Croatia: Experience the Different Facets of Europe in One Package
In the past decade, Croatia has become known by their sporting champions in football, water polo, handball, tennis, and skiing, but most of all because of the country’s booming tourism industry. Millions of people flock to the Mediterranean paradise to see its wonders and experience the country’s diverse cultural heritage. If you like the idea of floating around on a yacht with a glass of fine wine in hand, water sports, or viewing European architecture, then this is a place for you to visit.
Croatia is a small country with a population which barely exceeds four million people. Croatia is a young democracy. Independence from Yugoslavia was declared in 1991 and the peaceful reign began in August 1995, after the Croatian War of Independence.
The country is situated to the right of Italy across the Adriatic Sea. The 5,835.3 kilometre Adriatic coastline is what makes it appealing to most tourists. People flood to the clear blue waters of the coast in the summer months but the country’s capital city, Zagreb, and its surroundings has much to offer tourists in the colder low peak season.
Croatia is known for its fine wines, olive oil, seafood and variety of pastries sold at countless bakeries.
Places to see
Dubrovnik is a city situated at the South of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. It is currently the 18th most visited city in the world. The city hosts one of the oldest medieval sites on the planet with walls and monuments dating back to the 1400s. Dubrovnik was once a Republic and has a rich history of art, diplomacy and aristocracy which can be experienced by walking through the square and going to events such as the annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival. For adventure enthusiasts, Dubrovnik and other Croatian destinations offer sports such as cave diving, rock jumping and wind surfing.
An interesting trivia fact is that scenes from the popular television series Game of Thrones are filmed in Dubrovnik.
Rumoured to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, Korcula is an island in the Southern Dalmatian coast. The style of architecture in Korcula is predominantly Venetian as the island once belonged to Venice. Most of Croatia can be described as continental or Eastern European but Korcula is one of the places which give a taste and feel of Italy without having to physically travel across the Adriatic to the former Roman Empire.
The Peljesac Peninsula is one of the untapped treasures of Croatia. Driving onto Peljesac from the mainland, one of the first attractions we see is the town of Ston. The Walls of Ston have been named the “European Wall of China” and the walls are at 7 km also the second longest walls in the world after China’s heritage site. They were built to protect the Republic of Ragusa (also known as Dubrovnik) from invasion.
Throughout Peljesac are numerous old towns and abandoned villages. The most notable of which is Janjina. Situated in the centre of the peninsula, Janjina was once the economic centre and most populous town on the peninsula. Nowadays, the town is home to a couple of hundred people and many vacant villas. Janjina is a maze of hidden streets and untold history surrounded by forests of shrubbery and vineyards. Peljesac is known for its wine, namely “Plavac Mali” and “Vranac”, which are the two most commonly harvested wines in the area.
Zagreb is Croatia’s capital city and home to a quarter of the country’s citizens. The city reflects influences from the Austro-Hungarian Empire of which Croatia was once a part of. It can be described as a miniature Vienna. People from the city flock to the coast in the summer months but Zagreb comes to life in September, when the schools open and numerous cultural and film festivals begin.
Other notable places to see include the national parks of Mljet and the Plitvice Lakes. Croatia has hundreds of islands to visit, most notably Mali Losinj, Hvar and Vis. The coastal city of Split is also a popular destination with tourists. When planning a trip, one can map their course geographically according to time and travelling constraints.
Although Croatia is a member of the European Union, they still use their local currency, the Kuna with a stable exchange rate which hangs around 7:1 to the European Dollar. Croatia is known for good quality low cost accommodation and food. This makes it more affordable to travel there than to some of its European counterparts. The cheapest time to fly is out of the peak summer season which lasts from June to August.
A trip to Croatia can make you feel like you have been to Medieval Europe, parts of the Roman Empire, Venice, Paris, Southern Italy and Austria. The county is culturally diverse and worth many visits.
© Maja Dezulovic 2014
© 2014 Maja Dezulovic