Groznjan Croatia is a must-see destination for those who want to discover the treasures of Istria hilltop towns. It is also one of the off the beaten path destinations in the country, so not very touristy!
At an elevation of 260 meters above sea level, this picturesque town is situated on the plateau above the river Mirna, surrounded by at least 20 other neighboring villages and the Adriatic sea in Novigrad and Umag.
Located on a magical white soil (bijele zemlja), it is the home of many vineyards and olive groves. Particularly, Groznjan is famous for its indigenous olives that grow in this area, called ‘Istarska Belica’ .
Olives grown on terraces and the hillsides that surround this ancient village have adapted to the local climate and the olive oil that is produced offers a unique aroma and taste.
So make sure to stock up with some high quality extra virgin olive oil made in Croatia when you visit!
Groznjan, Croatia On The Map
If you want to see the city on Google Maps, click the link below (for some reason, I can’t make the map load on the website):
Groznjan is located 15 km inland in the northwestern part of the Istria peninsula, 8 km southeast of Buje, and 26 km northeast of Porec.
Groznjan is only 18 Km from Novigrad and close to the better known Umag. It is the only Croatian settlement to have an ethnic Italian majority. Its Italian name is Grisignana.
The best way to visit this hill town is by renting a car and driving there as the nearest stop on the regular bus route between Buzet and Buje is about three kilometers away, in Bijele Zemlje.
This also means that the location is not very touristy, so you’ll be exposed to some true and beautiful Croatian living that hasn’t been yet spoiled with tourist traps and the like.
Groznjan, the Town of Artists
In 1955, the almost deserted village became part of the municipality of Buje and over the next few years many of its old properties were renovated.
In 1965, many of the properties were given to artists from Croatia and Slovenia who began renovating the buildings and revived the town.
It soon became known as the ‘Town of Artists’ and when in 1965 the International Cultural Center of Jeunesses Musicales decided to open a summer training program for musicians there, the Groznjan renaissance started in full bloom.
Groznjan has become a home to numerous national and international artists. In this small town, there are over 40 ateliers.
There is also the city art gallery with works by artists from around the world, and even the well known Imaginary Film Academy found its home here.
In the summer, all the streets in Groznjan become a stage on which renowned jazz and classical musicians perform. By walking around the town, one can directly and actively experience the art.
For over 15 years now, Groznjan Croatia hosts the traditional International Jazz Festival that takes place every year from July 12 till July 30, where the best jazz musicians from Croatia and abroad showcase their talents.
Under the name Jazz is Back, this International jazz festival with the world’s best jazz musicians takes place in the picturesque atmosphere of the town. I think you can already imagine how nice the whole thing is!
Things to see and do in Groznjan
Groznjan has a very rich history. It was inhabited since prehistoric times and many traces testify that it was very active in trading during the Roman Empire.
Its name was first mentioned in written documents in 1102, under the name of Piemonte. From the 13th to the mid-14th century, Groznjan belonged to the Pietrapelosa family and in the mid-14th century it fell under Venetian rule.
In the Venetian period numerous churches and palaces were built, some of them still present in the town. Here are some town important sights to be visited:
– The Renaissance Loggia from the 6th century and the beautiful baroque palace, Spinotty.
– The medieval walls and the city gates, dating back from the 15th century.
– The small, but charming churches of St. Rocco and St. Martin, built in the 16th century.
– The Gallery Fonticus, where numerous local and foreign artists have their work displayed.
– The old town itself. Simply walk down the narrow streets and explore the entire city. You get bonus treats if you visit during the summer season, when all the singing takes place and the entire town turns into a beautiful, high brow stage.
Where to stay in Groznjan?
Although there are no actual hotels in this town, you still have some solid options when it comes to finding amazing accommodation here thanks to some villas and pensions that have been recently opened.
A good thing about Croatia is that even home stays (apartment rentals, for example) are treated like hotel stays, meaning that the owners need to fill in for applications and even receive star ratings.
This means that the entire thing is regulated and very safe. Plus, as you will see from the examples listed below, you will have some really high quality options available at amazing prices.
With these in mind, I recommend any of the below places to stay in Groznjan for a few days or more:
This is one of the top choices, as we’re talking about a traditional stone house with breathtaking views over the surrounding area. This property is rated at 3 stars and offers good accommodation, as well as a really interesting outdoor cooking/eating area.
If you want to find out more about it and check the rates for your dates, do so on Booking.com
If you’re looking for some traditional Croatian accommodation, this is the place you’re looking for!
A unique apartment located in the heart of the town, this apartment will offer an unforgettable experience to those living there. As a bonus, it also offers free bikes for those who want to do some pedaling around Groznjan.
You can find out more about this great apartment here.
Last but definitely not least, we have La Boutique, a higher end, better quality place offering a perfect mixture of modern and traditional touches. You will enjoy the exposed brick walls and wooden beans, but also the modern, high quality furniture and especially the Air Conditioning units.
All in all, this is my favorite place to stay in Groznjan and I am sure you’ll love it too!
So click here to check it out on Booking.com.
Even though Groznjan is not a place that you normally see recommended or talked about on Croatian travel websites, it is a hidden gem and you should definitely pay a visit here, especially during the summer when the jazz festival takes place – or at least when all the music fills the streets.
Trust me, although it’s a bit off the beaten path and not extremely easy to get to if you don’t have a car, it’s totally worth the trouble!