ecosystems of Croatian lakes and rivers. While the aquarium might be modest in size, it’s rich in content, and a visit could easily range between 30 to 60 minutes. After your underwater exploration, savor a meal at the aquarium’s in-house restaurant. Ample parking available.
Ogulin is often dubbed Croatia’s “city of fairy tales,” and for good reason. Its surrounding landscape is so enchanting that it has inspired numerous myths and legends. For instance, the outlines of Mount Klek suggest a sleeping giant’s silhouette. Furthermore, Ogulin is the birthplace of the renowned fairy tale author Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. Her stories are vividly portrayed in Ivana’s House of Fairy Tales, making Ogulin a captivating destination, especially for families traveling through Croatia.
You might have heard of Plitvice, but have you known Rastoke? Often described as Plitvice’s “little brother,” Rastoke presents a different facet of natural beauty. While it’s true both places boast stunning waterfalls, Rastoke also offers a glimpse into the past with its historic mills and charming homes. Moreover, local eateries here provide a gastronomic experience, and the ambiance is usually calmer and less touristy than the popular national park. Without a doubt, Rastoke is one of the Balkan’s hidden jewels.