Travel Guide to the Best of Croatia
Gathering momentum as a worthy European travel destination, Croatia is definitely worth adding to your travel list. Bordering the beautiful sapphire waters of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia boasts pristine national parks with unrivaled wildlife, beautiful beaches, historic walled cities with jaw-dropping architecture, and mouthwatering cuisine around every corner.
So, without further ado, here are our recommended places to visit to see the best of Croatia.
Croatia’s fragmented shoreline and many islands have over 3,900 miles of beaches, cliffs, and reefs. White pebble beaches line the clearest blue waters that sparkle in the Mediterranean sunshine. It’s an irresistible combination that will lure you into the water for swimming and watersports. Snorkeling and scuba diving are a delight, along with kayaking, sailing, water-skiing, and windsurfing. Of course, there are long sandy beaches for walking and sunbathing and some shingle beaches for fishing and watersports.
Croatia’s most photographed beach is Zlatni Rat Beach, and when you visit this remarkable sea spit of white sand and pebbles, you’ll understand why. Jutting out into the waters of Brac, it changes shape with the winds and currents. Rent a paddleboat or book a private catamaran for the day and enjoy seeing one of Europe’s top beach resorts against the Vidova Gora Mountain backdrop. Brac is also a good place to find some of the best luxury hotels and restaurants in Croatia if you want to extend your visit.
Historic towns and hybrid architecture
Croatia is just around the corner from Venice. Consequently, the Italian influence is very apparent in Venetian-style harbors and waterfront mansions. However, this former Balkan state also has a rich cultural legacy with early Slavic churches and red-roofed architecture. The Romans left their mark everywhere: in city walls, colonnades, temples, sculptures, and the magnificent amphitheater in Pula which rivals the better-known Colosseum in Rome.
Dubrovnik is Croatia’s best-known destination for tourists. Why not take a guided tour so you don’t miss some fascinating buildings, legendary stories, and highlights lining the hilly streets.
A walk along the sturdy 2km defensive walls with turquoise waters on one side and the old town on the other is unforgettable. Peer into gardens and courtyards and admire the series of well-preserved forts and cannons around the perimeter. It’s like looking down on a fairy-tale set with its maze of steeples, look-out towers, and terracotta roofs.
Don’t miss the elaborate Pile Gate (1537) and the statue of the city’s protective patron, Saint Blase, nestled in a niche above the fine Renaissance doorway. You can almost hear the rattle of heavy chains that once raised the wooden drawbridge each evening at sunset.
Of course, Game of Thrones fans will have their own list of must-see places, perhaps best enjoyed on a guided tour. Other gems include the Treasury within the beautiful cathedral and the Square of the Loggia, a traditional gathering place lined with beautiful architecture and monuments.
Stroll the Riva promenade and get your bearings on arrival in this fine UNESCO-listed city. The Diocletian’s Palace stands at the epi-centre of Split’s historic quarter. Built around 305AD, this colossal palace complex was home to the Roman Emperor who gave it his name. The magnificent arcaded peristyle and cathedral bell tower are illuminated after dark, creating a magical tableau. Diocletian left his mark on the city in many ways and his mausoleum is worth a visit too.
Don’t miss Croatia’s colorful capital city, Zagreb, where culture blends with modern shopping and dining. The red and blue tile roof adorning the modest Church of St Mark is like an elaborate board game with its shields and heraldic coats of arms. Visit the Cathedral Treasury and admire the priceless collection of religious silverware and artifacts within the Gornji Grad (Upper Town). The best views of the city are from the 13th century Tower of Lotrscak; it’s well worth the climb.
Home to some of Croatia’s most luxurious hotels and top seafood restaurants, Hvar is well worth a stop-over. This delightful Dalmatian Island attracts a host of celebrities and wealthy yacht-owners to the traffic-free Old Town and pretty harbor.
Tasty Croatian cuisine – and where to find it!
Croatian hospitality is legendary and with a good cause. Their enthusiastic cry of “Jedi! Jedi! means Eat! Eat!
While talented chefs preside over elegant restaurants, it’s worth venturing into a rustic family-run tavern and sampling local fare. Leave wine particulars at the door and sample some of the delicious local wines – you’re in for a big surprise! No meal is considered complete without a glass of wine, whatever the time of day!
Hearty home-style cooking maximizes the flavor and availability of fresh local produce and meat in a casserole known as peka. It is slow-cooked over the fire and spiced with honey, cognac, and Mediterranean herbs.
Typical Zagreb cuisine has an emphasis on meat, especially pork, with side dishes of potatoes, root vegetables, and cabbage. On the Istrian peninsula, a bean soup called manestra provides a filling lunch while the hand-rolled pasta (fuzi) accompanies mushroom or tomato-based sauces.
Along the coast, don’t be surprised to find Black Risotto (crni rizot). It’s a typical seafood rice dish colored with squid ink. It tastes better than it looks! Be warned, the ink will also temporarily color your tongue, lips and teeth too!
Typical Croatian snacks include air-dried smoked meat, soft sheep’s cheese, and locally produced olives and anchovies. Leave room for the delicious pastry desserts known as pita or burek.
Natural wonders to behold
Much of Croatia’s coast is limestone karst, a natural source of underground caverns, waterfalls, canyons, and lakes. It offers an unrivaled opportunity to go rock climbing, hiking beside waterfalls, caving, rafting, and ziplining.
Inland, Croatia’s most popular attraction is Plitvice Lakes, one of eight national parks which protect around 9% of the natural landscape in this beautiful country. Steep forested slopes surround dozens of extraordinary emerald green lakes and cascading waterfalls, best viewed from a series of boardwalks and bridges. Take a boat ride and keep your eyes open for evidence of wolves, bears, eagles, and owls.
Croatia has so many different aspects so why not plan a tour and experience it for yourself?
Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be sure to plan your dream trip to Croatia.
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