Historic cities and unspoiled nature are some of Croatia's top attractions.
The vibrant capital city of Zagreb is home to some of the country's best
museums, galleries, restaurants, and shopping. Along the coast, centuries-old
harbor towns are packed with Venetian-era stone buildings, while countless
pebble beaches offer things to do such as scuba diving, water skiing, and
If your Mediterranean fantasies feature balmy days by sapphire waters
in the shade of ancient walled towns, Croatia is the place to turn them into
reality. On the Adriatic, Croatia's blissful islands are a haven for yachters
and those wanting to simply relax and enjoy the Mediterranean sunshine.
Culture & History
Croatia’s violent early history has much
to do with the country’s strategic position on the edge of Europe, sitting
precariously between the Ottoman Empire and the great rulers of Austria and
Hungary. A permanently independent nation for the first time in 2,000 years,
its culture and heritage reflect the diverse influences of the past.
This land has been passed between competing kingdoms, empires, and
republics for millennia. If there's an upside to this continual dislocation,
it's in the rich cultural legacy that each has left behind. Venetian palaces
snuggle up to Napoleonic forts, Roman columns protrude from early Slavic
churches, and Viennese mansions face-off with Socialist Realist sculpture.
Excellent museums showcase treasures that cover the gamut of European history,
from the prehistoric to the post-communist, telling a story that is in equal
parts fascinating and horrifying.
The rich culture of Croatia is a mix of
traditions seasoned with remnants of the earlier Greek, Roman, and Bronze Age
civilizations. Expressed in early times in music, dance, art, and Catholicism’s
magnificent architecture, its visual elements were also influenced by the
Venetian Renaissance period. Although Croatians show a strong sense of national
pride after centuries of conflict, regional cultures are still upheld,
characterized by differences in topography, economy, cuisine, folklore, and
dialect. Traces of Serbia remain, although most ethnic Serbs have left Croatia
for refugee camps in Serbia.
love their food, and it’s difficult to find a truly bad meal in the country.
Eating patterns are different, with breakfast usually skipped and restaurants
opening around midday and closing at midnight. Bars, pubs, and clubs in the
resort towns are lively and fun, with live rock and pop music nights
alternating with Croatian music by local groups. International cuisine is found
in all the upscale hotels, along with nightclubs, fashionable bars, and the
Split is the heartland of
traditional Croatian cuisine, with international foods hard to come by, but the
quality more than makes up for the lack of choice. Eating where the locals go
is the rule, with stewed meats, grilled seafood fresh straight from the harbor,
and home-made pasta the highlights. Nostromo (next to the Fish Market, Split)
is one of the best, set in a plain building enlivened by the presentation of
the dishes. Traditional Buffet Fife (Veli Varos, Split) is another
unpretentious restaurant with its highlight the delicious, meaty, Pasticada
If you're lucky enough to cross the
tourist/guest barrier and be invited into a local's home, you'll soon become
acquainted with the refrain 'Jedi! Jedi! Jedi!' (Eat! Eat! Eat!). Sharing food
and drink plays a big part in the culture here, which speaks both to the nature
of Croatian hospitality and the quality of local produce. Simple, homestyle
cooking is a feature of family-run taverns, but increasingly a new breed of
chefs is bringing a more adventurous approach to the table. Meanwhile, Croatian
wines and olive oils are making their mark on the world stage, garnering top
Even for visitors keen on total relaxation, the temptation to wander
through medieval streets, past great cathedrals, palaces, and mansions, is
irresistible. Also unmissable are the many Roman sites here, the picturesque
coastal villages set on fishing harbors, and the glorious Adriatic islands with
their deserted beaches.
Shopping is fun in the many Croatian street markets, especially when
combined with people-watching and leisurely wine lunch in a local eatery.
Nightlife is all things to all visitors, from riotous dance clubs to pleasant
evenings dining, watching the sunset, and meeting new friends.
Plenty of choice in watering holes at all levels can be found in the
beach resorts and larger Croatian cities, from the informal pivnica pubs to
popular lounge bars, cafes serving alcohol, and Irish pubs with all the
trimmings. Dubrovnik is a hub for trendy nightlife, with jazz fans heading to
the Trubador Hard Jazz Café for live performances by talented local musicians.
Outdoors & Adventure
Croatia's extraordinary island-speckled
coastline is indisputably its main attraction. The first thing that strikes you
is the remarkable clarity of the water. There are long sandy and shingly
stretches too, perfect for lazy days spent lounging and devouring trashy
holiday novels. If that all sounds too relaxing, there are water-based
activities at hand to lure you off your sun lounger: snorkeling, diving,
kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing, just for starters.
Shift your gaze for just a moment from the glittering waters and
chances are an almighty mountain will loom into view. The Dinaric Range, which
stretches from Italy to Albania, hugs much of the coast. The limestone karst
has bequeathed a wonderland of craggy peaks, caverns, river canyons,
waterfalls, and ridiculously picturesque lakes.
Head further inland and things flatten
out again into rolling farmland. Active types will find plenty of chances to
get among it on the numerous hiking and biking trails, while the more
adventurous can have a go at rock climbing, rafting, and zip-lining.