Čakovec is home to a majestic Renaissance castle, the fortress and its palace has a long history. Tourists can easily stay in the city center in a number of charming apartments along the pedestrian street lined with architecture from the Austro- Hungarian empire. Then venture out on day road trips through the surrounding towns, through vineyard hills and even visit more castles in the Međimurje region.
The first time I heard about Čakovec was in Zagreb. I was staying at my favorite Zagreb hotel the Hilton Garden Inn when one of the waiters told me about his home town. He shared some of his pumpkin seed oil served with corn roasted bread with us. I was hooked! Since then I make sure to take everyone I visit a bottle of pumpkin seed oil from Čakovec, it’s amazing.
Čakovec was named after Count Dmitar Čak who created a wooden fortress Chakia turris (Čak’s tower) during the 13th century. The Counts of Zrinski took over the fortress in 1546, under a constant threat from the Ottomans they transformed the it into a modern Renaissance fortress and palace. On the 29th of May 1579 the community neighboring Čakovec’s fortress was granted the charter by Juraj Zrinski IV which established the town. Today, every year Čakovec Day is celebrated on the 29th of May. The castle’s current appearance dates from the 18th century. Later in 1954 the museum of Međimurje took residence in the castle, it endures today as the symbol of the city’s identity. Today the city provides the administrative, financial and cultural centers for Međimurje County.
Located about an hour and a half north of Zagreb, Čakovec is an easy getaway to see a different area of the Croatian interior. They have an annual film and theatre festival and in the summer the jazz festival. During the July music festival Porcijunkolovo over 100k people come to visit.
Two other notable buildings are:
THE COFFEE HOUSE ROYAL In 1913 the town coffee house (the coffee house
Royal) was decorated in the Art Nouveau style to resemble the Otton coffee house in Budapest.
THE TRADERS CASINO
A centrally located Art Nouveau building resting on the edge of the park that leads to the castle. It was constructed 1903 for the Traders Casino and designed by architect Ődőn Horvath.
Recommended Day Trips:
Drive through the vineyards in Sveti Martin na Muri, try some fantastic wines and take an afternoon to relax in the thermal spa at Terme Sveti Martin. Bring your bicycle, or motor bike to ride through this area, it’s just amazing.
Hill of Maderka
A hill above it all with views of Slovenia in the north, Hungary in the east and the hills of vineyards. This famous hill has an area to drink a coffee and picture areas.
Eat at Mala Hiza
Many foodies claim this is the best restaurant in Croatia, come and try their fantastic food in this lovely atmosphere. All the ingredients are homemade and served with creativity.
While you’re hungry, go into the forest for Restoran Kneja this log cabin in the forest is a must to experience. The ambiance is spectacular in the middle of nowhere.
Prelog and the lake
Walk along the side of the lake, go fishing, or relax soaking in the view of mountains to the south and lovely birds. There is a hotel with a sport complex next to the lake.
Day trips for Castle hunters:
Castle Feštetić is 3 Km outside of Čakovec.
Old Town Varaždin Castle is about 8 Km away and has such a lovely castle grounds, this is a must-see town for walking around and the castle museum is lovely.
Really cool 19th century castle, the castle was nationalized when Yugoslavia nationalized noble lands. Today the abandoned castle is only a figure of what it once was.
Trakošćan About an hour and a half away with a museum, I recommend staying the night here There is a great hotel across the street from the castle and the views from the sauna are amazing. This is an amazing castle, it’s impressive size and lower lake are wonders to be explored. The museum
Arboretum Opeka One of the two arboretums in Croatia, the Count Marko Bombelles was one of first people who had car in Croatia, his passion was botany; he traveled around the world bringing all kinds of plants to his estate where he kept over six hundred plant species.
Bajnski Dvori Castle In ruins today, this Baroque castle is located in the village of Gornje Ladanje within the municipality of Vinica. The manor was founded in 1610 by nobleman Bot de Bajna, later on the estate was owned by Batthyány, Erdődy and Feštetić family members. There is a castle, garden with landscape features, a lake and courtyard chapel.