Everything You Need to Know about the Five Croatia Regions

When discussing about Croatia regions, the most visitors will point out only those along the Adriatic coast like Istria peninsula, Kvarner and its islands and of course Dalmatian coast from Zadar all the way to Dubrovnik, including the most admired islands, like Brac, Hvar, Korcula or Vis.

But there are regions in Croatia which are unfairly ignored or maybe are not so known to the most visitors mainly because they make part of Croatia’s interior and during the high season all visitors are rushing towards the hot and sunny coast.

To attract your attention to some neglected regions I’ve decided to get you informed about these regions less known to the most tourists but not less interesting, like Hrvatsko (Croatian) Zagorje and Slavonia region.

Croatia is divided in 21 municipalities (zupanije in Croatian). On the map of Croatia you can clearly see all districts and regions.

There is also another regional division of Croatia into several smaller regional units based on relief characteristics of the country. I personally prefer this division that divides Croatia in five sections.

  • Central Croatia (Zagorje, Međimurje, Pokuplje and Banovina) – hilly region with the country’s capital, Zagreb.
  • Eastern Croatia (Slavonia and Baranja) – lowland part of the country
  • North Croatian Coast (Istria and Kvarner Islands) or Northern littoral area.
  • Croatia Highland (Gorski Kotar and Lika) – country’s mountainous area.
  • South Croatia (Northern, Central and Southern Dalmatia) – or Southern littoral area with Split capital.

Hrvatsko (Croatian) Zagorje is a green hilly region spreading from Medvednica mountain above Zagreb to the north all the way to Varazdin. This is a region of many villages, small towns, picturesque hills, vineyards as well as numerous cultural and historical monuments. Once this was the center of peasant uprisings against feudal landlords.

In the vicinity is Marija Bistrica where since the Middle Ages pilgrims come to worship the miraculous image of Mary with child. Here is also a health spa Stubicke Toplice, one of the most important resorts nearby Zagreb.

This region is the home of Croatian naive art concentrated near the city of Koprivnica, the central town of the Croatian county Podravina, spread along the Drava river (it runs along the border between Croatia and Hungary).

This region is also known for the plenty of thermal spas. Driving from Zagreb to Krapina town, the most known is Krapinske Toplice (thermal spa) with four outdoors thermal pools. Find out what travelers love about Krapinske Toplice?

Another spa is Tuheljske Toplice, the best spa only 45 km from Zagreb with a luxury spa-hotel that offers all wellness programs. The third one is Stubicke Toplice, popular destination among residents of Zagreb city.

To find more about Hrvatsko Zagorje region and its highlight click here! The best Zagorje region hotels!

Slavonia region is a fertile region that spreads between rivers Drava and Hungarian border in the north, Sava river and Bosnia and Herzegovina border in the south and the Serbian border in the east.

This region with Osijek as a capital, was unfortunately deeply involved in last 1991 war between Croatia and Serbian minorities. The city which inflicted the greatest damages was Vukovar town which until 1991 was the town of elegant baroque buildings and one of the most beautiful towns on the Danube.

Croatia regions – Istria peninsula

Istria peninsula region is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula is located at the head of the Adriatic between the Gulf of Trieste and the Bay of Kvarner. About one third of the Istria’s territory is forested and the rest is covered with vineyards, olive trees, pastures and orchards.

The inner part of Istria with undulating hills and many walled hill villages (like Motovun) has inspired writers and journalists to call Istria the “new Tuscany” or the “new Provence”. I prefer to divide this peninsula in so called Blue an Green regions. See the map of Istria!

The Blue one is the part along the Adriatic coast from Umag to Pula. The green one is the fraction of internal medieval cities where the mountain valleys appear light green and tan.

Croatia regions – Kvarner region

It’s a combination of shores, islands and highlands, architecture and culture. It has almost 160 years long tourist tradition with excellent roads connections with Zagreb, Vienna and Budapest.

The railway link with Vienna was opened in 1857 making Opatija (Nice of Croatia ) one of the most popular and exclusive destination of Austrian aristocracy.

The capital of this region is Rijeka, Croatia’s third town and the biggest port on the Adriatic. Venetian influence was diffused through the whole region from the islands of Cres, Losinj and Rab. Krk island was the popular place of Croatia’s nobility through the history.

This region with Gorski kotar (English: Mountain District) is the mountainous region in Croatia with 63% of its surface covered with forests, popularly called the green lungs of Croatia or Croatian Switzerland. Click here to see the map of this mountainous Croatia regions with their steep slopes and deep valleys!

Croatia regions – Dalmatia

Dalmatia (Croatian: Dalmacija, Latin: Dalmatia, Italian: Dalmazia) is a Croatia region spreading between the island of Rab in the northwest and the boarder of Montenegro in the southeast. See the map!

Dalmatia is the most visited tourist area of Croatia. Dalmatia is defined sometimes as South Dalmatia, Central Dalmatia and North Dalmatia but as well as Zadar, Sibenik, Split and Dubrovnik counties.

Zadar and Sibenik counties

Zadar and Sibenik are two main cities of Northern Dalmatia. This is an area of several National Parks like Paklenica National Park, Kornati islands and Krka river and Plitvice Lakes National Parks.

Zadar and Sibenk islands archipelago offer some of the Adriatic’s most secluded, intact island villages. Islands like Pag and Dugi Otok (Long island) are famous off the beaten track destinations for a complete relaxation.

Croatia regions – Split county or Central Dalmatia

Central Dalmatia extends from old town of Trogir in the north-west to Ploce in the south-east and includes the large islands of Brac and Hvar as well as the smaller islands of Vis and Solta. South of Split runs a famous Makarska Riviera with the most beautiful Croatia beaches.

Roman ruins, fabulous beaches, old fishing ports, medieval and Renaissance architecture make Central Dalmatia one of the best region to put together summer vacations with historical discovery.

Croatia regions – Southern Dalmatia

This region extends from Ploce in the north to the Montenegrin border in the south. This warm and sunny region is a flourishing region of coves, woody islands like Mljet (National Park of Mljet) , Korcula island and Peljesac peninsula and Dubrovnik as a pearl of the Adriatic coast.

There are only few cities in the world that can match up to this unique town with its massive city walls with immense artistic heritage available to anyone.

Discover Southern Dalmatia Highlights and its inevitable connections with eternal rhythm of life of this region: the sea, the rock and the sun.

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