Travel in Croatia is ridiculously beautiful and richly rewarding. The glittering turquoise waters of the Dalmatian coastline and the time-worn cobblestone alleyways winding their way between red-roofed coastal villages are enough to leave even the seasoned traveler in awe. Croatia's interior reveals diverse cultural influences from the 14th-century Venetian city of Rovinj to medieval villages perched on fortified hilltops. Hikes lead to ancient ruins among pine forests, stunning national parks, and farmers tending vegetables, olive groves, and vineyards drenched under the Mediterranean sun. Here's why we're crazy about this country and why you should be too!
The Dalmatian Coast
The shimmering waters of the Adriatic Sea stretch into idyllic coves, lapping at the shore of ancient sites, and picturesque seaside villages scattered among thousands of islands dotting the coast. The busy ports-of-call and coastal cities of Dubrovnik, Split, and Korcula buzz with a European Riviera vibe of cafes and seaside gourmet dining. For sea lovers who want to get off the beaten path, we recommend experiencing the Dalmatian coast traveling on a traditional wooden gulet.
Split is one of the Adriatic's largest and most vibrant ports of call and is at the core of any Croatia itinerary (Cover Photo.) Through the centuries it has changed hands between Greeks and Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Austrians (among others), but perhaps the city's greatest claim to fame is its enormous, third century Palace of Diocletian.
Created as the Roman emperor's retirement residence, the structure is an important example of transitional style comprising an imperial villa, Hellenistic building, and Roman camp.
"We visited an Agritourismo inititive in the abandoned mountain village of Truša outside of Split and met Gigi (pictured left), who loves to let visitors share the experience of his life in Truša and show them his collection of colorful old Renaults. Together with our charming hosts, Domeni and Josipa, we prepared the Croatian peka dish (meat and potatoes) and spoarnik (Swiss chard layered between two sheets of dough smothered in garlic and Olive oil), all cooked under coals." - The Kutays, Founders of Wildland Adventures, on a adventure in Croatia.
Plitviče Lakes National Park
Rising dramatically above the Adriatic coastline are mountains, forests, limestone lakes and waterfalls, which visitors can experienced at Plitvice Lakes National Park. A USESCO World Heritage site, it's one of the oldest and largest national parks in Croatia. The park is world-famous for its inter-connected lakes and waterfalls cascading over limestone carved over eons and covered in lush ferns, vibrant green broadleaf trees and hanging mosses. Video Below - A Wildland group exploring the trails and waterways of the park.
Dubrovnik - the Walled City
Surrounded by ramparts and fortresses, Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a treasure of well-preserved architectural and cultural relics of the centuries.
Explore the Franciscan Church and Monastery with the 3rd oldest pharmacy in Europe, Rector's Palace, the Cathedral housing the relics of St. Blaise, St. Blaise's Church, and of course the 1940 meters long City Walls. One of the hottest destinations in Europe, cruise ships and crowds flood into Dubrovnik during the high season, yet there are still many opportunities to beat the crowds and find hidden pockets of the city. The best time is to rise early in the morning to hike the city walls before the cruise ships lower their gangplanks.
The beautiful old town of Korčula, a quaint old city off the Croatian mainland on the Pelješac peninsula, brings to mind Dubrovnik on a smaller scale. The distinctive white limestone which was used to build both towns originates from Vrnik, a tiny island just off the eastern tip of Korčula.
Ancient medieval walls surround hidden treasures where you discover Renaissance palaces, cathedrals, museums, and more architectural gems tucked away in a maze of cobblestone streets. It is also believed to be the birthplace of Marco Polo and where he was later captured and held in the dungeon by wayfaring Venicians.
"We've had so many amazing days but today was epic! We woke up in our gulet, Aborda, in port at historic Korčula. Then we cycled through vineyards, olive groves, and along the Adriatic seaside to a wine tasting at the 200 year old Frank-Molina Family Brie Vineyards where we tasted 3 wines including my favorite, the "Grk." Then a performance on board by a Dalmatian Tamburan musical group (See Video Below), followed by dinner on the aft deck prepared by our Award-winning chef "Dan" who has his own Macedonian cooking TV show." - Kurt Kutay, Founder of Wildland Adventures
Zagreb - History & Shopping
The Croatian cultural, scientific, economical, and capital of Croatia, Zagreb is a vibrant city pulsing with life expressed in its many museums, galleries, theatres, churches, cafes, open markets, clubs and pubs.
Zagreb is a beautiful city of greenways and promenades accented by colorful buildings and red-tile roofs, and has retained its charm and easy going feeling despite being the political center of the country. Zagreb offer the best shopping in Croatia with regular flea and collectors' markets, second hand clothes shops, and stores selling old books and records. Wine, herbs, delicatessen products, extra-virgin olive oil, soap, embroidery, and lace are some of the most popular souvenirs to take home.
Croatian cuisine draws from a variety of European influences and features fresh locally harvested ingredients from the forest, farm and sea. On the north coast and rolling highlands of the Istrian peninsula you'll find strong Italian influences, along with truffles from the farms and forests (pictured right.) Throughout the country visitors can sample a wide range of Mediterranean dishes uniquely Croatian - strudels, ajvar red pepper relish, brodet stew, burek pastries, spicy meat balls originally brought to Croatia by the Ottomans, and much more.
Drinking coffee is a social event in Croatia. You can join them on every street in every Croatian town at any time of day, from early morning to late at night. Ice-cream shops serve wonderful gellato as well as a selection of cakes and pastries.
"We had so many beautiful surprises on our journey through Istria like making our pasta lunch at a country home, (See Video Below) wandering through the historic city of Rovinj and being rowed to dinner in Old World Batan boats at sunset to a traditional espazio where the local Italian community opened its doors to prepare a local seafood meal of anchovies, sardines, bowls of mussels in wine garlic sauce and mounds of fish, langostina and octopi!" - Kurt Kutay, Founder Wildland Adventures
When to Go
In the peak tourism season of summer, the temperature along the coast is generally between 75º and 80º F. Summer is also the driest season with many of Croatia's islands particularly arid. To beat the crowds, we encourage shoulder season travel, late April-early June, or September-October.Winters find temperatures dropping to 35º F in the North and 48º F in the South.
Good To Know
Keeping it Wild,