The popularity of Croatia has exploded in recent years. Statistics show that visitor numbers have more than doubled in the eight years between 2010 and 2018, and this shows no sign of slowing down. Many people will point to the success of Game of Thrones in being the main driving force behind this growth, but there is so much more to this fascinating country.
With great weather, great food and some intriguing history, there are many reasons why Croatia should be on your travel list. Plus, if you’ve already visited once, its range of great destinations offer several reasons to return.
Cities like Split and Dubrovnik are often the first choice for travellers who have never been to Croatia before. And why not? These are the cities we see depicted on the aforementioned epic TV series and their beauty is obvious.
The historic walls of Dubrovnik create an Old Town with a fantastic atmosphere. Tourists buzz around the narrow streets and crooked stairways to discover restaurants hidden in secluded alcoves and churches that seem to appear out of nowhere. Then there’s the picturesque harbour area, characterised by the smell of fresh seafood and bobbing boats that offer the promise of adventure. This can be fulfilled in the form of a short trip to nearby Lokrum or a longer break to some of the islands mentioned below. Split offers a similar feeling, thanks to the way the historic Diocletian’s Palace has been woven into the fabric of the modern city.
Some of the smaller destinations may give you a more authentic viewpoint of the Dalmatian Coast, though. Towns and cities like Trogir, Omis and Cavtat will be far less overrun (even in the summer months) and offer charming waterfronts, adrenaline-fueled activities (check out Cetina Canyon) and quirky folk festivals.
Even the major city of Zadar gets far less of a look-in when it comes to being at the forefront of travellers’ minds. Equally as alluring as Dubrovnik – and with a similar style of red-roofed houses – its two principal attractions bring the seashore to life in unique ways.
A lot of visitors will use cities on the Dalmatian coast as a base for day trips to the islands lying just off the coast, but these peaceful paradises deserve a holiday in their own right. And there are so many options to choose from, catering to a range of interests and activity levels.
If you’re looking for historic architecture, head to Hvar or Lastovo. If you’re seeking thrills in the great outdoors, consider cycling on Cres or hiking in Korcula. And, if you simply want to relax, the beaches of Brac or the serene surroundings of Dugi Otok are perfect.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg too. Whatever you want from your holiday, you can pretty much guarantee there’s an island that can offer it. You don’t have to stay in one place either. Island-hopping trips are a great way to experience a variety of places and vary the pace of your break.
If you love food, you’ll love Istria. If you love history, you’ll love Istria. Basically, you’re going to love Istria. The region covers the peninsula that juts out from below Slovenia in the north of the country and it takes a lot of influence from the other nations around it.
Whilst the south has some great beaches to discover, this is not really the main reason people come to this part of Croatia. They come to enjoy the Venetian charm of Rovinj, the historic ruins of Pula’s Roman amphitheatre and the Austro-Hungarian vibes of Opatija. And all of this comes without the hordes of tourists that typically pound the streets of other regions.
Don’t get us wrong, though. People are definitely waking up to the sheer beauty of Istria. And how can you blame them? With delicious local staples like truffles, Istrian smoked ham, fragrant olive oil and quaffable wines; coupled with the charming nature of hilltop villages that have yet to be fully explored, this region was never going to remain a secret forever.
Croatia’s interior receives nowhere near as much love as its glorious coastline, but there is still plenty to look out for if you’re not worried about lounging on the beach. Why not swap golden sands for cascading waterfalls with a visit the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park? The area is a paradise for lovers of the outdoors, offering enchanting pools, spectacular viewpoints and winding hiking routes to explore.
There are other options too if you’re looking to get out into the wilds. Another, less crowded, national park is Risnjak, an area covering more than 15,000 acres that takes its name from the lynx that live there along with bears and wolves. Hiking to the park’s peak is the most popular thing to do here, a task that will reward you with sweeping views over lush valleys filled with pines.
The capital, Zagreb also lies in the interior of the country and is often forgotten about when people select their destinations. Nonetheless, it is one of Europe’s coolest cities, boasting a host of fascinating museums and a buzzing café scene that always offers somewhere to take five minutes to yourself when you need it. The architecture varies from the modern street art of the Upper Town to the clash of classical styles in the Lower Town, meaning there’s always something interesting to look at.
If you would like to know more about the range of Croatian destinations we can take you to, call our team on 0800 988 3369 for your tailor-made quote. You can also sign up to our mailing list to receive offers directly into your inbox.