Croatia Travel Guide

Overview of Croatia

Where can one go in this ever more connected and modern world to discover a destination that truly has its own sense of place? Where can travelers wander to weave a contemporary tale, shot through with authentic, ancient threads? Where does one find the world's greatest civilizations all contributing to one of the richest cultural tapestries in the world, while maintaining respect for both past and present? The answer, in a word, is Croatia.

Drawing from the earliest prehistoric tribes through the influences of the ages, Croatia graciously displays an intricate combination of language, lifestyle, and culture. Sweeping the Adriatic Sea with a long, coastal arc, she scatters thousands of islands, incredible beaches, charming villages, and stunning cities for all to admire.

A jeweled artifact with Illyrian, Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Venetian, Hungarian, Ottoman, Italian, Austrian, and Yugoslavian highlights, the Croatian people have endured and accepted fate and fashion, while continuing to live a provincial life in harmony with nature. From mountain to sea, from city to farm, through vineyards, olive orchards, lemon groves, Roman ruins, Medieval monasteries, and royal palaces, Croatia wears her independence in a most gracious manner, inviting visitors to share her gifts.

Spending time in Croatia is an enormously rewarding experience. Her perch at the edge of the water has seen some truly remarkable events, and her geography gives her endless reasons to explore the landscape. There are national parks with incredible views from high peaks, and peaceful, pristine lakes. There are pebbled beaches with charming villages, scrumptious local seafood, and interesting folk art. There are bustling cities with chic clubs, cutting edge music, and eclectic shopping, nestled right up against the beginning of civilization's great walls, churches, and landmarks.

In a mass produced world, Croatia is the unique, handcrafted, travel gift, created by those who have stories to tell. Come drive her highways, sail her waters, climb her mountains, and observe her heritage, for an epic vacation unlike any other. 

History of Croatia

History of Croatia reaches back to a mix of prehistoric tribes and clans, some believed from Slavic origins. Then, around 11 BC, the Romans arrived, bringing with them great art, architecture, and an empire reaching from the Danube to the Aegean and Black Seas. Remains of incredible architecture and advanced culture can be seen in the fortresses, walls, mosaics, sculpture, and especially in the amphitheatre in Pula, paying homage to a peaceful, settled era through the 5th Century.

Overtaken in the mid-7th Century by Slavic clans and tribes, then by the Franks in 800, and the Byzantines a century later, Croatia crowned its first ruler to unite the kingdoms of Pannonia and Dalmatia under its own flag, King Tomislav. Becoming a true power among the people of the Balkans, life was pretty good until King Ladislaus took over at the end of the 11th Century as Croatia merged with Hungary.

Things changed when the Ottoman Empire stretched its might, hoping to rule the Balkans in the 14th century, resulting in a long period of brutal clashes between Turks and Hungarians. Croatia finally wore down the Ottomans, and in the process, decided to join the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

With the fall of Habsburgs in 1918, Croatia again looked for alliances, joining the Serbs and Slovenes to form the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Civil war followed, putting Josip Broz, also known as “Tito,” in power. Factories and estates were nationalized in an effort to promote planned market socialism. After Tito’s death, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in June of 1991. Heaving a momentary sigh of joy and relief, that very same day Croatia was freed from Yugoslavian rule, the Serbs declared a civil war against Croatia.

That war, from 1992 to 1995, was ended by NATO intervention and sealed with the Dayton Peace Accords. Life in Croatia could finally return to the peaceful place it once was, with a gorgeous coastline, beautiful mountains, and warm, industrious people, ready to again enjoy all the wonders held therein. Two decades later, Croatia continues to maintain a stable government, nurture its respectable economy, and welcome visitors eager to enjoy this marvelous land.

What to do in Croatia

Do you like to swim, surf, dive, or sail? Is mountain climbing, mountain biking, or mountaineering your passion? Does history turn your crank? Is it art and architecture? Or are you an oenophile (wine lover)?

Answering any of these questions with a "yes” means you should start planning now for a tour of Croatia. This beautiful country has it all, in a compact package that is drivable, with stylish accommodations and a world of modern comforts in its sparkling, coastal cities. Croatia has not lost her way, however, and continues to deliver an incredibly interesting past along with her contemporary edge.

Croatia is a top tourist destination in Europe, having won multiple travel awards, including CNN’s top 100 beaches in the world and Trip Advisor’s Traveler's Choice Top 25 Landmarks in the World. Croatia’s main draw is its 1,777-kilometer (1,101-mile) long coast with some 1,100 islands and islets. Croatia typically hosts over 15 million tourists per year, nearly triple its population of 4.2 million. Now that it has joined the European Union (July 1, 2013), there are no custom borders with other EU countries, resulting in further growth in tourism. Nowhere in Croatia is this more evident than in Dubrovnik, the UNESCO world heritage-listed medieval town, where tourists outnumber citizens throughout the summer.

Croatia is also a warm and people-friendly place that loves to share its history with others. Since this is the one of the most popular tourist countries in Europe, you’ll also encounter people from all parts of Europe and the world.

UNESCO has placed the following destinations on its list of sites of the world cultural heritage: Diocletian Palace and medieval Split, Dubrovnik Old Town, Early-Christian Euphrasius Basilica Complex in Porec, historical core of Trogir, Plitvice Lakes National Park, St. Jacob's Cathedral in Sibenik, and Starigrad Plain. These sites, and other sites throughout Croatia, are truly remarkable.

For additional information about what to see and do in Croatia, visit the Croatian National Tourist Board.

Best of Croatia: Google Map

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