The scenic city and crystal waters of Croatia

The scenic city and crystal waters of Croatia

by: Rebecca Utz | .
Stripes Europe | .
published: July 13, 2017

Set on the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is the crown jewel of Croatia. Take some time this summer to visit this ancient city or one of the natural wonders in Croatia.

Dubrovnik

With its ancient walled city set on the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is the crown jewel of Croatia. The city is a filming location for the TV series “Game of Thrones,” serving as King’s Landing. The marble streets and baroque architecture draw tourists and film crews alike. Dubrovnik is a popular stop for cruise ships.

One of the best parts of Dubrovnik is the old fortifications. Visitors can climb and walk the walls surrounding the ancient city. From the top, you can see clay-tiled rooftops on one side and the gleaming Adriatic on the other. If you peek over the wall down to the sea, you will spot a peculiar bar. Located outside the city wall and facing the Adriatic, the Buza Bar is a unique place to have a drink and enjoy the sunset. Within the city are small squares, marble streets and plenty of cultural and religious sites. The Stradun (also known as the Placa) is the main thoroughfare and pedestrian promenade of Dubrovnik. It runs from the Pile Gate through the heart of the old town. There are two monasteries within the city walls, Franciscan and Dominican. The Franciscan Monastery Museum has exhibits from the 14th and 15th centuries, along with more recent history. Two shell holes were left in the museum walls from the city’s siege in 1991.

A viewing platform on Mount Srđ gives a spectacular view of Dubrovnik. A quick cable car ride up the hill allows you to see the size and shape of the city. If you are looking for adventure or just low on cash, consider a walk up the hill to the viewing platform instead of paying for the cable car.

Numerous boat tours are available from the harbor. One quick boat trip will take you to Lokrum Island. This island has free roaming peacocks, hiking trails, swimming beaches and a “Dead Sea” lake. This lake has a high concentration of salt and is easy to swim in. No cars are allowed on the island, so Lokrum is a welcome break from the congestion of peak tourist season in Dubrovnik.

Plitviče Lakes National Park

Cascading lakes form waterfalls in the famous Plitviče Lakes National Park. Located near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plitviče is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest national park in Croatia. The park is divided into two sections: the upper lakes and the lower lakes, separated by a long lake. The upper lakes section consists of 12 lakes, while the lower lakes are located in a canyon with cliffs as high as 130 feet. The tallest waterfall in Croatia, the Veliki Slap, is more than 230 feet tall and located at the end of the lower lakes.

Abundant hiking and cycling trails help you explore the clear-blue water lakes. Along with the spectacular lakes and waterfalls, the park is home to 50 mammal species, including the brown bear, hedgehog and wild boar. The park has a large bird population, with 157 species identified. The rarest of these species is the white-throated dipper.

The coastal nation of Croatia exudes natural beauty and charm. The country’s coastline hugs the Adriatic Sea, making it a perfect spot for summer vacations. In Croatia, you can find unforgettable sites — both manmade and natural.

Krka National Park

Farther south in the Dalmatia region is Krka National Park. The park is named after the Krka River, which runs through it. Here you can visit a monastery, fortresses, canyons and many waterfalls. Although less popular with visitors than Plitviče, Krka boasts a series of seven waterfalls. At Krka you can swim in the lakes, although just like Plitviče, swimming in the waterfalls is prohibited. 

Highlights of the park include the Roški slap and Skradinski buk. Roški slap, known as the vast waterfall, has a road over it that dates back to Roman times. A series of small cascades in the waterfall form what the locals call the “necklace.” The Skradinski buk waterfall is the longest on the Krka River and one of the best known. The waterfall can be viewed from the walking paths and bridges surrounding it.

Besides hiking through the park, you can explore by boat. Excursions include trips to Visovac Island, Krka monastery and the Trošenj fortress. Visovac Island is home to a Franciscan Monastery and church, both of which have been there since 1445.

Take some time this summer to visit this ancient city or one of the natural wonders in Croatia. If you’re lucky, you might spot a rainbow in one of the waterfalls.

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