A bridge between the Mediterranean and continental Croatia
Gorski Kotar is an idyllic region that connects the Adriatic Sea with the charm of continental Croatia. It’s known as the wealthiest region in Europe when it comes to preserved nature. Its hills and mountains are covered by thick forests that hide vast plains rich with protected flowers like blue iris and edelweiss.
The region has cooler temperatures and provides peace away from the busy coast in the summer months while feeling like a snowy fairytale in winter.
Like other Croatian regions, it’s history-rich, with cultural heritage and activities aplenty, offering itself up as an ideal vacation destination to suit every taste.
Gorski Kotar is placed alongside the Slovenian border, near the city of Rijeka. The region has an excellent connection with major cities in Croatia and neighbouring countries and is a place of captivating nature and friendly locals.
Over the past few years, it has become a top-rated destination for visitors seeking to reconnect with nature, recharge their batteries, and use it as a hub to explore Croatia.
Geographically, Gorski Kotar belongs to central Croatia, as it connects Lika and Kvarner and covers an area of 1270 square kilometres with an average elevation of 800m. It is a place where all major roads pass through, making the region accessible from all sides.
The capital city is Delnice, a small town of 6000 people, sitting at an elevation of 730m, making it the highest town in Croatia.
During ancient times and the presence of the Romans, Gorski Kotar was forgotten due to its rugged terrain. As barbarians penetrated the land and conquered more of the Empire’s territory, Gorski Kotar became the ideal natural defence. The Romans constructed a fortified wall through the region, known as Liburnian limes, which is still visible today.
The area was populated by the noble family Frankopan who owned most of the land in Gorski Kotar. Their goal was to protect people from southern regions during attacks by the Ottomans.
As forests cover more than 60 per cent of the total area, this was a place full of way-stations during the medieval period. These way-stations gradually became inns for passengers, which slowly started to form villages and towns.
Until the 18th century, the region was known as Devil’s Garden due to its poor road connections. But, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy took over and started investing in the construction of roads, the most famous was the Karolina road, named after King Karl III. Severe weather conditions during the winter months made it impossible to maintain the road, but it brought economic progress to the region nonetheless.
With the construction of another road, Louisiana and railroad, Gorski Kotar was connected to Rijeka on one side and Budapest on the other. This brought prosperity to the area, as it allowed rapid development.
The most recent significant development of infrastructure was the construction of highways that allowed easy connection with other regions in Croatia and Europe.
Stunning nature, rich heritage, and amazing food
Visiting this part of Croatia guarantees an exciting and adventurous visit. A must-see is National Park Risnjak, named after the Croatian word for lynx, ris. Forest tracks are well planned, and each day is another adventure as, no matter the direction, the region is full of lakes, caves, and hiking tracks. The most impressive walk is towards the spring of river Kupa and a hike to the White and Samarske Rocks.
Those that love history will appreciate charming medieval fortresses of the noble family Frankopan. Today, they are active museums and galleries telling this well-known family’s story and their importance in the region during medieval times.
Still in use, Louisiana road is the quickest way to Rijeka. The road itself is a historical monument, a tourist attraction, and according to some, the most romantic part of Gorski Kotar.
Every year, in September, the Tourist Board and locals cherish a traditional event, Summer at Louisiana, that shows how important the road has been for locals’ lives in this part.
The people of Gorski Kotar are proud producers of original, authentic, and unique souvenirs. They nurture traditions and old manufacturing techniques that represent the region, and many have farms and beehives.
Gorski Kotar is considered a hidden paradise for foodies. Local gastronomy represents healthy eating and organic and homegrown produce.
Traditional dishes are served in restaurants across the region, and if you are visiting, it will be the best opportunity to taste the venison goulash.
Gorski Kotar is a place of coexistence for humans and nature, still preserved in its original raw ways. A place that might seem rough at first glance, but once you immerse yourself in its beauty, you might want to stay there forever.