A long coastline sprinkled with more than a thousand islands, historic towns bursting with Medieval charm, and stunning natural landscapes rich in wildlife are just some of the wonders waiting for you in Croatia.
Located in the Western Balkans, Croatia’s unusual shape means its borders touch many central European countries including Slovenia, Hungary and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Adriatic Sea laps at its shores before stretching all the way to Italy, and sailing the crystal clear blue waters is one of the most recommended ways to discover the country of red and white checks.
But, if sailing isn’t your thing, road trips are also popular amongst tourists visiting this stunning country. It’s no surprise, there are so many beautiful places to discover. There’s the capital, Zagreb, with its romantic Old Town and quirky modern museums; the coastal region of Dalmatia, home to the ancient city of Split and an array of beach resorts; Dubrovnik, whose Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and whose urban beaches are something to behold. In fact, there’s so much to see and do, one trip won’t be enough.
Holidaymakers from all walks of life will feel welcome in Croatia. Ever since the Independence Wars in the 90s, the country has blossomed into its own. Despite its location in the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is Mediterranean at heart. Not the Mediterranean of boozy beach resorts and overcrowded beaches, but the one where old ladies dress in head-to-toe black in the heat of summer, colourful seaside towns are undisturbed by top 40 tunes – unless, of course, you head to one of the many music festivals – and delicious restaurants hide amongst cobbled streets.
Old and new meet in Croatia’s vibrant capital city Zagreb. Many travellers only use it as a stopover before heading to the coast, but we recommend spending some time getting to know the old girl; she’s got plenty of life in her yet. Founded in the 11th century, the city’s Medieval Upper Town hides many historic landmarks, including the Cathedral and Lotrscakc Tower. But it’s the modern attractions like the Museum of Broken Relationships that give it extra charm. Bring a healthy appetite – the restaurant and café scene is one of the best in Europe.
Dubrovnik is a favourite Croatian destination amongst tourists. The city dates back to the 7th century, when it was established on maritime trade, and is known as ‘the Pearl of the Adriatic.’ With whitewashed buildings kissed by the clear blue sky and azure waters lapping at its shores, it definitely lives up to the nickname. Sightseeing in the historic Old Town, soaking up the sun at one of the urban beaches and enjoying a wild night out are musts during your stay in Dubrovnik.
Home to the beautiful city of Split and an array of sun-drenched islands, the Dalmatian region is perfect for families of all shapes and sizes. Most of Croatia’s beaches are pebbly, but the islands off the Dalmatian coast offer some stunning golden beaches worthy of the Caribbean. Families and couples will fall in love with Hvar, Brac and the Drvenik islands, where charming beach resorts will satisfy all your holiday needs. Culture vultures won’t want to miss Split’s many historic landmarks.
Stretching along the coast of the Dalmatian region, at the foot of Mount Biokovo and just 3 km away from Brela, Baska Voda is a charming fishing village lapped by the clear waters of the Adriatic sea. Widely appreciated for its tradition and hospitality, Baska Voda offers sandy beaches among pine woods, white pebble beaches, and fresh mountain air. Boat excursions and watersports will make certain you remain active during your holidays while its churches, museums, and historical sites – some of them dating back to the 7th century AD – will give you a taste of the region’s historical heritage.
Lying between the mountains and the sea, Split – Croatia’s second-largest city – is a busy, well-connected port city that mixes tradition with vibrant modernity. Explore its palaces, Roman ruins, religious architecture; sunbathe on one of its sandy beaches, or hike up the pine forest that covers the entirety of Marajan Hill for a panoramic view of the sea and the city below. With stunning landscapes, traditional seafood, festivals and concerts performed around the old town, and ante UNESCO World Heritage museum, Split is an ideal destination for a holiday in the Mediterranean.
Bordering Slovenia and Italy, Istria’s clear waters, rocky beaches and traditional charm makes the 3600 square km peninsula one of the top holiday choices in Croatia. Italian influences and Mediterranean landscapes dot the region with olive groves, vineyards, and rustic towns. Stroll up the narrow, winding streets of Hum (the smallest city in the world), explore the Roman amphitheatre of Pula, head to Umag for a tour of walls and towers dating back to Roman times, or take a walk across the beaches and natural gems of Vrsar – home to a small airport that will let you fly over the area.
Soak up the sun
Croatia is home to some of Europe’s most stunning beaches. If you’re in Dalmatia, Split’s Bacvice beach and Brac’s Lovrecina Bay are a must visit. The former is popular with families and is the spiritual home of the Dalmatian sport picigin (basically net-less volleyball in the shallows on the beach). The latter is a golden sand paradise kissed by translucent waters. Meanwhile, Dubrovnik is home to popular Banje beach, Lapad bay and Copacabana beach, all of which are surrounded by lively cafés and vibrant cocktail bars.
Explore the National Parks
Croatia is home to eight wondrous national parks. We definitely recommend you visit the Plitvice National Park, where several trekking routes take you across the sixteen interconnected lakes. Krka National Park is also a must visit; the array of gushing waterfalls and lush green nature is just a stone’s throw from Split.
Visit Croatian landmarks
Croatia has no shortage of historic and cultural landmarks to explore. Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Austro-Hungarian monuments sprinkle Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split, while traditional Croat culture shines through every cobbled street. Bring your walking shoes and camera, there’s so much to explore!
There are almost as many festivals in Croatia as there are islands. Music festivals range from big events like the popular Hideout or Outlook to intimate affairs like Obonjan or Electric Elephant. There’s also a good selection of delicious foodie events – our favourite is the Croatian Food Festival, which visits the country’s major cities.
With hot summers and pleasant winters, Croatia’s tourism peaks between April and September. Though the waters are still too brisk for swimming, Croatian spring days are cool enough for hiking, biking, and outdoors events. In May, the Film Festival finds Croatia teeming with local and international filmmakers, and the Contemporary Music Festival will give you a glimpse into the local musical tradition. Don’t miss the Dubrovnik FestiWine if you fancy the regional wines produced by the national vintners.
Prices peak during the summer season, when the Croatian coast tends to be flooded with tourists and locals enjoying the seaside. Outdoor festivals draw crowds of both locals and tourists, and if you’re visiting during this time you should make sure to catch the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, which hosts nightly concerts around town as well as traditional productions of Shakespeare plays at Fort Lovrijenac. While summer is an ideal time for travellers looking to enjoy water-sports, swimming, and Croatia’s summer nightlife, if you want to avoid crowds it’s best not to stray too far from inland cities like Zagreb, which remain quiet even during high season.
Croatian winters tend to get harsher inland, with a generally snowy Zagreb and high chances of rain on the coast. Ski lovers will enjoy the many ski resorts easily reached from Zagreb, but the temperatures might be too forbidding for other outdoors activities. If you’re visiting in winter make sure to catch the New Year’s Eve celebration on Stradun, where traditional food and drinks can be enjoyed and Croatian singers and celebrities will entertain the crowd. February offers a wealth of festivals as well, with the popular Feast of St Blaise (which offers concerts as well as a parade of Croatian costumes and folk dances) and Carnival, when the streets of Stradun buzz with masked balls, singing and dancing.
Croatian cuisine is a happy blend of Mediterranean and Eastern European fare. Fresh fish and seafood feature on most menus, while Italian influences are especially strong in coastal regions. Self-confessed foodies will fall in love with Croatia’s tasty delights, which include crni rizot, a black rice risotto with cuttlefish, pasticada, a traditional beef dish, and burek pastries.
You’ll find plenty by way of food and drink in Croatia. Strong coffee at one of the cafés lining the beaches is a great way to start the day, while Croatian pizza is a mind-blowing experience. Though there are many international eateries, we recommend you find a konoba – small, family-owned local restaurant – and take your taste buds on a culinary journey of discovery.
Visit Croatia and experience one of Europe’s most stunning destinations. Despite its recent surge in popularity, Croatia still retains plenty of unique charm. Families, couples and party animals will all find a home away from home in this welcoming Balkan state.
Booking your holiday to Croatia with easyJet holidays is a sure way to get to this top destination hassle-free. Best of all, you can save on your holiday when you book your flight and hotel with easyJet holidays.
If Croatia isn’t your thing, have a look at Portugal for further inspiration.