Eight reasons to fall in love with Croatia
istory, cuisine, nature and/or nightlife: Croatia has it all and knows how to make the most of it. The country has become one of the most fashionable European destinations, with even Hollywood in thrall to its charms. If you haven’t done so already, here are just a few reasons to include Croatia in your bucket list.
Obonjan was the base of the Croatian Scout movement in the 70s. The island came to prominence again in 2016 with a festival focusing on well-being and became known as the “happiness island”. But, crystal-clear waters and lush vegetation are nothing out of the ordinary in Croatia. Other dreamy paradise islands inlcude Brac, Vis and Hvar, which captivated Beyoncé.
Croatia stands out for its rich history, unique landscapes and age-old culture. It’s no surprise then that UNESCO lists more than 20 examples of tangible and intangible cultural heritage of humanity in Croatia. The historic city of Trogir, the Stari Grad plains, the lace making workshops and the gingerbread typical of the north of the country are just some examples. The greenest spot in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, with 16 lakes created by the natural architecture of the karst and dolomite rocks.
With a wine making tradition going back several centuries, Croatia is on a par with Napa Valley and vineyards of Burgundy. There are several wine routes and festivals where getting tipsy is all part of the fun of sampling the region’s specialities. The best known varieties are Motovun in Istria, Kutjevo in Slavonia and Medimurje where the San Martin wine festival takes place and young wines are “baptised”.
Emilia Clarke, better known as Khaleesi in ‘Game of Thrones’, described Croatia as “glorious” and Natalie Dormer, who played Margaery Tyrell in the series, said it was the best “set” she had filmed on. Dubrovnik was the location for King’s Landing in several seasons. The famous HBO series brought new attention to this medieval city known as “the Pearl of the Adriatic”, but it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
The capital, Zagreb, is home to the Museum of Broken Relationships, a unique exhibition of objects and memories that help to heal broken hearts. After your visit, you can search out love in other corners of the city, such as the lively Dolac market or the romantic Botanical Gardens. Or one of the terraces of the cafes on Tkalčićeva street.
From sunrise, at one of the many beach clubs, until nightfall. In Croatia, it’s party time 24/7, making the country an essential part of any European trip. Zrće beach, on Pag island, is the epicentre of Croatian nightlife. Hvar has a more glamorous feel and is a favourite spot for the rich and famous. Other options are the quieter Rab and Brac, famous for its parties on the beach.
Zadar is famous for its “maritime music”. The Sea Organ, designed by architect Nikola Bašić is an instrument that uses the waves to create melody. It consists of concrete steps descending into the sea, with tubes concealed under the construction to produce the characteristic sounds. Also, on the promenade you’ll find the Monument to the Sun, a circle of 300 multi-layered glass plates that light up at night using the solar energy collected during the day. From here, you can enjoy exceptional views of the sunset, the best in the world according to Alfred Hitchcock.
Its location in the Mediterranean Sea has made Croatia a witness to – and part of – the most important historical events in Europe. Split, in the heart of Dalmatia, still has the echoes of many of them. This is where Emperor Diocletian, the most powerful man in the world in his time, decided to retire to in the year 302 A.D. The place? A spectacular 38,000 square metre palace. It is one of the best preserved Roman monuments in existence.