Varaždin is one of the most important tourist centers of northern Croatia. The old town fortification, the central part of the town, numerous museums, galleries and collections as well as the Varaždin cemetery, protected as a horticultural monument, represent the main tourist attractions of this Central European Baroque town and ancient Croatian capital. Varaždin is located on the right bank of the Drava river in north-western Croatia, 79 km north of Zagreb.

King Tomislav Square


Stari grad - Old City

The first written reference to Varaždin dates back to 1181, when the nearby thermal springs Varaždinske Toplice were mentioned by King Bela III in a legal document.

In 1209 Varaždin was declared a free royal borough by the Croatian-Hungarian King Andrew II which allowed it to develop into the economic and military centre of northern Croatia. Due to the frequent Ottoman raids, the town was structured defensively around the old fortress, thus acquiring the shape of a typical medieval Wasserburg. As early as the 13th century the Knights Hospitaller (in Croatian Ivanovci) came to Varaždin, where they built a church and a monastery.

At the end of the 14th century the Varaždin fortress passed into the hands of the Earls of Celje. Over the following centuries Varaždin had several owners, the most influential being Beatrice Frankopan, Margrave Juraj of Brandenburg, who built the town hall; the last was Baron Ivan Ungnad, who reinforced the existing fortification. When at the end of the 16th century Count Toma Bakač Erdödy became its owner, assuming the hereditary position of Varaždin prefect (župan), the fortress remained in the ownership of his family until 1925.

In 1756, Ban Franjo Nadasdy chose Varaždin as his official residence turning Varaždin into the capital of all of Croatia. It hosted Croatian Sabor and the Royal Croatian Council founded by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.

Reformation and the counter-reformation left a lasting mark on Varaždin. With the arrival of the Jesuits, the school and the convent were founded. Furthermore, a number of churches and monasteries were built in the baroque style. As Varaždin was the seat of many Croatian noblemen in 1756 it became the administrative center of Croatia. However, when the great fire of 1776 destroyed most of the town, administrative institutions moved back to Zagreb.

By the 19th century Varaždin had been completely rebuilt and expanded. Crafts and commerce, and later the manufacture of silk and bricks flourished resulting in the creation of the town's theatre, music school, and fire department.

Get in

Due to its adventageous geographic location, the town is easily accessible to many neighbouring countries.

By bus

Buses are very frequent from Zagreb and take around 90 minutes - check the timetables or the Zagreb Bus Station's website for times. Services into the neighbouring areas are quite frequent, some going over the border into Hungary. Buses also leave from other major Croatian cities almost daily for Varaždin. Online information for buses to Varaždin can be found at the Varaždin Transit website .

International departures (especially for Austria, Germany, Hungary and beyond) often make a stop in the town, and if there is a later bus that day, companies normally honour a 'break of journey' to visit the town for a few hours.

Note in Varaždin that the bus station is located on the western side of town, and the railway station is located on the eastern side, with a distance of around 2km between.

By car

Those travelling from Graz in Austria should proceed to Maribor taking the M3 road to Ptuj from which they can cross into Croatia.

Travellers coming from Nagykanizsa or Budapest should use the A4 motorway once they enter Croatia which connects Varaždin with the Hungarian border.

Travellers from Zagreb can use A4 motorway which will take them to their destination in less than an hour.

By train

The most scenic and cheapest (but slowest) way to get to Varaždin from Zagreb is a local train (2h20) stopping at every station between the two cities. The price of a return ticket is 80kn (roughly 10 euros), with discounts for ISIC card holders. Recently, the speed of the journey dramatically improved with the addition of a faster (though more expensive) alternative of the high-speed tilting train connection operated by Hrvatske željeznice (Croatian railways).

Train services also operate north to Čakovec and Koprivnica (with further connections to Slavonia and Hungary), and there is a daily service to Split and to Budapest in Hungary.

As of May 2008, the train station in Varaždin was closed for renovations. Trains still ran, but timetable information and tickets needed to be purchased elsewhere.


Gallery of Old and Contemporary Masters - Sermage Palace


There are numerous nice souvenirs for you to buy in Varaždin. It is best to buy them from hard working artisans that have their own corner in Varaždin. The most famous of them is a Hatter (Klobučar). Owner of a small stand full of handcrafted hats has a nickname "Herc" and it's one of the most recognized man in town. Next to him is a hard working Blacksmith who crafts lovely souvenirs and next to him is a Tailor with tons of souvenir clothing.


Decent lunch can be found in Zlatne ruke (Golden hands). Best place for pizza and pasta is Angelus, across the street from the city park. One can find delicious pizza in Rebus, about 10 km in Kučan (dirfections have to be added). Zvonimir restaurant provides great pizzas and there are many restaurants outside of Varazdin such as Cesljas on Varazdin breg. McDonalds is i Vrazova street. Next to the McDonald's there is Billy Kebab. The best kebap can be found in Zagtrebačka, 50 m south of the post office, and Gajeva street (same oweners). One can get pizza slices 30m from McDonald's.

There are numerous caffes in the centre. Bars with R&B music are Soho, Tiki Bar, Morgans Bar, Mea Culpa, Rock Art Caffe. Main stream alternatives can have a good time in Lavra. One can enjoy a good beer and rock music in Vienna, Caffe Theatre (formerly known az Rogoz), Kult, Sax and Old City Pub. Vienna is across the road from the town theatre, Caffe Theatre is in the theatre, Kult is 200 m from the first two bars, Sax is next to McDonald's, Old City Pub is about 200 m from Stancic Square.


Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, January 24, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.