Cloaked in medieval architecture, some of the best beaches in the world and a whole lot of sunshine, Croatia sits pretty along the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Holidays here are one part history and two parts beach, fitting in effortlessly with its fellow Mediterranean destinations. As far as destinations of the month go, it’s more than earned its place.
Croatia at a glance
If you think you know Croatia, think again. It’s one of those countries that can’t be nailed down, with a landscape so versatile, you’ll step from one town to another and wonder how it can still be under the Croatian umbrella. Travel across this European terrain and you’ll encounter any number of the country’s medieval cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than 100 Blue Flag award-winning beaches or thousands of plant and animal species. Out beyond the coast, there are more than a thousand islands, too.
Croatia’s history stretches back – and we mean way back – to the Palaeolithic period, and winds through Greek and Roman rulings, all the way to Croatia’s declaration of independence in the early 90s. Its cities are just as varied, with vibrant port city Pula and the ruggedly gorgeous Makarska Rivieria, plus cosmopolitan Dubrovnik, with its terracotta roofs and cable car stretching overhead.
True to its Mediterranean form, Croatia has a pretty warm climate, the warmest of which is located along the Adriatic coast. Head inland to forested areas and that’s where you’ll see snow, but stick close to the beaches and you’re bound to stay sun-drenched for most of the year.
5 fun facts about Croatia
- Croatia is a huge Game of Thrones hotspot, acting as a backdrop for a number of the hit series’ fictional settings. Dubrovnik is especially renowned, as the old walled city doubles as King’s Landing.
- Found on Brac Island, Zlatni Rat – otherwise known as the Golden Horn or Golden Cape – regularly tops lists of the best beaches in the world.
- Forget Rome’s Colosseum – Pula Arena is the only Roman amphitheatre in the world to have all four side towers and all three Roman architectural orders – Doric, Ionic and Corinthian – intact.
- The necktie originated in Croatia, after Croatian mercenaries in France first started wearing cravats in the 17th century.
- Nearly 10% of Croatia is made up of protected land, including national and nature parks, the most famous of which is the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Things to do
- Diocletian’s Palace – This 4th-century palace in Split was built as a waterfront retirement home for Roman emperor Diocletian. While not exactly a palace – it’s huge and all, but looks more like a fortress than anything – this massive UNESCO World Heritage Site is more of a living relic, packed with shops, bars and restaurants.
- Dubrovnik Cable Car – Those high wires crossing the sky above Dubrovnik’s old town belong to the city’s cable car. Hop on board this high-flying cart and you’ll be whisked up more than 750 metres to the top, where you’ll meet a bar and restaurant and incredible views of the city, water and the Elaphiti Islands.
- Banje Beach – Banje Beach is Dubrovnik’s local, found just beneath the city walls. As such, these part sand, part pebble shores are wildly popular, laden with sunloungers, umbrellas and watersports galore.
- Plitvice Lakes National Park – The largest national park in all of Croatia, Plitvice is mostly known for its cascading lakes. There are 16 in total, each coming in a range of blues and greens that constantly change and make for an incredible backdrop for outdoorsy adventures.
- Dubrovnik city walls – The ancient walls wrapping around old town Dubrovnik extend for more than 1,900 metres and run through gates, towers and fortresses. A walk around them in their entirety takes around two hours, and offers unrivalled waterfront and city views.
Here are some of our top money-saving deals on holidays to Croatia.
Belvedere Hotel and Resort, Vrsar
A sizeable pool scene and beer garden are the stand-outs of this 4* hotel, though the entertainment scene gives them a run for their money. You’ve got beach volleyball, watersports, mini golf and bike hires available, plus there’s a Blue Flag award-winning beach and Vrasar’s old town less than five minutes away.
Belvedere Hotel and Resort
Vrsar, Istrian Riviera, Croatia
Laguna Materada Hotel, Porec
Stacked high and surrounded by greenery, this hotel affords views straight out to sea. Outside is the pool scene plus an al fresco bar, along with mini-golf, pedalos, beach volleyball and bicycle hires on the menu. Live music and shows and two bars make up the evening scene, while little ones get a mini disco, not to mention a playground and kids’ club during the day.
Laguna Materada Hotel
Porec, Istrian Riviera, Croatia
Sensimar Adriatic Beach, Makarska Riviera
This adults-only haven is swankiness at its finest, carved into a hillside and featuring a swimming pool, buffet restaurant, two a la carte spots and two bars, including a terrace bar and mojito bar. For the utmost luxury, you can upgrade to swim-up rooms so that your pool access is about as easy as it gets.
Sensimar Adriatic Beach
Makarska Riviera, Dalmation Coast and Islands, Croatia
Ready to start planning your Croatian getaway? Check out our Croatia holiday guide for more information on this gorgeous Mediterranean destination and let the wanderlusting commence.