The holidaymakers new summertime darling, Croatia is more than just a pretty face. If the endless turquoise seas, dramatic coastlines bejewelled with orange tile, and countless UNESCO heritage sites weren’t enough, Croatia delivers a masterclass in history, culture and staggering natural beauty.
Climb up the coast to the beating heart of Croatia’s landmarks, the majestic city of Dubrovnik. Coined by Byron as ‘the Pearl of the Adriatic’, its Baroque-era architecture, cobblestone streets, and apricot rooftops have long seduced the bright-eyed visitor. Just beyond its limits, the island of Mljet is a renowned natural sanctuary: from vineyards and olive groves to healing saltwater lakes, this national park is a joyous ode to rural preservation.
The Croatian isles can seem too good to be true, unrivalled in their varied and eclectic landscapes and ecosystems. The St Tropez of the Dalmatian coast, Hvar’s bays are steeped with quiet coves and sandy beaches, whilst Vis will make a dancing queen of its lucky visitors: this tiny speck in a saturated blue sea was the film set of the latest Mamma Mia!, but its crystalline waters, lush vegetation and indigo grottos are certainly no set piece. Nearby Brac boasts the largest population of the area; its historic towns are pebbled atop striking cliff sides and inky pine forests.
Nary a soul has resisted the siren call of Croatia’s extensive national parks, and its natural splendour remains unsurpassed. The Krka National Park is one of the country’s finest natural attractions, dotted with thundering waterfalls, vast canyons and spectacular cascades. Coastside, the Kornati Archipelago is composed of 140 islands, a floating paradise of uncontaminated beaches and dazzling flora and fauna. For the culture-seeker, Istria County’s capital of Pula is a refreshing fusion of the old and the new: everything from its valleys to amphitheatres are reminiscent of Italy’s most celebrated sights, while also attracting the rogue raver and foodie — Pula is home to an array of summer music festivals and delectable seafood cuisine.