Croatia is located in Central and Southeast Europe, bordering Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Montenegro to the southeast, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest and Slovenia to the northwest.
Croatia has a total of eight national parks, and you should make sure you see at least one of these while on holidays in Croatia. Of all of the best things to see in Croatia, the national parks are certain to satisfy the whole family. Many agree that the most stunning out of these is Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site two hours by bus from Zagreb. Here, you can meander along the wooden plank trails and admire the glistening waterfalls crashing into the ever changing colours of the 16 interconnected lakes below.
Northern Croatia has a temperate continental climate whereas the central and upland regions have a mountainous climate. The entire Adriatic coast has a pleasant Mediterranean climate. Spring and autumn are mild along the coast, while winter is cold and snowy in central and northern regions. The average temperature inland in January ranges from -10° to 5°C and in August, from 19° to 39°C. The average temperature at the seaside is higher: in January, from 6°C to 11°C and in August from 21°C to 39°C.
One of the last bastions of tourism in the Mediterranean just may be the often ignored Croatia. A mere 8 hours away from Italy if you take the overnight ferry out of the city of Bari (and even closer if you depart from the city of Ancona) Croatia has everything a visitor yearns for in a vacation; plenty of sunshine, clean and beautiful beaches, crystal-clear water, great shopping and a pretty good exchange rate. Not to mention the fact than most of the locals speak good English and are proud to let you know they can.
I returned to Croatia after visiting several years ago and I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed it a lot more as a tourist than I ever did when I was in the military. That goes without saying I suppose! LOL!
How to get there: Although there are several points of departure along Italy’s east coast, we’ll assume that you (like me) are departing from the Puglia region in the port city of Bari.
The ferry to Dubrovnik (the port is actually in the small town of Gruz – about 10 minutes from Dubrovnik’s Old Town) departs Bari at 23:59 and that means that you simply get on board your cabin, go to sleep and wake up in Dubrovnik at 0700 the next morning.
A complete schedule can be found here. A few things to consider: how long you are going to stay and what you want to see can save you money. For example – if you are only going to be in the country for a few days I wouldn’t even think about renting a car. Go on foot! Grab a taxi from the port to your hotel and you are good to go.
If you do choose to rent a car — be aware — the city center of Dubrovnik is a madhouse and parking is pay-per-hour. That’s if you can find any. Chances are you will wind up parking in a long-term lot outside the city. Again, it depends on the length of your stay.
I highly recommend you pick up a copy of “Dubrovnik in your pocket” – a pocket-sized magazine that will tell you everything you need to know once you are there. A valuable resource and it’s free.
Three locations in 3 days or 1 great location in one day: You know the old saying, “So much to do, so little time.” Never was more appropriate than in Croatia. You can easily pass and entire day just in the city of Dubrovnik. The city itself has an interesting history: a city of around 75,000 — the recovery of the tourist industry in Dubrovnik began in 1998, dipped in 1999 because of the crisis in Kosovo, and has since rebounded despite the continuing shortage of hotel beds due to the war, when half of Dubrovnik’s hotel stock was destroyed during the war.
There are maps posted throughout Old Town revealing where some of the worst damage took place. These days it’s all about tourism. Farther up the coast sit the port city of Omis and farther still the major city of Split. I point out these three in particular because each had plenty of things to do and see. But your idea of fun and adventure may differ and that’s why Croatia is such a great place to visit – you can create your own memories once you arrive!
Activities: There are so many small beaches, inlets, islands (the last count was 1,246) and out-of-the-way places to enjoy yourself that there’s no excuse regarding finding a place to relax.
My personal favorites: white-water-rafting on the Cetina River near the city of Omis, jet skiing along the coast of Korkula (birthplace of Marco Polo) and rock climbing on virtually every rock-face in the country.
The list goes on and on. These days it’s not easy finding an “affordable” vacation spot. If you find yourself in Italy then I say take the detour across the big pond and spend a few days in Croatia – it’ll definitely be worth your while.
One of Croatia’s more “wild” holiday offers are the lighthouses. Most of them are situated on a deserted coastline or in the open sea. The speciality of this is that you are able to cut yourself off from the rest of the world and take the time to “smell the roses”. Sometimes the best way to relax is to take part in a Robinson Crusoe style holiday.
Croatia has 11 rent-a-lighthouses along the Adriatic coast: Savudrija, Sv. Ivan, Rt Zub, Porer, Veli Rat, Prisnjak, Sv. Petar, Plocica, Susac, Struga and Palagruza.
Croatia offers amazing weather conditions and incredible scenery for various activities throughout the year. Water sports, mountain and rock activities, biking and many more. There are several tour companies organizing various outdoor activities, as sea kayaking, biking, hiking, canyoning, rock climbing, etc.