Tour Beautiful, Affordable Croatia for a Variety of Pleasures

Separated from northern Italy by the tiny country of Slovenia, Croatia’s natural beauty more than makes up for a lack of castles and huge churches. It has a beautiful coastline on the eastern Adriatic and several spectacular national parks inland. Most of its historical architecture is along the coast. Sadly, Zagreb, the capital, is no more interesting than the average American city. One of the highlights of the city is the Mirogoj Cemetery – no, seriously.

Fantastic National Parks

One of the most beautiful natural areas in Croatia is Gorski Kotar. Bordering Slovenia to the north, this mountain district is about a 45-minute drive from the coast and an hour’s drive from Zagreb farther east. The mountain peaks provide splendid scenic views of valleys with rolling pine forests below. Gorski Kotar has a number of national parks and other areas full of lakes and lovely mountain streams that are great for camping, fly-fishing, rafting, kayaking, and canoeing. These areas are interspersed with small, picturesque villages and a few lovely towns. The area also features the Lokvarka caves, which boasts a beautiful underground lake, and Vrelo Cave, which has a clear stream running through it. Both caves have interesting stalactite and stalagmite formations.

However, the oldest, largest, most famous, and also the most beautiful park in Croatia is Plitvicka Jezera National Park. Plitvicka Jezera rivals Yosemite National Park in California for beauty and serenity.

Dubrovnik for History, Architecture, and Variety

Nestled in the extreme south of Dalmatia at the end of the Isthmus of Dubrovnik, the city of Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist destinations on the Adriatic. Encircled by massive defensive walls and showing its Venetian heritage in the similar red-tiled buildings, Dubrovnik does not allow vehicles within the Old Town area, somewhat similar to Venice itself. Dubrovnik is situated almost halfway between the two known Greek settlements of Budva and Korčula, and there have been recent findings of numerous Greek artifacts during excavations in the port area. Some of the sights include the Franciscan Monastery, the Orlando Column, the baroque church of St. Blaise, and the Rector’s Palace, which is now a city museum. A large square, Gunduliceva Poljana, is the site of the busy morning market, as well as a Jesuit Monastery from the early 18th century. If you’re planning to visit a number of museums, be sure to purchase a Dubrovnik Card, which gives you entry into many of the city’s museums as well as allowing you to use the public bus system.

Split Features the Diocletian Palace

Moving up the coast, the next significant city is Split. While the sea views are lovely, much of the shore is rocky rather than sandy. There isn’t a lot to see in Split outside of the main attraction, Diocletian’s Palace. The Roman Emperor Diocletian personally oversaw construction from 295 to 305 AD. The palace is nearly a million square feet inside. Today, the city within a city is a commercial and residential center, with recent dwellings being built using the walls and stones of the old palace. There are a number of museums, most of them inside the palace, and a few art galleries, but one day should do it for Split. The only hotel with good parking and within walking distance of the center is the Hotel Jadran, which is two stars at best. The nicer hotels in the central area do not offer much parking. Although the new Radisson Blu Resort is touted as being fantastic, it’s not easy walking distance from the center.

Traveling Up the Coast

As you continue up the coast, drop in on the beautiful peninsula of Primosten. There are no particular museums or “sights” in Primosten, but the old medieval town has preserved a great deal of its ambience. The most striking feature of the old town is the church of St. Juraj, which was erected in 1485 on a hill from which you get sweeping coastal views. Another interesting stop is Šibenik, the oldest native Croatian town on the eastern shores of the Adriatic, featuring the Cathedral of St. James.

Opatija, the “Riviera” of Croatia

Just off the coast from the city of Zadar are the Kornati Islands, designated as a national park over which George Bernard Shaw waxed poetic. The last major city on the coast is Opatija, which is at the northern tip of the Adriatic and is possibly the major tourist center in Croatia. There are endless bathing areas, both indoor and out, gardens, a casino, discotheques, carnivals, festivals, and other diversions for the traditional tourist. Opatija is also easily the most expensive area in Croatia.

Enjoy Croatia While You Can

Croatia offers an amazing variety of natural and man-made settings in which to enjoy great food, excellent hospitality, and great times at mostly affordable prices. Discover Croatia before it becomes just another major tourist stop.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *