When you are visiting the region of Zagorje in north Croatia there are many little excursions to make, here I will describe two and give some links to other places to visit in the area.
The region Krapina-Zagorje lies in the north of Croatia along the border with Slovenia, in the east lies the baroque town Varaždin and to the south the Croatian capital Zagreb. Already in 1193 the province of Krapina is mentioned in local transcripts, and it was a very popular region for Croatian and Hungarian royalty. Therefore, you can still find many castles and fortifications in this area, like Veliki Tabor, Bežanec and Trakošćan.
Besides old castles, local history goes much further back in time, it goes to the Neanderthals. The Neanderthals had a settlement in the caves near the present town Krapina. The excavation of human fossils in the sandstone of the caves near Krapina are the largest collection of Neanderthal remnants in a single location. There is a nice modern Neanderthal museum wwhere you can find more information about the history and the Neanderthals, besides the indoor museum there is an open air museum so you can stroll around the area where once the Neandertals made their fires.
From the pre-history to Marija Bistrica. This place is well known for its statue of the ‘black Madonna‘, and due to this small wooden statue the place is a catholic pilgrimage, and in 1998 the pope has brought it a visit. It is a nice small town with a pleasant square in front of the church, you can visit the church where you can see the black Madonna, and the surrounding buildings with wall paintings.
Zagorje county is a great destination for a rural holiday in Croatia with many small towns, castles, spas and museums.