Croatia is a country where ancient history meets modernity and natural beauty coexists with buzzing cities. From remote islands to expansive national parks, there’s a huge amount to explore in this sunny European destination. Croatia and specifically sailing the islands of the Adriatic is a bucket list trip for us. We are busy working on the details of our Toward Awakening sailing trip, but even if sailing isn’t your thing, there are tons of reasons you should go to Croatia. Here’s the top five:
1. Croatia has over 1000 spectacular islands
Dotted in the sapphire waters off Croatia’s Adriatic coast, the islands each have distinctive characteristics. If you have the time, it’s worth exploring as many as you can. A number of sailing operators offer cruises and tours, so getting around the islands is easy once you plan ahead.
If you’re looking for tranquility and authenticity, head for the island of Vis. Of the Central Dalmatian Islands, Vis is the furthest from the Croatian coast. It was once a military base and foreign visitors didn’t have access until 1989. As a result, much of the island’s natural beauty has remained untouched.
Braç, just a short ferry ride from the city of Split, is the largest of the Central Dalmatian Islands. History and tradition are the main attractions here – Braç has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age and cultivating olive oil is a strong tradition on the island. On the other hand, Hvar is known for its glamorous nightlife, high-end restaurants, and upscale hotels. If you have any interest in celebrity-spotting, Hvar is the island to visit.
2. Historic cities and ancient buildings
Dubrovnik, in Southern Croatia, is arguably one the most beautiful cities in the world. Ancient city walls protect Dubrovnik’s Old Town and strolling along the top of them is an unmissable experience. Inside the walls, shops and restaurants line limestone streets and there are fascinating museums throughout the city.
Split, Croatia’s second-largest city, lies on the Dalmatian Coast. The imposing Roman ruins of Diocletian’s Palace are at the centre of the city, while beaches stretch along its outskirts. Originally built as a fortress, Diocletian’s Palace is now a network of busy streets.
3. A varied and exciting cuisine
Croatia has a strong culinary heritage. This heritage draws heavily on Croatia’s landscape, Italian cuisine, and Mediterranean cooking. The result is a varied cuisine that ranges from the fresh seafood of the islands and coastal cities to the richer, meaty dishes that are popular inland. Sharing food is a big part of the Croatian culture and home-style cooking is available in family-run taverns. Meanwhile, you’ll also find plenty of high-end restaurants in the cities and some of the towns.
4. Numerous natural wonders
Almost 10% of Croatia’s land is protected. This protected land is made up of 11 nature parks, eight national parks, and two nature reserves. Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most popular national park in Croatia and for good reason. Sections of dense forest blanket this stunning preserve, while waterfalls and cascades connect 16 turquoise lakes. It takes over six hours to explore the lakes on foot, but there are free boats and buses that’ll help you get around faster.
5. Plenty of sunshine
Croatia gets, on average, 2,715 hours of sunshine a year. The abundance of great weather means plenty of opportunities to enjoy the beaches and the country’s national parks. Supposedly, Alfred Hitchcock claimed that the seaside town of Zadar has the best sunsets in the world.
Given everything that makes Croatia special, it’s unsurprising that it has become one of the most popular destinations in Europe. Whether you spend two weeks island hopping or take a few days to explore Dubrovnik, you won’t be disappointed.
Interested in going to Croatia?
All this research has us super excited to go sailing on the Adriatic. If you think you are interested in joining us for an 8 day tour in June, take our short Croatia survey here.