Croatia Self Drive 03 - Off the Beaten Track

Zagreb - Varazdin - Osijek - [Belgrade] - Zagreb [or Bosnia / Dubrovnik]


Explore lesser-visited locations in the north & east of Croatia, starting in Zagreb; includes national parks, historic towns and much more.


Activity code: CRFD03

Duration: 9 Days

Do not overlook the "continental" region of Croatia, there is some incredible scenery and plenty of historical places in the area between Zagreb and the borders with Hungary, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia. Depending upon your flight schedule you can start or finish in Zagreb, a city with excellent public transport and many fabulous buildings and cultural sights. It is also possible to make a day trip to the World-famous Plitvice Lakes National Park before heading on to places which are much less-visited than the capital. Travel largely "Off the Beaten Track" in northern and eastern of Croatia.

From Zagreb your initial journey will take you northwards to the small university city of Varazdin which is one of the oldest in Croatia; in fact it is older than Zagreb. It is situated in a very important geographical territory, referred to as the "Northwest gate of Croatia"; it has a rich natural legacy including many parks and is located on the southern bank of the River Drava. In the 18th Century Varazdin briefly became Croatia's capital but a disastrous fire meant the government returned to Zagreb. Today, the town has an easy-going atmosphere, thanks to its large student population and is a great base to visit the local castles and villages of the region.

The next stage of this holiday takes you to the east to visit Osijek, the capital of the region of Slavonia, which faces neighbouring Serbia. The city itself is split in two - Gornji Grad (upper town) and Donji Grad (lower town); it came under heavy bombardment in the wars of the 1990s and sections are still being restored to this day. The fortified centre is called "Tvrda" and its walls encircle some delightful Baroque buildings, the 19th Century Osijek in contrast is tree-lined and its avenues are home to many cafes and shops. The nearby national park of Kopacki Rit is one of the largest wetland environments in Europe, located at the intersection of the Drava and Danube rivers.

At this point you can simply return to Zagreb along the highway or you may wish to consider extending your itinerary with a few days in Serbia or perhaps heading south into Bosnia and Herzegovina on a route that takes you through Sarajevo and Mostar all the way down to Dubrovnik.

Important Information

Flights available to book with us through a range of airlines, from various UK airports to Croatia. If we book your flights this means that your holiday will also be fully ATOL protected.


Prices shown are a guideline "from" (in UK Pounds) and are based on a travelling party of at least 2 adults. Single supplements may need to be applied to the twin/double price and discounts for children (under 12yrs) and/or a 3rd adult sharing a room are available upon request. Quoted prices for individual enquiries will depend upon your chosen accommodation, room availability and dates of travel. We always aim to match a high quality experience with exceptional value for money. Discounts will apply if there are 3 or more people in your travelling party as fixed costs such as transportation and guides will be shared equally between the group.

Get travel advice from someone who’s been there

Send an enquiry

Read what other customers have said.

Read Reviews


Based upon 2 persons travelling.

Prices from £636 per person

What's included in your Fly-Drive holiday?

  • Private airport transfers.
  • 8 nights accommodation on B&B.
  • 7 days fully-inclusive car hire.
  • * also includes cross-border Green Card, delivery & second driver.
  • Fully detailed itinerary with driving directions, ferry info & sighteeing ideas
  • FREE travel app with all your documents, maps, weather & much more
  • All taxes
  • Full 24hr representative services.



Day 1 - arrival into Zagreb; private transfer directly to your hotel. Balance of day sightseeing in Zagreb using public transport.

Day 2 - Free day to explore Zagreb's historic sites, museums and much more.

Optional Tour: Zagreb Guided Sightseeing Tour - Zagreb grew up on two neighbouring hills: Kaptol - the centre of spiritual and religious life of north-western Croatia, and Gradec - the commercial centre of skillful tradesmen and craftsmen. Take a walk with your guide, visiting the Upper Town with its Gothic Cathedral, the beautiful and ornate St. Catherine’s church and the massive St. Mark’s church with its famous coloured-tiled roof. Continue to the mediaeval Stone Gate and “Dolac”, the open-air market.

Recommended places to stay

Deliver hire car to your hotel and drive the relatively short distance north to Varazdin, suggested detours include the traditional rural area around Krapina, the castle of Veliki Tabor, etc.

** alternatively, you could detour south to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park and return to Zagreb, instead of the first night in Varazdin.

Two full days in northern Croatia. Sightseeing in Varazdin and local area, visiting places such as Trakoscan, Cakovec, Lepoglava and Belec in the Zagorje region. This is also an important wine-making region and is full of colourful Baroque buildings at every turn.

Drive east along the border with Hungary to Osijek.

Recommended places to stay

Sightseeing in Osijek and the local area, such as Vinkovci, Vukovar, Dakova and Ilok. Also, we suggest visiting the National Parks of Kopaci Rit and Papuk.

Excursion to Kopački Rit - a protected nature park, a wetland area that is home to different wild animals and very rare birds. Kopački Rit offers visitors the possibility to observe rare birds, wild boar and deer, to walk along old forest paths, to ride a boat along the wetland canals and to experience the unique beauty of untouched nature. This trip includes tickets to the nature park, panoramic sightseeing of a special zoo-reserve by boat, a walking tour along the boardwalks, a visit to the exhibition of flora and fauna in the wetland station of Kopački Rit and the chapel. The Nature Park provides an expert guide for the duration of this trip.

** You may also like to consider an extra night for a day trip or an extension of your holiday to enable you to visit Belgrade and/or Novi Sad in Serbia.

Drive west on main highway towards Zagreb. Depending upon your flight times you may wish to stay an extra night in the capital or head straight to the airport.


Option 1 - a possible extension of this itinerary can be arranged by driving through northern Bosnia & Herzegovina, for example via Banja Luka and the Una Valley, to Plitvice National Park for a couple of nights prior to returing to Zagreb.

Option 2 - a second alternative would be to drive south through Bosnia & Herzegovina via Doboj, Sarajevo, Mostar and Trebinje en route to Dubrovnik which could be your final destination as there are lots of flight options and a straightforward drop off for your hire car [we suggest an extra 5 nights for this; 3 in Bosnia & 2 in Dubrovnik].


Flexible Tailor-Made Holidays

  • We believe passionately that no two holidays should be the same.
  • With our flexible tailor-made holiday options you can travel at your own pace.
  • Rediscover a city, a resort or an island in a weekend or longer.
  • Take a small group tour or embark upon a more adventurous trip.

Travel Knowledge

  • We have all travelled extensively and will be happy to share our experiences.
  • Personally-chosen hotels, riads, guest houses & apartments in places we know and love.
  • Individual sightseeing recommendations and route planning.
  • Add excursions, activities and food & wine experiences (one of our passions).

Trusted Service

  • ATOL cover for flight inclusive holidays.
  • One of us at Rediscover the World is very likely to have visited the hotels and travelled along the routes on your itinerary.
  • Dynamic, comprehensive travel app with all your documents, maps and much more.
  • Full financial protection for your holiday (TTA).