(Hrvatska, HR) is set in the
heart of Europe, on the beautiful Adriatic coast. It has over
185 islands, islets and reefs, the majority of which are
uninhabited and under preservation orders. About 50 are
inhabited, the largest being Krk and Cres. Croatia covers an
area of over 56,500 km2 and is bordered by Slovenia, Hungary,
Serbia & Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. The total
population is over 4.5 million, with almost 800,000 living in
the capital Zagreb
. Croatia’s coastline measures over 5,
but this includes even the tiniest islet. The climate in the
interior is temperate continental with a mountain climate in
some places. The Adriatic coast enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean
climate with countless sunny days providing dry, hot summers.
Winters tend to be mild and humid.
History of Croatia
Croatia’s history is a complicated tale of power struggles, land
appropriation, and shifting of ethnic identity. The Kingdom of
Croatia emerged in 925 AD with King Tomislav, who turned the
areas of Dalmatia and Pannonia into one of the most powerful
regions in the Balkans. In the 11th century, Croatia and Hungary
merged. In the 1400s, Croatia resisted takeover by the Ottoman
Empire, to eventually become part of the Austro-Hungarian
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia that arose after the First World War –
an alliance of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes – quickly
disintegrated into civil war. One group, led by Josip Broz (or
‘Tito’) gained power after the Second World War and Tito took
control of Yugoslavia.
Tito oversaw the transformation of Yugoslavia (which included
Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Macedonia and
Montenegro) from a farming region to an industrialized one – by
means of communist principles. Following his death, there was
unrest and desire to divide the ethnicities again, led by
Slobodan Milosevic. When in 1991 Croatia declared independence
from Yugoslavia, Serbs living in Croatia declared independence
from Croatia, civil war was again ignited.
In 1992, Franjo Tudjman was elected as Croatia’s president.
Then, from 1992 to 1995, some of the bloodiest war crimes were
committed in recent history in the name of ‘ethnic cleansing’.
NATO intervened in 1995 to end the war, but not before more than
100,000 lives were lost. Although Tudjman signed the peace
treaty, and was re-elected in 1997, the EU did not at this time
invite Croatia to begin accession talks, citing Tudjman’s
policies as too authoritarian.
Today, there is peace in Croatia, and the strength of the
economy and the stability of the government, led by President
Ivo Josipovic since 2010 and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic
since 2011, has enabled it to accede to the EU following the
second formal application in 2003.
The currency used in Croatia is still the Croatian Kuna
although the country’s membership with the EU – Croatia joined
in 2013 – obliges it to eventually join the monetary eurozone as
well, and adopt the Euro. Whatever your budget, you’ll find
something to do that will make your stay in Croatia a memorable
one. Whether it’s culture, beaches or architecture, there’s
something for everyone in this wonderful country.
In 1999 Croatia was a three-times winner of international awards
for the cleanest waters in the Mediterranean and many major
cruise lines include Croatia on their itineraries. The Dalmatian
coastline boasts some of the world’s best-known resorts
, all of which are
listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, as is the
. Croatia is not only a country of outstanding
natural beauty, but also a centre of culture dating back
thousands of years. Zagreb is a focal point for art and culture
with museums and galleries hosting internationally renowned
exhibitions. The city also offers excellent conference and
convention venues, enhanced by accommodation in first-class
Some of the best beaches in the region are found along Croatia’s
Adriatic coastline. Zlatni Rat at Bol extends out into the blue
water and is composed of tiny, smooth, white pebbles. Baĉvice is
Split’s most popular beach among the younger crowds, boasting
great watersports activities. At Lopar, on one of Croatia’s many
islands, you’ll find shallow beaches perfect for young children.
Heritage and Modern Culture
Once you’re done relaxing, you’ll want to venture out and about
and explore what else Croatia has to offer. Visit the Trakoš
Castle, 80km northwest of Zagreb, for an extremely attractive
building over 800 years old whose origins are unknown. Or take a
trip to the region known as Istria (or Istra) – the ‘new
Tuscany’. Close to the Italian border, the rolling hills are
certainly reminiscent of Tuscany, and with the fresh fish and
pasta dishes, you might be mistaken for thinking you’ve wandered
into Italy. Rovinj, a chic yet sleepy village in Istria, will
charm your heart and you may never want to leave.
Romantics shouldn’t miss an evening trip to
. Apart from its ancient
history, cool vibe and fun art projects – such as the steps at
the water’s edge which are actually the keys of a giant organ –
Zadar is proud to be host to ‘the world’s most beautiful’ sunset
(Alfred Hitchcock). If you’re after a bit of peace and quiet,
hire a boat and explore the Elaphite Islands. They’re largely
car-free and offer great beaches and hiking possibilities.
Out and About
But if you are seeking a little more excitement from your visit,
try Hvar Town in the evening – where visitors dress smartly and
party all night. You can choose between tiny eateries without
menus or waterfront cocktail bars with a view of the yachts.
There is also a music festival held here every year, with
world-famous bands appearing during the four-day event.
Throughout the rest of Croatia, the scene is also booming – just
choose your genre or budget, and you’ll find the music festival
How to Get There
Fly to Croatia with
operates from most other European destinations. Travel to Split,
Zagreb or Dubrovnik, and continue on from there. You can even
fly to Zadar, Pula and Osijek. Croatia airlines formed in 1989
and began its development proper in 1991. It is proud to connect
Croatia with the rest of the world and endeavours to become a
symbol of quality and reliability for the country.
Accommodation, Touring and Activities
is clearly the ideal destination for those seeking sun,
sea and lots of space. Accommodation ranges from quaint but
comfortable bed & breakfast places to chic new boutique hotels
and traditional five-star establishments. Attractions for
vacation visitors include guided tours, religious pilgrimages,
city and hotel trips, special-interest tours and a variety of
sport such as canoeing, ballooning, biking, hiking, fishing and
of course swimming. A convenient ferry system travels from the
mainland to the Adriatic islands as well as to Italy.