Croatia

Occupying a stunning stretch of the Adriatic coastline, Croatia is a combination of glamour and tradition, with greenery countryside and crystal blue waters. From Dubrovnik’s ancient stone walls to the lively islands of Brač and Hvar in the Mediterranean Sea, Croatia has it all: historic cities, sprawling vineyards, gorgeous beaches, with plenty of places to dance, sail and soak up the sunshine.

With a high respect for natural ingredients, Croatian cuisine, including seafood on the coast and truffles in Istria, is highly appreciated. Fine wines and buzzing café culture add to the appeal.

The country has a growing reputation for music festivals, with events held on beaches and within ancient sea-forts. Arts festivals are also famous in Zagreb and elsewhere, with galleries and different art attractions, that have given the country a contemporary feeling. Talking about Zagreb, the city also makes a good base from which to explore the historic castles and vineyards of Zagorje.

Croatia is blessed with 2000 km of beautiful rocky shore and more than a thousand islands, where the water is so vividly blue and crystal clear, that it’s easy to assume photographs have been photoshopped.

Istria, with its italian influence and beautiful coastline, offers scenes of local fishermen freeing their nets in the morning and visitors admiring a colorful sunset over the sea.

There are still enough off-the-beaten-track islands, quiet coves and stone-built fishing villages, where it doesn’t feel that touristic, as Dubrovnik does, in the heavily visited months of July and August. The pearl of Adriatic, with its  baroque buildings surrounded by centuries-old forts- and splendid views over the sea, Dubrovnik  keeps its romance, but only outside high season. However, the Adriatic sea does offer some ideal sailing conditions, scuba diving and sea kayaking.

Beyond the tourist zones, Croatia is full of isolated places where you can discover more a traditional, local lifestyle. Plitvice Lakes national park is known for terraced lakes and waterfalls, that extend into a limestone canyon. Velebit, part of Dinaric Alps and Gorski Kotar are havens for hikers who explore the surrounding rugged mountain ranges.

The country stands on one of the great fault lines of European civilization, the point where the Catholicism of Central Europe meets the Islam and Orthodox Christianity of the East.  The country is positioned on the border between Western and Eastern Europe, the place where Catholicism meets the Islam and Orthodoxism, and Croats traditionally see themselves as a Western people, distinct from their eastern neighbours the Bosnian and the Serbians. Still, some of the Balkan vibe and cultural values, such as patriarchal families and hospitality towards strangers, are common in Croatia.

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