Customised Holiday in Croatia
||Not many have Croatia on their radar when it comes to a holiday and few that have heard of Croatia think of Dubrovnik
or beaches around it. Well Croatia is a small European country filled to the brim with natural beauty, 1244 stunning islands, eight national parks preserving
pristine lakes, forests, mountains and rivers, as well as culture to match its diverse landscape.
Capital of an independent Croatia since 1991, Zagreb serves as the political, economic and cultural capital of Croatia. The city throbs with energy but has retained a good deal of old-world graciousness. The sober Austro-Hungarian buildings in the town centre house elegant restaurants and fashionable boutiques along with scruffy pubs and rowdy beer halls. A number of good museums and art galleries ensure that a few days here will be well spent. With a vibrant Cafe culture the city was made to stroll around and have quiet afternoons soaking in a good book with the sunrays. In the summer, everyone who doesn’t go to the coast scurries to Jarun Lake in the southwest to swim, boat and dance the night away in a lakeside disco. When Zagreb residents head for the hills, they don’t have far to go: Mt Medvednica is only a tram ride away and offers hiking, skiing and great views over the city.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Just 80 kms from the Adriatic coast of Croatia and a 2hour 20 minute drive from Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National park is easy to reach with public transport like busses or through the many tours from all parts of Croatia. An enchanting assortment of 16 turquoise lakes that are connected by waterfalls and cascades, linked by footpaths, wooden bridges and walkways, adults and kids love this park alike. Plitvice’s limestone geology makes it unique, and has brought it UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Surrounded by thick forests inhabited by bears, wolves and many other rare animal and plant species, the views look like out of a fairytale forest.
This heart shaped peninsula is very much the beating heart of Croatia’s culture. From Romans to Slavs, Venetians to Habsburgs and Italians to Croats everybody has ruled the blue seas, white stone and the green interior make up the colour scheme of Istria, resulting in not a hodgepodge but a culture that has drawn the best from each of its rulers.
Easily accessible by road, train and ferry from Italy the region is more Italian with a lot of western tourists. The beaches here are not the beast but the wine and food, its Roman towns like Pula, Poreč and pretty fishing village of Rovinj are backed by pine- and rosemary-scented coastal landscape, lined with beaches and marinas framed by Venetian-style towns that look ready to welcome all travellers.
Dalmatian Coast and Islands
Occupying 375 km of Croatia’s Adriatic Coast, the region of Dalmatia offers a matchless combination of hedonism and historical discovery. The jagged coast is specked with lush offshore islands and hidden coves as well as historic cities.
An obvious stopover on any coastal trip, the main city of northern Dalmatia is oozing
with both history and contemporary style. The 3000
year old Zadar city is within day-trip distance of the medieval Croatian centre of Nin, and is also the main ferry port for the unassuming northern Dalmatian
islands ofSilba, Olib and Dugi otok, where you’ll find peaceful villages, laid-back beaches, and a level of tourism that has not yet become an industry.
The next major town south of Zadar is Šibenik, with a quiet historic centre and a spectacular fifteenth-century cathedral, and the most convenient base from which to visit the tumbling waterfalls of the Krka National Park. Two national parks with only 50km between them could not be more different. The Kornati National Park is an archipelago of 89 islands, isles and reefs (numbering in total 152 units) of incomparable beauty which offers the boaters the pleasure of sailing, the formidable sheer cliffs filling them with delight and awe in the same breath. In contrast, the Krka National Park is full of travertine barriers, waterfalls and lakes the wondrousness of which take one’s breath away. Indeed, they are regarded as one of the favourite tourist picture postcards from Croatia.
A play-hard Riviera town built on top of a Roman palace, Split is more than just the main gateway to the south Dalmatian islands. Nearly everything worth seeing in Split is concentrated in the compact Old Town behind the waterfront Riva, made up in part of the various remains and conversions of Diocletian’s Palace itself and the medieval additions to the west of it. You can walk across this area in about ten minutes, although it would take a lifetime to explore all its nooks and crannies.
If the Croatian Adriatic has an increasing reputation for mixing Mediterranean tradition with modern chic, then it's arguably on the southern Dalmatian islands that most people expect to find it. Easiest to reach from the mainland is the island of Brač, boasting some good beaches at Supetar and a truly wonderful one at Bol, while lying off the northern coast of Brač is relatively unsung Šolta, with its quiet country lanes and yacht-sprinkled inlets. Further south is the long thin ridge of Hvar, whose capital, Hvar Town,very Venetian in character, rivals Dubrovnik in terms of stone-built architectural beauty. It's also a fashionable hang-out for urbane travellers: chic bars rub shoulders with Gothic palaces and chapels, and water taxis convey bathers to idyllic offshore Pakleni islands, famous for nude sunbathing.
Hvar Town's hedonistic buzz contrasts with the rest of the island, where small-town destinations like Stari Grad and Jelsa offer a much more laid-back take on the Dalmatian island experience. Much the same can be said of the island of Korčula, south of Hvar, whose fascinating medieval capital, Korčula Town, offers a mixture of urban tourism and lazy beachcombing. Farther out, but still only a few hours by boat from Split, the island of Vis was only opened up to foreign tourists in 1989, after previously serving as a naval base. Wilder and less visited than Brač or Hvar, it's an obligatory destination for travellers who want a piece of the Adriatic to themselves. Far-flung Lastovo is another favourite destination for the independent-minded, with a supremely relaxing main village ringed by unspoiled bays. You can rejoin the mainland from Korčula by a short ferry-ride to the Pelješac peninsula - virtually an island itself - which is joined to the coast by a slim neck of land at Ston, whose magnificent town walls were built to defend the northernmost frontiers of the Dubrovnik Republic.
Proclaimed 'the pearl of the Adriatic'. Dubrovnik is clearly special. A magnificent curtain of walls surrounds marble streets and baroque buildings that exude a pearly light in the Adriatic sun. The main pedestrian thoroughfare, Placa, is a melange of cafés and shops with outstanding monuments at either end. Churches, monasteries and museums ornamented with finely carved stone recall an eventful history and a vibrant artistic tradition. Beyond the city is a heavenly landscape of beaches, wooded peninsulas and a sea strewn with lush islands.