Every year Croatia is becoming more and more popular among tourists…and no wonder, because it has a lot to offer: charming bays, diverse beaches, ideal summer temperatures and romantic sunsets, which you can cherish while sitting in one of the Mediterranean restaurants near the sea. If your idea of vacation is not just sunbathing, swimming and sipping beer, hire a car and drive to the mainland, where heavenly national parks and fairy-tale-like historic villages and cities await.
Croatia is on the crossroads of Central Europe and the Mediterranean Sea; that’s why the country has two different climates. The north part has a continental climate, while the rest of Croatia has the classic Mediterranean climate. You can explore it year-round, but the best time to visit is during the summer months.
Croatia’s coast can be divided into three regions: Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia, each having its own character and specialities.
Istria is a heart-shaped, 3600-sq-km peninsula just south of Trieste in Italy. Geographically, it has a unique position. It also has rich cultural variety, which results in interesting and diverse cuisine, music and lifestyles. When you experience Istrian vines, oils, truffles, cheeses, magnificent hilltop towns and out-of-this-world villages, you will see what we mean. No wonder Istria is called the “land of magic”.
The coast is also called “Blue Istria” and for good reason. Millions of tourists flood the coast every summer, wanting to soak in all the beauty, sun and ocean while spoiling themselves with the best fresh seafood, olive oil, bread and wild asparagus. The main cities in Istria are Pula, Poreč and Rijeka.
Must visit in Istria:
This is a popular destination that has been attracting foreigners from Roman times on. It is a place where Slavic, Romanic and Germanic cultures touch each other, but its main sights belong to the Roman era – like the Roman Temple of Augustus, the Roman amphitheatre, the cathedral that contains elements of several centuries and so on.
For culinary pleasure don’t miss Valsabbion restaurant, which is highly lauded. The dishes are fresh and tasteful. You can pamper yourself with scallops au gratin and pumpkin puree. Yummy!
Nature park Cape Kamenjak
The 30-km-long coastal line around the nature park has about 20 bays, which are very popular spots during the summer season – almost as popular as all the biking and hiking trails in this beautiful area. Kamenjak is known for its free-spirited vibe, away from mainstream tourists and lazy hotel lounging.
This is a region squeezed between Istria on the north and Dalmatia on the south, but it has a lot to offer, as it possesses many of the Croatian coast’s most desirable features: coastal hills and mountains, beautiful islands surrounded by turquoise water and charming fishing villages. Many visitors are attracted by the mild climate, hiking trails inside the protected forests of Učka Nature Park and the islands of Cres, Lošinj, Krk and Rab.
Must visit in Kvarner:
The beach named Sv. Ivan is one of the prettiest beaches in Croatia, located in a bay beneath the hilltop village of Lubenice. Because it’s hard to reach (you can get there only by boat), the beach is never crowded, so you can enjoy peace and privacy here.
For unforgettable nightlife, visit Zrče on the island of Pag. Zrče beach has become a world-famous destination for party people. Parties are intense, so make sure you get enough sleep the night before.
Dalmatia is a very interesting region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It is mostly a coastal region only 50 km wide at its widest part and characterized by its coves, beaches, islands and bays. Diving, kayaking, yachting, kiting and other activities are very popular in Dalmatia because of the rocky coastline and numerous islands. Dalmatia’s coast is a paradise for kiters and windsurfers due to its warm sea and constant wind.
Must visit in Dalmatia:
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you must visit Dubrovnik. Here, you can find many of the filming scenes (you can go on a walking tour) in one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean (and, according to CNN, one of the 10 best preserved medieval walled cities in the world). Dubrovnik is mainly a cultural destination, a city that charms you and makes you fall in love with it.
What would life be without music?
If anyone knows the importance of good music, it’s definitely the Croatians. Croatia is known for its numerous music festivals, which are getting more and more popular – and not just because of the popular music and world-known DJ’s, perfect weather, beach raves and boat parties.
These are some of Croatia’s best-known music festivals:
- Hideout Festival: the ultimate electronic summer party, happening from June 26 until June 30 in Pag. You’re going to need a vacation from your vacation after this electronic festival. Five days of parties with hundreds of DJ’s and thousands of dancing people.
- Seasplash Festival: one of the longest-lasting Croatian festivals, taking place in Pula from July 21 until July 24. Dub, reggae, ska, hip-hop and various electronic music will make you dance until you can’t dance anymore.
- Also in Pula, you can go to Dimensions, happening from August 24 through August 29. This is the best way to end your summer: dancing to underground electronic beats and chilling on the beach.
- Ultra Europe: this festival is getting bigger and bigger, and this year should be wild! June 15 through 17 is the time for electronic dance music and the finest DJ’s.
3 car trips you really don’t want to miss:
- Plitvice Lake waterfalls are located in Plitvice National Park, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. These waterfalls form one of the most beautiful natural wonders in all of Europe. It is incredible how many different waterfalls are located around this park. The two highest are the Large Waterfall (78 meters) and the Galovački buk (24 meters). You can also enjoy the 16 individual lakes, which change their colours from green to turquoise. It will take you approximately 6 hours to explore this park on foot, so we recommend it for a day trip.
- Krka National Park, located in central Dalmatia, is a protected area of spectacular natural scenery and historic sites. There are so many waterfalls, natural pools of clear blue water and pathways, you won’t believe your eyes. You can also swim in one of the natural pools, so make sure you bring your swimsuit with you.
- Omiš, located in the heart of Dalmatia, is the perfect place to start exploring Dalmatia. Omiš was notorious in the past because of the pirates of Omiš; the evidence of its proud and turbulent history can be found on every corner. For a historic feeling, visit churches and fortresses. At the end of the day, opt for an adrenaline boost and go zip lining. The zip line in Omiš is the fastest one in Croatia and can go as fast as 65km an hour. Now that is an adventure.
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