Over the past decade Croatia has emerged as one of the most exciting countries to visit in Europe. It has become one of the most sought after destinations for sun worshippers with its Dalmatian coastline boasting miles of pristine white beaches.
However, that is not to say it’s only good for beach bums. For history buffs there are a plethora of monuments from the Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Austro-Hungarian eras along with seven UNESCO world heritage sites. The countryside offers miles of unspoiled landscape, rugged mountains and beautiful national parks and its capital – Zagreb – still remains unspoiled by the tourist masses. We reveal the top 10 things not to be missed in Croatia!
1. Party in a palace in Split
If you visit Croatia’s second city, chances are you’ll spend the majority of your time in Diocletian’s Palace. Originally built by the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century, it is now the heart and soul of modern Split. Within the walls of this imposing fortress you’ll find most of the city’s bars, restaurants and shops. You can easily get lost in this labyrinth of winding narrow streets, but chances are you’ll find a group of pub crawlers along the way that’ll help you find your way – to the next bar.
2. Take a walking tour of Zagreb
Despite often being overshadowed by the perhaps slightly livelier Eastern European cities, Croatia’s capital should not be missed! Best seen on foot, it is an easy city to stroll around and admire its Austro-Hungarian architecture, scenic parks and busy squares. Do not miss Crkva Svetog Marka, a dainty little church that’s tiled roof features the Croation coat of arms.
3. Mend a broken heart
It is understandable, that unless you are a budding art enthusiast or culture vulture, galleries and museums can start to become one and the same. Although Zagreb has plenty of stunning galleries and museums catering to a variety of interests, it is the Museum of Broken Relationships that stands out as a must visit. The museum’s aim is to help people overcome the collapse of a relationship by contributing to the Museum’s collection. Here you’ll find various items (toys, clothing… an axe!) along with the stories of their significance to people from all over the world. It is an interesting look at how people overcome personal turmoil – but maybe avoid it if you are on your first ever couples holiday!
4. Get a view from the top
Dubrovnik looks fantastic from most angles but a trip up to the top of Mount Srd via cable car will allow you to see the old city in its entirety, along with several of the nearby islands in the middle of the turquoise blue Adriatic ocean. There is also a fantastic coffee shop where can have a refreshment while taking in one of the most iconic views in Eastern Europe.
5. Walk Dubrovnik’s city walls
The walled city of Dubrovnik is perhaps best explored from its… well… walls. On one side you’ll be dazzled by views of the surrounding cliffs and ocean before a few steps over to the other side of the walk way will leave you equally impressed by close up views of Dubrovnik’s world famous baroque buildings and marble streets. It’ll take you the guts of an hour to walk around the old city and is best done in the morning or late afternoon when the floods of tourists and Game of Thrones enthusiasts have dispersed and you can enjoy a bit of tranquillity.
6. Hop around the Elafiti Islands
Perfect for those with itchy feet, the most memorable way to see Croatia is to hop around its islands of which there are over one thousand. With most of the habited islands having daily ferries from the mainland it is easy to explore these vast and varied paradises. We recommend the Elafiti islands, a group of six islands along with several islets where you can explore quaint fishing towns and relax by quiet swimming spots. You can organise a day trip from Dubrovnik’s Old Harbour to the three most popular in the archipelago – Koločep, Lopud and Šipan.
Read more: 11 incredible secret European islands
7. Have an unusual cinematic experience in Pula
Amongst the various Roman sites throughout the city, Pula’s well preserved amphitheatre remains the most impressive. Slap bang in the city centre, it is the hub for most of Pula’s cultural events, from cinema screenings to concerts and festivals.
8. Take a boat out onto Plitvice Lakes
Croatia’s most popular national park is home to the sixteen electric blue Plitvice lakes. They are interconnected by impressive waterfalls and surrounded by dense forest. You can walk or take a panoramic shuttle bus around the park or take a boat onto Lake Kozjak and row across its tranquil waters.
9. See Zadar’s street installations
Past and present collide most obviously in the city of Zadar, a good alternative for those not willing to tackle the crowds in Dubrovnik or Split. The old town sits on a peninsula and is jam packed with medieval churches and roman ruins to explore. Some of its more modern and quirky attractions include the Sea Organ (an art installation that transforms waves into melodies) and the Sun Salutation (a circle set into the pavement that produces a light show, creating a visualisation of the Sea Organ’s melody).
10. Explore Stari Grad
Stari Grad is Croatia’s oldest town. People first settled here in 384b.c – the same year that Aristotle was born if you need some context. Situated on the popular island of Hvar, this pretty town is an excellent escape from the nightlife and vibrancy of Hvar town.
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