Stretching almost the entire length of the eastern Adriatic, Croatia has made a name for itself as a more exclusive destination on the Mediterranean with few resorts and almost no high rise hotels. The absolute jewel in the nations crown is Dubrovnik, an ancient walled city of steep terrace housing, medieval monasteries, baroque churches and graceful squares. Cruise ships and Game of Thrones has pulled in the crowds but it’s still a must for any visitor.
For those keen to avoid the crowds head for one of the northern islands of which Losinj is a highlight, more tricky to get to but worth the journey, staying in a converted Austrian villa right on the shore, surrounded by lush pine forest. Other highlights include the turquoise ribbon of lakes connected by waterfalls in the Plitvice National Park, the glamorous island of Hvar where the rich and famous of the Balkans summer and the pretty capital – Zagreb, which comes alive at Christmas with what has been voted the best Christmas Market in Europe.
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Flying time from London 3 hours
Official language(s) Croatian
Time difference +1 GMT
Visa requirements No visa required for UK passport holders
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Croatia’s real charm lies in its 1,778km of coastline and 1,185 islands that sit just off the mainland. Studding the Adriatic, they vary from tiny, verdant and unpopulated isles to large, arid outposts supporting ancient towns and villages. There is something for everyone here – wander the medieval streets of Korcula and admire the 13th-century city walls, walk through the green forests of Mljet, relax in a harbour-side restaurant serving freshly caught fish or stop for a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic.
See the Central Region
The area of central Croatia consists of a series of lowlands in the north, giving way to the hilly area between Samobor and Karlovac, renowned for its wine production. There are also a series of wetlands protected as part of the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park. This is the least visited part of Croatia as it suffered the most during the recent war. However, today it rewards visitors with a myriad of ancient castles, churches, museums, nature parks and pretty town centres featuring baroque architecture, all waiting to be explored.
Walk the city walls of Dubrovnik
Heavily shelled during the troubles in the 1990's, a walk along the city walls, which offer excellent views of the Adriatic Sea, is a must for any visitor. Up to 20 foot thick and 80 foot high, you can grasp the difficulties any invaders would have encountered.
Explore the Plitvice Lakes
An interconnecting 16-lake National Park located close to the border of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the chain of lakes extends over 7km with various terraces, cascades and waterfalls.
Istria is a large triangular peninsula stretching out into the Adriatic and bordered by Slovenia. Once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, it was amalgamated into Mussolini’s Italy in 1918 before its succession to the fledgling Yugoslav Republic in 1945. As a result of its cosmopolitan history and stunning coastline dotted with picturesque villages, the area has always been popular with holiday makers. Pula is the principal city on the peninsula with a rich history dating back to Roman times when the region was the administrative centre. The area is famous for the Plitvice Lakes National Park, granted Unesco World Heritage status.
The latest from Compass - our online travel magazine
"Hvar was beautiful and a pleasure to visit. The people were welcoming, the weather perfect and the hotel food excellent. It was a very relaxing short break and I didn't want to come home - unusual for me.
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