Inland Croatia
Croatian Uplands

The region’s vague name implies all areas behind the Velebit mountain ranges towards the north.  To be precise, it means the central and north-western Croatia. This lush & green region with humid continental climate, rolling hills and broad valleys, boasts the rich history and cultural spirit of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose legacy can be found in a number of pretty baroque towns (such as Varaždin, Bjelovar, Karlovac, Koprivnica and Virovitica) and ancient castles (e.g. Trakošćan, Veliki Tabor, Oršić, Bela, Gornja Bedekovčina and many others).

castle trakošćan
tours zagreb

The central point of the region is the Croatian capital city, Zagreb, the administrative, cultural and gastronomic nucleus of the country. The capital abounds in gourmet choices influenced by international cuisine, however when it comes to typical dishes, it all boils down to simple peasant foods, such as Ajngemahtec (a rich chicken soup with giblets, root vegetables, peas and dumplings), the Zagreb-style schnitzel (breaded veal schnitzel stuffed with ham and cheese), Buncek (smoked pork shank boiled in its own juices and served with Sauerkraut), Češnjovke (traditional garlic-flavoured sausages), Špek Fileki (tripe cooked with bacon as a stew), Faširanci (patties made of a minced meat mix with eggs and breadcrumbs), etc.

Vegetarians also have a solid choice of comfort foods, ranging from vegetable stews (called ćušpajz) to traditional pasta dishes without meat, such as krpice sa zeljem (Sagnarelli pasta with sautéed cabbage) or štrukli (boiled filo pastry with fresh cottage cheese filling).

The offer of Zagreb’s best patisseries is reasonably varied, as they follow both international trends and regional guidelines. If you crave a local signature dessert, you should go for a Zagrebačka Kremšnita (custard cream slices with chocolate icing) or Bučnica (filo pastry stuffed with a mixture of grated marrow, cream and sugar).

foodie tours zagreb
Upland wines
plesivica wine tours

The area covers four wine sub-regions with nineteen viticulture areas, the most important ones being Zelina, Plešivica, Međimurje and Krapina.

The hilly viticultural areas around the capital city, Plešivica in the south and Zelina in the north, are known to be favourable for the cultivation of the international varieties, such as Pinot Blanc, Gris and Noir, Sauvignon, Rhein Riesling, Kerner and Chardonnay, but there are also some varieties these areas are famous for: Blauer Portugieser in the Plešivica vineyards and Kraljevina in the Zelina vineyards. Kraljevina is an authentic local variety, a crisp and fresh white wine, ideal as a base for light sparkling wines. The most prominent winemakers in this area most certainly include the Tomac, Korak and Šember wineries.

Medjimurje

Despite its relatively small territory, the region of Međimurje is comparatively rich in natural beauties: the area between the Mura and Drava rivers abounds in biodiversity and offers numerous possibilities for hiking, bird watching and taking photos of dreamy landscapes. Protected natural monuments of Međimurje, such as Bedekovićeve Grabe and the Zrinski Park, are the habitat of some scarce butterfly species and a number of centuries-old trees.

 

The region’s lush and fertile land has earned the title of the “Garden of Croatia”, since it is famous for top-quality local produce, such as potatoes and apples, as well as products like apple cider vinegar and pumpkin seed oil. The traditional cuisine of Međimurje is perfectly paired with the local wine list. Fresh light-bodied wines made by wineries scattered along the region’s famous wine road (St. Urban’s Hill and Železna gora) are ideally suited to hearty foods Međimurje is famous for. Thick vegetable soups with sour cream, cured pork meat preserved in lard, fresh cottage cheese pies, chicken slowly cooked in creamy sauce with buckwheat porridge, roast duck and venison stews are just some of the local specialties you can taste at traditional restaurants, family-run wineries and rural tourism sites. Traditional desserts, such as Međimurska gibanica (a layer cake made of filo pastry and 4 different fillings: poppy seed, sweet cottage cheese, apples and walnuts), Krapci (a simple farmworker’s treat resembling a pizza with sweet toppings, such as apples and walnuts or fresh cottage cheese with grated pumpkin) and Kelešica (simple crumbly biscuits) are best accompanied with exemplary dessert wines from the area: Yellow Muscat, sweet Chardonnay or other ice wines.

Wine growing and production has been part of the local tradition for centuries. The gastronomic and oenological influences coming from Austria, Slovenia and Hungary are also at work in grape cultivation in Međimurje. The prevailing grape varieties in the region are Graševina (Welschriesling), White Riesling, Pušipel (Furmint), Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminac (Gewurztraminer), Yellow Muscat, while red wine varieties are limited to Pinot Noir and occasional Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Red wines of Međimurje are very delicate and mellow, with fewer tannins and more oak flavours than the fruity ones.

 

To discover those award-winning wine gems from the North, embark on an exciting tour of the Štrigova wine region with us!

Zagorje

At a short distance from the capital city, yet away from its hustle and bustle, there is another one of the Inland Region’s gems – Zagorje. In a nutshell, it is a rural county boasting a number of small towns and farming villages, old castles and manors surrounded by picturesque hilly countryside, an important Neanderthal site, a pilgrimage destination, several thermal baths and spas, hospitable people, fresh air and a great comfort food. In other words, it has everything one might need to heal their body and soul during a getaway weekend.

zagorje tours
Zagorske strukle

Zagorje’s gastronomy includes a menu similar to the one offered in a wider Zagreb area and Međimurje. Its culinary foundations lay on peasant cooking: simple, cheap ingredients turned into a flavourful meal. It insists on a local and seasonal produce and energy boosting foods, such as meat dishes made of free-range farm animals, hearty soups, home-made cured meat (češnjovke, meso iz tiblice) and pastry desserts featuring fresh cottage cheese. The region’s signature dishes include purica s mlincima (roast turkey served with boiled flatbread pasta), pisana pečenica (roast pork fillet stuffed with prunes and served with a creamy sauce) and kotlovina (pork chops, rabbit or chicken meat slowly cooked with vegetables on a metal plate placed above red hot coals inside a cast iron Dutch oven).

Štrukli is definitely a household word in Zagorje. This delicious pastry, filled with cottage cheese, topped with sour cream and gratinated, is a popular starter (savoury version) or even dessert (sweet version) in the north-western part of Croatia.

Narrow winding roads up the hills skirted by neat vineyards and wooden cottages (locally known as klet) will take you to some of the best wineries in the region: Bolfan, Bodren and Đurinski, known for excellent ice wines and other top quality wines with specific attributes (the so-called predikatna vina).

Historically, Zagorje was an infamous wine region – where everyone enjoyed wine, but few could make decent quality wines. However, in the last couple of decades, the local wine making practices and techniques improved greatly, and now wine lovers have a wide choice of outstanding vintages.

The predominant varieties in this area include Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon, Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay, Sylvaner, white and yellow Muscat, Welschriesling (graševina), Furmint, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Blaufränkisch (frankovka).