Croatia travel guide
Planning a trip to Croatia
Croatia is where the ruins of the Roman Empire, memories of the Venetian Republic, and style of the Austro-Hungarian era meet the exoticism of the Slavic East
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• Croatia trip-planning FAQHemmed in between the Dinaric Alps and the sparkling Adriatic Sea, Croatia (us.croatia.hr) is blessed with ancient Roman ruins, lake-filled parks, Byzantine mosaics, wine-soaked hilltowns, and 1,240 miles of coastline lined by timeless fishing villages and dotted with 1,185 islands.
My enduring image of Croatia is of driving along the Istrian Peninsula above the Adriatic's crystalline waters, weaving in and out of little fishing towns that recall the Italian Riviera before the tourists arrived. Cathedrals glittered with 6th century mosaics, the morning's catch of the day cost $2 at a table by the docks, and an elderly woman in Porec invited me into her pocket-sized bar to sample a bottle of the family wine—then refused to let me pay.
NYC – Zagreb
Villa Sigurata, Dubrovnik
Konoba Veli Joe, Rovinj
6-hr Dalmatia day trip from Dubrovnik
Split - The historic center of Split is actually a jumble of medieval houses occupying the converted ruins of Roman emperor Diocletian's 4th century palace—the emperor's mausoleum even became the city's cathedral (ironic, given that Diocletian was an avid persecutor of Christians).
Dubrovnik - At the very southern end of the Dalmatian coast is beautiful Dubrovnik, a Renaissance republic curling around a tiny harbor in a sea of red roofs atop 17th century townhouses and baroque palaces.
The Dalmatian Coast - By far the most memorable way to get from Split to Dubrovnik is by ferry along the Dalmatian coast (www.jadrolinija.hr), threading Croatia's justly famous islands: Hvar (www.hvar.hr) draped in lavender fields and vineyards and fast becoming a hotspot celebrity resort; pine-forested Korčula, disputed (by Venetians) birthplace of Marco Polo (www.korcula.net), where centers on an oversized fishing village port and its glorious Gothic-Romanesque cathedral...
Feature: In Search of Istria
"Istria is shaped like a heart, and it is the heart and the soul of Croatia."
As I waited for Anna, my host's English-speaking daughter, to translate this nugget of Istrian wisdom, I took another gulp of the Stojši? family's Muscat-Malvasia blend.
It was pretty good stuff. Strong, too. That was why, explained my host, he had cut it with Malvasia grapes.
"If you drink only Muscat, it will go straight to your head and make you crazy."
Apparently, in diluted form the wine merely drives a man to poetic insights about his homeland.... The Istrian Peninsula - As a legacy of centuries when this coast was part of the Republic of Venice, Istria's string of castle-topped fishing towns recall the Italian Riviera in the era before mass tourism ruined them. From cathedrals swathed in glittering mosaics to ancient Roman ruins to medieval castles in the interior to catch-of-the-day dinners for $10, Istria is storybook Europe as it should be.
Plitvice National Park - One of the most beautiful national parks in all of Europe, Plitvice is a collection of 16 emerald lakes spilling into one another over waterfalls crisscrossed by boardwalks...
Zagreb - Croatia's dingy capital doesn't invite lingering, but if train schedules strand you overnight, take time to relax at a café amidst decaying Viennese Beaux Arts buildings, tour the many museums, watch the faithful in the Cathedral shuffle on their knees around the glass tomb of beloved World War II-era Archbishop Stepinac, and take the funicular up onto Gradec, a leafy hilltop district of baroque buildings...
If you prefer to book a vacation package or escorted tour, try the following companies:
CROATIA TOURS FROM OUR TRUSTED PARTNERS
G Adventures 2011 Croatia trips
Croatia Highlights (8 days; Zagreb, Plitvice, Sibenik, Trogir, Split, Dubrovnik)
Balkan Discovery (11 days; Solvenia [Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Bohinj, Postojna caves], Croatia [Rijeka, Split, Trogir, Mostar, Dubrovnik], Bosnia-Herzegovina [Sarajevo])
Intrepid Travel 2011 Croatia trips
Explore Croatia (8 days; Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar, Split)
Croatia & Slovenia (8 days; Split, Zadar, Rab Island, Bled)
Croatia Family Adventure (7 days; Dubrovnik, Mlini, Mt. Srdj, Lodrum)
Dubrovnik to Bled (15 days; Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar, Split, Zadar, Rab Island, Bled)
Balkan Adventure (15 days; Budapest, Osijek, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Mostar, Ostrog Monastery, Kotor, Dubrovnik)
Vienna to Dubrovnik (29 days; Vienna, Bratislava, Cesky Krumlov, Prague, Teplice, Krakow, Tatra Moutains, Budapest, Osijek, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Mostar, Ostrog Monastery, Kotor, Dubrovnik)
Budapest to Bled (29 days; Budapest, Osijek, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Mostar, Ostrog Monastery, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar, Split, Zadar, Rab Island, Bled)
Travel Time 2001 Croatia trips
A variety of tours and packages lasting from 4 to 14 days