People may not think of Croatia when they think of Europe’s must-see destinations, but for all those young backpackers and travellers in the know, it was once Europe’s best kept secret, but his little gem of a country is fast becoming one of the most popular places in Europe to holiday in, for local and international holiday makers. It’s chic, stylish and glamorous, yet old-world, traditional and quaint, all at the same time. It’s unique because it has the best of both worlds, with all its cultural, historical and natural treasures. Croatia is full of beaches, forests, museums, historical landmarks, ancient architecture, old folk traditions, modern cosmopolitan lifestyle, and the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.

Croatia is located in Central Europe, in a region called the Balkans. It’s at the east of Italy and the Adriatic Sea and it’s bordered by Montenegro to the south, Serbia to the east, Herzegovina and Bosnia to the southeast, and Hungary to the north. It is a republic with its capital in Zagreb.  Many of its sites are UNESCO World Heritage listed, and are some of the most beautiful in the world. Its currency is the ‘kuna’, and its language is…..yep, you guessed it – Croatian.

Places to see and things to do in Croatia

Hvar

The island of Hvar is just off the coast of Croatia and offers European-style beaches and bathing spots. It has a Mediterranean feel that rivals the French Riviera, and it’s becoming very trendy for those sophisticates living the high life. Get in while you can!  The streets of Hvar Town look medieval, but don’t be deceived. This place goes off at night, with a party scene that will give the most hardcore clubbers and pubbers a good time. The setting just makes it all the more fun, with it’s gorgeous town streets, secluded coves, tiny inlets, gorgeous beaches, rugged mountains, fields of flowers and vineyards. Enjoy wandering between the many restaurants, bars and shops, swimming, sunbathing, fishing in the harbour, sailing on yachts, taking boat rides around the surrounding islands, or hiking in the hills.

Dubrovnik

This medieval town is one of the oldest, most romantic and most beautiful towns in Europe. It is full of character and old world charm ,with its ancient architecture, historical monuments, churches, castles and fortresses, beautiful cobbled streets, bridges and rivers. Young travellers on a budget can shack up with the local families who often have rooms to let, for the same price or less than the cost of a hostel. They are mostly friendly and safe. They also make great guides, with lots of advice and tips for the best places to go to eat, drink, play and party. Dubrovnik is best done on foot. See the museums, monuments, fountains and churches, go to the harbour or beach, visit the markets, and see some real-life, authentic gypsies. Walk through the ‘Old Town’, which is the older side of the town on one side of the bridge, at night. It’s spectacular, and has a vibrant nightlife. Taste Rakija, the local liquor, and you’ll be in well and proper with the locals!

Split

Split is in the Dalmatian region of Croatia. It is still full of ancient and medieval architecture, but has a different vibe than Dubrovnik or Hvar, with a modern, cosmopolitan and sporting atmosphere. Watch a Hajduk soccer match. Don’t insult the locals about their team unless you want a fight on your hands. They’re fanatical. Check out the interesting Mestrovic Gallery in tribute to the famous artist. Eat authentic Dalmatian food, with prices cheaper than those in Dubrovnik. Explore the roman ruins, the cathedrals, the beaches, the markets or the archaeological museum.  Spend all night bar-hopping around the Diocletian’s Palace, Split’s ancient ruin. There are so many little alleyways and hidden doors that your only problem will be remembering how to get back to the same place the next day

Volsonis (Krk)

Make your way through a stone archway into the “secret garden”, where you will be met with a roman inspired décor complete with fig trees, candles and a fountain and a cavelike interior. Here you can enjoy a beer, cocktail and a pizza, dance to the tunes of the live Dj’s and play a game of pool down in the basement- the perfect combo for a great night!

Zadar

Zadar is a seaside town located on the Adriatic Sea. One thing you’ll want to check out here is the greeting of the sun, made of three hundred multi-layered glass plates in the form of a circle that uses solar power to create a very impressive light show display at night, adding a contemporary addition to the cultural and historical vibe of the city. There’s an Italian influence on the city, so grabbing a bite to eat will be bliss as its filled with pizzerias, gelaterias and streetside cafes . Hitchcock claimed that Zadar had the “most beautiful sunset in the world”, so you can see it for yourself at the Sea Organ. The sea organ is located on the shores of Zadar and is the world’s first musical pipe organ played by the sea.

Zip lining (Omis)

If you’re not afraid of heights then this ones for you! Descend through the canyons of the River Catinia on a zipline consisting of eight wires totalling in length of 2100m. It’s the fastest zipline in Croatia, going a whooping 65km per hour. Not only does it make for a great adrenaline rush, but its also a serene experience as you have to hike through the lush nature to get to the top of the zipline. It’s the best of both worlds.

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