Croatia oozes historic cities that are flavoured with the cultures and religions that have called this region home through the shifting times. You will be charmed with explorations of Venetian palaces, Napoleonic forts, Roman amphitheatres, Viennese mansions, orthodox Slavic churches and Turkish mosques found huddled together in this fascinating country’s fortified cities. Nearby, breathe in the alpine air of natural forests, waterfalls and cool lakes in the picture perfect national parks. Discover a coastline dotted with stunning beaches, idyllic and historic islands and charming fishing villages and her welcoming neighbours showcase many delights too. It is no wonder Croatia is calling your name!
Here are the highlights you will enjoy on a guided tour of Croatia.
Dubrovnik has been a magnet for visitors well before it became a Mecca for fans of the Game of Thrones! Author George Bernard Shaw famously referred to Dubrovnik as the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’. The Old Town has a well preserved wall that you can walk along to take in the views of the harbour, Adriatic Sea, nearby islands and the terracotta tiles of the roofs below. Take a seat at a café in the Placa, the main thoroughfare of the Old Town or take the cable car to Mt Srd to enjoy sweeping views of the peninsula and the Croatian coastline. There you will discover the fortress built by Napoleon Bonaparte.
Capture the essence of historic Split as you explore the labyrinth of medieval streets inside the walls of Diocletian’s Palace, the historic fortress in the Old Town. Split boasts so many well preserved sites including the Mausoleum, the Cathedral of St. Domnius. Did we mention the Game of Thrones? You are bound to recognise the basement hall of the Temple of Jupiter. Split is a buzzing city (Croatia’s second largest) that sits against a backdrop of dramatic mountains, on the Adriatic coast. The boats bobbing on the turquoise harbour will delight.
The stunning Croatian coastline is a drawcard for this compact country packed with picturesque highlights. The warm temperatures of the Adriatic Sea and the multitude of islands that are dotted along the coast make this stretch of sea a spectacular cruising and sailing destination. You can cruise the Croatian Islands on a small ship or sail around them on a traditional sailing boat. The islands along the Dalmatian coast offer historic towns, idyllic charm and pure relaxation, no matter how you voyage its waters.
Krka National Park offers picture perfect scenes that include the dramatic Skradinski Buk's 800 metre long cascade and waterfalls that flow to a natural pool sandwiched between verdant forests and karst canyons formed by the Krka river, the lifeblood of the park. You can swim in the clear waters of the pool and walk along wooden jetties and bridges that form a loop around the park’s main attraction, crossing the pools and offering landings from which to admire and capture the photogenic falls.
More postcard perfect views and turquoise lakes await your admiration at Plitvice National Park. This heavily forested national park is home to up to 16 lakes. Follow the wooden foot bridges past the mineral rich lakes to admire the tumbling waterfalls and cascades. Look up and you might see a kaleidoscopic flight of butterflies as they flit and swarm high above the boardwalk. Many tours take you to the heart of the lakes on a short cruise.
Travel back to Roman times when you visit the perfectly maintained amphitheatre in Pula. Yet another incredible example of Roman design and architecture, the arena was originally used for gladiatorial conquests, as far back as the 1st century. Below the amphitheatre you will find underground chambers, originally used by the gladiators and to pen the beasts that would charge the arena. Today you can view historic equipment used in the production of olive oil or viticulture. The arena has served many purposes through the ages, from the early gladiators to medieval fairs. Once seating 20,000 spectators, the arena still hosts operatic and musical performances for 5000 people.
This charming Adriatic fishing village has a medieval headland crammed with classic old houses jostling for position on a coastline that is dotted with the 14 islands of the Rovinj archipelago. Just another scenic spot on Croatia’s Isterian Peninsula. It’s a lovely just to meander through the streets and take in the salty air and sites of one of the last authentic fishing ports in the Mediterranean. Don't forget to enjoy the local seafood.
The two-tiered capital of Croatia showcases its medieval beginnings with the energy of the modern day. Explore the grandeur of the squares of the Lower Town, Donji Grad and Ban Josip Jelacic Square. For a local experience, ride the city's funicular that joins the two sections of the city. The medieval upper town Gornji Grad, offers a web of streets, stretching between the Kaptol and Gradec hills. Zagreb is where you will find the Presidential Palace, Stone Gate, St. Mark's Church, the Lotrscak Tower and Marshall Tito’s house. Make sure you stop for coffee as you explore all this town has to offer, it’s yet another highlight.
Many tours through Croatia also take in neighbouring Slovenia, home to historic cities, stunning mountains, even more turquoise rivers and lakes, and awe inspiring cavernous caves.
Explore the historic Ljubljana Castle and wander the car free and tree lined centre of Slovenia’s capital, with views of stunning peaks and enjoy the romance of the city as you sit at an open air café by the river.
The journey through the Postjana Cave will amaze as you travel through a series of expansive caverns decorated with awesome stalactites and stalagmites.
At Lake Bled you can enjoy a ride across to Bled Island in a traditional pletna boat propelled by the strength of a local oarsman standing at the back of the boat. On the island you can climb to the top of the bell tower there.
You can also venture into the neighbouring Republic of Montenegro, where the Bay of Kotor and namesake town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, will charm you with its Venetian palaces and medieval churches. Boasting the deepest fiord of the Mediterranean, you might take a boat ride to the Our Lady of the Rocks, a tiny island a short distance off the coast that is dominated by the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks. The views back to the coastline dominated by the steep forested mountains and verdant are breathtaking.
Another border crossed on many of the Croatia tours is that of Bosnia Herzegovina where you can capture the religious highlights of ‘the Jerusalem of Europe’, Sarajevo. So called due to the many churches, synagogues and mosques found there, including the Husref Bay's Mosque. You can take in the flavours and aromas of the busy Turkish Bazaar, Bas Carsija, enjoy rakija in a local tavern or sample the traditional cheeses, smoked meats and local meals. If you are a war history buff you might be interested in an insider tour of a Bosnian war tunnel through which humanitarian aid and people were moved in and out of the city.