Guide to Croatia

Why Croatia

According to the latest Post Office Holiday Money Report, Croatia was one of ten "hot" destinations for Summer 2015. "A range of factors will determine where holidaymakers will travel this year" say the Post Office, "including destination and flight developments, package prices, resort costs, exchange rates and demand that spurred growth in recent years". Using this criteria, Post Office Travel Money has identified the hotspots it predicts will most likely hit the headlines for all the right reasons in the coming year.

Washed by the sapphire waters of the Adriatic from Istria in the north down through Central Dalmatia to the Dubrovnik Riviera in its south, Croatia has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Endless coves, beautiful beaches sheltered by lush pine woods and small coastal towns and villages, decorate the mainland coast and its 1244 islands and islets (only 5 fewer than the Maldives!). The wealth of this coastline attracts adventurous travellers from all over the world - kayakers, divers and yachtsmen never fail to be delighted by these islands and their romantic atmosphere infused with a relaxed way of life - all set amid tranquillity and beauty.

Because of its geographic position, having been a crossroad of influences from the western culture and the east, Croatia combines a unique blend of four different cultural spheres. Architecture in Croatia reflects the imprint of its bordering nations on the country, with the Austrian and Hungarian influence clearly visible in public spaces and buildings in the north and central regions, while architecture found along the coasts of Dalmatia and Istria exhibit a truly stunning Venetian heritage. Venture beyond the coast and you will find Croatia Mountains and National Parks, spectacular scenery and totally undisturbed nature.

So, whether your ideal summer holiday to Croatia is spent relaxing in the sun in a vibrant resort, or soaking up the culture in a resort where time can stand still, or even if you fancy exploring some of Croatia's lush green hinterland and Croatia Lakes & internal rivers, a summer holiday to Croatia has something for you!

We offer an abundance of flights to Croatia, to the airports of Dubrovnik, Split and Pula and low cost packages on most Croatia summer holidays. With a fantastic collection of thirty stunning resorts, motor-boat cruises and various tours in Croatia to choose from, please read on to discover why our holidays to Croatia are like no other and could be just what you are looking for!

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CROATIA AT A GLANCE

Capital: Zagreb

Official Languages: Croatian

Government: Parliamentary Republic

Currency: Kuna

Time Zone: +1 GMT. (4 ½ hours behind India) Like most states in Europe, Summer (Daylight-Saving) Time is observed in Croatia, where the time is shifted forward by 1 hour; so +2 GMT.

Telephone Calling Code : 00385

Best time to visit Croatia

Croatia's peak season runs between July and August, with temperatures in the high 20s or 30s on the coast. But in this region you can expect plenty of sunshine from April to October, which are the best times to visit if you want to take advantage of Croatia's beautiful beaches and islands. The inland areas are also hot in the summer but can get cold in the winter with low temperatures and snowfall. Winter on the coast is milder and frequent rain can be expected.

Geography and environment

Sharing borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia benefits from more than 5,000 km of coastline that spans along the Adriatic Sea. In addition to the mainland, Croatia also has many islands, some inhabited, some not. Croatia's terrain is very diverse and varies from flat plains to low mountains and highlands, limestone karst cliffs, wetlands, lakes and forests of cypress. Nature reserves and wetland areas are home to large populations of migratory birds, deer, bats and bears. Visitors will also see much of the land is used for agriculture with vineyards, lavender fields, olive groves and orchards being prevalent in rural areas. Croatia's cities, while developed, have managed to maintain a high level of charm with cobblestone streets, ancient housing, historic squares and heritage buildings being preserved and still used by the current population.

History and government


Early History

Archaeological evidence suggests that the land now known as Croatia has been occupied by humans since the Stone Age. Croatia's geographical position in Europe allowed a great amount of influence from neighbouring regions, with tribes and people from different cultures and groups making their mark. Over the centuries, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Huns and Goths have all occupied the territory, with Croats arriving by the 7th century. The first Kingdom of Croatia was formed in 925 but by the 12th century Croatia had formed a union with Hungary, with a Hungarian King instated as leader of both territories. During the 15th century, Croatia lost territory to the Ottoman Empire and, in later centuries, once again came under Hungarian rule. Evidence of these many cultural influences can be seen in the architecture, cuisine and archaeological ruins of contemporary Croatia.

Recent History

Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia formed a union in 1918 to create the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but the occupation of Axis forces during World War II lead to the creation of the Independent State of Croatia, which only lasted a couple of years during the war. By the end of the war in 1945, Croatia had become a Socialist Republic (within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, together with Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro), with the constitution of 1963 attempting to alleviate tensions surrounding the balance of power between Serbians and Croats. By 1980, after the death of President Tito (founder of modern Yugoslavia), economic and political difficulties (in addition to regional tensions in other parts of Yugoslavia) resulted in a near collapse of government. What followed was years of conflict, polarity and political turmoil. The referendum of 1991 resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence, with Croatia and Slovenia declaring independence from Yugoslavia in June of the same year. Much armed conflict followed and lasted until 1995, leading to great loss of civilian life and displacement, creating large populations of refugees. The last two decades have been a time of peace and reconciliation for the people of Croatia. Tourism has opened up and the government has focused on ensuring further economic growth for the country. Currently, Croatia is poised to join the European Union by 2013.

Culture and customs

Croatia's peak season runs between July and August, with temperatures in the high 20s or 30s on the coast. But in this region you can expect plenty of sunshine from April to October, which are the best times to visit if you want to take advantage of Croatia's beautiful beaches and islands. The inland areas are also hot in the summer but can get cold in the winter with low temperatures and snowfall. Winter on the coast is milder and frequent rain can be expected.

Eating and drinking


We believes that one of the best ways of experiencing a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.

Croatia's location ensures that its food options are phenomenal. With loads of fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables, visitors will be able to taste Greek, Italian and Hungarian influences in many of their meals

Dining forms an interesting activity in this country. Tourists can taste a whole lot of Croatian gastronomic delights in the restaurants, cafeterias and food outlets.

What to eat and drink

Burek : A common pastry dish made of cheese, apple or meat and is quite filling

Cevapcici : A special meatball made of seasoned and spicy pork or beef, a very popular delicacy

Palacinke : A pancake stacked with chocolate or walnuts and even with ice cream at times

Raznjici :fast food on skewers using meats like pork and lamb

Blitva : It is actually a Swiss chard which is boiled and served with olive oil, garlic and potatoes. It is often used as a sumptuous side dish in a Croatian meal

Pag Cheese : Made from sheep's milk, is used as a starter with olives

Red wines : at Babi, Plavac and Kastelet are quite famous in Croatia. The Istrian Merlot and Prosek are other notable drinks

White wines : Kastelet, Pljesivica and Posip are well-known

Local liquors : Orahovac, Maraschino, Kruskovac and Sljivovica

Beers : Locally brewed beers are tasty and worth a try. Imported brands are available. The brewery in Split produces Bavarian Kaltenberg beer by licence

Spirits : Most famous is Rakija made from grapes, plums, pears and cherries

Shopping

Pag Lace :

This intricate lace once decorated the clothes of Empresses and Princesses throughout Europe. The lace is produced using an ordinary mending needle and you can still see older women at work creating it in Pag Town.

Embroidery :

Croatian embroidery reflects the country's history. There's an Ottoman influence in the north and a Venetian influence along the coast. Throughout, the predominant color is red which symbolizes fertility. Look for table linens, scarves and aprons decorated with traditional Croatian designs.

Samobor Crystal :

This little town is known for its incredible crystal. If you're in Samobor, stop by Crystal Shop to get the best.

Ties :

Croatia is the home of the tie (cravat), a style which was once the rage of Louis XIV's court at Versailles. Croatian ties are still beautifully made and sold largely through the Croata shops which have outlets in all major Croatian cities.

Croatian Wine :

Makes a wonderful souvenir but even more unusual is a bottle of homemade Croatian rakija.

Interesting Things to Note About Croatia


A summer holiday in Croatia offers something for everyone. The wealth of this coastline attracts adventurous travelers from all over the world – yachtsmen, leisure cruisers, kayakers and divers never fail to be delighted by these islands and their romantic atmosphere infused with a relaxed way of life - all set amid tranquility and beauty.

Croatia's vibrant history and cultural heritage provides virtually limitless sightseeing and almost every large resort organizes its own summer festival, different open-air concerts, fisherman's nights and folk dancing shows. Exploring mountains is also a local tradition dating back to 1800s, with stunning unspoilt landscapes and intact nature, this is hiker's paradise.

Most Croatian resorts offer a spectacular choice of water sports for your summer holiday such as water-skiing, boats rides, while scuba diving in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic is a "must". Dancing is a major form of entertainment and there are plenty of bars and discos which stay open late. Many larger hotels organize their own entertainment, although it's advisable to check when it is offered.

Eating out is inexpensive and delicious. There is a huge variety of local and international dishes to enjoy on a Croatia holiday. This area of the Adriatic is fish lovers' paradise with over 370 species cooked in almost as many ways. "Brodet", a dish made of several kinds of fish, deserves special attention. Another excellent choice is the "Prsut", the dark smoked Dalmatian ham, the paprika flavoured salami or the mature domestic cheeses. The wine-growing region of Dalmatia produces some great white and red wines and there are some interesting local lagers you should definitely sample.

Popular local gifts include lacework, embroidered goods, brandies and locally made pottery.

The monetary unit in Croatia is the Kuna. There are approx. 10 Kunas to £1 sterling (at Sep 2015) • Foreign currency can be exchanged at the airports, banks, exchange bureau's, post offices and some hotels within the larger resorts. Also all major cards are accepted

Top 10 Historic Buildings of Croatia


Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

This intricate lace One of Zagreb's most visited historic sites, this grand neo-Gothic cathedral has been renovated and reconstructed many times since it was originally built in the 13th century. With massive twin spires, a marble interior and 800-year-old treasury, this is a monumental masterpiece.

Church of St Donatus

Considered one of the most impressive examples of early Byzantine architecture, this church in Zadar was built way back in the 9th century. With much historical value, its simplistic, circular design is quite unlike other buildings in Croatia, making it a standout, must-see church in a country with so many churches and cathedrals to see.

Croatian National Theatre

Built in 1895, this national treasure located in Zagreb is an elegant example of neo-Baroque style architecture. Visitors lucky enough to catch an opera, ballet or classical music concert here will be able to revel in all the fine details, from the luxe furnishings to the excellent acoustics.

Diocletian's Palace

One of Split's main attractions, this UNESCO World Heritage monument is considered one of the best-preserved Roman palaces in the world. The sprawling complex is home to many fine examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, so visitors will be able to admire open air courtyards, marble arches, columns, gates and walls from a variety of different periods.

Cathedral of St Lovro

This cathedral located 30 minutes from Split is well known for its distinct Romanesque portal crafted by one of Croatia's most celebrated sculptors, Radovan. Mythological creatures and biblical figures all feature heavily, with saints, lions, sirens and centaurs all gracing the spectacular doorways.

Rector's Palace

Also known as Dubrovnik Museum, Rector's Palace is an impressive building in itself. With soaring arches, period furniture and a dramatic staircase, this structure steals the show from the museum exhibits it holds within.

Dubrovnik Synagogue

Reported to be the second oldest synagogue in Europe and the world's oldest Sefardic synagogue still in use, Dubrovnik's synagogue is still a place for the local Jewish community to worship on holy days. Sustaining damage from earthquakes and wars, this small but well cared for structure stills stands today due to its historical value and unique design.

Marco Polo Tower

While not the most elaborate or opulent building in Croatia, the Marco Polo Tower of Korcula has much historical significance. It is believed that Marco Polo was born in this medieval, walled city and this tower named in his honour rises above the town as a reminder of his legacy. Climb to the top for phenomenal views and panoramic photo opportunities.

Franciscan Monastery

Featuring 14th century cloisters, intricately carved columns and a striking, sculptured facade this Dubrovnik wonder is also home to the third oldest pharmacy in Europe, so you can get a prescription filled while seeing the sights.

Trakoscan Castle

This lovely castle located in northern Croatia was inhabited from the 13th century right up until the 1940s. Featuring all good things a castle should have - including a dungeon, hunting room and tower - visiting here is like stepping back to a time where castles weren't just historical monuments, but valid places to live.