Discovering Croatia

View of gorgeous Dubrovnik
View of gorgeous Dubrovnik

Discovering Croatia

by Grace Bernhardt
Stripes Europe

Whether you want to relax on a beach or are looking for a more active vacation, Croatia offers attractions for everyone through every season! While the country does offer winter skiing and hiking, the warmer months offer the widest range of activities including hiking, cycling, golf, rafting, mountain climbing, kayaking, fishing, cave exploration, horseback riding, windsurfing and beachside escapes.

Explore the national parks


Plitvice Lakes looks too good to be true!

Much of Croatia’s countryside is made up of protected areas, including eight national parks, two strict reserves and 10 nature parks. The largest and most well-known national park is Plitvice Lakes, a UNESCO Heritage World Heritage Site, which is also the oldest national park in Southeast Europe. Inside the park, you will find more than 16 interconnected lakes aglow in magnificent colors, ranging from sparkling azure to glistening green.

Plan a coastal city getaway

While the warmest months of the year are July and August with temperatures in the mid to lower 80s, you can still enjoy a little sunshine year round. Popular seaside destinations include the cities of Dubrovnik and Split.

Dubrovnik


Beautiful Dubrovnik at dusk

Dubrovnik was heavily shelled and damaged during the Croatian War of Independence in the early 1990s, but has since been restored. Stroll along the ancient city walls for great views of the Old Town area and harbor. Inside the Old Town, you’ll find a number of Renaissance and Baroque buildings including Town Hall (now the Rector’s Palace), dating from the 11th century; the Franciscan Monastery (completed in the 14th century, but now largely Baroque in appearance) with its imposing church; the extensive Dominican Monastery; the cathedral (rebuilt after a 1667 earthquake); the customs house (Sponza Palace), the eclectic appearance of which reveals the fact that it is the work of several hands over many years; and a number of other Baroque churches, such as that of St. Blaise (patron saint of the city).

For a little beach time close to the Old Town, you can check out Banje, the city beach. Here you will find views of the city walls, calm waters for the kids to enjoy, and beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. For a more secluded beach frequented by locals, head to Sveti Jakov Beach.

Split


Split at night

While Dubrovnik can be crowded with tourists from spring to late fall, Split offers a taste of a real Mediterranean city with a shorter summer tourist season. The most well known attraction in Split is Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO heritage site. Visit these Roman ruins that were built as a retirement palace for Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD.

When hunger strikes, try some börek — a flaky pastry filled with either meat, cheese, potatoes or spinach.

Head to the beach at Bačvice, for some fun in the sun! While it can be packed in the summer, this is where you will find all the locals. Venture a little further out by taking the bus north of central Split to Kasjuni Beach at the foot of Marjan Hill. While smaller, calmer and rockier than Bačvice, you’ll enjoy the mesmerizing blue waters and pine forest coast.

Getting in and around

Many of the budget airlines such as Ryanair, Condor and Easy Jet offer cheap flights to Croatia. Another popular option for seeing Croatia is to make it a port stop on a Mediterranean cruise. Many of the major cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and Celebrity have ports of call in Dubrovnik and Split.

Rent a car and drive along the coast between Split and the country of Montenegro. This approximately four-hour drive gives you breathtaking views of the sea and islands from atop a mountain road. You will pass through a small slice of Bosnia and Herzegovina. When you get hungry, stop for a meal of sea bass or octopus salad with a glass of Pošip, a fantastic Croatian white wine.

In Dubrovnik, check out Adriatic Kayak Tours. They provide a range of full and half-day excursions, including kayaking, cave exploration, snorkeling, biking, cliff walks, cliff diving and vineyard tours. http://www.adriatickayaktours.com/

In Split, you can easily tour the city on foot. To get outside Split, rent a bike and head out along Split’s waterfront, the Riva, and continue to Marjan Hill for a great view of Split and the surrounding islands.

Something to suit everyone

From the rolling mountains to the beautiful blue Adriatic Sea, Croatia provides a beautiful backdrop for making new travel memories with family and friends. With so many great options to suit your vacation style, it is no secret why Croatia should be your next travel destination. 

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