Croasia? Even though it has been known as a tourist destination for many years now and even referred to, by some media experts, as a sensation, Croatia still appears to be, at least in some parts of our planet, together with its inhabitants, around four million people, rather exotic. When one needs to explain where the country is situated, what helps is mentioning the proximity of Italy. Equally helpful is the mention of the names of some famous Croatian sportsmen, as Šuker, Modrić or Mirko Filipović.
“Well, your sea is beautiful!” is the most frequent exclamation of Croatia’s faithful visitors. Most of them are the inhabitants of those parts of Europe which are very close to Croatia, which is the reason why they managed to get better acquainted with the country. The summer crowds on more popular beaches along the 6,000-kilometre Croatian coast, that includes 1,244 islands, are to them only a well-known price that has to be paid during a vacation in Croatia. And if they want to avoid the crowds, they know what to do - go to a more remote beach or choose something else in the sea of interesting things this country has to offer. Like a visit to historical and cultural monuments and landmarks, a stay in the green countryside, a taste of the specialities of the place chosen for the vacation or testing one’s limits by trying one of the adrenaline-inducing activities.
Istria and the Kvarner islands – the closest beaches for many Europeans
What are the alternatives to beaches and the sea in Istria? In Croatia’s most popular tourist region, which is at the same time part of the largest Adriatic peninsula, no visitor misses a chance to visit the Arena, the Roman amphitheatre in Pula, the largest city in Istria County, an open-air museum in terms of ancient monuments. Among Istria’s tourist attractions there is also the Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč, whose historical and cultural importance on a global level was confirmed in 1997 by its insertion in the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. For a good photograph for your social media accounts and private albums go to Rovinj, the town where you will find us, or try the zip line above the Pazin Abyss.
Istria is “attached” to the Kvarner Gulf, as well as to its islands, among which there are Krk, Cres and Lošinj, that are known in the whole Mediterranean for its biodiversity and very mild climate. This part of Croatia gravitates towards Rijeka, the European Capital of Culture 2020.
Croatia’s capital and the country’s countryside
If you are here for the likes, be sure to visit some of the eight national parks and eleven nature parks. Among them there are the Lakes of Plitvice, Croatia’s most popular national park on the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites. Plitvice is located in the region of Lika, where it is possible to visit Nikola Tesla’s hometown, Smiljan, and the memorial centre dedicated to the famous inventor. This part of Croatia is not so distant from Zagreb, the country’s capital and its cultural, scientific, economic, political and administrative centre. And while in Zagreb, do not miss the opportunity to try what is for Croatians one of their favourite activities: sitting at a café and sipping coffee for hours. Which will be what you will really need to do after a tour of the city’s museums and art galleries, immersed in their rich offer. If you feel the need to spend some time swimming, the areas north of Zagreb are what you should choose. The region of Zagorje is known for its thermal baths, which are an important part of the heritage and tourist offer in this part of Croatia, where you will find some of the most popular Croatian castles.
Zagreb is only one of Croatia’s cities on the Sava River, which together with the Drava and one of the most important European rivers, the Danube, surrounds the most eastern Croatian region, Slavonija. Within the most fertile area of Croatia, besides nature parks and agriculture, what is also doing very well is rural tourism.
Dalmatia – from Zadar, Šibenik and Split to Dubrovnik
In Dalmatia there is a series of historical cities, among which there is Šibenik, the birth place of Faust Vrančić, a versatile scientist who lived between the 16th and the 17th century and who invented the parachute as we know it. The largest Dalmatian city is Split, the second biggest city in Croatia. Here what you should not miss is a visit to the Diocletian Palace, a wonder of the ancient Roman architecture on the UNESCO’s List of World Heritage since 1979. The only valid excuse not to visit it can be fjaka (a Croatian word which cannot be translated, describing an almost sublime state of body and mind during which one feels like doing nothing).
On the Representative List of the World Immaterial Cultural Heritage of the same organisation there is the Mediterranean diet, one of the distinctive marks of this part of the Adriatic. Which does not mean that at restaurants along the Croatian coast of the Adriatic you will not find even turmeric, to mention only one of the many foreign ingredients, which is believed to be described for the first time in Europe by Marco Polo. The most famous world traveller of all times is so dear to Croatians that they decided to “adopt” him and even dedicate to him a birth house in the town of Korčula, situated on the island with the same name in southern Dalmatia. A dose of exoticism to this very part of Croatia, in the surroundings of the most popular Croatian tourist destination, Dubrovnik, was brought by sailors who would return from their long journeys with seedlings of various trees and bushes. Some of these plants can be found today in the park known as Arboretum Trsteno.
It is here that you will find again the Croasia mentioned at the beginning of this text, a fusion between the Mediterranean and the Oriental and yet another proof of the richness and the diversity that Croatia has to offer.