Croatia

If you're truly seeking a place in Europe that has just about anything and everything you've ever wanted, Croatia is it. Spread out over 56,000 square kilometers, Croatia is a diver's dream with enough historical sites to make any history-buff fall in love.

The best place to go diving is Vis, where you can find all sorts of shipwrecks under the surface. The Blue Grotto is a serene place to visit while you're here; and the Mediterranean influenced weather means you've got from May to October to experience it all.

The busiest time of year is its warmest, from July to August. The rest of the year is pretty cold in Croatia, although its mostly known to snow more inland.

Even if you don't dive, Croatia offers all sorts of watersports, like kayaking and sailing to name just a few. Walking along Dubrovnik's Marina could count as a "watersport".

For the history side of Croatia, you won't want to miss cities like Dubrovnik with its medieval walls from the 13th century, monastery, and Baroque churches.

The captial city of Zagreb offers a stunning cathedral, museums, and lots of cafes to watch the world go by. It's got a happening nightlife with pubs, cocktail bars, and nightclubs for some serious nighttime action.

Don't be shy--all of Croatia's food and drink is safe.

Speaking of drinking, Hvar is a good place to try some locally made wines, while places like Pula offer Roman ruins like the Ampitheater; and Split is a third century AD town that's got a UNESCO designation.

Inasmuch as Croatia is great for diving and history, it's a wonderful country to experience nature. The Slavonia Kopacki Rit Nature Park is just the place if you're looking to do some birdwatching. And you've also got the Brijuni National Park spread out over 14 islands to do the whole flora and fauna thing. It's even better if you can squeeze in a round of golf here in the park.

Getting to all of Croatia's sites is made easy by its extensive network of public transportation, ferries, and trains (excect to/from Dubrovnik that has no train service) makes getting around simple and efficient. Within cities the public transport is good, and bike rentals are readily available. No need to worry about speaking Croatian, everything from Hungarian to Italian, English to German (Slovenian, Serbian, etc.) is spoken throughout the country. Besides, you'll be too busy eating Black Risotto and drinking the local wines to think about talking.

What you need to be thinking about is shopping. Croatia offers some terrific deals on lace, embroidery, ceramics, and glass jewelery. Perfect, all small enough to fit in your luggage to bring home.

Great souvenirs to bring home to brag to your family and friends about how wonderful a place Croatia is. And with a population just over 4 million, it's not crowded at all. It's almost like you'll find you have the Adriatic Sea all to yourself--now that's a real vacation.

Land your feet on Croatia, one of the quickly growing tourist attractions in the world

Have you wondered why there are increasing numbers of mega yachts to be found in Croatia. People are rapidly finding out about the abundant natural, sustainable and unspoiled beauty, rich cultural history and surprisingly affordable luxury offered by this gem set along the Adriatic.

Umag

This is the largest summer resort, with Sol Polynesia, Sol Stella Maris and Punta offering all kinds of activity holidays, including windsurfing, sailing, water skiing, spear-fishing, diving, boccia, horse-riding, volleyball and handball. Many professional tennis players like Goran Ivanisevic and Felix Mantilla are devoted to the region and can be seen on local tennis courts, perhaps in training for the prized Croatia Open. Superb choices of accommodation are to be found here. Umag can trace its rich history through Renaissance, Baroque, Roman, Genoese and Croat ages.

Dubrovnik

The medieval town Dubrovnik is the pearl of South Dalmatia, listed as a UNESCO world heritage centre. Roman Emperor Diocletian's Palace in medieval Split is one of the world's most significant architectural forms from Byzantine, early Christian and early medieval ages, with preserved original parts. The Chestnut Festival and Asparagus Festival in nearby Lovran are gastronomic delights.

Porec

This is another exquisite Istrian town, where the sheer warmth of the locals as well as the charming cobbled streets of Cardo Maximus and Decumanus will enchant you. The Byzantine Basilica Euphrasiana, dating to c.553 with its brilliant mosaics, listed as one of the world's cultural heritage sites, honouring responsible travel, keeps elite tourists returning all year round.

Vrsar

Nestled on the hilly coast between Limski Kanal Fjord and Porec, many tourists enjoy activity holidays climbing Ucka, Istria's highest mountain. Red soil covers the limestone in this hilly region. The islet of Koversada is among the most regarded European nudist centres. Beautiful Renaissance, baroque and medieval historical monuments abound.

Rovinj

Protection of the environment is held in the highest regard by responsible travellers and here, the whole coastline is preserved for natural heritage. The beautiful varieties of plant life found in the 'flower-garden' of the Red Island, the green paradise, the crystalline blue Adriatic, pure air and unique scenery have been revered by many writers including Jules Verne. His adventure book, Mathias Sandorf is partly set in this region. A Roman wrote two centuries ago, "In Istria, the Roman patricians feel like gods..." . Solta is a beautiful island now increasingly surrounded with mega yachts, attracted by the sheer beauty and perfect climate of the region. Zadar can date its origins from antiquity, with incredibly preserved sites from Roman and earlier periods. The Film Festival in Motovun and excellent musical programme of the Terraneo Festival in Šibenik and the hilltop town of Kastav with its rich cultural programme including plays, dramas, music and art events with international and local artists delight tourists and locals alike. It is easy to see why the knowledgeable few are rapidly increasing; Croatia is a hot destination. So savour an aperitif of Maraschino desert liqueur made from unique Maraska cherries, the singular Pag cheese from the small sheep grazing on the aromatic Mediterranean plants all savoured with the multiple-awarded wines of the region in the blissfully beautiful settings which only Croatia offers.

About the author

Born in London and raised in Italy, Spain and New York, Simon Pearce caught the travel bug at a young age. He writes regularly on the subject of travel in Croatia and surrounding regions for a range of holiday websites and blogs. Simon firmly upholds and researches responsible travel and eco-tourism.

 25/07/2005

It was a lovely start to a lovely day (06:00) and just the thought of should I or shouldn’t I at the back of my mind. I have been travelling for 10 years on and off and its always a similar choice; should I pack my dive gear or not? at other times it is a coat or a pair of boots or glossy shoes- I remember carting a 15 lb coat around Thailand when it was real hot a nd dry and I had only needed it to get to Heathrow.