Croatia Destination Guide
Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful UNESCO-listed cities in the world; not even severe shelling in 1991 has managed to take its beauty away. It is brimming with marbled streets, imposing medieval architecture and a host of awe-inspiring defensive walls, churches and palaces. From the top of Srđ Mountain you can admire the views of the magnificent Old Town of Dubrovnik and Elaphiti Islands scattered along the coast.
Split is the second largest city in Croatia and the capital of the Dalmatia region. This city boasts one of the best preserved Roman palaces in the world, inscribed on UNESCO heritage list since 1979. Diocletian’s Palace makes the core of the Old Town and a symbol of modern-day Split, incorporating an eclectic combination of Roman temples, Gothic palaces and modern Mediterranean-style stone houses.
Hvar is known as the island of sunshine, lavender and beautiful turquoise sea. It’s one of top destinations in Croatia, balancing peace and quiet with rich restaurant and entertainment scene. With its numerous beaches, it’s perfect for those wanting a beach holiday, but it’s also a great bite-size destination for those visiting for just a day or two, who like to do some sightseeing and enjoy local cuisine in world-class restaurants.
Said to be the birth-place of Marco Polo, this small fortified town, ruled by Venetians in the past, has an ingenious layout in the shape of a fishbone, both to prevent the strong winds from chilling the houses in winter and to increase the air circulation in the summer. The outer walls serve as a promenade, offering beautiful views of Pelješac peninsula’s vineyards, perfect for a romantic dinner.
Being the island furthest away from the coast, coupled with military-imposed isolation during World War II, when the island was used as a military base, Vis is largely undiscovered and the most traditional island. It has recently started to emerge as one of the more popular destinations due to its unspoiled nature and the ‘old Mediterranean’ charm.
Brač is the island famous for its stone quarries, some of which were used to build the White House in Washington DC, Diocletian’s Palace in Split, many cathedrals, monasteries and parliament buildings. Besides the stone, Brač is known for its quality olive oil and beautiful bays. One of the most famous spots on the island is definitely Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn) beach in Bol, whose shape changes with the currents of the wind and sea.
Trogir is a medieval town situated on a small island connected to the mainland with a bridge. Walk the streets of Trogir admiring preserved Kamerlengo castle and tower and a series of dwellings and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. Connected with Trogir via bridge is the Čiovo island, and with a short walk or a taxi drive, you can spend part of your day enjoy beautiful beaches.
The city of Šibenik, founded over 1000 years ago, was once a seat of King Petar Krešimir, earning a nickname ‘Krešimir’s town’. With its fortifications and towers, it also boasts with one of the largest Gothic-Renaissance cathedrals in the region, St James, constructed solely out of the stones from Korčula and Brač islands. A visit to Šibenik is often complimented with a visit to National Park Krka and National Park Kornati.
Zadar has been the centre of Dalmatia, where the oldest university foundations in the land were laid and where the first newspapers in the Croatian language were printed. With an abundance of archaeological sites, monuments, beautiful seaside promenades and numerous islands scattered in front of Zadar, it’s perfect for exploring. Listen to the Sea Organ, enjoy the lights of the Greeting to the Sun or follow in the steps of Alfred Hitchcock, who once said that Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world.
Croatia’s most recognisable UNESCO-listed national park, Plitvice Lakes are comprised of 16 cascading lakes and travertine waterfalls, and with endemic flora and fauna, they make a thriving ecosystem. Plitvice is beautiful any time of the year, showing change of seasons, making them a must-see whatever the time of your visit.
The capital and biggest city in Croatia, Zagreb is the cultural and economic hub of the country. With its Austro-Hungarian heritage, it’s a typical Central European city, with classicist and secessionist facades and green parks. Zagreb is packed with museums, galleries, theatres and restaurants – plenty to satisfy your inner culture vulture.
The beautiful coastal resorts of the Istrian Peninsula are among Croatia’s most treasured jewels – with pretty beaches and glittering blue waters. Istria is also the best base from which to explore the Kvarner Gulf – for a diverse collection of charming towns and islands – from lush interior wilds dotted with hilltop villages and quaint converted farmhouse hotels to a verdant coastline which is simply divine.
In 15th and 16th century many noble families from Dubrovnik built their summer residences on Šipan. There are two main towns on the island, Šipanska Luka and Suđurađ. In the latter, you can see remains of the renaissance castle of the family Stjepović – Skočibuha, whose construction was started in 1529. Also worth visiting is the beautiful Pakljena tower which dates back to 1563.
The Island of Šolta is the most underseen island pearl of the Adriatic and is both charming and beautiful. It is situated only 11 miles from Split, with an easy connection by ferry. It offers a beautiful crystal-clear sea, numerous peaceful pebble beaches and fantastic value at the local restaurants and cafes. If beaches aren’t for you, don’t worry, the island of Solta has many attractions from the old harbor town of Stomorska in the north to Grohote, the capital.
One of the most popular of the Croatian islands, Losinj is famous for its lush green vegetation. The main resort is the town of Mali Losinj – the largest on both this island and neighbouring Cres – whose harbour is said to be the most beautiful in the entire Adriatic. The tourist area is centred around Cikat Bay, which is well known for its beach and its good windsurfing conditions.
Rab is one of the greenest islands in the Adriatic and probably one of the most magical. It is covered with pine forests and has beautiful sandy beaches. It is well known for its mild climate that differs from the mainland due to three ridges which protect it from cold winds that descend from the Velebit mountains.
Taking up half of the island of the same name, Mljet National Park is the most important protected area of Southern Dalmatia. With its stunningly green inland lakes and woods, it’s a hiking, cycling, swimming and kayaking haven. Take a boat across the lakes to reach the islet of Melita, in the middle of the great lake, and visit a tiny benedictine monastery erected there in 12th century.
Makarska is the centre of the tourist riviera of the same name, encompassing several little towns, over 60km, each offering crystal clear beaches with a backdrop of Biokovo mountain. It’s a lively place, full of restaurants, cafes and entertainment.
Montenegro may be one of the smallest countries in Europe but its undeniably big in every other way – from its dramatic vistas and endless coastline to its magnificently preserved architecture. Popular among tourists in the 60s and 70s, the country became known as the “St Tropez of the Adriatic” for its pristine beaches and glamor. In fact, celebrities such as Sofia Lauren and Elizabeth Taylor were regular visitors to the small historic country.
Snow-capped peaks, turquoise-green rivers and Venetian-style coastline, Slovenia enriches its natural treasures with harmonious architecture, charming rustic culture and sophisticated cuisine. From the soaring peaks of the Julian Alps and the subterranean magic of Postojna and Škocjan caves, to the sparkling emerald-green lakes and rivers and the coastline along the Adriatic Sea, tiny Slovenia really does have it all.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to medieval villages, rivers and lakes, plus the craggy Dinaric Alps. Capital Sarajevo has a well-preserved old quarter, Baščaršija, with landmarks like 16th-century Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque. Visitors will likely remember the country for its deep, unassuming human warmth, its beautiful mountains and its numerous medieval castle ruins, cascading rafting rivers, waterfalls in its mostly mountainous landscapes.
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