Croatia is a holidaymaker’s gem stretching across the magical Eastern Adriatic coast and has become synonymous with tranquil island getaways, a rich tradition, and a Mediterranean lifestyle. The country covers 56,594 square kilometres and over 1,240 islands offer discoveries for every traveller, be it lazing in a secluded bay, swirling a flavoursome red wine in a sundrenched vineyard, meandering through ancient Roman streets, climbing Renaissance bell towers, or sailing away to the mysterious islands of the Adriatic.
Along the coast you will uncover Croatia’s varying landscape as you head from north to south. Istria’s red soils grow the Malvazija grapes which create the country’s most famed white wine and the Motovun Forest hides some of the world’s most prized truffles. Detour to Croatia’s hinterland to the tranquil turquoise lakes of Plitvice, a green haven of chirping birds and cascading waterfalls. Glide past the remote and bare Kornati islands before hopping off on your island of choice. You won’t need long before you find a jagged cove reserved just for you with the aromas of wild sage, the songs of crickets, pine shades and lavender coated slopes setting the scene.
How to spend your day
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Wake up in Hotel Vestibul in the city of Split to the traditional Croatian a cappella singing named ‘Klapa’. Then spend your morning climbing the St Duje belfry for amazing 360-degree city views. Take in the grandeur of Pula’s ancient amphitheatre or enjoy a stroll along Dubrovnik’s marvelous Venetian walls before spending the afternoon striding down the street of Stradun lined with 17th-century houses, Onofrio’s fountains, bell towers, and a Franscican monastery. Croatia’s captivating history has been influenced by its former rulers dating back more than 25 centuries – Roman, Greek, Ottoman, French, Austro-Hungarian, Byzantine, Yugoslav – and as you mingle with locals and uncover hamlets, islands and cities, you will discover a culture rich in tradition and warmth.
Croatia’s fascinating story can be captured through many of its historical sites. There are eight national parks and seven UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč, the city of Trogir, Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Dubrovnik, Stari Grad Plain, the Cathedral of St James in Šibenik, and the Plitvice Lakes.
Croatia has quite a few inventions and quirky games under its belt. These include the world’s much-loved necktie or cravat (sounds like Croat, doesn’t it?), the ballpoint pen, the parachute, and the Dalmatian dog, of course. Go to Split’s cult Bačvice Beach and play a game of picigin, the city’s favourite pastime. It features a shaved tennis ball being tossed between leaping players in shallow waters. Other spectacles worth viewing are Moreška sword dance on Korčula, a klapa concert in Omiš and the UNESCO-inscribed Alka equestrian competition from Sinj, where horsemen have to poke their lances into a metal ring at full gallop
Eating out and nightlife
Croatia promises flavours for every food lover’s palate with a rich gastronomic offering; from Sea Bass sizzling over grapevines in Šolta’s Šešula Bay to fresh truffle shavings with homemade pasta at Zigante Restaurant in Livade. Hvar’s gregada fish stew and Pašticada’s meat stew is also not to be missed. To complement the cuisine, sip on Croatia’s exclusive wines such as Istrian Malvazija and Teran or the historic Dalmatia’s favourite – Plavac Mali and Pošip paired with a rustic slice of bread dipped into internationally prized olive oils.
Visitors can get up close and personal with Croatian cooking with experiences such as a 15-course molecular lunch at the Bibich Winery near Skradin, cooking classes in a 15th century palace, old town foodie walks, and visits to vibrant bazaars and fish markets.
To infuse a little partying into your Croatia getaway, stir things up at the edge of the Adriatic in one of the many spots that have become famed for its après beach parties. Party with the money-crowd on the island of Hvar at one of the chic parties at the Hula Hula and Carpe Diem Beach Bars or rave ‘Ibiza-style’ in Zrće on Pag.
You can mingle with locals in the crammed bars tucked into the narrow streets of Makarska and Split, lean back with a cocktail on the rocks of Buža Café in Dubrovnik, or show off your salsa moves in Rovinj. Croatia truly provides a nightlife for a varied crowd and the country’s party calendar is filling up with many global festivals as performers choose this Mediterranean paradise as the must-be venue – Ultra Europe, Fatboy Slim, and Roger Waters, to name a few.
Whichever you choose – camping, apartment stays, or upscale resorts – any destination in Croatia promises a heap of activities for the whole family and the adventurous traveller too. Croatia’s rugged nature and azure waters make for an adrenaline-packed holiday suitable for all ages. A thrilling rafting adventure down Cetina River, a mountain-bike ride through abandoned villages, kayaking around Trogir, kitesurfing in Viganj, hanging on the edge of Marjan’s cliffs, exploring the seabed through the lenses of your diving mask, and swimming in blue or green caves in between are just a few of Croatia’s unique experiences available to visitors.
You want glitz and glamour? Croatia has an exclusive selection of grand branded chain hotels to ultra luxurious boutique hotels in the most peculiar and magnificent locations. For the more collective traveller, Croatia is not short of humble inner-city hostels and private apartment accommodation that will help keep you comfortable during your unforgettable stay in Croatia.
Warm, sunny weather is one of the prime reasons for people to visit Croatia, the south eastern European country which enjoys the beautiful coastline of the Adriatic Sea. Visitors will find a Mediterranean-style climate characterised by mild winters and warm sunny summers. Expect temperatures of 26 to 29 degrees Celsius in July and August, and winter temperatures ranging from 9 to 18C. This stretch of Croatia’s coast is backed by the high peaks of the Dinaric Alps, which rise to 1,800 metres, and where winter rainfall can be particularly heavy. Picture-perfect snow-capped mountain tips are the norm for much of the year. The coldest months of the year on average are January and February, and the rainiest months are generally November and December, with the summer months being fairly dry.
All inclusive holidays in Croatia
All inclusive holidays in Croatia are a deservedly popular option with UK holidaymakers seeking attractive resorts, beautiful scenery and beach holiday relaxation. Captivating resorts appeal to families, couples, single travellers and groups of friends. Croatian all inclusive hotels typically come with attractive pools, good restaurants and easy access to beautifully clean beaches. Hotels frequently lay on entertainment and activities for children. All inclusive packages are less common than in countries like Spain and Portugal but an ever-growing number of Croatian hotels now offer all inclusive deals.
Self-catering in Croatia
Croatia's blessed with a wide variety of places to stay, offering something suitable for everyone, from hotels of varying levels of luxury to self-catering apartments.
Many hotels offer the choice of traditional hotel rooms and apartments with catering facilities such as kitchenettes – so you can cook for yourselves, or take advantage of the hotel’s restaurant if you don’t feel like cooking every night.
More commonly, you’ll be able to opt for an apartment in a purpose-built block within a resort, so you can shop in local supermarkets for food to cook in your self-catering accommodation, with the freedom of enjoying a night out at the local restaurant when you can’t be bothered to cook or if you’ve saved enough to push the boat out.
If you like to try and save money on eating out, all-inclusive or self-catering offer the best options. While all-inclusive can work out to be more expensive than eating at cheap restaurants during the high season, bargains can be had if you travel at times other than UK school holidays, and once you’ve paid for your all-inclusive trip you can, in theory, enjoy your week or fortnight away without putting your hands in your pocket.
Self-catering usually offers the best value for travellers year-round, as long as there are food and beverage shopping opportunities, so you can get everything you need to eat and drink without having to go to bars and restaurants.
More useful information
Cheap holiday deals to Croatia
The intimate hotel Rosina is situated on the outskirts of Makarska, while still being close enough to the centre to enjoy everything that Makarska has to offer
The Apartments Lina provide well-equipped, comfortable accommodation not far from the Old Town of Korcula. Local shops, bars and restaurants are just 150 metres away and there are nearby beaches of pebble or sand
Bluesun hotel Borak is located in the natural shade, near the walking path that connects the most famous beach in Dalmatia - Zlatni rat with the picturesque Dalmatian place of Bol
For a comfortable holiday in the charming resort of Markarska, you won't go far wrong with a stay at the Hotel Dalmacija. This three star hotel offers simple yet comfortable accommodation and enjoys a prime location close to the resort centre and with easy access to the shingle beach in front of the hotel
Luxurious and modern, this stunning seafront hotel comes close to the ultimate in comfort, with high standards, elegant accommodation, fine dining experiences and a wealth of amenities