Croatia – God’s favorite country?
“I think God must have been in the best of moods when he created Croatia,” said Los Angeles race track owner and socialite Marjorie Everett after her first visit to this magical country of sea, sky, and mountains – a Mediterranean atmosphere the way it used to be. From the golden plains in the east to the breathtaking mountain passes in the west, from the natural parklands and lush green hills to the pristine coastline dotted with a thousand reefs, islands, and caves washed by the clear water of the Adriatic, Croatia has enchanted visitors for millennia.
Croatia’s unspoiled natural beauty and mild Mediterranean climate attracts tourists all year round. Whether you are looking for endless sunshine on white sandy beaches, active sports in a stunning landscape, a vibrant party and festival scene, a wine-gastronomy adventure, or a rich architectural and cultural heritage, Croatia has something special for you.
A relatively small country packed with monuments of cultural and historic importance, Croatia is home to some of the world’s best-preserved and most atmospheric Greek and Roman ruins. UNESCO World Heritage sites abound, including the Pula Arena, Diocletian’s Palace in Split, and the Murals of Dubrovnik, and the Euphrasian Basilica. Later, the Byzantines, the Ottomans, the Italians, French, Hungarians, and Germans all left their mark here too, in cathedrals, squares, fortresses, and castles.
Facts about Croatia
- Croatiafirst appeared as a duchy in the late 7th century and then as a kingdom in the 10th century. After being incorporated as a province of Yugoslavia for most of the 20th century, Croatia regained its independence in 1991. Republika Hrvatska is the official local name for Republic of Croatia.
- The official national language is Standard Croatian, which is a Slavic language.
- Croatia is home to the world’s smallest town – Hum, population 30.
- The English poet Lord Byron described Dubrovnik as the “pearl of the Adriatic.”
- The HBO series Game of Thrones was filmed on the Dalmatian coast in Split and Dubrovnik.
- A Croatian holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest white truffle.
- Croatia, a country of just over 4 million people, has produced some of the most world’s famous athletes, musicians, artists, scientists, and politicians, including the basketball players Drazen Petrovic andToni Kukoc, the football players Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Zvonimir Boban, Slaven Bilic, and Davor Suker; the tennis players Goran Ivanisevic, Ivan Ljubicic, and Marin Cilic, the handballer Ivano Balic, the high jumper Blanka Vlasic, the discus thrower Sandra Perkovic, the skier Janica Kostelic, the swimmers Duje Draganja and Gordan Kozulj; the pianists Ivo Pogorelic and Maksim Mrvica; the actors Goran Visnjic and Rade Serbedzija; the sculptor Ivan Mestrovic; the inventor Nikolai Tesla; and Josip Broz Tito, leader of the former Yugoslavia!
Must-See Places on Your Croatian Tour
Dalmatia: A mountainous region on the south Adriatic, home to spectacular unspoiled islands and picturesque towns and cities, Dalmatia belongs at the top of every visitor’s list.
Dubrovnik: Located on the Adriatic coast, Dubrovnik is a city that visitors do not soon forget. It is one of the nation’s top tourist destinations, and for good reason. Since the 7th century, conqueror after conqueror passed through Dubrovnik and left behind another layer of architecture. Its distinctive Old Town, encircled by massive stone walls is filled with well-preserved buildings, ranging from the Gothic Palace to the baroque St. Blaise Church.
Split: Split is a great place to see Dalmatian life as it’s really lived. Always buzzing, this exuberant city has just the right balance of tradition and modernity. Step inside Diocletian’s Palace, one of the world’s most impressive Roman monuments, and you’ll see dozens of bars, restaurants, and shops thriving within the atmospheric old city walls where Split still hums along as it has for thousands of years.
Trogir: Only 30 minutes’ drive from modern, bustling Split, the old city of Trogir is worth a visit. Smiling faces and well-kept old buildings make visiting Trogir a pleasant experience. When you step into the old city’s narrow alleys, squares, and churches, you’ll see at once why the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. And Trogir’s restaurants, bars, and open-air waterfront market entice people to linger even after they’ve seen the sites.
Korčula: If you’re looking for a laid-back island far from the crowds, bursting with old-time charm, Korčula could be just the place for you.
Hvar: A beautiful island off the Dalmatian Coast, favored for its spectacular beaches, lavender fields, and lush vineyards. It also has marble streets, Gothic palaces, stunning churches, an imposing old fortress, amazing local restaurants, and easy access to the Paklinski islands, a first-rate national park.
Krka National Park: Situated along the Krka River in Sibenik-Knin County, Krka is best known for its gushing waterfalls and natural pools of clear blue-green water.
Zadar is a city of wonders, renowned for its sunset and the haunting Sea Organ, a giant harmonica played by the sea. This wonderful walled city overflows with heritage, from the Roman-era Forum to the Byzantine St Donatus Church, built in 800 and still in a near-perfect state of preservation to the Romanesque St and the Anastasia Cathedral. And you shouldn’t miss the the Museum of Ancient Glass. Croatians also know Zadar as a city of great music, great food, and the home town of the world’s greatest football player – Luka Modric.
Kornati National Park is not as popular as Dubrovnik and not famous as Hvar, but it may be the most stunning part of Croatia, an idealplace for people who love nature and the sea and don’t care for crowds. The Kornati islands are a perfect place to stay for a few days, preferably as part of a longer cruise that also takes in Vodice, Zadar, and Sibenik.
Plitvice Lakes National Park: Sitting between Zagreb and Zadar, Plitvice is a jewel nestled in mountainous central Croatia. People love this UNESCO World Heritage site for the mountains’ impossibly vibrant colors, which change over the course of every day and every season, from azure to forest green and again to blue-gray.
Zagreb: Croatia’s capital shows a totally different side of Croatia. Zagreb is vibrantly urban, yet open and welcoming. Once you’re through seeing the sites – Ban Jelacic Square, Dolac Market, Kaptol and its stone gate, St. Mark’s Church – treat yourself to a visit to one of the city’s great bars and eateries. Apetit, Noel, Dubravkin Put, Fidel, Boban, Korcula, Bistro Vjestica, Pod Zidom, Sherry’s Wine & Bites, Mali Bar, Duck Fast Bistro, and Pupitres Bar, are all good bets.
ISTRIA REGION: Gourmet food, Muscat wine, gorgeous pebble beaches, and amazing ruins – there’s a lot to like on this heart-shaped peninsula in the north of Croatia on the Italian border. It’s a very different landscape from the wild, mountainous southern Dalmatian coastline, still beautiful but in a more picturesque way. Of course, in addition to more relaxing pleasures, such as trying the local wine and olive oil, you can still find plenty of adventures, whether you like biking, rock-climbing, paragliding, or diving, all in a region small enough to use one city as a base for day trips to nearby towns.
Motovun: You will love this mysterious hill town. Located at the top of 1,052 steps, surrounded by a walkable wall with a panoramic view of vineyards and forests, Motovun is a town of surprises. One particular surprise that is not to be missed: a truffle tasting and truffle hunt with the Karlic Family in Paladini.
Hum: The smallest town in the world – 30 people at last count – is also one of the loveliest..
Rovinj: Rovinj’s old town is one of the most charming in Istria. This part of Rovinj is renowned for its beautiful Venetian architecture. With its romantic marble streets, charming medieval houses, and tasty cuisine, you’ll think you’re in Venice –but with better weather!.
Lim: Lim is worth a visit just for the view from the top of the town and the delicious oysters from the waterfront oyster farm..
Bale: Croatia has many charming hilltop cities with narrow streets and charming bell towers, but there’s something special about Bale that we can’t quite explain – we can only love it . You will too.
Vodnjan: There are more colorful towns in Istria, but none more appealing, and Vodnjan’s Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture brings something extra to the table – as do its olive oil producers. The king of Croatian olive oils, Evoo, is made at the Chiavalon farm right in Vodnjan. Make sure you book a tasting – Evoo has been rated one of the 15 best olive oils in the world!
Fazana is a picturesque little town close to Pula with a beautiful waterfront and many restaurants and cafes. Sure, it’s a bit crowded in the summer, but it has that charming fishing town look and vibe, which makes it one of the highlights of Istria – especially after you’ve tried Fazana’s fresh fish.
Brijuni is a group of Islands you do not want to miss. This national park is an oasis of magnificent harmony between animal, human and plant life. No wonder the long time Yugoslavian leader Tito chose to spend his summers there, as you will learn if you visit the museum about his life and his summer days in Brijuni.
Pula: Ah, Pula! A 3000-year-old town known for its arena, the second largest Roman amphitheater (after Rome’s Coliseum) and one of the best preserved. Pula has something for everyone: beautiful beaches, colorful reefs and diving spots, culture, great food and history. After a day immersed in Roman architecture – the Temple of Augustus, the Arch of the Sergii, the Gate of Hercules, the Arena, and the the small Roman theatre,– you can experience a very different immersion at the beautiful beaches of Verudela, Stoja, the sandy island of Levan, or Cape Kamenjak with its amazing caves by the beautiful clear sea.
If you are the kind of person who likes to taste your way through a rich culture, listen to ancient tales, stroll through fortified villages, visit a lace-making school, enjoy the local music of Klape, sail among unspoiled islands, try local cheeses, eat fresh fish on the ‘gradele’, or local ‘konoba’, go truffle hunting, try some of the best olive oils in the world, be in one of the sunniest places on earth (in the summer, sun never goes down until well after 9 p.m.), making new friends, and swim in the clear blue-green Adriatic water that will stay in your memory for years, long after you’ve checked out of one of our delightful hotels, why not visit Croatia?
Until then, we will be happy to offer you a small taste of Croatia from our selection of Croatian delights. Please contact us for any queries or orders.