Croatia is noted as the 18th most visited county in the world for tourists, full of old-world feel and a rich history. The mild weather and great wine and food draw people in from all over the globe. Although the country is the youngest in Central Europe, established in 1991, the area and its culture dates back to the Paleolithic age.
The country holds deep cultural value in the Catholic Church, with connection to the history of the Roman Empire. Croatians are very proud of this past and it can be seen throughout the cities, churches, and other attractions.
Along with a rich history and culture, Croatia is a visually beautiful country. Explore the many national parks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the many areas that have been untouched. Located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, you can enjoy the beach life and the mountainous terrain, all in same day.
Below are just some of the reasons that your next vacation needs to be in Croatia!
This city is Croatia’s most glamorous tourist destination. Dubrovnik sits inside of medieval defensive walls and is declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Here, you will see fortresses, towers, and cannons. From the walls, you can see stunning views of the old town and the Adriatic Sea.
2. Hvar Town
The Dalmatian Islands are a popular Croatian destination, the most frequented being Hvar. In Hvar Town you can find some of the best rated hotels and seafood restaurants in the country. The car-free town dates back to the times of Venetian-rule, from 1420 to 1797. As well as world-class dining and accommodations, visitors can enjoy a 16th-century cathedral, a fishing harbor, and a hilltop fortress.
3. Korčula Town
In South Dalmatia sits the island of Korčula, on which there is a tiny peninsula. The town is protected by medieval walls and towers. This is another car-free city with stone alleys in a herringbone pattern to give shelter to the winds. The area is littered with old aristocratic stone buildings from the times of Venetian rule. One of the most popular attractions is the home and birthplace of Marco Polo the 13th-century explorer.
4. National Parks
Croatia proudly protects eight national parks. One of these, Plitvice National Park, is Croatia’s most visited inland attraction. The park is home to steep, forested hillside surrounding sixteen blue lakes, connected by waterfalls. The paths and wooden bridges lead you through the park. The entrance ticket includes boat rides across the lakes, where you will see the lush forestry and thriving wildlife.
Kornati National Park is a 35-by-13 kilometer area of sea with more than 80 small islands. The islets are mostly inhabited and have rich fertile soil, while some have small stone cottages once used to shelter fisherman and shepherds. They’re now used as holiday retreats.
The national parks are just part of the natural beauty found in the country.
5. The beaches are by the mountains!
The picturesque pebble beaches draw crowds from all over the world. Zlatni Rat Beach is Croatia’s most popular, and most photographed beach. Located in Bol, on the south coast of Brač, the beach is made up of a 500-meter stretch of fine pebbles that sits perpendicular to the coast. The sea is warm from June through September.
Just a few miles from the sea, the Biokovo mountain range has Croatia’s second highest peak. You can spend your morning exploring the trails from Makar, a small town just above the beach, up to the peak of Vosac, at 1,422m, or Sveti Jure, at 1,762m. On the trails you will experience an abundance of wildflowers, pine trees, and limestone boulders. After your morning trek, return to the sea for an afternoon of swimming.
6. Check out Game of Thrones locations!
Croatia has a starring role in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. One of the locations can be found in the afore mentioned Dubrovnik. The walls and forts were featured as King’s Landing. On the outskirts of the city, the Trsteno Arboretum was filmed as the Red Keep’s garden. Other filming locations include the Fortress of Klis, the St. Dominic Monastery, and Diocletian’s Palace in Split.
You can spend your visit connecting directly with the past. Diocletian’s Palace features ancient columns, temples, walls, and underground cellars that once made up the Roman emperor’s retirement home.
7. The Museum of Broken Relationships
This museum has to be one of the quirkiest museums in the whole world. Located in the capital city of Zagreb, this museum features objects that seem insignificant, paired with captions that explain their connection to a failed relationship. The museum came to fruition when Croatian artists Olinka Vistina and Drazen Grubisic separated. They didn’t want to part with the items that reminded them of their relationship, so they started the museum so the items could remain together.
Another interesting museum can be found in Split, Croatia, called Froggyland that features over 500 taxidermied frogs doing things people do.
8. The Festivities
Croatia has an exciting nightlife in Hvar Town and Rab Town where people like to stay out late having a good time. The country also hosts many cultural festivals during the summer. The best known festival is the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, a month-long festival from July to August that attracts international performers. A hilltop village in Istria called Tiny Motovun holds a film festival every year.
Other festivals include the Love International Festival, the Dimensions Festival, and the Outlook Festival.
9. Explore a shipwreck
Below the surface of the water in Zavratnica Bay, a German World War II ship can be seen near the Jablanac port. The area is a national park, so there is a fee to enter. Walk the trail leading to the ship. Watch your step because the path can be full of slippery, loose rocks. Bring your snorkel, because you are allowed to swim in the area of the ship.
10. The Food!
The food in Croatia is some of the best in Europe. If you like fish, head to Dalmatia where you can order fresh fish cooked to perfection. Try crni rižot, a black risotto made from cuttlefish. If you’re not a fan of fish, try a traditional beef dish called pašticada. The beef is marinated in garlic, wine, and herbs for 24 hours and is served over homemade gnocchi with a rich, dark sauce. Hungry yet?
Though you may find safety in the many pizza shops in the county, make sure to seek out a konoba – a local, family run restaurant that serves traditional croatian cuisine.
The best wine can be found on the Pelješac peninsula. The region is well-known for its delicious shellfish, dry red wine, and beautiful beaches.