By Guest Author Ana Cerovski
Croatia is on your itinerary this summer and you couldn't help but wonder - are there any perfect spots and places for everyone's favorite summer activity called picnic? Well, let me assure you, Croatia certainly has it all - beautiful sights, natural beauty, amazing coast with over 1000 islands, reefs, and cliffs, as well as amazing cuisine suitable for every palate.
Croatia is truly a favorite place to be during the summer and since this season is just around the corner (and hopefully, traveling will soon be safe for everyone), we thought of combining the natural beauty of the country with, of course, a picnic! The country has many spots which are ideal for gatherings with friends and enjoying refreshing and simple dishes while being surrounded by nature, amazing sights, and beautiful sunsets! Due to that, is there a better way to start this summer than with a picnic while visiting some (or all - is that a road trip that I hear?) Croatian regions? I think not!
So, let's talk about all picnic-perfect spots in Croatia, as well as picnic essentials!
New Region, Different Spot, Interesting Dishes
Croatia has 4 main regions which are traditionally divided historically and culturally. The regions are called Croatia proper (or mainland), Dalmatia, Slavonia, and Istria with Kvarner. And of course, each region has its own specific beauties, hidden places, ideal picnic spots, and interesting cuisines!
If you choose to visit Slavonia, you will be enchanted by the beauties of the horizon, neverending fields, and numerous farms. Due to that, wherever you wish to lay your picnic blanket, you really can't go wrong! But there are a couple of spots which are a must-visit during the summer!
Lake Borovik is located near the town Đakovo. The lake is one of the most attractive places in Croatia and it is perfect for a picnic with your friends and family. The lake is suitable for fishing, swimming, barbecuing, and camping too! Besides that, the lake is over 8 km long, so it is great for biking before resting on a beautiful picnic!
[photo Lake Borovik]
Kopački rit is another amazing spot ideal for a picnic! This nature park is situated in eastern Croatia and there, you can find the greatest splendor of water and forest greenery in Slavonia. Quite perfect for an afternoon gateway with your family, isn't it?
[photo Kopački rit]
Besides the mentioned, on every corner of Slavonia, you can find beautiful parks, hiking trails, and biking roads, so your day in nature will certainly be fulfilled! Also, Slavonia has amazing wine roads where you can taste interesting aromas and flavors of the local wines which can accompany your beautifully prepared picnic bag! Speaking of the picnic bag, what about classic Slavonia snacks? Make sure to pack local kulen, bacon, and cheese, as well as homemade bread! And you're good to go!
This geographic region is situated between Slavonia and Kvarner, and it is known for its diversity. You can visit Međimurje and Zagorje, the capital city Zagreb and its beautiful surroundings, or Gorski Kotar and Lika. The area is quite big but due to that, imagine how many picnic possibilities are there! Oh, and when it comes to the food in your picnic bag, make sure to have čvarci, sausages, and štrukli!
In Zagorje, the must-stop-to-picnic spot is called Vražja peć or in English, the Devil's cave. Okay, despite its name (there is the statue of St. Michael for the protection, so no worries, right?), I assure you, the place is amazing for the afternoon delight! It is also great for a walk in the nature since the trail has a beautiful waterfall!
[photo Vražja peć]
Besides the mentioned, Zagorje hides many castles and fortresses, so you can always have a picnic with an interesting historical view! Now, imagine how your kids would enjoy that! Some of the most famous castles are Veliki Tabor, Ščrbinec, Gorica, and Donja Bedekovčina!
[photo Zagorje castle]
In Međimurje, you can indulge in the beauty of Mađerkin breg. It is the most beautiful place in Međimurje and it will just seduce you with its breathtaking natural architecture. Oh, and make sure your picnic bag contains Varaždinski klipiči!
[photo Mađerkin breg]
In this part of Croatia, Zagreb needs to be mentioned. It has beautiful parks which are ideal for picnics - from Zrinjevac and Tomislavac to Bundek, Jarun, and Maksimir, this city offers a touch of nature in its urban jungle! Basically, each part of the city has its own picnic oasis! Ah, wouldn't it be nice to spend those hot summer days just relaxing on the grass with simple, yet so delicious snacks (and maybe cocktails)? When it comes to the classic food from Zagreb which is ideal for a picnic, I would go with simple sandwiches and refreshing salads!
Lika offers amazing green scenery of its beautiful dense forests. Rastoke is a must-visit village and a great destination for an afternoon picnic. The village is known for its beautiful small lakes, rapids, and waterfalls. Could you picture a more ideal picnic spot? Me neither!
And of course, how can we not mention Plitvice Lakes? For this picnic spot, you've surely already heard! Plitvice Lakes National Park is certainly one of the most beautiful places to visit! And there is one big field ideal for a picnic. It is situated close to the lake and at the edge of the forest, so it provides a perfect shade and relaxation spot! Oh, and you're wondering which food is a must there? Well, I would recommend Lika potatoes, ham, and škripavac (Lika's traditional cheese).
[photo Plitvice Lakes]
Istria And Kvarner
Ready for Istria and Kvarner now? I surely am! These 2 regions are perfect spring and summer destinations! Brijuni presents a group of 14 islands and islets. This beautiful Croatian National Park has untouched nature and valuable remains of architectural heritage. There, you can make your own picnic board with local ingredients and just relax on the grass or the coast while sipping your favorite wine or cocktail. Also, during summer, there is an open cinema so you can enjoy the movies underneath the stars!
Besides Brijuni, ideal spots for a picnic in Istria and Kvarner are Učka and its highest peak Vojak, fish picnic in town Malinska on the island of Krk, the coast of Cres Island, and more. I really would love to mention all the cute spots, places, towns, and villages, but Istria and Kvarner are such beautiful regions and due to that, on almost every corner you can find perfect picnic spots, so it is a bit harder to mention all of them, but make sure to explore and enjoy! And to fill your picnic bag with refreshing pasta salad and other Mediterranean snacks!
If we go to the southern coast, beautiful Dalmatia awaits all of us. And to put it simply - each small town and village has a hidden spot which is perfect for a picnic. Whether you visit the coast or some of the islands and coves, you will surely enjoy delicious Dalmatian snacks while you're surrounded by the sea and the beautiful song of the crickets. Dalmatia is known for its beauty and breathtaking sights, so I'm sure you'll find just the perfect picnic spot. Trust me, Dalmatia makes it quite easy to find it! Marjan in Split, beaches on the island of Hvar and Brač, forests on the Korčula island, Dubrovnik, oh, how to choose just one spot!
Picnic Essentials - Tips & Tricks
As I already mentioned, each region and its picnic spots come with traditional dishes and snacks. Due to that, a summer picnic in Croatia is actually a great way to meet the traditional gastronomy scene of the country. Since every region is known for its specific ingredients, dishes, snacks, and recipes, a picnic actually presents an ideal food tour through the country!
When it comes to picnic planning and picking out the food, just do a little research about the local ingredients and recipes. First, choose the region and find a perfect spot (or prepare yourself for exploring and finding your own spot)! Then research a bit, find out about the region's cuisine, which ingredients present everyday ingredients, where you can find homemade snacks and more. These are the basic information you need in order to fully enjoy and indulge in your picnic!
Slavonia is known for its kulen and other homemade cold cuts, while Zagorje has a tradition of preparing štrukli. Međimurje has simple yet delicious dishes, while in Zagreb, you can find a beautiful combination of all the cuisines! If you go to the coast and the islands, of course, the fish and pasta are the main ingredients, so you can always prepare them as a tasty salad! Fish can also be served salted and in olive oil, so just add a bit of bread, and that's it! The picnic food possibilities are endless, but since you're already visiting Croatia, why not choose local ingredients and trademark snacks of that specific region!
Of course, make sure to pack small plates, refreshing drinks, toothpicks or wooden forks, napkins, and all those small items for serving and convenient eating!
Besides that, a summer picnic also often means bugs, mosquitoes, and sun. Make sure to have protection from all these factors so you can truly enjoy those hot summer days! There are a lot of creams and sprays for protection and of course, in case you can't find a perfect spot with shadow, make sure to bring a parasol with you!
I believe we covered everything now - from the perfect picnic spots in Croatia to the food and other essentials which are a must in order to truly enjoy a beautiful summer picnic! Now, let's just hope traveling will soon be safe again so we all can meet new countries, cultures, and delicious traditional recipes and ingredients!
Oh, and in case you want to know more about Croatian cuisine, here is the list of 76 Croatian traditional dishes!