A Summer Evening in Varazdin, Croatia—Dinner, Wine and A Movie


Varazdin Castle

Sitting through our first North American winter in three years, we decided to review our summer holiday shots. These were taken in Varazdin, a city in northern Croatia about 80 kms from Zagreb. In addition to its medieval castle and battlements, Varazdin has a wealth of baroque and rococo architecture. Fortunately due to an early surrender by the Yugoslav Army, the city was spared significant damage during the war of the early 1990s. Its pedestrian friendly size makes it easy to pass a pleasant afternoon wandering among the many restored pastel-hued palaces. The many kavanas (coffee houses) in this caffeine-loving culture offer the perfect excuse to “go native”—pull up a seat, order a drink and watch the world go by.


Kavana life

In the main square, opposite the town hall, we selected an outdoor kavana and enjoyed several glasses of Traminac, a Croatian aromatic white wine which is related to gewurtztraminer. Traminac is available throughout Croatia—Kutjevo Traminac and Ilok Traminac are two favorites.

Unwittingly, we had chosen a perfect vantage point. As we basked in late afternoon sun (and then gathering dusk), an outdoor movie screen was set up across the square. For the price of a couple of glasses of wine, we had two perfect seats to watch the Almodóvar film, “Volver”.  The square was packed with families out for the evening, students from the local university and soldiers on an evening off from their national service. And, in keeping with many European drinking habits, free from drunk and disorderly conduct.


Varazdin Town Hall

These photos were taken with a Canon point and shoot  mounted on a pocket tripod. The pocket tripod is my “must have” (cheap and effective) for travel photography and goes easily into a pocket or at the bottom of a bag.


We did manage to eat as well as drink, and can recommend the Zlatna Guska (Golden Goose)  set on the edge of a park with vaulted interior dining space. We loved the beef and goose carpaccio, mixed seafood risotto with squid ink, and baby beef with chantarelle mushrooms and saffron sauce. There are also fish and vegetarian options. A pricier option, but you get what you pay for. No website and reservations recommended.


The Hotel Turist wasn’t atmospheric, but had an unintentional retro-kitsch vibe. Homey if you’re an ex-apparatchik. Affordable, centrally located, with parking (extra) and can walk to everything. Ample if uninspired breakfast.


Varazdin Baroque Evenings—the annual baroque music festival with musical venues in period churches and palaces takes place in late September during the grape harvest.

Spancirfest—during the last week of August Varazdin hosts its annual arts festival featuring theatre, music (rock, jazz), parades and art exhibitions.