The Best of Croatia

The Best of Croatia

Some are calling Croatia the “New Italy”. Why, you ask? Croatia equals Italy in its natural beauty and sunny beaches, and yet it is also a more affordable alternative. This beautiful country has everything you’d want for a peaceful vacation: warm beaches, hidden islands, historical old cities, lush national parks, and rolling vineyards. Below I have broken down the best Croatia spots to visit based on my own travel experiences and the places I was recommended but did not have time to see.

The City of Dubrovnik

Perhaps the most well-known city, Dubrovnik’s old town and original fortress has been featured in the popular HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’ and it will be used for scenes in the upcoming Star Wars Episode VIII film. You can walk along the Old Town stone wall, or catch a panoramic view of the entire city on Srd Mountain. I was able to catch this view at sundown and will never forget it, the city is so beautiful. The Peljesac Peninsula that Dubrovnik belongs to is also known for it’s delicious food, which I can definitely attest to. You can even take day tours to the smaller countries of Montenegro or Bosnia.

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Panoramic view of Dubrovnik atop Srd Mountain, where you can see the surrounding original wall of the Old Town
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Overlooking the rooftops of Dubrovnik

The City of Split

I can definitely suggest skipping the capital city of Zagreb (it’s boring there) and heading to Split instead! There are endless activities in Split, such as kayaking or visiting Cathedral Square and the famous Blue Cave, perhaps on your way to or from Vis and Hvar. Split is another ‘Game of Thrones’ filming location, so try to catch a walking tour there as well! During my travels, I departed from Split and journeyed to the country’s most renowned (and first) national park: Plitvice Lakes.

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Split, Croatia
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Cathedral Square, Split
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The Blue Cave (Grotto) of Bisevo Island Photo courtesy of Shinagawa

Plitvice Lakes National Park

This place is something out of a fairy-tale! The moment I began walking on the wooden walkways above the water, I knew I was in a special place. The park itself is technically several large lakes connected by multiple waterfall ‘channels’ and endless flora and fauna. The water is a turquoise blue, and so crystal clear that you can see down to the bottom.

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Endless greens and blues in Plitvice Lakes, everywhere you look you will find natural beauty

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Krka National Park

Much like Plitvice Lakes, Krka National Park boasts beautiful waterfalls and lush forest. It is named after the Krka River the park encloses. The largest waterfall of the park, Skradisnki buk, pulls the most viistors, followed by the Roski Slap and Visovac Island. Both parks are open year-round.

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Skradisnki buk, the main opening of the Krka River within the park

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Istria

In the northwestern region of Croatia lies the Istrian peninsula. Inland Istria has been named the “New Tuscany” due to its unparalleled similarity to the Tuscany region of Italy. Rolling hills of vineyards and medieval-looking villages spot the landscape. Warm days turn into starry nights as you slip into a blissful ‘coma’ of relaxation. This region of Croatia is wildly underrated, so catch a glimpse before it goes viral!

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It’s Italy…no wait…it’s…Istria? The inland section of Istria mirrors Tuscany with its rolling vineyards and quaint hillside villages
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Close-up of the village

Bonus: Dalmatian Coast Islands

The Dalmatian coast of Croatia is strewn with several medium-sized islands that are perfect for a remote getaway. The islands of Vis, Korcula and Brac are noteworthy but Hvar is considered the “queen” of the Dalmatian islands. In addition, the island of Mljet is particularly beautiful, and holds the Mljet National Park. These islands provide clear blue waters to escape into during the hot summer months and uncrowded beaches for the Italy-wary travelers.

Want to see all of these attractions? Explore all of Croatia with in-depth tours around the entire country.

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A serene port on the island of Hvar
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Mljet National Park

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Jenna Goeke

Travel enthusiast and wanderlust sufferer, I have traveled to: Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, Belize, the Caribbean, Amsterdam, Central & Southeastern Europe, France, Kenya and Tanzania. My dream destinations include New Zealand, Spain, Iceland and Thailand.

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