Croatia - A stunning destination that has it all
Glittering seas, unspoilt islands, historic cities and natural wonders - Croatia has all this and so much more!
A BEAUTIFUL COASTLINE
Croatia has almost 2,000km of sublime coast, with tantalising crystal-clear waters. Craggy coves abound, making for interesting exploring, and more than 1,000 islands range from uninhabited atolls to nature reserves and fashionable resorts. This makes a cruise aboard a small ship one of the best ways to see Croatia as it gives access to all the hidden beaches that can’t be reached any other way. You’ll also enjoy a friendly atmosphere, comfortable accommodation and the perfect vantage point from which to watch the sun set over the sparkling Adriatic.
It’s not all about Dubrovnik – Croatia’s other towns harbour less-visited treasures. In Split, Emperor Diocletian’s Palace, built in AD 295, now forms the hub of the old town. A cluster of churches, chapels, traders and street cafés have moved in, turning this piece of history into a living city.
Porec, with its beautiful basilica, Opatija, home to a sevenmile beachfront promenade, Korcula, with its Venetian overtones – there are so many atmospheric towns to explore.
Depending on minerals and sunlight, the 16 lakes of Plitvice National Park are constantly changing colour, from grey and turquoise to emerald-green. As they’re tucked into a clutch of craggy hills, and inter-connected by a series of waterfalls, they look like the illustrations you’d find in a fairy tale.
The super-star of the Croatian coast deserves the hype. Dubrovnik is a medieval hub, revamped by Baroque architects following an earthquake in 1667, and still bearing a few bullet-holes from the 1991-92 siege. Today you’ll see formidable city walls, a tumble of terracotta rooftops, ancient monasteries and gorgeous squares.
FOOD & DRINK
Cultural intermingling has created a wonderfully varied menu here. Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Turkish and Austrian influences result in a tempting mix of seafood, tasty pastas and hearty meat stews. We recommend retreating to a village trattoria and sampling regional specialities, washed down with a glass of local wine, or two!
Croatia is an historic crossroads, a gateway between Western Europe and the exotic East. Due to this strategic location, it’s easy to combine your Croatia holiday with trips to its neighbours. Montenegro, to the south, offers even more of the glorious Adriatic coast, plus harbours untouched by tourism. Or head into Bosnia and Herzegovina to find the labyrinthine city of Mostar, home to the Mostar Bridge. Built in the 16th century, it was destroyed in 1993 by Bosnian Croat forces but reconstructed in 2004. Albania makes for the most unusual diversion. Cut off from the world by its Communist regime until the 1990s, this is the secret Mediterranean. You’ll discover a land of hillside villages, bunkers repainted in cheery pastel hues and untrodden beaches.
Croatians love their coffee – usually rich, black espressos and creamy lattes. Even better, they like to drink them in style. Kavanas, or cafés, are generally roomy, atmospheric places with plenty of pavement tables so you can sip while you watch the world go by. Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar are good spots.
Croatia has an island for everyone, with more than 1,100 scattered around its shores, and a relaxing cruise is a great way to discover them. Lush Mljet is home to a stunning national park, in gorgeous Hvar you can admire sleek yachts moored in its harbour, and Vis is home to marvellous beaches including Croatia’s most famous, Zlatni Rat. It also features the highest peak of the Adriatic islands, Vidova Gora.
PLITVICE LAKES NATIONAL PARK
With a rightful place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, Plitvice Lakes National Park is perhaps Croatia’s best-known natural attraction. What you’ll see is not one, not two, but 16 small lakes joined by cascading waterfalls and surrounded by lush forests of beech, fir and spruce. Flower-filled meadows, trickling springs and hidden caves are further highlights, and when it comes to wildlife, the park is simply bursting at the seams. It is home to around 12 species of amphibian, more than 150 types of bird, mammals ranging from wild boar to deer, and if you’re really lucky, you might even spot a brown bear. Discover this stunning destination on our Croatia to Dalmatia – by Land & by Sea and Croatia’s Opatija Riviera tours.
DISCOVER ROMAN RUINS
Pula, located on the Istrian Coast, is a fascinating town whose centre is dotted with ancient sites. An undoubted highlight has to be the spectacular Roman amphitheatre, which at 2,000 years old, is remarkably well preserved. Primarily used for gladiator fights, which would be played out in front of crowds of up to 20,000, it is also one of the six largest Roman amphitheatres in the world, so well worth a visit.
CHOCOLATE TASTING IN OPATIJA
If you have a sweet tooth, don’t worry as Croatians take their chocolate seriously. And they infuse this delicious treat with all manner of home-grown ingredients from rosemary, figs and lavender to sea salt, almonds and even olive oil. A chocolate-tasting session is included on our Croatia’s Opatija Riviera tour.
TASTE TRUFFLES IN MOTOVUN
Both highly prized and priced, truffles are the Istrian peninsula’s speciality, with the dense forests of Motovun the perfect hunting ground for this gourmet fungi. Sniffed out by specially trained dogs, they are one of the world’s rarest delicacies, and you’ll get to savour the taste as you tuck into a truffle frittata.
ELAFITI ISLANDS CRUISE
If you’re based in Dubrovnik, the Elafiti Islands are well within your reach for a relaxing day out on the water. As you sail amongst this archipelago, take in stunning sights of forested hills, idyllic beaches, rocky outcrops and redroofed houses. Step ashore on Šipan, where, nestled between olive groves and vineyards are the Renaissance villas built in the 15th century as chic summer getaways for well-heeled Croatians. Then, after a seafood lunch on board, explore Lopud, an island which boasts a white-sand beach – rare for Croatia – and the ruins of a Franciscan monastery founded in 1458. - Enjoy this cruise on Dubrovnik & the Highlights of Montenegro.