Croatia

Croatia

Belying its very troubled recent history, Croatia has emerged as a wonderfully mixed destination, offering in equal parts a fascinating culture, incredible medieval limestone-walled towns, great outdoors and good-old fashioned indulgent Mediterranean beach escapes.

The cities and (numerous) islands of the stunningly azure-blue Adriatic coastline are everyone’s enduring memory of Croatia and with good reason. Split possibly grabs prime position, with its Roman past best exemplified in the amazingly intact Diocletian’s Palace, a key site on the GOT tours that are an common feature for a fair bit of Croatia. Married with its beautiful harbour and a lively bar and beach-nightlife scene, there’s plenty to keep you occupied here for several days.

In the far southern outpost of the country, Dubrovnik is famed for its terracotta coloured roofline and its Unesco World Heritage listed harbour defences (one of ten listed sites in the country). Take a GOT tour here as well and experience the cobbled limestone laneways, architecture and culture of this many-historied town. Meanwhile, further to the north, the Istrian Peninsula bordering Italy often feels more Italian than Croatian, in food, culture and architecture, and offers a Croatian adventure with a bit of a difference.

And, along the coastline, Croatia is blessed with over 1,200 islands, the vast majority uninhabited, and others still are wonderful destinations to take in a slower pace of life. The home of the mega-rich (and others) is Hvar, known for its sunshine, beaches and beautiful little harbour-town, and then there’s Korcula, also known as ‘Little Dubrovnik’ and renowned for its wines...plus countless others deserving of your interest.

But, while the coastline is undeniably the major attraction, the interior also holds many drawcards. The landlocked capital Zagreb is a wonderful little destination with a vibrant cafe culture, and is also a great place to use as a base to explore the magnificent natural landscapes of the country. None are more popular than the sublime waterways and trails in Plitvice Lakes, another of the Unesco sites dotted round the country, and arguably one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Europe.

Croatia rewards all sorts of travellers. If you want to flop and drop you can, if you’re a culture-vulture, go nuts, and if getting out into the great outdoors is your thing, the hiking and adventure options in its national parks are plentiful. And, while the traditional meat-based Croatian diet is very much still part of the national palate, Croatia is now also known for an incredibly diverse epicurean scene, drawing on regional influences and local produce to create the perfect backdrop to your holiday.

Image by Inu, Shutterstock