Why Croatia is the perfect package for independent travelers

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This newest member of the European Union is the perfect place to relax and experience life’s next adventure. With roots reaching back to the ancient Greeks and Romans the country of Croatia is steeped in antiquity. It is also a place of sunshine, crystal waters and beautiful beaches.

Pristine Plitvice Lakes National Park

Pristine waterfalls and clear blue water may sound like a tropical paradise, but Plitvice Lakes National Park offers the beauty of changing seasons in a very different part of the world. Located in the rugged region of central Croatia the park attracts thousands of visitors each year. Water passing over the native limestone and chalk have formed caves and lakes produced by the travertine barriers. The UNESCO World Heritage Register added this southern European park to its honored list in 1979.

Plitvice Lakes by Magnus von Koeller on Flickr
Plitvice Lakes by Magnus von Koeller on Flickr

Along with the scenery, guests to the park have the opportunity to enjoy the cuisine of the region and the traditions that have been carried on by the locals. The summers are pleasantly mild with the average temperature being around 17 degrees Celsius, but winter cold freezes the numerous lakes and snow fall usually begins in November. The lakes are famous for their beautiful changing colors with the palette including shades of azure blue, teal and soft grays.

Hiking the trails of the park is an exciting experience with guests catching glimpses of native species such as lynx and wolves. Camping is available for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy a more rustic stay. There are also hotels found inside the park and local accommodations in the nearby towns. Travel to the park is convenient with bus tours running out of nearby cities including Zagreb.

History Awaits In Old Town Dubrovnik

Located in the Mediterranean Sea is a town remarkably reminiscent of a page taken directly from medieval history. Some accounts say Old Town Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th century. However, other theories have emerged in recent years that provide some proof that development of the city started in the time of the ancient Greeks. By the Middle Ages it had established itself as a formidable sea power in the region. Over the decades even the damage from earthquakes, wars and economic downturn could not destroy the spirit of this historic Croatian gem.

Dubbed the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, Dubrovnik has taken successful steps to preserve its heritage. Many of the ancient monasteries, fountains and other architectural examples of the Gothic and Renaissance periods in its past still stand today. The Town Hall, St. Blaise’s Church and Dominican Monastery are preserved monuments that attract visitors from all over the world. Tourism became a major industry for Dubrovnik when the first luxury hotel was built in 1897 and continues to grow.

Dubrovnik by Stewart Morris on Flickr
Dubrovnik by Stewart Morris on Flickr

Today visitors come to enjoy the beaches and events such as the Summer Festival. It is a celebration of the history and culture of the old city with regional cuisine, concerts and children’s games. Travel into Old Town Dubravnik is by air or sea. Either way you approach offers glorious views of the red tiled roofs common to the buildings here. Buses service the airport and there is a convenient network throughout the city. The best time to see Dubrovnik is during the more moderate months of spring and autumn. Summers can get quite warm with lots of sun, and winter weather is wet and can be blustery.

The Enticing Island of Hvar

The enticing Mediterranean climate brings visitors flocking to the Island of Hvar for fun and relaxation. During the summer yachts fill the port, and guests flock into the town to enjoy the clubs and discos. Along with the tourism the island is known for the growing of lavender, fishing and being a top wine producing region of Croatia. Winters are fairly mild and the locals boast about the great amount of sunshine experienced during the summer months. Fertile areas on the island make it perfect for not only beautiful forested areas, but also orchards and olive groves.

Situated off the Dalmatian coast in the Adriatic Sea it was originally inhabited during pre-historic times and later settled by the Greeks. Trade had been important for the residents of the island for centuries, but tailed off before the 19th century. Today’s Hvar is an appealing destination for visitors because of the museums, art galleries, fine restaurants and boating opportunities. Diving, rafting tours and just relaxing on the beautiful beaches are all popular activities.

Hvar Harbour by Email56 on Flickr
Hvar Harbour by Email56 on Flickr

Travel to the island is only available by water. Ferries and catamarans offer service from the surrounding Croatian cities of Ancona, Drvenik and Split. Once on the island accommodations can be found in the many fine hotels and hostels ranging from budget right up to 5 star resorts. Dining options include gourmet roof-top seating and experiencing traditional island fare.

History aficionados, outdoor enthusiasts and sun seekers will all enjoy a trip to Crotia’s many destinations. Whether looking for a bright island beach or a walk into the past of a medieval fortress it can all be found in this fascinating country on the Adriatic Sea.

Croatia by Paul Fenton on Flickr
Croatia by Paul Fenton on Flickr

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