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Vacation in Croatia: Plan Ahead

Vacation in Croatia has become an attractive option for many after country became part of Schengen area and Eurozone. If you want to know more about our country, its history, the culture, best places to visit, most interesting towns, top islands, beaches and national parks¸ you are at the right place.

People usually prefer destinations considered exotic or romantic. That being said¸ Croatia can give you both as well as much more.

If you're flying in or arriving by car from western or central Europe¸ you won't find it difficult to travel to Croatia since it is situated between central and eastern Europe bordering the Adriatic Sea¸ opposite to Italy. Thanks to our favorable geographic position and the fact that we are now part of Schengen area and Eurozone¸ you can visit Croatia and other nearby countries such as Italy¸ Austria¸ Hungary¸ and Slovenia without ever stopping at the border or exchanging euro currency.

Location of Croatia.
Croatia is located in the northwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula in Europe

If you want, you can also continue towards Bosnia and Herzegovina or Montenegro but on these border crossing you would need ID or passport. It would be like vacation tour but let's go back to the topic¸ vacation in Croatia.

Vacation in Croatia - 5 regions

Although Croatia is a small country with barely 4 milion people¸ distinct differences between its regions provide diverse excotic¸ romantic¸ exciting¸ adventurous and above all unforgettable experience for people of all ages and from all walks of life. The country is geographically and culturally divided in 5 different regions:

1.) Zagreb and the northern Croatia with old baroque cities such as Varaždin and Čakovec – this part of Croatia is best for people who prefer urban style of life and cultural monuments since Zagreb is the capital of Croatia with population of 1 million people. You can visit it any time of the year but the best time is during winter months¸ especially during Christmas Advent which is among the best in Europe. This time of year¸ Zagreb seems like a big Christmas Village with all the decorations¸ attractions¸ boutique wines, gourmet dishes and live music that revives its parks and squares. Besides Zagreb¸ there are couple of smaller baroque towns in the region with stunning castles and historical monuments.

2.) Slavonia on the east with its valleys¸ National Park Papuk and town of Osijek – truth be told¸ this is the least touristic oriented part of Croatia, when it comes to vacation in Croatia. On the other hand¸ if you like peace and quiet¸ beautiful scenery and you don't want to go to the coast¸ islands or the mountains¸ than the valleys and national parks of Slavonia are best suited for you. The main city of Slavonia is Osijek with its beautiful architecture that provides romantic walks along the shores of Danube river.

3.) Lika and Gorski Kotar with National Park Plitvice – this is the mountain part of the country which connects the coastal part with the rest of Croatia. Lika and Gorski Kotar are comprised of picturesque countryside landscapes surrounded with lush green forests and clear lakes. You can visit it all year long. It only depends what you prefer. During winter months¸ this part of Croatia is great for skiing, snowboarding and winter holidays. On the other hand, during summer people like to visit it to cool off from the heat as well as to visit stunning National Park Plitvice. Also, Lika and Gorski Kotar offer cheaper accommodation and they are only 1 to 4 hours drive from the coast, depending on your location.

4.) Kvarner and Istria – this is the northwest part of the coast with the city of Rijeka as the biggest city in the region. Charming towns, beautiful beaches, peaceful islands, close proximity of Slovenia, Italy and Austria make this region very popular. Besides Rijeka, there are many other smaller towns which are bursting with festivals and tourists during hot summer months. Charming town Opatija, Pula with its Roman Colosseum, Motovun with its film festival, Crikvenica Riviera with beautiful beaches and promenades, Rabac and Rovinj with their summer resorts as well as Poreč with its beautiful architecture guarantee fun and romantic vacation in Croatia. National Park Brijuni, a group of islands, is the most popular and the most beautiful national park in this part of Croatia.

Roman Colosseum in Pula 2000 years old.
Roman Colosseum in Pula

5.) Dalmatia with Split & Dubrovnik – Dalmatia is region on the Croatian south with numerous beautiful cities to explore such as old town of Zadar with its unique sea organ, Šibenik or city of Kings and fortresses, Primošten with its beautiful beaches, stunning town of Trogir , famous city of Split with its vast Diocletian's Palace, pirate town of Omiš, Makarska riviera with its long stretch of beaches and renowned old town of Dubrovnik, just to name a few. While these charming cities lay on the shores of Adriatic Sea, there are also numerous islands along the coast of Dalmatia. Whether you are looking for romantic towns¸ peaceful islands¸ hidden beaches¸ picturesque national parks or unforgettable adventure¸ look no further. Dalmatia is your answer to perfect vacation in Croatia. The best cities to visit in the region are Zadar on the north¸ Dubrovnik in the south and Split in the middle as capital of Dalmatia. Although there are numerous islands¸ Šolta, Brač¸ Hvar, Vis¸ Korčula and Dugi Otok are among the best. There are also several National Parks in the region but N.P. Krka is the most popular of all.

Climate in Croatia

Despite being a small country¸ Croatia's climate can differ greatly depending on where in the country you are. However¸ on average, we have moderate winters and hot¸ dry summers. Because of the climate and the seasons¸ coastal part of the country is the best suited for spring and summer vacation¸ while Zagreb is the best for winter holidays. If you're planning vacation in Croatia during summer¸ stock up on sunscreen¸ water and don't forget the sunglasses.

Water skiing during summer in Croatia
Summer adventures in Croatia

Croatian Food

If you like mediterranean cuisine¸ you will love Croatian food. As any mediterranean cuisine¸ the menu is comprised of fruits¸ vegetables¸ olive oil¸ fish and wine. That being said¸ there are a lot of meat based meals but the ones you must try¸ if you like meat¸ are ćevapi and meat pie.

On the other hand¸ there is a dish called "Soparnik" which is authentic Croatian meal made of spinach¸ garlic and olive oil as the main ingredients. If you prefer something sweater, try "Međimurska pita" (pie) which is made of four different fillings stacked on top of each other which includes apples, cheese, walnuts and poppy seeds.

So¸ whether you're are a meat eater¸ vegetarian, vegan or you just want to try something from the local bakery¸ you will find a place for you.

Thanks to development of tourism¸ there are all kinds of new restaurants popping up every summer which not only have the diverse menu but they also provide a romantic atmosphere for unforgettable vacation in Croatia.

Yachts & Boats

Sun, sea, beaches and the islands are the main selling point of Croatian tourism, especially when talking about summer season. Accordingly, you will see plenty of small boats, speedboats and yachts cruising from island to island, if you visit Dalmatia or Istria and Kvarner.

If you want to visit some of the islands in Croatia, you can take a ferry, book private tour or rent a boat. With private tour you get a boat with the skipper which will drive you wherever you want. On the other hand, you can also rent a boat without the skipper, if you have a skipper license. Regardless of your choice, don't skip the islands.

Boats at Riva waterfront in Split
Boat Tours from Split

Beaches in Croatia

Plenty of sunny days and stunning beaches are one of the main reasons why vacation in Croatia is so popular. With over thousand islands and more than 1700 km of coastline there are more than enough sandy beaches, secluded beaches, pebble beaches and party beaches to choose from. Just pick the ones that suit you.

History & Arhitecture

Croatia boasts over two millennia worth of history, thanks to which it has rich collection of monuments, museums, castles and fortresses. Much of it is incredibly well-preserved. What is even better, you have entire towns which are centuries old. Besides Zagreb, Varaždin and Ozalj, there are even older towns for sightseeing on the coast such as Rovinj, Poreč and Pula with its roman colosseum in Istria.

However, in Dalmatia you have old town of Zadar, Šibenik as the city of fortresses, pirate town of Omiš, Korčula as the birth place of Marco Polo, Ston as the town with the longest preserved defensive wall in Europe, Trogir as UNESCO heritage site and Hvar, to name a few.

However, two of them are in a league of their own and top locations for your summer vacation in Croatia. I am talking about Split and Dubrovnik. Split is capital of Dalmatia with massive 1700-year old Diocletian's Palace located in town center. The Palace was emperor's vacation resort, built during Roman empire which was also used to film some scenes for Game of Thrones. Along with its outskirts such as fortress of Klis, 7 castles of Kaštela, ancient ruins of Salona and charming old town of Trogir, Split is invaluable historical and cultural center.

Old town of Dubrovnik, surrounded with fortified walls, is maybe the most beautiful city in Europe. Thanks to its stunning architecture, Dubrovnik has turned into one of the top modern tourist destinations in the world as well as desirable set for filmmakers. It is known as King's Landing in Game of Thrones and as glamorous galactic city of Canto Bight in Star Wars franchise.

West Harbour and Famous filming location in Dubrovnik
Preserved Medieval towns in Dalmatia

Other things to do in Croatia

If all that wasn't enough for awesome vacation in Croatia, you can also enjoy in wine tasting, adrenaline tours, dive on stunning locations, explore picturesque national parks or hike to the mountain peaks to experience amazing view of the Croatian coast and its islands.

If you like adrenaline tours, you can try exhilarating Zipline experience, located near Omiš in a beautiful canyon of Cetina river. Besides Zipline, you can enjoy in rafting and kayaking on that same river. On the other hand, if you want to try bungee jumping, take your shot of adrenaline from Šibenik bridge which stretches above the gulf.

When it comes to snorkeling and scuba diving, it is not only popular beacuse of the shallow sea, thousand islands and amazing dive spots but also due to numerous shipwrecks, caves, underwater cliffs, rich marine life, giant mussels and its safety since it is closed sea, not an ocean.

However, people that don't want to stay only on the shore during their vacation in Croatia, can also visit National Park Plitvice, N.P. Krka or go hiking to the top of mountain. For instance, you can choose between Biokovo above Makarska, Mosor near Split, Vidova Gora on island of Brač or Paklenica National Park. Whichever place you choose, expect stunning panoramic views which will leave you speechless.

Veliki Slap (Great Waterfall) at National Park Plitvice
Veliki Slap (Great Waterfall) at National Park Plitvice


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