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Perhaps I’m biased about Croatia being one of the most beautiful countries in the world, since I’m half Croatian, but hearing all the reviews of people that have visited, I’d say I’m not alone when I say that. Croatia has everything a traveller would want; pristine beaches, turquoise waters, sleepy towns and villages, great food, friendly people and so much more.
Croatia is a relatively small Eastern European country and even if you only have time for a short vacation, you will have ample time to see and do plenty of activities while visiting.
Read more: My Quick 6 Day Trip To Croatia
Although Croatia has gained immense popularity over the years, especially since I first went in 2005 and aside from the coastal region, it still remains a destination that seems mostly undiscovered.
If you are planning a trip to Croatia in the near future, or are looking for reasons to visit, well then look no further. I’ve listed 12 reasons why you need to visit Croatia and why you should make it your next European destination.
In Zagreb, the stunning Austro-Hungarian and Neo-Classical style architecture, grandiose buildings and theatres take precedence of Donji Grad (Lower Town) and the medieval architecture of the old city centre of Gornji Grad (Upper Town) adds charm to the capital city. Down on the coast, ancient Roman buildings are scattered through the streets of cities such as Zadar and have you feeling as though you are walking through the pages of an open history book. If you spend any time in the countryside near Zagreb and Karlovac, you’ll see older farmhouses and buildings with have been left in ruins, or still have shrapnel holes from the Balkan War back in the early 90’s. No two cities, towns, or villages look alike in Croatia and you’ll notice that within the architecture throughout the country.
Read more: A Complete City Guide To Zagreb, Croatia
Sailing & Boating
Croatia is unofficially called the Riviera of Eastern Europe and let me tell you why. Croatia’s coast is a holiday maker’s paradise and if you are into boating, or sailing, than you need to make your way to Croatia. Pristine turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea and bobbing along the water with a glass of wine and some snacks make for a relaxing getaway from the busy town streets, especially during peak season. Treat yourself to a sunset cruise in Zadar for the ultimate Adriatic experience of viewing one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets – you won’t be disappointed.
Read more: A Complete City Guide To Zadar, Croatia
If you love coffee and cafés, then you are in some serious luck. Croatians love their coffee and I mean love. Sitting down in the morning with some friends to chat, or just sitting solo to people watch along the numerous streetside cafés while sipping an espresso, or a cappuccino is a necessity to Croatians in order to start their days. Unlike in North America where grab and go coffee reigns supreme, over in Croatia a cup of coffee can last an hour. Make sure to pop into one of the many cute coffee shops, sit down and have time melt away as you relax and enjoy the ambiance.
Croatia still remains affordable compared to other European destination hot spots, such as London, Paris and Rome, despite the recent surge in tourism. Croatia uses the Kuna, which will be easier on your wallet than the Euro is to the Canadian dollar. Despite Croatia being mostly affordable, during peak season, which runs late June to late August, things such as accommodations and tours will be higher than if you decide to go during the shoulder season between early May to early June and early September to late October. If you are looking to save more money, then travelling during the shoulder season will definitely be easier on your wallet and you’ll have less crowds to worry about as well.
Beautiful Scenery & Nature
When it comes to epic scenery and untouched nature, Croatia’s got it all. A country that is truly blessed with picture perfect landscapes, you’ll have trouble not snapping a million photos on your trip. From the sparkling turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea, mountainous terrain and numerous green parks dotted throughout the cities, there is always a spot to sit down, relax and enjoy the landscapes around you.
When you read that Croatia is a summer destination for Europeans during the colder winter months, they aren’t lying. During the peak season of late June to late August, you’ll find the coastal towns rammed with tourists from around Europe and the world. Having idyllic mediterranean temperatures throughout the year make it a destination that has mild winters and hot summers. If you aren’t a fan of the heat like me, then visiting in May, or September and October would be ideal. If you are a sun worshipper, then visiting in the summer months would be up your alley, but you’ll have to deal with larger tourist crowds and higher prices. Choose wisely.
The food in Croatia is no joke. The portions are large, the prices are cheap and the food is delicious. I obviously grew up eating Croatian food, so I know what to expect, but for first time visitors to Croatia, they are usually shocked as to how good the food is. The train station even sells homemade desserts, pastries and of course, coffee, so be sure to try some cheese, meat and even cherry burek, which is a traditional Balkan savory pie made with flaky filo (phyllo) dough. Croatian food also has a strong Italian (Roman) influence as well, so you’ll see pastas and pizzas on a lot of menus throughout the country. When visiting Croatia, try to eat in a Konoba, which is a family run restaurant where locals eat and don’t leave hungry. The patios are full of people drinking beer and chatting and the interior is cozy and inviting. My favourite Konoba was located in Gornji Grad in Zagreb and called Konoba Didov san. Definitely check that place out if you are in Zagreb.
The locals in Croatia are friendly, full of life and always willing to help. While travelling in Croatia, I didn’t have any problems with rude locals anywhere I went. In fact, the rude people I did run into were other tourists, but hey, not everyone can be pleasant I guess. If you ever need help finding a spot to eat, asking someone to take your photo, or to find a street, Croatians will always be willing to help you out. Knowing a few common phrases make locals happy that you are at least trying to communicate in their home language as well, so give it a shot.
Culture & History
Croatia is steeped with deep culture and a tumultuous history. Croatia was once part of the former Yugoslavia and after a heartbreaking and disastrous Balkan War, less than 30 years ago, it was finally established on June 25th 1991 and Croatia gained its independence. October 8th is the day when the Croatian Parliament cut all relations with the former Yugoslavia and is celebrating each year. Croatian history goes as far back as Patheolithic Age and the Roman Age and traces of ruins can be found all throughout the country including the grand amphitheatre in Pula, to the Roman Forum in Zadar. The Catholic Church is very important in Croatian culture and they are extremely proud of their heritage, as they should be.
Travelling to a foreign land and not knowing the streets and language can be daunting for some, especially those who choose to travel solo. Croatia is deemed a safe place for tourists, aside from some petty theft here and there, such as pickpocketing, but I feel that goes with any place. Violent crime is extremely rare in Croatia and overall crime is very low, therefore making it one of the safest countries on the world to travel to. Even if you feel safe, just always make sure to be mindful of your surroundings and keep your wits about you and you will run into absolutely zero troubles while exploring Croatia.
Read more: What Solo Travel Has Taught Me
Read more: 5 Solo Travel Myths That Need To Be Debunked
Read more: How to stay safe as a solo traveller
Next to coffee, Croatians love their beer (pivo). Craft beer in Croatia is now slowly taking over the scene with tons of trendy craft beer bars popping up all over Zagreb and along the coastal towns. Despite the new wave of craft beer in Croatia, the traditional lagers such as Karlovačko, Ožjusko and Pan still remain the most popular beers in the market. While in Zagreb, stop by the Craft Room located on Opatovina Ulice in Gornji Grad (Upper Town) to kick back and relax to classic rock tunes – definitely my kind of place.
City, Sea & Country Living
Croatia is the perfect place for a vacation no matter what kind of scenery you’re looking for. Whether you want to focus on the underrated capital city of Zagreb and explore Donji Grad and Gornji Grad, head to the Adriatic Sea and explore the ruins of Zadar’s Old Town after spending some time on a private boat tour, or spend time in the lush countryside and wander around small villages, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in Croatia. With such a vast amount of places to see and things to do, why not add all three to your itinerary? 🙂
Read more: How to Create the Perfect Travel Itinerary
Is Croatia on your list of places to visit? If not, it definitely should be. If you’ve been to Croatia, what was your favourite part of visiting? Was it the food, the scenery, or the culture that drew you there? Let me know in the comments below! xo