Every year, more and more visitors are vacationing in friendly, picturesque Croatia along the Adriatic coast. It has much to offer: good food, good wine, beautiful beaches, clean water, gorgeous scenery, historic cities, charming villages, striking architecture, Roman ruins and well-preserved antiquities.
Also, Croatia’s infrastructure is solid since multilane highways and international hotels have been built to accommodate the large number of tourists that populate the country annually. Vacationers from all over the world go to relax and enjoy the laid-back beaches and other beautiful scenery that Croatia offers.
Probably the most famous historical site in Croatia is the Old City of Dubrovnik. This medieval, compact walled town in Southern Dalmatia was first settled in the early seventh century. Walk around the 1.2 mi/2 km of intact city walls or take a cable car to Mount Srd above the town; both offer a fantastic introduction to the town and breathtaking views of the coast. Also make sure to visit the Dominican Monastery, a Gothic-Renaissance-style building constructed in the late 1300s at the same time as the Dubrovnik city walls. Today it houses an impressive art collection of the Dominican friars.
Another important landmark is Diocletian’s Palace in Split, which was the summer and retirement palace of the Roman emperor Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, who ruled from 284 to 289 and built the palace around the year 295. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a living monument with a thriving mix of residences and shops within its original walls. There are four original gates still in place, but much of the inside of the palace has been built over the centuries.
Trogir is another medieval walled town and UNESCO World Heritage site just west of Split, situated on an island accessed from an old wooden bridge from the mainland. The 15th-century medieval fortress of Kamerlengo lies on the south side at the end of a waterfront promenade. On the other side of town, at the end of Trogir’s main street Gradska, is the 12th-century St. Lawrence Cathedral with its breathtaking, intricately carved doors with scenes from everyday life and legend.
In the western region of Istria, the Amphitheater of Pula is one of the largest and best preserved ancient monuments in Croatia, and among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the world, built in the mid-first century BC by the Roman Emperor Vespasian. A labyrinth of corridors in the underground area houses a museum with a rich collection of archeological artifacts, and the arena continues to be used as a multipurpose venue for various exhibitions, performances and festivals.
Croatia has a diverse variety of museums and galleries. In Zagreb, the Mimara is one of the most prestigious museums in the country with a vast collection of painting and sculpture from around the world. Naive art is very well represented in Croatia, and one of the greatest artists of the genre, Mijo Kovacic, has been painting detailed naive scenes on glass for more than 50 years. His gallery in Zagreb is open to the public.
In Split, the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery showcases the villa and atelier of the famous Croatian sculptor by the same name, housing his masterpieces. The Split Archeological Museum is the oldest museum institution in Croatia, founded in 1820 and situated north of the city center. Exhibitions and contents come mainly from the area of southern Dalmatia with stone epitaphs, ceramics, glass and hundreds of other objects from pre-historic, pre-Christian, Greek and Medieval periods.
One of the most impressive of the eight national parks in Croatia is Paklenica National Park, on the southern side of Velebit, which boasts the largest mountain range in Croatia. Plitvice National Park is the oldest and most popular Croatian national park, with a series of waterfalls, connected lakes and trails to explore throughout the park. It is listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. The Velebit Nature Preserve is the largest protected area in Croatia, covering the mountain range of the same name. On Krk island is Krka National Park, with one of the most beautiful rivers (the Krka River) in Croatia set in a beautiful lush landscape with gentle falls (Skradinski buk).
Most first-time visitors stay only a week, although you won’t regret extending your visit. We recommend at least 10 days for your first trip. If you’re going on an escorted tour, make sure it includes as many of the destinations listed below as possible:
Day 1—Arrive Zagreb and, if it’s early enough, tour the city, particularly the Zagreb Cathedral on Kaptol, St. Mark’s Church and the Upper Town (Gornji Grad).
Day 2—Day trip to Hrvatsko Zagorje or Plitvice Lakes.
Day 3—Afternoon or evening flight to Split. Tour the old town and the basement of Diocletian’s Palace and the Cathedral and Bell Tower.
Day 5—Ferry to Hvar. Day at the beach at Jerolim or Stipanska. Alternately, explore Hvar Town and climb up the pathways and steps to the Spanjola Fortress offering beautiful views of Hvar and the Pakleni Islands.
Day 6—Ferry to Korcula.
Day 7—Day trip to Mljet.
Day 8—Ferry to Dubrovnik. Walk around the city walls (a must), visit the Dominican Monastery, and take the cable car to the top of Mount Srd for breathtaking views of the old town of Dubrovnik. Cool off at the city beach just outside the north entrance.
Day 10—Return flight to Zagreb and depart Croatia.
If you have more time, visit Opatija or explore more of the islands. You also can journey into neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina: The cities of Mostar and Sarajevo are just a few hours from Dalmatia by car or public transportation.
How would you like to explore Croatia?
For more information or to book your Croatia Trip-Of-A-Lifetime, contact Brad Martin at Anywhere Anytime Journeys.
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[SOURCE: Pocket Travel Guide App]
[COVER PHOTO: Croatian National Theatre, Zagreb. Croatian National Tourist Board / Ivo Biočina]