Croatia, country located in the northwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula. It is a small yet highly geographically diverse crescent-shaped country. Its capital is Zagreb, located in the north.
Crowds swarm the Dalmatian cities of Dubrovnik and Split during summer months thanks to its Roman palaces, Medieval walls, and Game of Thrones backdrops, but there’s a lot more to the country than these two cities. Hike ancient waterfalls and devour some of the best food in Europe. Here’s why I keep returning to Croatia.
Croatia keeps winning awards for the prized olive oil made from olives harvested on the Adriatic coast. The fruits, especially those grown in Istria, are largely hand-picked and crushed at their peak, resulting in extra-virgin varieties that pack a peppery, citrusy and sometimes nutty flavor.
Regional food at its finest. From the seafood, and squid ink risotto on the coast and islands, to Istrian truffles, and the famous Pag cheese from the sparse island, there’s a diverse food culture across Croatia.
From the beef bowls and delicious stews that are widespread in the inland districts to the seafood cooked with Croatian olive oil which is popular along the seaboard area, you will be assured to enjoy delicious meals while in Croatia.
Various delicious local Croatian cuisine and wine that you should try include; Plavac Mali red wine, and Posip white wine, very dark risotto, Pasticada and homemade pasta with elite and sprinkled truffles are a must-try.
It hits you right away, in the shop, at the market, on the street when asking directions. Croatians are friendly, happy to help, and most social interactions are carried out with a smile. True, they can also be abrupt, but that’s just the way of things in the Balkans. ‘Friendly’ is invariably the go-to attitude most of the time.
Usually well read and well educated, Croatians can hold their own in conversations about the latest best-selling novel (or biggest films). In terms of popular culture, they’re ahead of many Europeans, particularly when it comes to rock, pop, punk or rap. Theatres and classical music concerts are always well attended – culture is a sacred cow as far as Croatians are concerned.
Croatia’s wealthy heritage can be seen inside the numerous galleries, repositories, places of adoration speared all throughout the country. Visitors can observe the wealthy heritage in varied melodious, movie, promenade, theatre carnivals and other events that are celebrated all year round.
Croatia has numerous national parks, the most popular of which is Plitvice Lakes National Park. As one of the most famous natural wonders in Europe, it is renowned for its beauty, crystal-clear lakes, and hiking trails. We visited Krka National Park, another park famous for its waterfalls. The whole family enjoyed swimming under the aqua green waterfall and walking on the trails to admire what nature has to offer.
BEACHES IN CROATIA
If you are looking for a beach vacation, Croatia is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. It has over 1,000 islands with relatively untouched areas like Mljet (half of which is covered by forest). It also has some of the most famous beaches in all of Europe.
Mljet Island was our first stop while cruising the coast in our catamaran after leaving Dubrovnik. We also visited the Blue Lagoon, known for its clear blue water. Croatia has both rocky and sandy beaches. Zlatni Rat Beach is one of the Mediterranean’s most famous beaches.
Croatian weather is warm in the summer and gentle in the winter with many hours of sunlight. We were there during the worst heat wave of the year (almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit), but spending the day in the Mediterranean Sea was a great way to cool off.
Croatian hospitality is best observed when you go to someone’s house. The guest is treated to at least two and probably three helpings of food, with all the trimmings; the finest drinks are brought out, everyone will do their best to make you feel welcome and at ease.
Croatians know the natural riches they have at their disposal – a pristine coast, beautiful national parks, unspoiled landscapes – and are justifiably proud of this bounty. Many locals feel a close affinity with nature that perhaps those living in major cities like London can appreciate but may not have experienced.
Tradition plays a huge role in Croatian society, people hold on to familial and folk roots that may have been lost elsewhere. Folk dance and music are still living cultural genres, and traditional festivals are an important element of the annual calendar in towns and villages across Croatia.
There are many calm, shallow beaches perfect for small kids. My kids enjoyed both sandy and rocky beaches. Many of the beaches had aqua parks with trampolines and inflatable features where kids of all ages were able to climb, scramble, and slide to their heart’s’ content.
I had never seen those inflated aqua parks before, but I enjoyed watching the twins have so much fun on them. Most of the locals and restaurants were kid-friendly, and there is no shortage of gelato/ice cream shops to please kids of any age.
The weather in Croatia can be split up into continental (cold winters and warm summers) and Mediterranean (cool, rainy winters and warm summers). If you are looking for the best time to spend your holiday in Croatia, you can visit from April until September if you like springtime and offseason. Keep in mind that the beach activities and sunbathing are best experienced from July until September.