Contributor: Illicena Malek, Panama
This was my exact thought when I hopped off the bus that took me to Pula beach from the capital, Zagreb. Ladies and gentlemen, Europe has more to it than Rome and Paris!
The shimmering blue waters just a walk away in one of its many beaches may not convince you. But the heavenly cuisine and the party will make this country a must in your next summer euro trip.
Croatia is a great place for tourists all year round. And if you are looking forward to coming back with a tan, the best time to enjoy the seaside life is going during the summer. From late June to late September temperatures go up!
Even when the prices may go up a little, it is still inexpensive compared to a summer stay in the French Riviera. Make sure to bring your bathing suit, sunblock lotion and keep yourself hydrated!
The territory where Croatia is now has a very long history, since the Greeks colonized the area. Later, it became part of the Roman Empire from the year 9 AD. You can still find Palaces and structures of this era through the country. One good example is the Diocletian Palace in Split, dating back to the year 305.
After many Dukes and Kings, Croatia became a federal subject of Yugoslavia in the 1940s. They are now an independent nation since 1991.
Many parts of Croatia can be reached by charter plane or regular commercial flights. In case you are traveling on a tiny Budget (like me!), you can make your way with Croatia Bus. They travel to Croatia from many European cities. I took my bus from Maribor, Slovenia en route to Zagreb, and it worked wonders!
The geography is incredibly varied, including almost everything you can imagine for a European nation. You can go from the height of the Dinaric Alps to the flat plains of Slavonia to the Adriatic Sea.
Croatia is also located in one of the most biodiverse regions of the European continent, and is proud to have more than 400 protected areas throughout the country.
Now, a Little list of the things I enjoyed the most while traveling in this wonderful country during the summer
- Zagreb: This is the Capital, and is an absolute must during your stay. This lively city will give you a good night of partying and a wonderful day filled with sightseeing. My favorite and most memorable buildings are the National Theatre and Sant Marks Church.
- Pula: The bus ride from Zagreb may feel eternal, but this beach town is a great place for every pasta lover out there. The Italian influence in gastronomy is huge. You can get a plate of handmade pasta with truffles and jumbo shrimps for about 10$. Spend the afternoon taking photos in front of the Colosseum. Get up early in the morning and take a bike ride to one of the nearby beaches.
- Kamenjak: This can be done as a day trip from Pula, or as a destination on itself! You can get there by bike from Pula and enjoy the clear waters, some of the best typical foods and finish your day with a Little nap in one of the nearby forests surrounding the beach.
- Zadar: here you can start by taking a tour through the city. Visit the Porta di Terraferma, the Sea Organ, San Donato Church and the Museum of Ancient Glass. Finish the day taking a Deep dive while enjoying the sunset. Take another day to go to nearby Borik Beach. Make sure to bring your water shoes because it is a rocky beach!
- Split: this amazing city still holds the Diocletian Palace and the best pub crawl I have ever been to! Most importantly, it is the port of departure to the islands of Hvar and Brac, two islands that you cannot miss!
- Dubrovnik: this Game of Thrones location consists of a Walled City surrounded by lovely beaches. You cannot miss a stroll through the walled city! for me it was magical to walk those passages after a night at the club, as the sun went up. You should take a day to visit War Photo Limited, a collection of photographs from the recent Balkan War... and of course, take the sun or get wet in one of its many beaches.
One very touristy place I did not go to, and I will forever regret is the Plitvice National Park. Yes, it was at the peak of the summer season, and yes it would have been overcrowded. But, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and definitely, a place I will visit during my next trip to the Balkan region!
After the restoration of peace in the region, Croatia has triple folded the amount of tourist visits. Don’t wait too long before you go! I promise you it is all amazing and absolutely Instagram worthy! 😉