Croatia

Things are well and truly warming up in the Northern Hemisphere and one of the hottest places to visit right now is the beautiful nation of Croatia (and not just because of the 13 hours of sunlight it experiences in the summer months!).

The country, and it’s borders, were once a matter of much argument. Those border wars, along with the complicated and centuries old background of the Croats, bring a rich history and many interesting stories. From the capital of Zagreb to the coastal towns of Dubrovnik and Split, there’s always something interesting to see, eat, and experience.

Want crystal blue beaches? Head to the Dalmatian Coast.
Love your coffee? The locals in Zagreb (and most of the country) take their coffee very seriously so you’re sure to get a G-R-E-A-T cup o’ joe wherever you are.
Feel like partying like it’s 1999? Check out Hvar Town on any given night and you’ll be sure to find others to party until dawn with.
Are you a bit of a history buff? With a country that has a documented history spanning over 1000 years, you’re sure to find a Roman ruin or a museum of some sort that will interest you.

If the above has you wanting to know more then keep on reading to find out the places you should add to your next Europe trip…

ZAGREB:
The capital city of Croatia, like most capital cities, is often overlooked when trip planning. With the history, dining experiences, and regular entertainment options it would be a shame to leave this out of your Baltic travels.

There are 3 districts – the Gornji grad (upper town), the Donji grad (lower town), and the Novi Zagred (new Zagreb).
Things not to miss in this city include the Presidential Palace, St Mark’s Church, and the cobbled streets lit by gas lamps within the Gonji grad; and the shops, parks, and restaurant strips of the Donji grad. The Novi Zagred area is mostly high-rise buildings and so generally avoided by tourists.

History buffs? This is where you need to be! Zagreb is known as the ‘City of Museums’ as it has more of them per square foot than anywhere else in the world.

DUBROVNIK:
Probably the one Croatian city you may have already heard of, and the one you’ve definitely seen photos of.
There is literally too much in this city for me to fit in my little post but some of the highlights I would suggest include the Franciscan Monastery which contains one of the oldest functioning pharmacies in Europe (it’s been operating for 626 years!), the Old Town Walls that are 6 meters thick in some points, the Pile Gate which is the traditional entrance to Old Town, Rector’s Palace and the mish-mash of it’s different designer styles, and the newly repaired cable car taking you to the top of Mount Srd and giving you an exceptional view of Old Town.

If reading all of those attractions makes you want to sit down and rest then you’re in luck because Dubrovnik, like Zagreb, has some amazing restaurants, cafes, and bars for you to refuel and refresh at.

If you happen to be in Dubrovnik during the summer months then definitely time it so you can check out the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and see some amazing dance, theatre, photography, orchestras…the list goes on! Celebrating it’s 68th festival in 2017 they obviously know how to put on a good show and the Summer Festival is now one of the country’s biggest events.

Dubrovnik Summer Festival.PNG
Dubrovnik Summer Festival

HVAR TOWN:
The island of Hvar is one of the most famous of the Croatian Dalmatian islands. The beauty during the day and the fun-filled nightlife are making this island a popular destinations for celebrities as well as those just wanting to experience a place in Europe with a mild climate.

Considered one of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Islands in the World, Hvar is more than just a party town. You can let your liver have a break from the hard liquor as you visit the fields of lavender and ancient olive trees, while stopping for lunch at one of the vineyards containing restaurants.
Once your body is detoxed, and you’re ready for another night out, the most popular places to hit up include Carpe Diem, Veneranda, and Kiva Bar.

SPLIT:
Once considered just a transit point, Split is now a must see on every cruise along the Dalmatian Coast.

The main sight to see while docked in Split is the Diocletian’s Palace. This entire complex is a mix of new and old and has seen many people through it’s open space over the centuries.
The Cathedral of St Dommnius was originally built as a mausoleum around 313AD, however the remains of the Emperor who was kept there disappeared a few centuries later. In the 800’s the mausoleum was converted to a cathedral…complete with the bones of a bishop (creepy!).
The belltower of the cathedral is open to the public and although the staircase you climb is old and rickety, the views at the top should make your fear vanish as soon as you get to there.
Wander to the western side of the Palace and you’ll be in the People’s Square. The Town Hall is located here and contains a museum inside.
Before you leave the Palace grounds make sure you find the statue of Gregory of Nin. His big toe is shiny from being rubbed by many people. It’s said that if you rub the big toe it will bring you good luck so why not add yourself to that long list of people who have given it a go?

SAIL CROATIA:
Can you have a post about Croatia and not include a segment on Sail Croatia? Although it’s seen as a booze-cruise type of tour, with sunning and swimming during the day and drinking once the sun sets, not all their cruises are like this.

There are 4 distinct types of cruises available – Navigator, Explorer, Elegance, and Active.

Navigator – for ages 18 to 35, exclusive parties, fully stocked bars, exclusive excursions. These are your party cruises.
Explorer – suited more for young professionals the cruises include captains dinner evening, exclusive excursions, and use premier ships.
Elegance – couples and mature travellers are going to love these ones. Brand new ships, exclusive tours AND historical walking tours, captains dinner and entertainment on-board with a traditional village dinner also.
Active – these cruises utilize the premier ships however their tours are all hiking and cycling and getting up-close and personal with Croatia.

As you can see these cruises are wide and varied and no longer filled with booze fuelled, boardshortted and bikini-clad youngsters.

For more information regarding Sail Croatia please click here.

Split.PNG
Split, Croatia (photo courtesy of @sailcroatia)

So there you have it – a few places to checkout when you go to Croatia. Keep in mind this barely scratched the surface as this country has so many beautiful places from the seaside villages to the forest towns and the major cities in between!

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