Enjoying challenging myself to add to the WeekendNotes vast library.
Published August 5th 2021
Welcoming Croatia is a land of never-ending natural beauty
Croatia - The City of Rijeka, source, pixabay.com
With charming inland cities and vistas of the Adriatic Coastline, the welcoming destination of Croatia makes for a fun-filled holiday packed with things to do and places to see.
Quick Facts about Croatia
Croatia borders Italy and Slovenia to the north and other Balkan Peninsula countries along with central Europe. It is on the Adriatic Sea. The official language is Croatian. The official religion is Catholicism and capital city is Zagreb. Some fascinating facts about its geography are linked here. Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek and Zadar are its five largest cities. Zagreb has a significantly larger population and is one of the hidden gems below - while the popular touristy towns of Pula and the world-renowned Dubrovnik are such iconic attractions of this tourist mecca.
Dubrovnik - source: pixabay.com .
As a member of the EU, it is easy to travel to Croatia and although accessible from several European hubs, a popular flight is the British Airways flight direct to Zagreb in around three hours from London. Like other south European holiday spots, rail and air are very useful modes of access with a better choice of European flights in the summer high tourist season - with boat and/or driving as other options.
Safety is reasonable and poses no significant concerns. Locals are welcoming and focused on providing good quality tours and accommodation in a safe and secure South European paradise.
The Croatian lanuage is fun yet useful socially, but you aren't alone if you find it mindboggling. For a subtle insight into the language, below is a video on pronouncing Hvala - which is 'thanks' in Croatian and most other South Slavic languages. Croatian is written in a Latin alphabet and the fascinating Yugoslav Braille.
Financial transactions are made in the Croatian Kuna. Croatia is not a budget destination so I've left this link from smoney.com.au to help explain transactions in Croatian Kuna.
Croatian Kuna - source pixabay.com.
Croatia offers great tours with diverse experiences. This list from Tripadvisor is indicative of the range of the coastal touring possible. Croatia is renowned for a range of produce, meats and seafood that are found in very nice waters, hilly fields and warm sun-kissed farms and wineries. In terms of weather and best visiting times, the high tourist season runs from April to September. There are many islands nearby, so that is definitely worth some thought - part of the coast's smattering of hidden gems and coastal vacation spots.
Top Five Quirky Reasons
1. Adriatic Coastline Hidden Gems
Would you expect to see historical sites like the one pictured below?
In Pula, you can see such ruins plus many other significant old Roman buildings in a cultured coastal town and drive to northern Italy on the same day!
Of the many hidden gems dotted on the Adriatic coast - with each having its own unique charm and story, Sibenik is indeed a prime example. With beaches, Roman ruins, lanes, alleys, beautifully designed architecture - Sibenik is a sign of hidden gem after hidden gem, from Istria all the way south to Dubrovnik which is near the very tip of the country's coastline.
2. Base for exploring the Balkans and Central Europe
A great base for exploring other Balkan nations, countries such as Albania and Montenegro have diverse cultures, mountainous interiors and stunning coastline where you are bound to find a memorable hidden gem, and, of course, are only a car trip away. Hungary, Slovenia, Bosnia, Northern Italy and Serbia all offer fascinatingly accessible day trips from Croatia. For example, to drive to culturally rich Budapest in Hungary takes three and a half hours, with train being slower. Train travel - as seen in the video below (from video clock 3:30 to 4:45) offers much mountain scenery.
Croatia has a wide variety of dishes aside from its mouth-watering seafood. One such dish is lamb peka - which was promoted by Rick Stein. When bringing Croatian cuisine to a wider audience, British celebrity chef Rick Stein tried lamb peka in rural Croatia in his popular series From Venice to Istanbul. Such a recipe is aptly demonstrated by the Croatian chef Zoran Djurnic in this video below:
Yet for seafood lovers, Croatia offers fresh dishes featuring white fish, sardines, octopus and mussels as seen on tasteatlas.com. BBC Good Food also offer some ideas on Croatian food. Yet from delicatessen to wine to many less-likely foods - like cherry syrups, a distinct plum brandy, and pepper relishes wonderfully presented, Croatia may be a seafood lovers dream come true, but has such quirky other dishes, which will delight and fascinate endlessly.
Renowned for its old town and traditions in arts and science, Zagreb has amazing entertainment and academic output and is blessed with unique buildings, lanes and squares. An example of such squares is shown below. As you can see at the most popular meeting place of Ben Jelacic Square are grand buildings yet flat open spaces lined with shops and cafes serving locals and tourists alike.
As the Slavonian Historical Region's most populous centre, Osijek is inland on the major river Drava. It's a hidden delight for subtle reasons - such as an inland aspect to one's impressions of the country and a strategic location and relevance throughout the nation's and region's history. Contrasting to coastal Croatia, hence for those interested in culture and Croatian people, this is a great place to try what is ultimately a quirkier Croatian travel experience for its special history and Slavonian charm.