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    With its magnificent coastline boasting picturesque islands and reefs, and a countryside scattered with Roman ruins and medieval villages, Croatia is fast becoming a rival to Greece for tempting those looking for beautiful beaches, great food and rich history.

    After centuries of being geographically sliced and diced to suit empires, conquerors and political and ethnic divisions, Croatia has been left with a diverse cultural legacy and a wealth of historical attractions. The long Adriatic Coast forms the western leg of the arc-shaped country, tapering to the unique ancient seaport of Dubrovnik in the south, while the land between the rivers Drava and Sava form the northern section. The capital, Zagreb, sits in between.

    Although Croatia's history is dramatic, the atmosphere of this balmy Mediterranean country is now tranquil, with sleepy old towns and impossibly picturesque lakes and beaches. The wonderful landscape is easily explored on foot or by mountain bike as the country is criss-crossed with good trails, which might come in handy as the delicious food and wine will have to be walked off.

    But the most prominent feature of Croatian holidays is the glorious Dalmatian Coast, indented with rocky cliffs, dramatic peninsulas and small inlets. Many quality hotels and marinas have been resurrected or constructed in the past few years, rapidly making Croatia an exceedingly popular cruise destination.

    There is a special atmosphere in Croatian towns and villages, many of which were built on the sites of ancient Greek settlements from as far back as the 4th century BC. With a reserved but hospitable population, a Mediterranean climate and scenic beauty, Croatia is one of Europe's best tourist hotspots.

    Croatia's popularity as a European holiday destination has grown rapidly over the last few decades. There is much to see and do along its magnificent coastline, boasting over 1,000 islands, islets and reefs. Most visitors come to Croatia for the cruises, boating and beaches, but the country also boasts cultural attractions and plenty of ancient history.

    Many of Croatia's cities are built on the sites of Greek and Roman settlements dating from as far back as 400 BC. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Roman ruins in Zagreb and Split, stroll through the cobblestone streets of fairytale medieval villages or simply take in the local cuisine and history. The Croatian History Museum in Zagreb features an impressive display of Neanderthal remains, while culture vultures will enjoy a trip to the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.

    Dubrovnik is one of Croatia's top holiday destinations, boasting a picturesque Old Town and exquisite beaches along a rugged coastline. The breathtakingly beautiful Split is a great base for exploring the Dalmation Coast and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also boasts such gems as the city of Trogir and Brac Island just off shore.

    Spring and autumn are good seasons to visit as milder weather, fewer crowds and lower prices mean travellers can discover the country more freely. But summer (June to August) is the peak season because it's the best time to enjoy Croatia's stunning beaches.

    Travelling by bus is economical, while ferries and catamarans are the only mode of transport to the islands, and a way of life on the coast. For a more relaxed but slightly more expensive option, hiring a car allows visitors to get off the beaten track and discover this Balkan gem at their own leisure.

    Diocletian's Palace

    The building housing the Croatian National Theatre (or HNK Zagreb) is as much a national treasure as the world-class theatre, opera, music and ballet productions that take place on its stage. Construction began on the theatre building in 1894, with Croatian artist Vlaho Bukovac painting the ceremonial curtain while Viennese artist Alexander Goltz decorated the ceiling of the auditorium. At the entrance to the theatre, visitors can see the large ornate fountain called 'The Well of Life', designed by Croatian artist Ivan Meštrovic in 1905. The Croatian National Theatre has hosted famous artists and performers from all over the world, and culture enthusiasts shouldn't miss a show.

    Diocletian's Palace Diocletian's Palace Judith Duk
    Archaeological Museum

    Founded in 1820, the Archaeological Museum in Split is the oldest museum in Croatia. Its displays include artefacts from prehistoric times, the Greek colonial period and from the Roman-, early Christian- and Medieval ages. Most of the relics found in excavations of the Roman city of Salona are displayed, as well as sarcophagi, statues and friezes. The museum also contains a large assembly of antique coins and a prominent library. Those who have smartphones can make use of the free WiFi audio guide, which is informative and enhances the experience. Outside the museum is a lovely garden with a covered walkway and decorated with a number of sculptures.

    Address: Zrinsko-Frankopanska 25
    Ancient artefacts on display Ancient artefacts on display Connie Ma
    Franciscan Monastery

    Around 700 years old, the Franciscan church and monastery is enclosed in the walls of medieval Dubrovnik. While enduring many rebuilds and repairs, it still boasts one of the most beautiful Romanesque cloisters in Dalmatia. There is a working pharmacy, considered the third oldest in the world, which also holds a museum housing medical instruments and books, scales and gilded church relics. Its library is renowned globally by historians for its celebrated inventory of some 30,000 volumes with 1,500 handwritten documents. The monastery proves a great refuge after sightseeing in the heat and city crowds, offering peace and quiet in its tranquil gardens.

    Address: Placa 2
    Franciscan Monastery Interior Franciscan Monastery Interior Sailko
    Dubrovnik City Walls

    The impressive walls enclosing the ancient city of Dubrovnik were laid out in the 13th century and became an ongoing project for almost two hundred years. The fortified walls are up to 10 feet (3m) thick on the sea side and at least twice as thick on the land side, reaching up to 82 feet (25m) in height. Visitors access the walls via a steep stone stairway and once they reach the top they'll be rewarded with astonishing vistas. A walk around the old city from this fascinating vantage point is a must for visitors to Dubrovnik. The detached sentinel of Lovrijenac Fort to the west of the old city is also worth a visit.

    Dubrovnik City Walls Dubrovnik City Walls Judith Duk
    Marin Drzic's House

    Marin Drzic is Croatia's best-known literary genius, immortalised in his Dubrovnik home which serves as a museum dedicated to the famous playwright and author. It gives visitors a great insight into the writer with a 40-minute presentation on his life and work. The house itself has been restored to reflect the 16th-century Renaissance period that Drzic lived in, while also functioning as an exhibition space and museum of theatre. The museum collects theatrical material for study and is the only institution of its kind in Croatia.

    Address: Siroka ulica 7
    Marin Drzic's House Marin Drzic's House Sailko
    Cathedral Treasury

    Dubrovnik has had at least three cathedrals on the same site during its long history. The first was a Byzantine building dating from the 7th century; the second a Romanesque Cathedral destroyed by a great earthquake; and at present the beautiful Baroque structure completed in 1713. Within the current Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary, there are several magnificent statues and paintings, including a work by Titian dating back to about 1552. As well as valuable art, the cathedral has stunning Baroque features as well as a treasury, filled with hundreds of relics, artefacts and religious icons.

    Address: Kneza Damjana Jude 1
    Dubrovnik cathedral Dubrovnik cathedral Judith Duk
    Andautonia Archaeological Park

    Close to Zagreb are the ruins of an excavated ancient Roman town named Andautonia. It was a prominent administrative, economic, cultural and religious centre between the 1st and 4th centuries. At the Andautonia Archaeological Park, visitors can view a 26,910-square-foot (2,500 sq m) area of the Roman settlement, including parts of the main street, city baths and colonnades. There is a museum at the site exhibiting artefacts from the Greek and Roman periods, while tourists can also visit the nearby village of Scitarjevo to get a glimpse into rural life and see some traditional wooden housing.

    Address: Archaeological Museum: 19 Nikola Subic Zrinski Square
    Website: www.amz.hr
    Andautonia Andautonia Fraxinus
    Croatian History Museum

    The building that houses Croatia's history is itself a part of that history. Situated in the historical town centre, is the beautiful Baroque palace, Vojkovic-Orsic-Rauch, built at the end of the 18th century and formerly the private residence of three successive baronial families. In the late 1930s, the palace became the residence of Zagreb's mayors, before being designated as a repository for the historical relics of the city. It currently houses more than 140,000 antiquities in various collections, from stone monuments, military uniforms and fine art, to religious artefacts, venerated icons and noble heraldry. The exhibitions in this museum are temporary, meaning it's possible to visit the museum many times and always see new things.

    Address: Matoševa 9
    Website: www.hismus.hr/en
    Croatian History Museum Croatian History Museum Andrew Nash
    Croatian National Theatre

    The building housing the Croatian National Theatre (or HNK Zagreb) is as much a national treasure as the world-class theatre, opera, music and ballet productions that take place on its stage. Construction began on the theatre building in 1894, with Croatian artist Vlaho Bukovac painting the ceremonial curtain while Viennese artist Alexander Goltz decorated the ceiling of the auditorium. At the entrance to the theatre, visitors can see the large ornate fountain called 'The Well of Life', designed by Croatian artist Ivan Meštrovic in 1905. The Croatian National Theatre has hosted famous artists and performers from all over the world, and culture enthusiasts shouldn't miss a show.

    Address: Trg Marsala Tita 15
    Website: www.hnk.hr/en
    Croatian National Theatre Croatian National Theatre Diego Delso
    Town Squares

    Praska Street, in the lower part of old Zagreb, leads on to a sequence of attractive park squares, each flaunting their own attractions and worth a walking tour. Zrinski Square features a music pavilion dating from 1895 and fountains, with the Archaeological Museum at No.17.

    This square also features a row of busts of distinguished Croatians and the palace of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences, which houses the Strossmayer Gallery. On Strossmayer Square is a monument to Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, founder of the academy, as well as several other historic buildings.

    Tomislav Square features the Art Pavilion, fronted by a monument to Croatian Renaissance painter Andrija Medulic, while King Tomislav rises on horseback. Starcevic Square is home to the City Library and Hotel Esplanade, and gives access to the Botanical Gardens and Frane Bulic Monument.

    In Marulic Square, the University Library stands as a magnificent example of Art Nouveau architecture. Mimara Museum is on Roosevelt Square, and the Baroque Revival Croatian National Theatre stands on Republic Square.

    Jelacicplac Square Jelacicplac Square Miljenko Hegedic
    War Photo Limited

    War Photo Limited features changing photographic exhibitions relating to war and conflict, aiming to expose the horror and brutality experienced by innocents and combatants alike. These exhibitions in the historic centre of Dubrovnik are intended to be educational and showcase the work of world-renowned photojournalists. The minds behind War Photos Limited consider war a disease and the intention is to rid people of the perception that it can be glorious and righteous. Anybody interested in military history, photography or the strength of the human spirit will be fascinated by War Photo Limited. Although some exhibitions may be quite shocking, a visit to the gallery is an overwhelmingly rewarding experience.

    Address: Antuninska 6
    War photography War photography David
    Brac Island

    Bol and Supetar are the two main resorts on Brac, with attractive old towns and laid-back charm. Brac is a great destination for a number of watersports, with Bol being the windsurfing capital of Croatia. It also boasts a famous strip of beach that stretches out into the ocean, featuring on most Croatian tourist brochures. Like much of Croatia, the beaches on Brac Island are mainly rocky, boasting stunningly clear blue water and calm seas. Those desperate to find a sandy beach should head down to Lovrecina, which has its own beach bar and restaurant. Brac is generally less crowded than Split and other popular areas on Croatia's mainland, but can get busy during the peak summer months.

    Website: www.bracinfo.com
    Brac Island Brac Island Zuffe
    Sponza Palace

    Built between 1516 and 1522, the Sponza Palace was the centre of medieval Dubrovnik. A mixture of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles, it's one of the most beautiful and well-preserved palaces in the city. It has been suggested that the style of building gives some indication of what public buildings in Dubrovnik may have looked like before they were destroyed in an earthquake in 1667. Although this natural disaster caused considerable destruction to Dubrovnik, the palace itself was largely undamaged. Today, it houses the Dubrovnik archive, which contains 7,000 volumes and about 100,000 individual scripts. The atrium of the palace is an art gallery showcasing various exhibitions from contemporary artists, as well as those prominent in Dubrovnik's past.

    Sponza Palace Sponza Palace Marcin Konsek
    Dubrovnik Port

    Found next to the picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old Town and lined with palm trees, Dubrovnik's Old Port is unforgettable. Known as the 'Jewel of the Adriatic', it boasts fantastic sightseeing opportunities and intriguing, small markets along its tiny cobblestoned streets. The rich history and quaint shops of the Old Port make Dubrovnik a popular cruise port, with liners anchoring at the modern Port of Gruz less than two miles (2,5km) from the Old Town. Many different kinds of boat tours are operated from the harbour, offering a wonderful chance to explore the stunning coastline. Many will point out attractions and landmarks, providing insights into the port's past and Dubrovnik in general.

    Dubrovnik Port Dubrovnik Port Dennis Jarvis
    Stradun

    The biggest, longest and widest street in Dubrovnik, the grandiose Stradun dates back to the 13th century, while its uniform houses were mostly built more than 300 years ago. The commercial, entertainment and spiritual home of Dubrovnik, the limestone-paved Stradun is the best place to get a feel for the pulse of Croatia's capital. It holds many of the city's monuments and some great restaurants and shops. One of its more famous attractions is Onofrio's Fountain, which is located in a small square near the Pila Gate and Franciscan Monastery. Built in 1438 by a famous Italian architect from Naples, Onofrio della Cava, this large fountain is considered a masterpiece of its time.

    Stradun Stradun Diego Delso

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Croatia's climate differs quite dramatically from the coast to the interior of the country. The coast has a typically Mediterranean climate with hot, dry, and sunny summers (June to August) and relatively mild, sometimes wet winters (November to February). Summer temperatures average around 79°F (26°C) but it frequently gets as hot as 90°F (32°C).

    Winters are significantly colder but they are not severe and along the coast snow is unusual. Winter temperatures seldom drop below 41°F (5°C). Visitors should experience some sunny days in autumn and even a few in winter, but the colder months can be rainy.

    In the interior of Croatia the climate is continental and more extreme with colder winters and more common snowfall; temperatures in winter frequently drop below 32°F (0°C). Summers, on the other hand, are similar in temperature to the coastal regions but feel hotter in the interior due to the lack of refreshing cool breezes from the sea.

    The peak tourist season in Croatia is in the summer months when the weather is hottest and driest, but the best time to visit is probably September or May when the weather is still warm enough for swimming but the country is less crowded.

    Franjo Tuđman Airport Zagreb
    Location: The airport is situated 10 miles (16km) southeast of Zagreb.
    Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Sunday in March to end October).
    Getting to the city: A convenient bus shuttle operates between the airport and the Central Bus Station in Zagreb, running from about 7am until 10.30pm and scheduled to meet arriving flights. The journey takes roughly 30-45 minutes.
    Car Rental: Car rental agencies at the airport include Hertz, Dollar Thrifty and Europcar, among others.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available outside the terminal.
    Facilities: The airport has a bank, post office, tourist information kiosk, 24-hour left luggage services, business lounge, conference facilities, and shops selling souvenirs and luxury products (including duty-free). There is also a restaurant and a few cafes.
    Parking Parking for visitors costs HRK 27 for one hour, up to a daily maximum of HRK 150.
    Rijeka International Airport
    Location: The airport is located near Omisalj on the island of Krk.
    Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Sunday in March to end October).
    Getting to the city: Bus services travel from the airport to Rijeka, Kraljevica, Omisalj, and Crikvenica.
    Car Rental: There are a number of car rental companies, including Sixt, CarpeDiem, and Last Minute.
    Airport Taxis: Licensed taxis operate at the airport.
    Facilities: Facilities include coffee shops, a souvenir store, restaurants, ATMs, duty free, baby care facilities, currency exchange, and an information desk.
    Dubrovnik Airport
    Location: The airport is situated about 15 miles (24km) south of Dubrovnik.
    Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Saturday in March to end of October).
    Getting to the city: An Atlas Bus meets all scheduled flights and runs between the airport and the main bus station. Fares are set at HKR 40. Passengers can get off at the stop outside the main gate to the old city on the way to the main bus station. Taxis are also available.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies at the airport include Hertz, Avis, Budget, and Thrifty.
    Facilities: A bank and exchange office are open daily. There are also souvenir shops, duty free, and snacks and drinks available.
    Parking There is a parking lot attached to the airport, offering both long-term, and short-term rates.
    Split Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 16 miles (25km) west of Split.
    Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Saturday in March to end of October).
    Getting to the city: Croatia Airlines operates a bus between the airport and the main bus station, on the waterfront, in Split. Taxis are also available.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, National and others.
    Airport Taxis: There are taxis available outside the terminal during operating hours.
    Facilities: Airport facilities include a restaurant and café, duty-free shopping, banking and currency exchange services and a post office.
    Parking Parking is available at the airport with discounts available for long-term parking.
    Pula Airport
    Location: The airport is located four miles (about 6km) northeast of the city of Pula.
    Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Saturday in March to end October).
    Getting to the city: A bus service connects the airport to the station in Pula.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies include Avis, Hertz, Budget, Sixt, and Alamo.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available outside the arrivals area.
    Facilities: Facilities include ATMs, bureaux de change, restaurants and cafés, internet access, a nursery, and duty-free shopping.
    Parking Short- and long-term public parking available.
    Money:

    The official unit of currency is the Kuna (HRK). One Kuna is divided into 100 Lipa. ATMs are plentiful throughout the country and banks, authorised bureaux de change, post offices and most hotels exchange foreign currency. Banks open Monday to Saturday and some banks also open on Sundays in the main cities. Major credit cards are widely accepted at the main hotels and restaurants, and may be used to draw cash from ATMs which are widely available throughout the country.

    Language:

    The official language is Croatian.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European-style, round, two-pin plugs are standard.

    Entry Requirements:

    US nationals: US citizens must present a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay. Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days.

    UK nationals: UK nationals must have a passport valid for the period of intended stay in Croatia, or valid for three months beyond period of intended stay, depending on the endorsement in the passport. For stays of up to 90 days, a visa is not required for holders of British passports endorsed British Citizen, British National (Overseas), British Overseas Citizen, British Overseas Territories Citizen, British Protected Person or British Subject. Other UK passport holders should check with the embassy whether a visa is required for travel.

    CA nationals: Canadian citizens must have a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay in Croatia. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

    AU nationals: Australian citizens must have a passport valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Croatia. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

    ZA nationals: South African nationals must have a passport valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Croatia, and a visa is required, unless already holding a multiple-entry Schengen C visa.

    IR nationals: Irish nationals must have a passport valid for the period of intended stay in Croatia. No visa is required.

    NZ nationals: New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Croatia. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    All foreign passengers to Croatia must hold return/onward tickets and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, as well as proof of sufficient funds (at least EUR 70.- per day of stay, at least EUR 30.- per day of stay if holding a confirmed invitation or a tourist voucher). It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    No vaccinations are required. The medical facilities and care in Croatia are fairly good, with free emergency medical care available to EU citizens with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU. The GHIC is not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, nor is it an alternative to travel insurance. Non-EU nationals are advised to take out comprehensive travel insurance, and those who need particular medications should take the supply needed for the duration of their stay with them, plus a doctor's letter to get the items through customs.

    Tipping:

    In tourist or upmarket restaurants, a tip of 10 percent will be appreciated. But otherwise, it's common to just round up the bill if the service has been good, unless a service charge has already been added. Tour guides expect to be tipped.

    Safety Information:

    Most visits to Croatia are trouble free. Crime levels are low and violent crime is rare, but petty theft can be a problem in busy tourist areas so it's worth keeping a careful eye on valuables. Outside normal tourist routes, travellers should be aware that unexploded mines might remain in rural areas, particularly in Eastern Slavonia and the former Krajina.

    Tourists are urged to be cautious in former conflict areas, including the aforementioned Eastern Slavonia, Brodsko-Posavska County, Karlovac County, areas around Zada and in more remote areas of the Plitvice Lakes National Park. They should stay on known safe roads and areas, and check with authorities before setting out into remote regions.

    Local Customs:

    In some towns and cities, it's prohibited or considered inappropriate to walk around town centres shirtless or in swimming costumes. In some places, such as parts of Dubrovnik, there is signage indicating that people are required to cover up and that fines will be imposed on those that don't comply. Even when there is no such signage, travellers are advised to be sensitive to local conventions and sensibilities.

    Business:

    Business in Croatia tends to be quite formal. Punctuality is key, dress should be smart and handshakes are the preferred form of greeting.

    Titles and surnames are usually used unless otherwise indicated and business cards are often exchanged at the beginning of a meeting. English and German are widely spoken but any attempt at speaking some Croatian will be appreciated. Women frequently hold high positions in business and are well respected.

    Building a good working relationship is important in Croatia and it's useful to work with a reliable local partner. Although Croatia appears typically European in its dealings, business can take some time to conclude. Business hours are usually 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

    Communications:

    The international access code for Croatia is +385 and WiFi availability is good.

    Duty Free:

    Non-EU travellers to Croatia can enter the country with the following items without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 4 litres of wine, 1 litre of spirits and up to 16 litres of beer; and other goods up to the value of HRK 3,200 if arriving by air or HRK 2,200 if arriving by other means of transport.

    Useful Contacts:

    Croatian National Tourist Board, Zagreb: +385 (0)1 469 9333 or www.croatia.hr

    Croatia Embassies:

    Embassy of Croatia, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 588 5899.

    Embassy of Croatia, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7387 2022.

    Embassy of Croatia, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 562 7820.

    Embassy of Croatia, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6286 6988.

    Embassy of Croatia, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 342 1206.

    Embassy of Croatia, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 476 7181

    Consulate of Croatia, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 274 998850.

    Foreign Embassies in Croatia :

    United States Embassy, Zagreb: +385 (0)1 661 2200.

    British Embassy, Zagreb: +385 (0)1 600 9100.

    Canadian Embassy, Zagreb: +385 (0)1 488 1200.

    Australian Embassy, Zagreb: +385 (0)1 489 1200.

    South African Embassy, Budapest (also responsible for Croatia): +36 1 392 0999

    Embassy of Ireland, Zagreb: +385 (0)1 627 8920.

    New Zealand Consulate, Rome, Italy (also responsible for Croatia): +39 06 853 7501.

    Croatia Emergency Numbers : 112 (General Emergency Helpline)
    Croatia
    Mljet Island

    Covered by small villages, forests and vineyards, Mljet is famous for its national park. Main attractions include the two saltwater lakes of Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero, as well as a 12th-century Benedictine monastery. Mljet is said to be Croatia's greenest island, the beauty of the unspoiled oasis attracting nature lovers and those in search of peace and tranquillity. It's popular with couples because of the pristine natural beauty and lack of crowds, making it ideal for romantic getaways. It is also a great option for those who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and kayaking.

    Website: www.mljet.hr
    Mljet Island Mljet Island Jose Miguel
    Hvar Island

    Off the coast of Split is the island of Hvar, which abounds with Romanesque and Renaissance buildings and a true Mediterranean atmosphere. Hvar has been inhabited since ancient times;in fact, archaeologists have found evidence dating back to 3500 BC. It's now mainly a wine-growing area, with the main towns of Vrboska and Jelsa famed for their Dalmatian vintages. Hvar is dotted with picturesque rural villages, many fairly untouched by time and tourism. Must-see attractions in Hvar include the incredible Hvar Fortress, reached by a fairly strenuous climb, but with the reward of exquisite views of the whole town and harbour. No visit to Hvar would be complete without a visit to Dubovica Beach, so often delightfully free of crowds.

    Website: www.hvar.hr
    Hvar Island Hvar Island Gaucho
    Dubrovnik Riviera

    In close proximity to the city of Dubrovnik there are lots of picturesque villages and stunning resorts to explore.

    About 11 miles (18km) away is the quiet bay of Zaton, with sandy beaches and pine forest. The town has numerous restaurants, a relic of the days when it was the chosen retreat for the aristocrats of the Dubrovnik Republic.

    The village of Tristeno features the Arboretum, a Gothic-Renaissance park on the coast. In the centre of this village, visitors are awed by two gigantic sycamore trees which are reputedly 500 years old and standing 197ft (60m) tall.

    Even closer to the city, the towns of Kupari, Srebreno, Mlini, Soline and Plat lie along a chain of hills descending to the rim of Zupa Bay, known as one of the most beautiful resorts on the Dubrovnik Riviera.

    Here, visitors will find plenty of modern hotels offering a variety of watersports to keep guests entertained. Also close to Dubrovnik is Lapad Beach, a popular getaway with a number of bars and restaurants, and a lovely spot to while away a sunny afternoon.

    Dubrovnik Riviera Dubrovnik Riviera Thomas Kohler
    Trakoscan Castle

    Trakoscan is a legendary 13th-century Gothic castle that was home to various influential families for centuries before finally falling into disrepair in the second half of the 18th century. It now survives as a museum of life in a medieval castle, with visitors exploring three floors, a dungeon and the surrounding parklands. Guests can wander freely through stone corridors, up and down winding staircases and into the various rooms adorned by original furniture and weaponry. It is also a great attraction for children as the castle, lake and forest transport the little ones to a fairytale world.

    Trakoscan Castle Trakoscan Castle Maxman
    Elafiti Islands

    A popular excursion from Dubrovnik is a day trip to the offshore islands of Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan. They are an escape from the mainland crowds, boasting olive groves, orchards, sand- and pebble beaches, 15th-century mansions, and several interesting churches and monasteries. The smallest and closest island to Dubrovnik, Kolocep is lush and green. Lopud is the most visited, and famed for the sandy beach at Sunj. Sipan used to be the summer getaway of choice for aristocratic families in Dubrovnik and is fascinating from a historical point of view. Kolocep and Lopud are both car-free islands and easy to navigate on foot.

    Kolocep Kolocep August Dominus
    Korcula Island

    Korcula Island is one of the biggest on the Adriatic, boasting verdant vineyards, secluded beaches and olive groves. Korcula Town juts out into the sea, and is typically Dalmatian in character, with red-roofed houses and enclosing walls. Some theorise that Marco Polo was born here and his rumoured house is now a museum open to the public. The town is also famous for its 15th-century Moreska sword dance which is performed during summer.

    Other towns on the island include Vela Luka and Lumbarda, which are surrounded by vineyards and coves. Korcula is said to have been a favourite Greek holiday spot over 2,000 years ago and since then it hasn't stopped delighting visitors with its culture and green landscapes. Of the 1,000 or so islands in Croatia, Korcula is often ranked most highly as a holiday destination.

    Korcula Island Korcula Island Simon Pearson
    Trogir

    Trakoscan is a legendary 13th-century Gothic castle that was home to various influential families for centuries before finally falling into abandoned disrepair in the second half of the 18th century, when it belonged to the Draskovic family.

    In the 1950s, the castle was taken over by the state and turned into a living museum, reconstructing life in a medieval castle. Visitors can explore four levels, including the dungeon, and finish their tour with a stroll through the surrounding parklands.

    Trakoscan Castle is a spectacular journey for the imagination as it feels so authentic. Guests can wander with freedom through the stone corridors, up and down the winding staircases, and into the various rooms. It is also a great attraction for the younger children as the castle, lake, and forest settings transport the little ones to a fairytale world.

    The castle features original artefacts from its history, including furniture and weaponry, and displays are informative and well laid out. As wandering through the castle and its beautiful grounds can be somewhat tiring, visitors often stop for a break at the restaurant by the lake.

    Trogir old town Trogir old town Judith Duk
    Sibenik

    Sibenik is a historic town, located in central Dalmatia. Over the centuries, it has endured many rulers who have claimed it as their own, from Byzantium to the Kingdom of Bosnia. Naturally, it's a product of this complex past, with a diverse tapestry of influences and rich cultural heritage. Sibenik is home to the Cathedral of St Jacob, the crowning glory of the Dalmatian Coast. The beautiful baptistery, domed roof and 71 stone heads on the exterior walls truly make this Renaissance cathedral a thing of divine beauty. The city also makes a good base from which to visit the nearby Krka National Park.

    Sibenik Harbour Sibenik Harbour Macic7
    Plitvice Lakes National Park

    The Plitvice Lakes have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the national park enclosing them is the oldest in Southeast Europe. Thousands flock every year to the unbelievable beauty of these 16 green and turquoise lakes, linked by waterfalls and surrounded by forest. Wooden walkways meander around and across the water, formed by mineral deposits that create terraces within the constantly changing limestone landscape. Visitors can cover the 11 miles (18km) of walkways on foot, but buses and ferries do service certain sections. The surrounding forests boast an extremely diverse variety of flora and fauna.

    Plitvice Lakes National Park Plitvice Lakes National Park Judith Duk
    Makarska

    Fringed by the two green peninsulas of Osejava and St Peter, Makarska's cobblestoned streets and natural harbour nestle in the shadow of Mount Biokovo. This beautiful town offers secluded beaches washed by an azure sea and lies at the heart of the Makarska Riviera, characterised by pine forests and a string of white pebble beaches. Makarska spans occupations by the Venetians, Turks, French and Austrians, all leaving imprints of their own culture and tradition. The town boasts a 16th century Franciscan monastery, a Venetian fountain, several churches and Baroque palaces. The main tourist district is lined with fashionable boutiques, cafes and bars, all a stone's throw away from the yachts and catamarans docked in the harbour.

    Makarska Beach Makarska Beach vacation2
    Rijeka

    The commercial capital of the idyllic Adriatic Coast is the cultural city and holiday destination of Rijeka, with its international harbour lending it a cosmopolitan flair. Rijeka is not only the gateway to the beautiful coastal island resorts, but a tourist's delight in itself, with its charming historic buildings and street cafes. It hosts an annual carnival with lively music and dancing, providing a glimpse into ancient Slavic folklore and mythology. Revellers don masks to scare away evil forces and there are numerous events, concerts and parades. There's also the remarkable Trsat Castle, which is reached by some formidable stone steps but well worth the climb.

    Rijeka Rijeka Roberta F.
    Krk Island

    The largest island in the Croation Archipelago, Krk is a haven of sparkling beaches and lovely holiday towns. It enjoys a laid-back Mediterranean atmosphere, with Krk Town being the main tourist hub with its many restaurants, shops and bars found in the Old Town area. Nicknamed the 'Golden Island', getting to Krk from the mainland is made easy by an imposing 4,500 foot (1,4km) bridge.

    The best beaches are found in Baska, with more than 30 of them connected by a promenade, while other beach towns on Krk include Njivice and the sandy coastline of Klimno Bay. Vrbnik is home to vineyards that produce some of the best white wines in Croatia, while the folk festival in Dobrinj draws crowds from all over.

    Krk Island is popular for weekend excursions from the mainland. Visitors can easily spend a week exploring the winding streets and hidden corners of the island. A haven for watersports, bird watching and hiking, there is lots to see and do on Krk for just about anyone.

    Krk Krk Berthold Werner