With a rich cultural heritage and jaw-dropping landscapes aplenty, Croatia is just waiting to be discovered. Nestled alongside the breathtaking azure waters of the Adriatic Sea, the country is incredibly diverse, with a number of gorgeous island retreats and city break opportunities available. Whether you want to get cultured and immerse yourself in Croatia’s rich historical wonders, or simply soak up some sun and splash along the Adriatic Coast, a trip to Croatia in 2019 will satisfy your every whim. With a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites on offer and a vibrant atmosphere of festivals and nightlife, Croatia has become increasingly popular each year with holidaymakers seeking that quintessential Mediterranean hideaway. From there, it’s simply a case of deciding on the retreat you had in mind. For pristine sandy beaches as far as the eye can see, head for Rovinj or Porec, or if you’re a beach bunny that likes cranking things up a notch, seek out coastal activities in Dubrovnik and Zadar.
At a glance
- Time Zone: GMT +
- Average flight time: 2h 55m
When to go
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Perched alongside the gorgeous Adriatic Coast, Croatia is home to a plethora of Mediterranean cultural wonders. Jaw-dropping Roman architecture is a striking feature of ancient towns like Istria, and the remarkably peaceful pine forests of Brijuni National Park form the perfect idyllic country retreat. For the younger crowd that enjoy their luxuries, the alluring island of Pag will be first port of call. It has a party atmosphere with an air of exclusivity that reigns supreme, with a number of festivals and fine dining opportunities always on hand. For the best of what Croatia has to offer, many visitors flock to Dubrovnik each year. Known as the Pearl of the Adriatic – and for very good reason – this enduringly charming coastal wonder will woo you with its mix of colours, sounds, sights and beaches. Book your getaway within Dubrovnik’s ancient walled city and experience an endless number of cultural delights. Or, if you’re more island-inclined, seek out seafront accommodation and take your pick of islands just a stone’s throw away.
The cuisine in Croatia is as diverse as its landscape, and blend of city and country life. Sun-bleached cosmopolitan havens serve up traditional dishes with a modern twist, reflective of this great county’s colourful history, with international specialities also finding their way onto the menu. Depending on what your tastebuds are after, you could seek out a range of fine dining potential in fast-paced cities like Zagreb and Dubrovnik. Or, for a more relaxed atmosphere and the best local seafood and cuisine Croatia has to offer, head for idyllic coastal retreats like Rovinj to unwind and enjoy a well-earned meal. For our money, Dubrovnik’s Old Town holds a veritable treasure trove of gastronomic delights for foodies and those that just want to try something new. Sleekly designed modern restaurants line the streets, offering up an unbeatable ambience and a number of chef’s specialities.
Croatia also holds a wealth of activities suitable for family holidays, perfect for those that are sick to death of the usual family trip destinations, and are looking for something further afield. Seek out Northern Dalmatia and you’ll have found the perfect base camp for day trips to the idyllic Kornati Islands, and for checking out the ancient Roman architecture of spots like Pula, Split and Zadar. If your little ones like a walk on the wild side, Istria is an underrated gem, with a number of horse riding schools, hiking and cycling trails, truffle hunting and nine lighthouses to visit. On a slightly cooler day, you could also spark their creative side with a visit to Hum – also known as the world’s tiniest town – for a fresco painting workshop. If it’s beaches you’re after, we’re sure the kids will love splashing for hours on end in the clear, warm waters along the coast of Makarska.
Action & Adventure
With all that lounging around on the beach, you’re sure to have some spare energy to burn off, and for activities to work up a sweat, Croatia doesn’t disappoint. Hiking enthusiasts will be in heaven with plenty of options on the trails of Paklenica National Park, Mount Medvednica and the Samobor Hills. For some laid-back, leisurely cycling, check out inland Istria or the Dalmation Coast, and enjoy gorgeous landscapes and coastal delights as you zip by at a relaxed pace with the sun on your face. If you prefer to get your adrenaline fix while rolling in the deep, fear not, as the tumbling waters of the River Cetina offer white water rafting, with sea kayaking available on Dubrovnik’s coastline. To get even deeper in your search for thrills, seek out some snorkelling or scuba diving in the warm clear waters of the Adriatic Sea. Your search for treasure is over – in Croatia, you’ve found it.
For those that like nothing more than a good sizzle, you’ll be in luck if you book a summer trip to Croatia. Not only does this Mediterranean gem offer an array of white sandy beaches, from May to September the glistening Adriatic Sea is warm enough to spend the day splashing around. Not only that, as the sun beats down and you top up your tan, you’ll also be surrounded by stunning scenery and jaw-dropping vistas every which way you turn. Croatia is also famous for its secluded natural coves, especially around the Dalmation Coast, so an escape from hectic city life and opportunities for romance are always an option. Although many of the beaches are rocky, the warm azure water, range of seafood available and secluded atmosphere makes Croatia the ideal seaside retreat.
For a truly great night out, Croatia has plenty to offer. With all the finest full-bodied locally produced beers on offer, be sure to sample some while you’re on holiday. Some locals will even tell you the local beer comes hangover-free, but we couldn’t possibly confirm those reports. With plenty of pub crawls on offer, put on your gladrags and dancing shoes, and immerse yourself in the local pubs, cocktail bars and discos. Then brush shoulders with the locals and fellow visitors alike. For year-round party vibes, your best bet is to book a getaway to party cities like Zagreb, Split and Zadar. Or, if it’s a summer trip you’re booking, any of the more obscure island retreats will be perfect for a heady mix of clubbing and recovering in a more relaxed setting the next day. Popular with the young, and those young-at-heart, the best of Croatian nightlife is found on the islands of Pag and Hvar, which both open their shores to a number of world-renowned festivals every summer.
With warm Mediterranean breezes and the beating sun getting things hot and heavy, Croatia’s dreamy atmosphere makes it the ideal destination for a romantic holiday for two. For the ultimate romantic retreat, why not rent a car and discover the winding trail of Istria? With cute and charming towns perched on gorgeous hillsides and pretty vistas forming the backdrop for endless vineyards, you’d be hard-pressed to find something to complain about. Soak up some ancient history with a splendid city break to Dubrovnik where you’ll discover chic boutiques, magical terrace cafés and beautiful floral gardens and re-discover, well, each other. Croatia is home to a wealth of idyllic secluded coves just waiting for you to make them your own, but if you want our expert advice, check out Saplunara on Mljet Island. With its heavenly white sands and juniper trees, it’s the perfect place to get loved up.
With a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and grounded in a diverse blend of culture from inter-linking countries over the years, culture vultures will never be short of something to do in Croatia. Zagreb even boasts more museums than any other city in the world per square foot. From its ancient walls to its cobbled back streets, Dubrovnik is steeped in medieval history. Meanwhile, Split is home to the impressive Diocletians Palace, and Pula houses the jaw-dropping Roman amphitheatre. Ancient history is infused throughout Croatia and can be felt simply ambling around the city streets. Elsewhere, in Porec, you’ll find an ancient basilica or if you venture further afield to Zadar, you’ll find a vast number of monuments and churches, making Croatia the perfect spot for history buffs looking to brush up on their knowledge.