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Croatia

Croatia

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

4

Total Stars:

9.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Most appreciated by Mid-Venturers, Centric-Venturers and a few Venturers

Did You Know … ?

  • The patent for inventing the radio belongs to Nikola Tesla, the prolific Croatian-born inventor, not to Marconi.
  • The voting age is 18 — except that married Croatians can vote at 16.
  • There are 1,185 islands lining Croatia’s coastline.
  • Croatia’s Faust Vrancic in the 16th century designed suspension bridges 200 years before they were built.
  • It is believed the Adriatic holds up to 15,000 sunken ships and aircraft.

A young old country

Croatia is a young nation, but a land with a long, complex and fascinating history. This background is visible, literally, in fortresses and walled towns, as well as in Roman ruins and early Christian churches.

The Romans had come and gone before Slavic tribes, the Croatians’ ancestors, arrived in the seventh century. Croatia was an independent state in the 10th and 11th centuries. Then, in 1102, Croatia was joined to Hungary, a union that lasted 800-plus years, including a 173-year period of domination by Ottoman Turks and then, in 1699 absorption by the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

From Yugoslavia’s creation in 1918, Croatians chafed at being part of a Serb-dominated nation. They withdrew in 1991, but a few years of war and an era of hard feelings followed.

Tour guides talk much about that recent chapter, but history buffs look for the Roman ruins — an amphitheater in Pula, a forum in Zadar and, most impressively, Emperor Diocletian’s Palace in Split. They look at the early churches, including the fifth century St. Doimus inside Diocletian’s Palace.

Even those without history on their minds relish their visits to churches, fortresses, castles and public buildings scattered throughout Croatia and representing all the European phases of architectural development. These attractions win points because they are simply pretty or visually dramatic. Medieval walled town centers are particularly evocative.

Nature also lures visitors with craggy mountains, the remarkable Plitvice Lakes (16 of them), access to the Danube in the east and, facing the Adriatic, the rugged Dalmatian coastline and a thousand-plus islands. Only 47 islands are inhabited, often with charming villages. Active travelers gravitate to these mountains and the waters to pursue favorite pastimes.

However, tourists don’t have to be particularly venturesome or active sports enthusiasts to enjoy the Dalmatian Coast, one of the world’s most stunning shorelines. It is the part of Croatia travelers of all personality types most want to see.

Locals are welcoming and happy to introduce tourists to the Croatian Slavic culture that evolved and survived close to 1,400 years. That culture manifests itself in music, dance, foods, wines and the traditional garb that locals don for festivals — or for visiting tourists.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Island hop along the Dalmatian Coast aboard a ferry boat. Or, charter a yacht and sail to the islands of your choice.
  • Sign on for a whitewater rafting experience. Several rivers are suitable, but for Category IV rafting, choose either the Dobra or Una River. The others are generally Category III.
  • Relax in a nudist camp. Croatia calls itself the “European cradle of nudist camps” with 11 locations dedicated to naturists. There are another 17 nudist beaches that are part of camps or hotel beaches.
  • Strap on the scuba tanks. For divers, the Croatian coast is ideal, given the large number of wrecks they can explore under the clear waters of the Adriatic Sea.
  • Enter an adventure race, such as the Risnjak Mountain Trek; participants walk and run to finish the prescribed course. It is a summer event in the Risnjak National Park.
  • Climb one of Croatia’s tallest mountains (none more than about 6,000 feet). Those in the Dinaric range resemble higher mountains with their rugged formations, harsh climate, little water, sparse vegetation — but not such thin air.

Things to do for Centrics

  • As part of a Danube River cruise, tour the fortress and other sites in Osijek and visit the Kopacki Rit nature park, a wetlands noted for its 260 bird species, in eastern Croatia.
  • See parts of the country by horseback. Riding is an option in almost all regions of Croatia, but an appealing choice would be the Dakovo Stables. Dakovo is home to more than 400 Lipizzaner horses.
  • Visit Croatian vineyards and sample the wines. Also, if on the coast, relish the fresh seafood.
  • Explore one of Croatia’s numerous caves. Attractive choices can be found in the mountains, near rivers or on coastal islands. These are guided excursions into caves outfitted with lighting and pathways.
  • Go sportfishing at sea. Your quarry may include bluefin tuna, sharks and swordfish. A license is required.
  • There are a few places to ski, including the Croatian Olympic Center at Bjelolasica southwest of Zagreb.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Book a cruise that lets you see the gorgeous Adriatic coastline and visit places like Dubrovnik and Split.
  • Savor Zagreb’s historical center on foot, walking through its Lower Town and Upper Town sections. Much can be seen on foot in the capital, located in central Croatia, because it was a small town until the 20th century.
  • Play golf at Pula on the Istrian Peninsula.
  • For Christian pilgrims, the Croatian National Tourist Board identifies 10 pilgrim sites. Marija Bistrica, for example, has been the focus of pilgrimages since 1684. About 500,000 pilgrims visit yearly because of a statue believed to have healing powers.
  • Make it a point to visit Croatia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Dubrovnik and Split are the best known, but consider the Euphrasius Basilica Complex in Porec on Istria, a peninsula in Croatia’s northwest. The church complex includes structures dating from the sixth century.
  • There are at least a dozen spa sites in the country. Choose a spa experience here, but only if you are more interested in dealing with health issues than in being pampered.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Croatian National Tourist Board at http://croatia.hr/en-GB/Homepage