Thursday, 14 October 2021

Discover the Beautiful Drava River in Koprivnica Križevci County

October 14, 2021 – From thrilling watersports and cycling, brilliant wine and food festivals to wonderful weekend escapes, the epic Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County is an endless source of fun and inspiration.

Of the many rivers that run through Croatia, five of them could truly be classed as European giants – they stretch for around 300 kilometres or longer. They are Sava (945km), Drava (749km), Kupa (297km), Mura (483km) and Danube (2860km).

These rivers help define Croatia. They dictate the agriculture, activities and cuisine of the Croatian regions they pass through. Furthermore, they often create the very borders of the country.

Goran_ŠafarekIMG_1479_DxO.jpg© Goran Šafarek

Running along the length of the country's most northerly border, the Mur river separates Croatia from Slovenia in the west and Hungary in the east. But, near the Nature Preserve of Veliki Pažut and the historic municipality of Legrad, both in Koprivnica Križevci County, the Mur river gives up its task. Here it flows into the Drava river, becoming its biggest tributary. Thereafter, the Drava continues the job of separating Croatia and Hungary.

The Drava River in Koprivnica Križevci County

marcy387u5ythg.JPGA wide expanse of water, the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County © Marc Rowlands

By the time the Mur meets the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County, the Drava has already travelled more than half of its journey. To get here, it has descended over 1150 metres. Such a long fall has a significant effect on how the river looks and behaves here.

Željko_Car_12.jpgTraditional wooden fishing boat by the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County © Željko Car

Gone are the violent drops, gushing waterfalls, narrow channels, big boulders and sharp rocks. By now, it has left all that far behind. Instead, the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County is an epic, wide expanse of water. On either side, it is bordered by thick, green forests and fields. Its banks are a fine sand, creating beaches on which fishermen and families happily sit all day. This is how the Drava river is here, the perfect natural place for relaxing and recreation.

DSC_1247.jpgFishermen enjoying summertime on a Drava beach © Mato Zeman

Recreation, relaxation, activities and unmissable sights on the Drava River in Koprivnica Križevci County
Beaches, birdwatching and boats in Legrad and Veliki Pažut

Goran_ŠafarekIMG_1847_DxO.jpgFrom above, part of the Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve at the confluence of the rivers Mur and Drava © Goran Šafarek

Further upstream, people take advantage of the Drava's powerful descent. There, the river is regulated, channelled and harnessed for hydroelectric power. But, where the Drava meets the Mur in Legard, it is wild and unregulated.

Goran_Šafarekušće_Mure_u_Dravu_Meridijani_2019.jpgIn the mist, the Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve © Goran Šafarek

This is an ever-changing landscape, right on the border of Međimurje. Here, the rivers are left free to roam. Before 1710, nearby Legrad was actually in Međimurje. But, the Drava changed course and gave Legrad to Podravina. These constantly shifting waterways and floodplains create new habitats and restore existing ones. Subsequently, this is an area of immense biodiversity.

Goran_ŠafarekMG_8164_DxO.jpgTwo of the colorful residents in the Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve, captured by © Goran Šafarek

The Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve is 1000 hectares that are specially protected to preserve this biodiversity. Its wetlands and running waters are home to beavers, ducks, coots, waterfowl and reed warblers. In winter, wild geese (spotted goose and hawthorn goose) stay here in large numbers. The deer who wander the surrounding forest are also protected, so long as they stay in Veliki Pažut. You can catch sight of this wildlife and photograph it from the new, specially designated solar-powered boat.


In warmer months, people bring their picnics and barbecues down here to the water's edge. There's a famous beach at the old Legrad-Halasz Csarda resort and nearby a new children's playground.

čigre_na_sprudu_National_Geographic_2015.jpgAnother two residents in the Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve, captured by © Goran Šafarek

You can read more about the visitor offer in Legrad and at the Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve here

Cycling the Drava river routes

podravina-prigorje-bike-ilustracija-005_1.jpgCycling by the Drava River in Koprivnica Križevci County ©

The Drava route is the oldest and most famous bicycle path in Podravina. As its name suggests, it largely follows the course of the Drava river. Although, it veers away from the riverside to take in some of the must-see sights of the county.


On the 84 kilometre route, you pass through a diverse landscape - fields of golden agriculture, the neat rows of gently descending vineyards and forests that filter the sunlight. From the confluence of the Mura and Drava in Legrad, you drop down past Šoderica lake, before taking in the remarkable village of Hlebine, world-renowned as the centre of an art movement.


It's not the only historic settlement you meet. The grand city of Koprivnica sits on the route. Its town centre holds several monuments to cycling, so appreciated is the pastime here. Thereafter, traditional rural villages like Podravske Sesvete and Ferdinandovac give a timeless sense of life next to this great river.

Of course, this epic bike path is not the only one in Koprivnica Križevci County (you can see all of the specially designated ones here). Nor is it the only one to pass by the county's special waters.

Goran_ŠafarekD__6321_DxO-1.jpgDeer climbing the banks of the Drava, captured by © Goran Šafarek

At 394 kilometres in length, the D7 bicycle route is incomparable. Starting on the Adriatic sea and ending on Lake Balaton in Hungary, it takes in some of Croatia's greatest water features, including Plitvice Lakes National Park, Lonjsko polje Nature Park and the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County. Other highlights it passes in the county are the medieval town of Đurđevac and the village of Gola. From Gola, an alternative bicycle route takes you back along the Drava, then across the river and on to Šoderica lake. The lake is surrounded by new recreational paths perfect for walking, cycling and skating.

Fishing on the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County

Željko_Car_2.jpgIn autumn. Fishing on the Drava is enjoyed all year. © Željko Car

Boasting a massive 831,43 hectares of fishing waters, Koprivnica Križevci County is a fisherman's paradise. Carp, catfish, common bream, trout and pike are among the most commonly encountered here. These waters include not only the Drava and the Mura rivers but also more than 20 designated fishing lakes. They're managed by ZŠRK Koprivnica (here), who can also issue permits to any visitors drawn to fish in the spectacular county waters.

0000180000.jpgPeaceful seclusion on the Drava © Mato Zeman

Camping by the Drava and Šoderica lake

Soderica54.jpgOn a summer day, Šoderica lake © Marc Rowlands

Often, the best way to connect with nature is to get up close and stay awhile. Camping by the Drava is great for relaxing and enjoying the surroundings. The Aqua Terra campsite (here) at Šoderica lake is just a couple of hundred metres from the river. There, you're only a few steps from the recreational lake, which is fed underground by the Drava itself.

117035465_2693303857613533_5173964214743674320_n_1.jpgSummer fun on the beach at Šoderica lake © Aqua Terra

You're not alone on the lakeshore. Since before the 1960s, this has been a favourite place to come. Weekend houses sit back from the shoreline promenade. In warmer months, children's voices carry across the water while they're swimming in Šoderica. In the evenings, young adults congregate at popular bars on the edge of the lake. Music concerts, sports tournaments fill the lake's social calendar.

Marcy1.JPGCyclists take a break from the sun at Šoderica lake © Marc Rowlands

The camp itself is spread across 20,000 square meters and includes an activities park - with rope bridges through the treetops - and a beach bar. You can find out more about the events and activities on Šoderica lake here.

Hunting in the forests of the Drava

dia_0090_levels.jpgThe river in winter © Mato Zeman

The forests that thickly line the banks of the Drava are filled with wildlife. Roe deer, red deer, boar, rabbits and pheasants are just some of the inhabitants. The region's hunters play a vital role in maintaining the habitat of these animals and in keeping track of population numbers. Visitors from several European countries are regularly welcomed to join their activities. Koprivnica-Križevci County Hunting Association can be contacted via local tourist board offices. Alternatively, there are private hunting grounds run by tourism experts KTC (here), who also offer hunting lodge accommodation (here).

DSC_8738.jpgRaft on the Drava © Mato Zeman

Wild swimming in Koprivnica Križevci County

DSC_0332.jpgJumping into the Drava © Mato Zeman

In summer and early autumn, the Drava warms before reaching the county. In some stretches, where the water is deep enough, yet protected from the always strong currents, you can swim in the river. Children jump from rope swings, then plunge into the cooling waters. The river feeds two lakes which are also popular places for summer swimming; Šoderica near Legrad and Đelekovec and the Čingi lingi lake, which lies between the villages of Repaš and Molve.

Goran_ŠafarekČingi_Lingi_DJI_0062_1.jpgFrom above, Čingi lingi lake © Goran Šafarek

Rafting, kayaking, canoeing and boat trips on the Drava river

Željko_Car_1.jpgThis giant river is full and wide, even in summer © Željko Car

Many of Croatia's rivers are too dry in summer to support activities. Not the Drava. This giant flows thick and fast even during peak summertime. A great way to enjoy the natural surroundings is from atop the water itself. A whole new perspective of the riverside banks and forests opens up from a canoe or kayak. Gliding silently through the landscape allows it to unfold. For a more thrilling experience, take to the Drava by motorboat or wild rafting.

Željko_Car_10.jpgCanoeing through an epic landscape © Željko Car

You can go rafting with Rafting Club Koprivnica (here) or with Etno Kuce Karlovcan (here). Karlovcan also offer motorboat excursions and accommodate larger parties on river tours. You can find out more from the Tourist Board of Dravski Peski (link below). 

Food and drink from the Drava river and its fields

Fishyev1234.JPGFrying fish at Fišijada Ferdinandovac © Marc Rowlands

At the annual outdoor cook-off Fišijada Ferdinandovac, you could well imagine being further down the Drava in the region of Slavonia. The fried fish and the deep red, paprika-rich fish stews here are classics of Slavonia. And they're favourites here too. The carp and catfish are pulled from the same river, the paprika a long embraced influence from Hungary on the other side.

IMG_2251REJIG_1.jpgMaking gulash in competition at Rokovo in Kozarevac © Marc Rowlands

But, you'd be wrong to think that Podravina cuisine is an exact match of Slavonia's. Koprivnica-Križevci County has its own distinct recipes, ingredients and flavours. Wild mushrooms, plucked from the forests and fields by the Drava, can be found alongside barley in a classic local soup. It's delicious.

AnyConv.com__IMG_2044fgvbnmjnhg.jpgThe all-organic vines of Vinarija Šipek in Kloštar Podravski, Koprivnica-Križevci County © Marc Rowlands

Koprivnica-Križevci County also has exemplary wines. You'll find superb whites like Riesling, Chardonnay, Grasevina, Sauvignon blanc and more here. They thrive in sandy soil. It has been deposited in the fields here over millennia by the Drava. Vinarija Šipek in Kloštar Podravski (here) run an all-organic winery with excellent wines and heritage grapes. Vinarija Kostanjevec in Lukovec (here) are decorated internationally. In 2020, their Premium Riesling won Silver at the Decanter World Wine Awards. But, there are many more great winemakers all across the county.

fishandfootball.JPGFood preparation and football from ŠNK Bušpan at Rokovo in Kozarevac © Marc Rowlands

In this part of Podravina, celebrating the fine local food and drink is a regular part of the culture. Every village has at least one notable event. Often held outdoors, they are great social occasions and a good excuse to visit a neighbouring place. More often than not, a sports match, music concert or a funfair runs in tandem. If you want to try the river fish dishes of Podravina, restaurant Ribička hiža near Đurđevac (here) serves these specialities year-round.

cheese.JPGSelection of award-winning cheeses, fresh from the farm shop at Family Farm Imbrišić (here) in Kozarevac, Kloštar Podravski © Marc Rowlands

Staying by the Drava river

218857084_129845805966818_2553627362942924296_n_1.jpgFrom above, Dravski raj on the Drava River in Koprivnica Križevci County © Toni Fereža/FT STUDIO

You can find great traditional accommodation across all of Koprivnica-Križevci County. And, if you want to stay right next to the Drava, there are some super options.

accomm.JPGOrnamental gardens at Dravski raj © Marc Rowlands

Dravski raj (here) is a delightful renovated farm complex that backs onto the Drava. Inside traditional buildings, you'll find modern bedrooms, a games room, hot tub and free bicycles for exploring the surrounding nature. You can draw your own water from the well to drink – or just take it from the tap, of course.

accomm234566.jpgPerfect for events and relaxing, the sprawling grounds of Etno kuce Karlovcan © Marc Rowlands

Etno kuce Karlovcan (here) is a large plot containing artefacts of regional agriculture and life from the last few hundred years. Longstanding stakeholders in tourism on the Drava, they offer food, accommodation, boat rides, rafting and horse riding too.

58462828_636129590147500_5910088862897537024_n.jpgFrom the water, Country House Ivančan © Domagoj Krznarić

Art centar Ješkovo have robinson accommodation near Ješkovo. Also, Country House Ivančan (here) is perfect for a riverside getaway. The family enterprise is also famed for the food they prepare.

This article was produced with the co-operation of Koprivnica-Križevci County Tourist Board. Both the author and Total Croatia News would like to sincerely thank Željko Car, Mato Zeman and Goran Šafarek for the kind permission to use their photography here.

If you would like more information about any of the mentioned events, activities or county cycle routes, you can contact Koprivnica-Križevci County's tourist boards on these links.

Koprivnica town tourist board here 
Križevci tourist board here 
Đurđevac tourist board here 
Central Podravina tourist board here 
Tourist board of Dravski Peski here 
Kalnik tourist board here 

Friday, 18 June 2021

1 HRK for a House in Legrad If You Can Meet the Criteria!

June 21, 2021 - Last year, the municipality of Legrad in Northern Croatia started to market abandoned houses and construction sites in their town at 1HRK to attract new residents and has sold 17 properties since then. This year, the Legrad Municipality came up with a better marketing strategy to resolve the town's depopulation problem -  an additional 25,000HRK to 35,000HRK allowance for refurbishments, but at what cost?

Legrad is a rural municipality located just north of Koprivnica, Croatia. With its close proximity to the border of Hungary and the lack of transportation accessibility, the town has suffered continuous rural depopulation over the years as its inhabitants migrate to nearby urban cities. Currently, Legrad has 2,250 inhabitants - half the number it had 70 years ago. 

The repopulation attempt of Legrad Municipality started last year when they first marketed 19 properties in their town for 1HRK under the following criteria: the buyer should be under the age of 40, financially solvent, a university degree holder and a resident of the municipality or willing to register residence in Legrad within 3 years. 17 properties have been sold since the first attempt. These criteria still left the municipality vulnerable - there was no guarantee that the newcomers will permanently reside in the town.

So for this year, the municipality of Legrad upped their game by adding a better offer but with a bigger condition as well. According to the town's mayor, they will provide the new buyers an additional allowance of 25,000HRK for home refurbishments and 20% assistance or up to 35,000HRK for those who wish to buy a private estate in their town - in exchange for their commitment to live in the town permanently for at least 15 years, Reuters reported.


 Photo credit: Damir Spehar / PIXSELL

The town's mayor, Ivan Sabolic, said that the offer has piqued a lot of interest from distant places abroad with inquiries coming from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and South American countries like Argentina and Colombia.  But since Croatia has a complex immigration system, the municipality prefers to keep it local for now. 

Last year, a young family of 4 from northern Croatia took up the offer and bought a one-kuna house and has since been living, working and raising two kids in Legrad. According to Danijel Harmnicar, the father of the family, the 15-year residency is not a problem because it is much nicer to own a property than to rent one. They are satisfied and have no plans to move in the near future.

 What to expect in the town of Legrad?


Photo credit: Damir Spehar / Pixsell

For people who are interested in moving to Legrad, Croatia, the employment opportunities offered in the town are various jobs under food production, wood processing and metal processing.

The offer is also perfect for those who dream a peaceful countryside life. The beautiful rivers of Mura and Drava meet in this town, therefore, making it an ideal habitat for rare plant and animal species. Veliki Pažut, found at the mouth of the two rivers is a ornithological reserve and is often visited by nature lovers. The rich and long history of the town is also untouched such as the Church of the Holy Trinity and a town square, both preserved from the Baroque era. Also found in this town is Novi Zrin, a fortification against Turks that was built by the historic noble family of Zrinski. 

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Saturday, 15 May 2021

Croatian Elderflower Juice from Podravina Family Wins Awards in London

May the 15th, 2021 - Croatian elderflower juice produced by a family business from Legrad in Podravina has been earning awards and recognition in London for years now.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes, the Croatian elderflower juice from Podravina has been receiving awards from London at the Great Taste competition for some time now. The story of the Kapronca business begins back in 2012 when the family opened the Pavlic Senka family farm and entered the market with elderflower syrup made according to an old family recipe.

''After many blind tastings and small adjustments of my mother's recipe, we decided we were ready for the first big harvest, but we quickly learned that making a small amount of elderflower syrup which ends up excellent isn't the same as making a large amount of it, and we had to throw out the first lot.

After five years of gathering more and more experience and engaging in continuous improvement of our production process, we opened the Imanje Kapronca family business, undertook a complete redesign and rebranding, introduced two new flavours of raspberry and mint and were ready for the first application to Great Taste with our elderflower syrup.

The London Awards are our greatest pride, especially when you know how strict the criteria are and what details professional Great Taste tasters are able to recognise. That's why it is considered one of the most prestigious awards, the so-called Oscar's in the world of food and drink.

Last year, about 12,800 products from 106 countries were registered, and the competition is extremely strong because almost all of them are "craft" products from smaller manufacturers such as us. We've also won the title of Great Taste manufacturer JER, and since 2017 we've been winning Great Taste stars for our Kapronca products,'' revealed Zvonimir Pavlic, the owner of the estate.

Today, they have six products, juice products without additives, and with raspberry, mint and elderflower, they use only sugar and citric acid.

The production is, as stated, located in Legrad, which is a fifteen-minute drive from Koprivnica (Kapronca is the Hungarian name for Koprivnica), and their current capacity is 2,000 bottles of syrup or 3,000 bottles of juice per day. Last year, they launched a new item - ready-made juice in glass bottles of 290 millilitres.

As well as in stores, they also receive online orders on their Facebook and Instagram pages, and at the level of the year, they recorded revenue growth of about 35 per cent when compared to 2019.

“We're currently working with a limited number of caterers, which is to be expected because we introduced a new product for the catering and hospitality sector at a time of the greatest uncertainty and when nothing was in operation for months. Of the more famous ones, we can mention the burger chain of the Submarine burger restaurant, with which we've been cooperating since our very first bottle of ready-made juice.

We have the most partners in Zagreb, and from the hotel chains, we've contracted cooperation with Jadran Crikvenica, Maistra and Arena and others. Together with our distributor Sana delicacies, we're actively working on gaining cooperation with other hotels and larger camps, but everyone is still cautious and waiting for the outcome of the situation with the pandemic,'' stated Pavlic.

The month of May is the precise period when these flowers grow and are then harvested, which lasts until June. Their plantation covers a little more than two hectares, about 1100 elder trees grow on it, they also have mint only from their own cultivation, and they only buy raspberries from one larger Croatian company.

As Pavlic pointed out, although they have not yet established cooperation with local family farms, they hope that this year they will be able to at least partially procure raspberries from local producers. He also added that the share of raw materials from their own cultivation is around 70-75 percent.

“The Croatian elderflower juice is certainly the most sought after, and that isn't surprising at all, considering the great taste and tradition it has in our families. For many, it is their favourite drink from childhood, and we're the happiest of all when customers call us and enthusiastically tell us that Kapronca's juice is just like the grandmother's juice they used to drink,'' reveals Pavlic.

Next year, the family business plans to increase their daily capacity by two or three times, and they are considering the introduction of two new flavours, but that, according to Pavlic, will have to wait until 2022.

"We plan to build our own space for production and the storage of our products because we're currently working out of a rented space near Koprivnica. We also want to increase our capacity and achieve greater automation of production, filling and packaging.

We'd be happy if we succeeded with the help of EU funds, but unfortunately, we haven't had any luck with tenders so far. We've always been too young or too old a company, we had too small or too big of an economic size or some other technical problem, but we're not going to give up,'' concluded Zvonimir Pavlic.

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Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Turks Building Power Plant Worth 250 Million Kuna in Legrad

As Novac writes on the 30th of June, 2020, the Turkish company MB Geothermal is about to realise the very long-awaited construction of a geothermal power plant in Legrad in Koprivnica-Krizevci County, Podravski reports.

Just over a month ago, the Croatian Government passed a regulation on quotas to encourage the production of electricity from renewable energy sources and high-efficiency cogeneration. According to that document, twenty megawatts of power have been approved for geothermal power plants, and it is precisely that aforementioned Turkish company which will ask for that much power for its power plant being constructed in Legrad.

The Turks could get the support of the Croatian Government because they went the furthest from all those interested in Croatia with their Legrad-based geothermal power plant project. The power plant project has been created, and the only obstacle is the county spatial planning situation, according to which the current version in Legrad doesn't actually provide for a thermal power plant.

The power plant in Legrad, as things stand now, will be constructed with advanced technology, and unlike the project not far from Bjelovar, which the Turkish company has already realised, in Legrad, the carbon dioxide which will be released in the process of steam exploitation, will be returned together with warm water into the reservoir. There are plans to use geothermal water for other purposes in addition to producing electricity, too. It was announced that the remaining water, after passing through steam turbines, would be used to heat a greenhouse and to produce vegetables.

''For now, only a power plant has been planned, but the project also envisages a connection where hot water could, instead of being returned to the soil, be redirected to some other facilities, if there's interest in that,'' said Ivan Sabolic, Mayor of Legrad, who stated that the construction of the power plant has an estimated price tag of 32 million euros, but if the accompanying projects, such as greenhouses or even spas, were realised, the amount of investment would be much higher. The project should start in the spring of next year and be completed by the year 2025.

Legrad has been somewhat abandoned and there is a shortage of residents as many have left looking for better lives economically speaking, mostly to Europe. Therefore, at the beginning of the year, the mayor offered houses owned by the municipality for sale for a mere kuna. The ad read: ''Whoever wants to live in Podravina, on the border with Medjimurje, is less than 40 years old, has a job and has no criminal record, is welcome. The house will cost one kuna, the person can count on additional financial support and a quiet life in the countryside. Quiet, but not boring,'' - Nineteen people responded.

The investor in the Legrad power plant, the Turkish company MB Holding, which includes MB Geothermal, was founded back in 1968, and built the first geothermal power plant in Turkey and later built three more.

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Saturday, 22 February 2020

Legrad Municipality in Northern Croatia Selling Property for One Kuna

Remember those little towns in Italy that would pop up in articles and ads every now and then selling houses for a mere one euro? It seems that the small, entirely overlooked Legrad Municipality in Northern Croatia is following the Italian example - selling houses for just one kuna.

As Novac writes on the 21st of February, 2020, the little Legrad Municipality just north of Koprivnica has launched a tender for the sale of real estate it owns. These are plots of land without anything built on them, as well as plots of land with houses on them, nineteen of which are owned by the Municipality of Legrad, and the starting prices range from just over 5,000 kuna to up to 100,000 kuna.

However, all of these properties/parcels of land can be obtained at a price of just one kuna if the applicant meets the requirements of the tender at hand.

The Legrad Municipality decided that you're free to buy a house or a plot of land for a mere one kuna if you're under forty years of age, have at least a university degree and are a resident of the Municipality of Legrad, or if you are not, then you must register your residence within the municipality within three years. Likewise, at least one of the applicants, spouses or life partners must have a permanent income, local portal Podravski writes.

There are other conditions that must be met in order to buy real estate for a single kuna. The details of this particular tender are all readily available on the website of the Legrad Municipality and is valid until the end of this month.

''All those who aren't eligible for the preferential purchase can buy real estate at the quoted prices and the highest bid will be selected. However, as part of measures to improve the demographic picture of our municipality, it is possible to get real estate at the price of one kuna. But, that also includes some conditions, and the most important of all is that people who buy this property in it plan to live and stay in our municipality,'' said Ivan Sabolic of the Legrad Municipality.

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