Zagreb (dpa / tmn) - Croatia has much more to offer than beach and sea. Nature is varied, the masses can be kept at a distance. Seven travel tips.

Gorski kotar: brown bear watching in the mountains

The Gorski kotar plateau in northwestern Croatia is one of the last wilderness areas in Europe. Brown bears, wolves and lynxes have their rest here. To keep it that way, a more gentle tourism is made possible. In the protected area of ​​the Risnjak National Park, vacationers are best off on the trails. Or they follow the Gorski kotar bike route on a mountain bike.

Around 600 bears roam the mountain region - but it is unlikely to meet you by chance. Photographers from the region know good hiding places and lie in wait with telephoto lenses. National park rangers also organize bear watching - due to damaged trails there is a break this year.

If you still want to see bears, take a detour to the village of Kuterevo further south. Animal lovers have set up a shelter for orphaned brown bear children there.

Parenzana: cycling along the train tracks through the green hinterland

A detour to the artist village Groznjan is tough. Where the narrow-gauge railway Parenzana struggled over the green hills of the hinterland to the coast from 1902 to 1935, cyclists breathe today. Because the old railway line from Trieste to Porec became one of the most beautiful bike trails in Croatia. 78 kilometers lead across the Istrian peninsula past medieval mountain villages, Tuscan landscapes, rustic taverns - these are small restaurants - and former KuK train stations.

Krka National Park: swimming at the Winnetou waterfalls

Looking out from the Apache camp onto the lake with the monastery island, sitting at the fishing grounds of the Osagen and swimming at the waterfall like Paloma in the film "Old Shatterhand" - a few of the popular Winnetou films were made in the Krka National Park. If you want, you can walk in the footsteps of Karl May's stories in the national park or simply let nature speak for itself.

The rushing of the rivers Krka and Cikola provides Dolby surround sound in many parts of the national park. It is very quiet at the vantage point high above the Roski slap waterfall, roaring loud again at the Skradinski buk - the 45 meter high waterfall with 17 cascades is the star among the seven cases in the park.

At the main entrance to the national park, a two-and-a-half kilometer circular path leads along wooden footbridges to the swimming area, where a dip in the cool river water is permitted in summer.

Truffle search in the Mirna Valley: an oak forest with taste

One kilo of the fine white winter truffle (tuber magnatum pico) is available from around 1000 euros. The price has its reasons. On the one hand this type of truffle cannot be grown, on the other hand it only grows in two places in the world - in the north of Italy and in Croatia. The Croatian truffle seeker Giancarlo Zigante found a tuber weighing 1.31 kilos with his search dog Diana in 1999, thus making it into the Guinness Book of Records. In 2018, a black summer truffle with an impressive 4.87 kilos followed.

Such outstanding specimens often sniff out the sensitive dog noses around Motovun in the tranquil Mirna Valley. The town's forest is one of the last three Mediterranean riparian forests in Europe and is protected. If you would like to try your own tuber happiness yourself, you can accompany the licensed truffle hunters into the forest. The finds can then be tasted in the truffle factories and purchased for home.

Celebrity Island Hvar: Excursion to the abandoned mountain village

Luxury yachts are lined up in the port of Hvar. Since ancient times, the Dalmatian island has had a strategic importance for seafarers, which brought power and wealth. But the island also has another side. About twelve kilometers from the old town, the abandoned mountain village of Malo Grablje is located above Milna Bay.

The families lived there for a long time in the mountains from growing lavender and wine. But in the 19th century, fire destroyed plants and pests destroyed the vines. The livelihood broke away. 180 people packed their things and moved to the coast, where tourism made it easier to make money. Stone houses, church and olive oil mill are abandoned. Stairs lead to nowhere, trees grow out of rooms. A place of contemplation and deceleration.

Via Adriatica: long-distance hiking with a sea view

Hiking with a view of the sea: this is what the youngest Croatian long-distance hiking trail Via Adriatica is based on, which leads from Istria in the north along the coast to the tourist center Dubrovnik in the south. So far, only a handful of hikers have covered the entire 1100 km route. If you want to follow them, you need 50 days. Most hikers opt for individual, shorter stages with a local guide. There are few huts along the way. It is therefore advisable to take the food with you or to plan an overnight stay in a nearby village.

One night in the lighthouse: tower keepers and legends

Croatia's coast measures more than 6000 kilometers. Numerous lighthouses were built early so that sailors and fishermen could find their way safely between the rocks and reefs into the harbor. Although there are now modern navigation satellites, the signals still provide orientation for seafarers.

Some of these accommodations are still inhabited, others have been converted into apartments - for example in Savudrija. As one of the oldest and northernmost beacons on the Adriatic, this tower is still in operation. While vacationers lie on the beach, the lighthouse keeper takes care of the technology and tells legends.

In Savudrija, Count Metternich, chancellor of the former Austrian empire, had the tower built for himself and a Croatian lady in 1818, with whom he had fallen in love at the Vienna Opera Ball. But before the lighthouse was finished, the adored woman died. The count never set foot in the building. His ghost is said to haunt. However, staying in a lighthouse remains a romantic experience.

Risnjak National Park (English)

Gorski kotar Bike Route (English)

Parenzana route

Krka National Park (English)

Via Adriatica (English)

Lighthouses with apartments

Croatia tourism website

Entry form for Croatia

vacation in Croatia

Corona regulations: Croatia once again allows citizens to enter Germany without justification. At the border, travelers only have to explain where they will be and how they can be reached. This should enable them to be found when there are new corona infections in their environment. To avoid long waiting times, holidaymakers can fill out a form on the entercroatia.mup.hr website before entering the country.

Information: Croatian National Tourist Board - Frankfurt, Stephanstraße 13, 60313 Frankfurt / Main (Tel .: 069/23 85 350, email: info@visitkroatien.de, https://croatia.hr/de-DE).