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EXCURSIONS >> Croatia
If you happen to be travelling to Dubrovnik by car, you can stop along the way as there's plenty to see. We will guide you to some of Croatian's hidden treasures.
Plitvice Lakes is the oldest national park in Croatia. It's decorated with 16 lakes, connected by waterfalls that have paths around them for visitors to pass over the travertine barriers. The lakes are surrounded by forests rich in animals species and their colours change depending on the time of year. All of these things helped to place the Plitvice lakes on UNESCO's World Heritage register.
Krka National Park
This national park is located not far from Sibenik. It's similar to Plivice Lakes, but there are still many differences. Krka is also decorated with lakes and waterfalls but unike Plitvice, you can bathe here. Krka is particularly beautiful in spring and summer when all the foliage turns green and shines. There are seven lakes and it's interesting to note that one of them is the site of the first hydroelectric plant in Europe, and only the second in the world. The plant opened just two days after the one at Niagra Falls.
Close to the Krka National Park you will find the beautiful little town of Skradin, which is a favourite holiday destination of Bill Gates. Skradin is also located on the River Krka which is one of the most beautiful in Croatia.
Zadar is a coastal city with an old town situated on its famous peninsula. The city was founded in antiquity, and the old part of the city is enclosed in walls. The walls are have several doors leading into the centre. The best known is Kopnena, which dates back to the 16th Century. The most famous building in Zadar is the church of St. Donatus built in the 9th Century on the ruins of the Roman Forum. Croatia does not have an older building so well preserved.
Of all the modern attractions, the Sea Organ (Morske orgulje) built on the waterfront not far from the area that cruide ships dock, has to be number one. Pipes with whistles were installed within the waterfront so that the sea, the tides and waves now ‘play' seven chords of five tones.
Another major tourist attraction is the Sun Salutation. It consists of three hundred multi-layered glass plates placed at the same level as the promenade thus creating incredible colours, especially during sunset. This site is located on the west side of Zadar peninsula.
Enjoyed by many famous people, the Maraskino liquer is is produced in Zadar.
This city located on the coast between Zadar and Split is best known for the Cathedral of St. Jacob, built in the 15th and 16th Centuries. UNESCO put it on its list of world cultural heritage because of its importance, and it’s considered the greatest architectural achievement in Croatia in the Middle Ages. It has a beautiful facade, but interior also. It was built by many artists including Juraj Dalmatinac, famous for the construction of many of Dubrovnik's sights.
The other old parts of Šibenik are beautiful – narrow streets with stone squares, many churches, the Rector's Palace which is today home to the museum, as well as many forts make Šibenik a place that you must visit if you are nearby.
The Sibenik bridge is another tourist attraction as you can bungee jump from the bridge. It is interesting that the word Šibenik in Ukrainian means mischievous boy.
Split is the largest coastal city in Croatia, famous for its old town built on the remains of the UNESCO protected Diocletian's Palace. Diocletian lived there until his death after voluntarily given up his throne, the only Roman emperor in history to do so. No similar building was built in the Roman Empire. Walls were built to surround the palace and have been well preserved, bar the western wall. The cellars of the building are also in excellent condition and there are many Roman artefacts.
Diocletian's death didn't mean that life in the palace ended, it simply had a makeover. The palace's new life began in the 6th Century with the fall of the Roman city of Salona (toady known as Solin), not far from the palace of the Slavs.
The displaced people found refuge within the walls of the palace. As the Christians arrived they adapted the Roman buildings with their architecture. The most famous of all is the Cathedral of Saint Duje, the oldest cathedral in the world, built on the mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian. Today it is considered special because of the mixture of Christian and Roman architecture. It is also known for its massive doors built of beech with scenes from the life of Jesus.
It's somewhat bizarre that the interior of the Cathedral bears the face of Diocletian, a man who persecuted Christians. According to legend, Diocletian ordered the execution of Duje, the first bishop of Salona, after whom the Cathedral is named.
Diocletian's Palace isn't the only attraction in Split. Many remains are from Roman times such as the aquaducts, but there are many from later periods too. Of note are the churches and forts such as the one at Gripe.
Marjan hill attracts visitors with its wood and beaches. We recommend visiting Split, the best way to describe it is as a city with a soul.
Trogir is a town not far from Split considered to be one of the best preserved romantic-gothic in Central Europe. The old part of Trogir stands out, surrounded by walls and fortifications (proteced by UNESCO). It is connected to the mainland and the island of Čiovo by bridges. The town was founded by the Greeks and was home to the first pharmacy in Europe, opened in 1271. The most important cultural monument is the Cathedral of St. Lawrence. Its construction began at the start of the 13th Century in the romantic style but was completed in the gothic style. Many of teh big artists helped to build the Cathedral from Nikola Firentinac to Radovan who designed the main portal.
Chapels lie within the Cathedral. Of particular note is the chapel of Saint John of Trogir, it is one of the most beautiful renaissance works in Europe. The chapel was built on the model of the Temple of Jupiter in Diocletian's Palace . This chapel is a unique composition, unknown until then in Renaissance art. It’s most definitely worth a visit.
Of the town’s fortresses the Kaštel Kamerlengo stands out the most, built in the late 14th century.
The town of Makarska is situated between Split and Dubrovnik and is decorated with beautiful nature. Rising above Makarska is the Biokovo mountain, from which the devastating bura wind blows in the winter months.
Dotted with stunning sandy beaches like in no other place in Croatia, the sea is blue and clear and every beach is beautiful in its own way. A theory exists that Makarska gets its name from the Phoenician word for purple, mucar. This theory is supported by the fact that the Makarska riviera is rich in murex (sea snails) from which the color purple was made.
Croatia has more than 1,200 islands. Each is beautiful in its own way and we will highlight some of them here. For Brijuni near Pula and Kornati near Zadar it's enough to say that they are National Parks.
The island of Pag, which is also not far from Zadar, is known around the world for its elctronic music scene on Zrće beach as well as the local paški cheese. The island has unbelievable landscape that sometimes makes you think you are on Mars.
For those looking to party, you should definitely head to the island of Hvar which is visited by Hollywood actors. The architecture on the island is just as beautiful as its nature, so there's something for everyone.
Brač is famous for its Zlatni rat beach, as well as a beautiful place called Bol.
In terms of nature, the most beautiful Croatian islands are Vis, Lastovo and Mljet. Vis is particularly interesting, with countless bays covered in white rocks and turquoise lagoons.
It's also worth visiting Krk, Cres, Šoltu, Rab and Dugi otok...Whichever island you visit, you can't go wrong. If you want an authentic Croatian island without many tourists in the height of sumemr, then choose Ugljan and enjoy the freshly caught fish that the island is well known for.
Perhaps the Istrian coastline is less attractive than Dalmatia's but that's why its interior can boast of attractions that don't exist in Dalmatia. The forests and picturesque towns in the highlands will leave you breathless. Motovun is a popular place to visit, known for its summer film festival.
The largest city in Istria is Pula, is world famous for its excellently preserved Roman amphitheatre . This Roman theatre is among the best preserved Roman monuments in the world, better preserved than the Roman Coliseum. Overall, it is the sixth largest Roman amphitheatre in the world. It often hosts cultural events and sometimes the occasional hockey game. It is interesting that the Venetians once had the idea that they would dismantle the amphitheatre in Pula, to rebuild it in Venice.
The city of Rovinj in Istria stands out with its beauty. Not to be forgotten is Poreč. Istria is known for its gastronomy, in particluar its authentic truffles.
Istria is also home to the the world's smallest city - Hum. Despite having just 17 residents, it has all the institutions of any other city.