Croatia: A trip to paradise

20 Jun 2018
POSTED BY Alvin Thomas

Whether you prefer bouncing from one unspoiled island to another, exploring ancient ruins or practicing some sport, Croatia has plenty to offer, says Nirmal Raj.

Situated in the Balkans of central Europe, Croatia is among the top tourist destination countries in the world right now. What makes it exceptional is its wealth of stunning natural attractions. With its ravishing shore and more than a thousand incredible islands, Croatia boasts one of the most stunning stretches of coastline on offer. Not to mention, its coastal towns and cities have a captivating past filled with ancient remains from Roman and Venetian times.

Croatia’s uniqueness stems from its exceptional cultural wealth and history going back to the Roman era right up to the present day. Croatia’s attractions include national parks, nature reserves, numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, beautiful beaches, secluded bays, and mystical mountain peaks.

It’s also Europe’s latest foodie haven, with a culinary tapestry set against a backdrop of world-renowned cultural and natural heritage. Croatia’s fertile plains, where freshly-picked fruits are grown, its castles, museums, and parks, river ports and family farms all make up a unique glimpse into daily life amid this fascinating country.

Whether you prefer bouncing from one unspoiled island to another, exploring ancient ruins, trying the best local food, or practicing some sport, Croatia has plenty to offer throughout the year.

Land, sea, or air there are plenty of options to get to Croatia. By train you can take direct or transfer connections from major cities in almost all European countries. Roads in Croatia, whether you travel by bus or your own car, are built beautifully – and from Italy you can ecen opt for a ferry service too. Around nine international airports in Croatia have direct connections to major European hubs, with the largest being Zagreb, Split, and Dubrovnik.

The Croatian coast has an enjoyable Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot and dry, and winters are mild and wet. Temperatures drop slightly as you move inland where the climate is moderate. If you climb above 1,200m, you’ll be greeted with fresh mountain air and cold temperatures even in the summer months.

My favourite place- Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful in the world. Croatia’s most popular tourist attraction, it was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979. Located roughly halfway between the capital city of Zagreb, and Zadar on the coast, the lakes are a definite must-see. The beauty of the national park lies in its 16 lakes inter-connected by a series of waterfalls, and set in deep woodland populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars, and rare bird species. The national park covers a total area of 300 sq. km, while the lakes join over 8 km.

Highlights- The Croatian coastline extends 6,278 km, of which 1,880 km forms the mainland coastline, and 4,398 km the coastline of the islands, islets, and rocks that surround it – of which the country boasts 1,244 in total. While there are 47 inhabited islands, the largest islands are Krk and Cres.

Lowlights- Weather can quickly change, so keeping track of the forecast is important when planning watersport or sea activities especially.

Souvenirs- Croatia invented the necktie, so it’s a good idea to pick one up from there. Olive oil is another classic Croatian souvenir – so move over Greece and Italy – while the Sestine umbrella is a popular souvenir to pick up from Zagreb. Croatian lace has become notable for its unique patterns and designs, and its famous Pag’s lace can be bought directly from women who sew it in front of their houses. Another delicate gift to bring back is Croatia’s handmade Samobor’s crystal. You can also find lavender products, organic honey, chocolates, traditional caps, and good luck charms, among others.

Getting there- From Muscat, travelers can take convenient connecting flights via many cities to Zagreb, the Croatian capital.  The shortest flying time from Muscat is eight hours and 40 minutes, including stopovers via Doha.

Where to stay- Every hotel category is represented here and is ideally located – thogh it’s advisable to make your bookings online beforehand.

Top 5 things to do

1. Discover Zagreb, a vibrant metropolis packed with both historic and modern attractions.

2. Take the Dubrovnik Cable Car. A four-minute ride transports visitors 778 m to a plateau offering great views.

3. Visit Dinara, one of the most interesting Croatian mountains.

4. Prawns from Kvarner are the Adriatic’s biggest and most delicious — a must try!

5. Explore Croatia’s many amazing medieval towns by bike on a cycling tour.

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