CROATIA's coastline is, quite simply, fantastic. This heavenly slice of the Adriatic offers all the ingredients of an amazing summer holiday: beautiful beaches, stirring landscapes, fabulous food, absorbing cultural sights… these are just some of the things that have been drawing me back time and again over the decades.
Here’s why you should plan your own escape to Croatia this summer.
Sun, sea and sand
With more than 1,200 islands dotted along that glorious coastline, beach-lovers are spoilt for choice. Join the chic crowd in Hvar town’s beach clubs and the all-night parties on Pag’s Zrce Beach. Makarska’s beaches combine family fun with lively nightlife, and few can resist Croatia’s poster boy for beaches, the long, V-shaped Zlatni Rat – or Golden Horn – on Brac.
Baska on Krk island has watersports to go with its family-friendly vibe, while the tiny neighbouring isle of Rab has about two dozen sandy beaches – including the aptly named Paradise.
Why stick to just one island on your holiday? Using Dubrovnik as your base, ride a skippered speedboat around the sleepy Elaphiti islands, or take a day trip to the incredibly green island of Mljet for a cycle around its national park.
Split is the jumping-off point for adventures on a skippered yacht – flit from pretty coves in Brac and Hvar to tiny Vis, and perhaps over to Korcula before returning via the laid-back island of Solta.
Croatia’s cuisine – a tempting mix of Italian, Hungarian and Turkish influences, to name a few – is a perfect match for the Adriatic sunshine. Look out for olive oil and truffles from Istria, a prosciutto-like ham called prsut and a tangy sheep’s milk cheese from Pag.
Homemade pastas and risottos make the most of Croatia’s top-notch ingredients – not to mention all that lovely fish and seafood from the Adriatic. You’ll find everything from lobster spaghetti to fresh-off-the-boat fish grilled over a wood fire in a waterside restaurant.
Best of both worlds
Soak up Dubrovnik’s rich history with a walk around its medieval walls – then flop on Banje Beach in the shadow of those magnificent ramparts. Check out Dubrovnik’s other beaches along the Babin Kuk peninsula, and take the ten-minute shuttle boat to historic Lokrum island for a lazy swim and a picnic.
Diocletian’s Palace in Split is one of Croatia’s wonders. It’s not often you see the ruins of a 4th-century Roman palace dotted with cafés, shops and apartments. After a day at one of Split’s many beaches – check out Bacvice, Firule and Znjan for starters – take an evening stroll along the café-lined Riva waterfront.
Back to nature
Croatia’s great outdoors will take your breath away. Go hiking or rock climbing in the dramatic mountains of Paklenica National Park, where you can take in views of the Adriatic. Explore the waterfalls and rivers of Krka National Park at a relaxed pace on foot or join a kayak tour for an exhilarating experience.
A hike to the top of 2,560ft Vidova Gora on Brac – the highest point in the Adriatic – rewards you with superb views of the Golden Horn. If you want to discover Croatia’s underwater world, go diving in the Pakleni islands near Hvar.
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