Croatia is experiencing something of a boom as a holiday destination at the moment. With Game of Thrones showcasing its best (and bloodiest) bits, it has become the place to go for a Mediterranean holiday. While you might head straight for Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Zadar or the Plitvice Lakes, the people who know better will be heading for the places without as many tourists. Let’s explore the hidden gems of Croatia.
Croatian Hidden Gems
Think rolling hills, hilltop villages, rural restaurants and hotels, with the coast not far away, Istria has been dubbed the new Tuscany. In fact, Istria has a strong Italian influence because it used to part of Italy during the early 20th century. It has been part of many different countries, including France, Austria, Venetian state and Yugoslavia to name a few, giving it a rich and diverse history, culture and architecture, and making it an incredibly interesting place to visit. A popular destination, it is relatively easy to escape the crowds once you get away from the coast.
Known as Croatia’s Vienna, it has centuries-old cathedrals, villages and monuments all beautifully preserved. With baroque architecture preserved in all their colour and artistry, Varazdin is laidback, quiet and serene. Make sure that you don’t miss the fairy tale castle or Stari Grad (Old Castle), a fortress built between the 13th and 19th centuries. With festivals celebrating everything from art and dance to rock and Baroque music, there’s always a great time to visit.
The destination for 17th century Dubrovnik aristocracy to escape – Lopud remains much the same today. An entirely car free island, it only has 200 residents. With a small harbour, old mansions and not much to do other than enjoy the sun, the sea and the view, it’s well worth the half an hour ferry ride from Dubrovnik. To get a better idea of the delights that coastal Croatia has to offer, take a look at these coastal Croatian islands.
The major fishing village of Vela Luka, on the island of Korcula, is a great place to go if you’re a lover of wine. On the southern Dalmatian coast, it has over 2500 hours of sunny weather a year. It also has many point of archaeological, historical and cultural interest. With one of the most important prehistoric caves in Europe, sculptures by Henry Moore and its chivalrous dance tournaments, Vela Luka is not just a place to enjoy the sun.