Varaždin, Croatia

Varaždin County is located in the north-western, continental part of Croatia and is surrounded by Međimurje County in the north, Koprivnica-Križevci County in the south-east, Zagreb County in the south, Krapina-Zagorje County in the south-west and the Republic of Slovenia in the north-west.


It is the third smallest County in Croatia with only 176.000 inhabitants (census 2011). The County covers 1.262 km2 and the population density is 139 per km2 , which makes it one of the most densely populated counties in Croatia. However, it is the oldest County in Croatia mentioned back in the year 1181 in the charter of King Béla III, together with Varaždin County Prefect Belec, who was first mentioned in 1131.

The City of Varaždin, its administrative center, is known as “Little Vienna”. It became a free royal town in 1209 and was the capital city of Croatia from 1776 to 1776. Nowadays it is famous for its international festivals: Špancirfest and Varaždin Baroque Evenings, city cemetery, the fortress Old Town, and many baroque buildings. It is administrative, economic, educational and cultural center of the County.


There are six cities (including Varaždin) and 22 municipalities in the County. The economy of the County consists mostly of processing industry (38%). Other economic activities that follow are trade (30%), construction (10%), agriculture (8%), real estate business (4%), transport and communication (3%) and other activities including tourism (7%).

Varaždin County (as administrative unit) is in charge of education, health, spatial and urban planning, economic development, transport and infrastructure (county roads primarily), construction permits and other documents. The County has six administrative departments dealing with those topics and is led by the County prefect, Mr. Radimir Čačić. He has two deputies: Mr. Tomislav Paljak and Mr. Robert Vugrin, as well as a special adviser, Ms. Natalija Martinčević. County Assembly is a representative body of the citizens, elected directly every four years, and is chaired by Mr. Alen Runac. The executive branch of the County (County Prefect and his deputies) is also elected for a four-year term.


Current regional government has focused on the EU projects – since 2017 when they came to power, projects worth 100 million euros have been implemented. Most of them are dealing with energy efficiency of buildings used for public purposes (such as hospitals, schools, etc.), education on all levels and protection of people on the edge of poverty. Some of them are shown in the video named “The explosion of EU projects in Varaždin County” from 2018 (available here). Varaždin County is highly interested in developing international relations as well – it is a member of the Assembly of European Regions, the Alps Adriatic Alliance, the Institute of the Regions of Europe, Europa Nostra and has many partner counties and regions on the international scene.

Decision makers are more than aware hardly anything can be done on our own, since Croatian counties are small and have a relatively small budget – for example, average annual budget of Varaždin County is 35 million euros and, as shown before, projects worth three times more are being implemented at the moment.

Energetska obnova Minerva

Some of the most important projects financed by the EU which are being implemented right now are the following:

  1. the cycle of renewal of primary and secondary schools – worth 8,6 million euros, financed from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
  2. improvement of access to primary health care in Varaždin County, especially in rural areas (purchase of medical equipment and provision of new services ) – worth 1,7 million euros, financed from the ERDF
  3. renewal of Special Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation Varaždinske Toplice (Minerva) – worth 9,8 million euros – current and future state of buildings is shown in the video (Minerva-Final)
  4. project “I Can!” – its purpose is to provide students with disabilities support for inclusion in educational institutions through the work of teaching assistants and expert communication intermediaries – worth 1,4 million euros; financed from the European Social Fund (ESF)
  5. project “School meal for all” – financing meals for students who are at risk of poverty, call for application open permanently – worth 200 thousand euros, financed from the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD)

All of them are (partly or fully) financed by the EU. Varaždin County is a founder of the regional coordinator, Public Institution for Regional Development of Varaždin County, whose aim is to support the process of sustainable development and the use of EU funds as much as possible. It is an important logistical support in the creation and implementation of EU projects.

We are highly interested in EU cohesion funds, especially in developing integrated passenger transport. Northern counties (Varaždin County, Međimurje and Koprivnica-Križevci) have already developed a Master plan and modernization of the railway line from Čakovec to Varaždin and Lepoglava towards Zagreb is planned. After realizing it, trans-European railway connections (probably under the initiative Connecting Europe Facility) will be developed.

Varaždin County is also promoting the EU within “European Week”, a manifestation which has been held continuously since 2000, every year in May. In 2019, it was held from May 3 to May 16 and included exhibitions, lectures, and seminars, disseminating flyers about EU, info days, even pub quiz on the theme of EU. Children (kindergarten and pre-school) are always included – this year they were making flags of all EU countries out of LEGO bricks and the year before they were presenting EU countries in the City Park though their features (dance, music, play, cuisine, children books, etc.). They are led by the Association “Our Children” Varaždin. Public Institution for the Regional Development of Varaždin County and public institutions whose founder is Varaždin County (such as schools and hospitals for example) are also organizing various activities within “European Week”. This year the “European Week” was a part of the national program „Open Doors Days of EU Projects” coordinated by the Croatian Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds.


Official website of the County is

Contact for more information: Larisa Križan Breljak ( and Maja Zuber


  • Main local events
    Events that are an official part of the project
  • Side events
    Events relevant to the project