The past is so close in Croatia you can feel it. The country has moved on since the early 1990s, when it experienced the collapse of communism, a war of national survival and secured its independence. Yet a sense of its history prevails. Medieval forts still make way to Renaissance churches and cathedrals. Roman ruins sit alongside early Slavic churches.
The city of Dubrovnik is like a living museum. It has such a connection between its past and the modern day it’s no wonder it’s known as the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’ – we think it’s one of the prettiest and most romantic cities in Europe.
Hvar is different, a lavender-scented blend of Mediterranean natural surroundings, layer upon layer of a rich cultural heritage and sophisticated tourism. At the northern end, old Venetian towns like Porec, Rovinj and the raffish port of Pula are home to some impressive Roman remains. Head inland for the Plitvice Lakes, with their intricately connected lakes, waterways and waterfalls. The surrounding countryside is pure paradise for hiking, abseiling, paragliding and canoeing.
There are more leisurely pursuits, like wine tasting, at every turn. And because only 66 of its surrounding 1,000 islands are inhabited, Croatia offers the opportunity for island hopping by yacht like nowhere else on earth.
Other highlights include Spilt – known for its beautiful beaches, 4th century palace and waterfront – and Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, with its stylish locals, museums and cafes.
When to go
Croatia is best to visit from April to October.