I couldn’t actually believe that I’d managed to pass so much of my life without visiting Croatia. Having been on plenty of escorted European tours before, visiting everywhere from Sweden to Malta, I thought I’d seen the best views and scenery the continent has to offer. Croatia modestly displays her natural beauty with an elegance and wildness that leaves you completely in awe. Here are my highlights:
The Dalmatian Coast
Picture a paradise Mediterranean beach location – azure water lapping onto a gleaming white beach, whitewashed villages backed by verdant green hills. This is exactly what the Dalmatian coast of Croatia is like, minus the crowds that you can expect from elsewhere in Europe. Hundreds of islands are scattered in the ocean where you can find secluded coves and spend the day on your own private beach. Cycling is a really enjoyable way to explore, taking boats between the islands and travelling along coastal roads that offer stunning views and hidden pockets of beauty.
The cultural heart and soul of Croatia, Zagreb’s best features are its museums, galleries and air of refinement. Courtyard cafes are frequented by locals for chess games and beer, exhibitions show off contemporary and historic art, and there is always something interesting going on. From concert halls to cool night clubs, there is a quality scene for every taste.
This UNESCO world heritage site and walled city is becoming an increasingly popular city break destination. Nestled on the coast, the city is surrounded by beaches, islands and woodland. Limestone and marble streets gleam in the midday sun, with walks along the ancient city walls revealing equally stunning views of ocean, forest and city.
Also on the coast, this city is vibrant and energetic as well as grand and proud. Ferries transports visitors from here out to the gorgeous Dalmatian islands, and the city has become a lively hub for travellers. Be sure to visit Diocletian’s palace, even if you are just passing through, where marble streets transport you to a breathtaking cathedral. For some down-time, head to the west of the city where you will find a mountain park, paths leading down to tranquil beaches.
This National Park is a world heritage site, and its aesthetic lends itself to tales of myth and enchantment. Within the park, sixteen emerald lakes have formed on varying levels, connected by cascading waterfalls. Explore on the wooden footbridges and watch a diverse array of birds and butterflies flitting between the pools.
In terms of views, Opatija offers the best in Croatia. Here the classic charm of the coast is amplified, a waterfront promenade offering the perfect vantage point to gaze upon hillside forests, ocean that moves from turquoise to midnight blue, and rocky coves. A popular retreat for James Joyce and Puccini, visitors to Opatija are in good company!