Have an experience of
a lifetime this year in

Croatia

Video: CNTB

Video: CNTB

With its sunny climes, unspoilt nature, space for adventure, fascinating history and culture, and incredible gastronomy, Croatia offers something for almost everyone. Find your reason to visit Croatia this year…

The coast with the most

Video: CNTB

Video: CNTB

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Zoran Jelaca/CNTB

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Zoran Jelaca/CNTB

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Zoran Jelaca/CNTB

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Zoran Jelaca/CNTB

Photo: Shutterstock

Find your perfect beach...

Pasjača Beach

Set at the foot of the cliffs of Konavle, reaching this oasis is an adventure in itself. You’ll need to take a steep path, climb down steps carved into the cliffs and make your way through tunnels to get to the hidden, quiet spot. 

Stiniva Beach

You’ll see why the producers of Mamma Mia. Here We Go Again!  chose the idyllic isle of Vis when your water taxi arrives at this remote hideaway nestled beneath steep cliffs.

Sveti Ivan Beach

You’ll need to hike in or take a boat to this remote pebbled charmer on the island of Cres where no cars go. It’s impossible not to relax here.

Kornati Islands

This paradisical isles are protected as a national park and there are very few traces of man, so you can find that secluded beach you’ve always dreamt of.

Find a watery adventure

Kayaking

Croatia’s coast offers world-class kayaking, whether you want to just paddle through the surf at a beach, or take on a multi-day sea kayaking adventure in the isles. A glorious half day is paddling from Dubrovnik to the bewitching, deeply historic isle of Lokrum, with a spectacular trip back towards Dubrovnik’s Old Town.

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Island hopping

Croatia’s island-studded coast could have been crafted with sailors in mind. Well-equipped marinas right down the littoral in Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia make sailing a breeze, whether you want to let someone else trim the sails while you ease from island to island, or hire your own yacht bareback charter.

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Diving

With such clear waters, more than 1,000 islands and rich marine wildlife, Croatia offers superb diving. Today myriad dive centres can train you from scratch, or take more experienced divers on some serious adventures amongst myriad shipwrecks. Bisevo’s Blue Grotto offers a spectacular diving experience with memories to last a lifetime.

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Rafting

A swathe of adrenaline pumping rafting experiences await in Croatia’s hinterland. One of the highlights is the Cetina River, which you can bash down enjoying whitewater thrills as you work your way down through thick forest and karst canyon towards Omiš, where the river meets the Adriatic.

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Natural escapes

Video: CNTB

Video: CNTB

Head into the mountains

Croatia offers an impressive sweep of mountains lining its littoral, inland and even its islands. The most spectacular landscapes are protected as national parks; ideal places to escape. The North Velebit National Park soars along the northern stretch of the hulking Velebit mountains. This breathtaking wildscape has huts for hikers and mountaineers.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Also part of the Velebit range is Paklenica National Park with its famous sky-scraping limestone faces vaulting over a kilometre high. Even at its entrance there are already sheer rock walls to test the skills of climbers. Don’t be put off by the free climbers showing off their skills as there is something in Paklenica for all abilities. You could just ease in for a day edging up the Velika Paklenica gorge to get a feel for this remarkable mountain landscape, but use the mountain huts to really escape the modern world and explore the 150km of trails that beckon. Stay overnight at the Borisov Dom mountain hut, before ascending the 1,757m peak of Vaganski Vrh.

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Ride the rivers

Delve into Croatia’s hinterland and you discover a world of forest and hill, brought to life with sparkling ice-clear rivers. Just inland the Krka National Park is a spirit-soaring joy – forget all about the stresses and strains of the modern world as you splash around in Skradinski Buk. There are walkways, waterfalls and boat trips, including out to the island of Visovac, home to an 18th-century monastery.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Deeper inland you can enjoy the thrill of a rafting trip on the Mrežnica, a grade 3-4 river that provides just enough of a test to get the adrenaline pumping, with rapids to negotiate and waterfalls to drop down, whilst still being suitable for beginners. Moving on to the trout-rich River Gacka you can ease along in an open canoe, with only swans and herons for company, a far more genteel experience idling through the still, reed-shrouded waters.

Photo: Zoran Jelaca/CNTB

Wonder at waterfalls

There is nowhere in the world quite like the oasis of the Plitvice Lakes. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a soaring symphony writ in blue waters and natural greenery, alive with flora and fauna. You can walk the trails and boardwalks, hop on one of the small boats and breathe in the 295 square kilometre forest reserve. There are waterfalls and caves aplenty, plus the pristine larger lakes of Prošćansko and Kozjak.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

The virgin forest of Čorkova Uvala tempts, home to more than 150 bird species. You will need at least a day to appreciate the 16 terraced lakes, myriad streams and waterfalls as they cascade downhill. Stay over in one of the hotels to discover another side of Plitvice early morning or later on when the crowds have gone.

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Go green in Slavonia

Clean, green Slavonia is a captivating region in the northeast of Croatia that quickly wins hearts and soothes souls. This is an oasis where you can head off horseriding past the bountiful vineyards as you take in a wealth of birdwatching en route. One of the highlights is the Kopački Rit Nature Park. One of the largest inland wetlands in Europe spreads its bucolic tentacles across almost 18,000 hectares near the confluence of the Danube and Drava rivers. Among the almost 300 different bird species include everything from kingfishers and black storks, through to woodpeckers and white-tailed eagles.

In the waters watch out for more than 40 fish species, from carp and catfish, pike and perch. Kopački Rit is not done there as it’s also a refuge for pine martens, wildcats and wild boar.

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Walk through forests

Much of Europe has been stripped of forest, but whole swathes of wooded areas blanket Croatia. The Gorski Kotar is a real wilderness, where man plays second fiddle to nature: brown bears and wolves roam free and more than 50 species of birdlife patrol the skies. At its heart is the Risnjak National Park, which offers some of the country’s most remarkable scenery.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Risnjak was declared a national park as far back as 1953, ensuring it has not been overdeveloped. The park is made up of the Snjeznik and Risnjak massifs, covering a landmass of 64 square kilometres and it’s a paradise for walkers, cyclists, mountaineers and botanists. The Leska Trail from Crni Lug is a four kilometre walk ideal for inexperienced walkers with a lookout tower also for spotting local wildlife. There is rafting, canoeing and horse riding too. As you gain altitude, the view from the 1,528m peak of Veliki Risnjak is sublime.

Photo: Zoran Jelaca/CNTB

5 animals to look out for

1. Bears

Croatia is home to almost 1,000 brown bears, with the forests and foothills of the hinterland an ideal habitat. They are sometimes spotted swimming across to the islands – they are excellent swimmers as well as climbers. They should never be approached.

2. Dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins are found all over the Croatian Adriatic, but especially around the isle of Lošinj, which is home to the Losinj Dolphin Reserve. Boats trips take you out to meet the much studied pod here.

3. Deer

A number of species of deer thrive in Croatia inland, including the distinctive roe deer and fallow deer, with the highlight the ‘king of the woods, the mighty red deer.

4. Birds

Ornithologists flock to Croatia with its 400 bird species – everything  from Griffon Vulture and short-toed snake eagles, to spoonbills and long-eared owls. The ‘European Stork Village’ in the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park boasts more white storks than people.

5. Wild horses

Croatia is one of the few countries with a wild horse population and there are initiatives for further rewilding. You can head out on a wild horse safari from Lokva Rogoznica.

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Captivating culture

Video: CNTB

Video: CNTB

Must-see heritage sites

Roman Split

The Emperor Diocletian’s decision to retire gave Croatia one of Europe’s greatest cultural treasures – the UNESCO World Heritage listed Diocletian’s Palace, which he forged in a swathe of glorious architecture by the Adriatic. This massive Roman legacy is no staid museum; still the living and breathing dramatic heart of Split today.

Photo: Ivo Biocina/CNTB

Dubrovnik Old Town

Lord Byron’s ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ shouldn't be missed. It’s easy to see why Game of Thrones chose this one-time city state as ‘King’s Landing’. It’s a riot of baroque architecture set betwixt sea and mountain, where a shimmer of churches, monasteries and cultural treasures thrive within its ancient walls.

Photo: Ivo Biocina/CNTB

The Basilica Complex in Poreč

Byzantine legacies don’t come much more wondrous than this UNESCO World Heritage listed Istrian gem. The Euphrasian Basilica is the third church to be built on the site and today is a Catholic cathedral. Its treasures include the 6th-century mosaics that are worth coming to Croatia for alone.

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Historic core of Trogir

It’s easy to see why UNESCO World Heritage rate this island city. At its heart is the epic 13th-century Cathedral of St. Lawrence, home of the Renaissance Chapel of St. John. Climb the bellower to peer down at sections of the medieval walls and the glory of the living museum that is Trogir’s deeply historic streets.

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St James Cathedral in Šibenik

If you came to Croatia and only visited one building, you’d leave happy if it was this UNESCO World Heritage icon. At the heart of the charmingly historic city, you need time here to both appreciate the scale and the detail. The 74 Renaissance portrait sculptures adorning its exterior deserve hours of study alone.

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Get a feel for local culture

Listen to folksongs

Croatia is home to a rich and eclectic tradition of folk songs that convey, conserve and celebrate the culture of its various regions. Some of the most famous folk song traditions include acapella Klapa from the coast, the lively Tamburitza of Slavonia and the Gusle single string instrument music of Dalmatia’s hinterland.

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Watch the silent circle dance of the Dalmatian Hinterland

Nijemo Kolo, the silent circle dance of the Dalmatian hinterland, is so special it’s listed by UNESCO World Heritage. The rhythmic sounds of the traditional leather opanci shoes is hypnotic.

Photo: Ivo Pervan/CNTB

Lacemaking

Croatia’s rich tradition of lacemaking has its roots in medieval times. Today it’s still kept alive on the islands of Pag and Hvar, as well as the town of Lepoglava in the north, and the village of Sveta Marija in the Međimurje County.

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Festivals

Festivals still play an essential community role throughout Croatia and visitors are welcome. Following the Cross on the island of Hvar has a tradition stretching back uninterrupted for five centuries. It sees a cross bearer walk 25km from village to village with a musical accompaniment of choral singers. The Spring Procession of Ljelje features ‘queens’ from Gorjani, a custom with roots deep in the Turkish wars in eastern Croatia.  In Dubrovnik the Festival of Saint Blaise celebrates the city’s patron saint, with religious and secular activities laid on across the city for locals and visitors alike.

Photo: Ivo Biocina/CNTB

Food for thought

Video: CNTB

Video: CNTB

Learn about olive oil (Ivo Biocina/CNTB)

Learn about olive oil (Ivo Biocina/CNTB)

Taste traditional ham (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Taste traditional ham (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Sample seafood by the sea (Boris Kacan/CNTB)

Sample seafood by the sea (Boris Kacan/CNTB)

Follow a wine route (Matija Sculac/CNTB)

Follow a wine route (Matija Sculac/CNTB)

Enjoy hearty meals (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Enjoy hearty meals (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Try local cheeses (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Try local cheeses (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Sample something sweet (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Sample something sweet (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

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Learn about olive oil (Ivo Biocina/CNTB)

Learn about olive oil (Ivo Biocina/CNTB)

Taste traditional ham (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Taste traditional ham (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Sample seafood by the sea (Boris Kacan/CNTB)

Sample seafood by the sea (Boris Kacan/CNTB)

Follow a wine route (Matija Sculac/CNTB)

Follow a wine route (Matija Sculac/CNTB)

Enjoy hearty meals (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Enjoy hearty meals (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Try local cheeses (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Try local cheeses (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Sample something sweet (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

Sample something sweet (Maja Danica Pecanic/CNTB)

What are you waiting for?

Start planning your dream journey to Croatia now by heading over to the official website.