Trips to Croatia
Croatia sits neatly between The Balkans and central Europe offering visitors an enticing cultural mix of the European and the Mediterranean alongside traces of Eastern sensibilities.
Its rich history has seen the country passed between kingdoms and regimes, touched by of Iberian, Roman, Venetian, Hungarian and Ottoman and Communist influences.
As well as this varied cultural legacy, the country's breathtaking natural wonders are making it a much sought after destination with its stretch of coastline and multitude of islands. For visitors these sit enticingly alongside beautifully preserved centuries old harbour towns, historic walled cities and unspoiled national parks.Read more
At its essence, Croatia is touted as 'the Mediterranean that once was' and offers a unique and uncommercial take on the traditional sun, sea and sand holiday and on our trips you can enjoy some of the most beautiful cities and landscapes in the world.
Geography and climate
Croatia resides at the base of Europe neighbouring Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Slovenia. To the south of the country is the Adriatic seas, and Croatia has seemingly endless stretches of coastline, beaches and coves as well as over a thousand islands and islets, 48 of which are permanently inhabited.
Inland the geography is no less dramatic and visitors can expect to see craggy peaks, river canyons, waterfalls and beautiful lakes as well as rolling farmland.
There are 444 protected areas of Croatia which encompass 9% of the country and includes eight National Parks, the most famous of which is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO land heritage site.
Most of the country has a moderately warm and rainy continental climate with average temperatures of around -3°C in January and 18°C in July. The warmest spots are the Adriatic coast which is characterised by a Mediterranean climate and tempered by coastal winds. The sunniest parts of the country are the outer islands such as Hvar which see more than 2700 hours of sunshine.
Food and drink
Croatia is a country wonderfully blessed with fresh ingredients from its lands and sea. This, alongside the great culture of sharing food and drink here, mean that delicious and sociable meals are plentiful and will no doubt form a key part of your trip.
Traditional Croatian cuisine can vary from one region to the next, indeed the Croatian cuisine is known as the cuisine of regions with each location offering its own distinct culinary traditions.
The continental region is heavily influenced by Hungarian, Austrian and Turkish culinary styles with a strong Slavic style and featuring potato based dishes, goulash, stews and roasted meats.
Food further south in Dalmatia and Istria draw upon culinary influences of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, featuring seafood and pasta and flavours of oregano, rosemary and cinnamon as well as olive oil. Croatian Olive oil has seen a huge growth in popularity in recent years and many are leaving their stamp on the world stage.
Desserts are usually sweet pastry based or flan style cakes.
Croatian wine has too seen a growth in popularity. Within the country there are two distinct wine producing regions and annual wine production exceeds 140 million litres. The continental region in the east produces premium white wines, whereas further south in Dalmatia, Mediterranean style reds are more common.
Beer is mainly imported but popular home brewed beers are becoming increasingly popular. Coffee is drunk throughout the country and visitors should be sure to visit some of the traditional coffee houses that can be found in their multitude within the historical towns.
Culture, history and economy
The history of Croatia is long, complicated and startlingly recent. The Croats arrived in present day Croatia during the early part of the 7th century. As well as being settled by Greeks and Romans, the next four centuries also saw the rise of the Ottoman conquest and the struggle with the Venetians over control of the coastal regions.
There were periods of stability and war between the Ottomans and Croats from the 16th Century onwards and by the early 20th Century the country became part of Yugoslavia. By the Second World War the country was a communist puppet state and the last 60 years have seen the collapse of communism and calls for an independent state which led to a War of Independence between the Croatians and Serbians, which did lead to independence in 1995, despite destruction from both sides.
The country's history of continual dislocation has led to a rich and varied cultural legacy which visitors can clearly see with their own eyes – Venetian Palazzos and Napoleonic forts, sit side by side with Roman columns and Viennese mansions.
In addition, culturally speaking much of the country's individuality is due to its geographical position between central and southern Europe, leading to enticing cultural blend of Middle Europe and the Mediterranean.
The economy is dominated by the service sector, followed by the industrial sector (ship building, pharmaceuticals and food processing). Tourism dominates the service sector and accounts for 20% of the GDP. Its positive effects are felt throughout the economy of the country which sees over 10 million tourists annually. The bulk of the tourist industry is along the Adriatic Coast – here nautical tourism is significant due to the numerous arenas as well as cultural tourism due to the appeal of medieval coastal cities.
It is this historical and welcoming cultural blend that makes Croatia such a sought after location and it is ranked currently as the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world. The country is seen to be rich too in 'intangible culture' holding 10 features with UNESCO and surpassing all other European countries except Spain. One such intangible culture feature is the neck tie, derived from the cravat originally worn by 17th century Croatian mercenaries in France.
Image credits: Croatian National Tourist Board