Outrageously beautiful, stunning, enchanting, amazing, awesomely beautiful are some of the ways Croatia is described.
Situated on the crossroads between central Europe and the Mediterranean, this enchanting corner of Europe is the perfect holiday setting for people looking for something special. Known as "The Land of Thousand Islands" and with one of the most varied coastlines in the world, Croatia is a unique country of fascinating culture, unrivalled natural beauty and rich history and tradition. It basks in almost constant sunshine and has a wealth of glorious long beaches and secluded bays shelving gently into the warm waters of the Adriatic, one of the cleanest seas on earth.
From the easterly edges of the Alps, Croatia borders with Slovenia in the west, Hungary in the north, Serbia in the east and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the southeast. The coastline stretches along the Adriatic Sea from the Istrian peninsula in the northwest to the city of Dubrovnik in the south.
Things you might like to know about Croatia:
- The mainland covers a land area of 56,594 square kilometres and has a population of about 4.5 million people. Over 90% of the inhabitants are Croats, with the largest minorities being Serbs, Slovenes, Hungarians, Bosnians, Italians and Albanians.
- Croatia is a multi-party parliamentary republic and it's capital is Zagreb.
- Croatia has an amazing 6,176 km of coastline, ⅔ of which belongs to islands
- There are 1244 islands, 50 are populated
- The Adriatic coast benefits from a Mediterranean climate, with warm dry summers and mild winters
- 2600 hours of sunlight on average yearly, which makes it one of the sunniest coastlines in Europe!
- The official language is Croatian, which is written in Latin script
- The currency is Kuna; one Kuna equals 100 Lipa. Foreign currency can be exchanged in banks, post offices, most travel agencies and tourist info offices, hotels, campsites and exchange offices. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted
- Health services are covered in accordance with the convention of Social Security signed between Croatia and the visitors' country of origin
- International country code is +385; tel. no. for emergency assistance is 112, calls are free and English is spoken; for police is 92; fire brigade: 93; ambulance: 94
- Power supply is 220v, frequency 50Hz. UK guests should note that power outlets in Croatia are of the continental 2-pin type; therefore a socket adaptor is required.
- Tap water is safe to drink throughout Croatia. The protection of biodiversity is in compliance with valid EU regulations
- Post offices are generally open from 8am until 7pm on weekdays. In larger towns and tourist centres they also open on Saturdays and Sundays.
- A valid passport or other identification document recognised by international agreement is required to enter Croatia. An international driving licence is required to rent a car
- Speed limits are: 50 km/h in built-up areas; 90 km/h outside built-up areas; 110 km/h on major roads and highways; 130 km/h on motorways
A miniature heart-shaped world and the largest peninsula on the Adriatic coast, Istria lies on the 45th parallel, emphasising it's idyllic geographical position with perfectly arranged seasons, springs of lush greenery, colourful autumns, pleasant summers and mild winters. Often described as the Croatian Tuscany, it's interior is very picturesque, with undulating landscapes, vineyards, olive-groves, woodlands, peaceful country lanes and wild flowers. The coastline is filled with indented shapes, numerous islands and islets, gentle bays, mild coves covered with pebbles, steep cliffs and natural ports. The climate includes warm summers and cooler winters.
On this very area three European civilisations met through history - the Roman, Slavic and Germanic. The name of the peninsula originates from Greek legends in which they called the Danube, Istros. They believed Istros had several river mouths and sources, and with one of them, probably the Istrian river Mirna they sailed into the Adriatic, thus naming the peninsula. In the 3rd century BC the Romans named the native population of the peninsula the Histri, in the 2nd century BC they conquered them. Then six centuries of Roman rule followed, barbarian tribes, Byzantium, Charlemagne's Franks, German-Roman ruler Otto, Aquileian Church Oligarchy, half a millennium of Venice, Austrian Counts, Napoleon, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia…today Istria is the westernmost region of the republic of Croatia. Here seven millennia of it's history can be touched, scented, absorbed.
Istria is the blackboard of history: Prehistoric hill forts, Roman amphitheatres and triumphal arches, early Christian churches, Byzantine mosaics, Romanesque basilicas, medieval towns on almost every hilltop, renaissance frescos, towers and town walls, magnificent architectural decorations, Gothic cathedrals, Baroque palaces, Austro-Hungarian fortifications…dozens of museums are the treasures of history. Euphrasius' basilica in Poreč, built in 553AD is part of UNESCO's universal cultural heritage.
Places of Interest
Pula, at the southern tip of the peninsula, is Istria's largest city; it has an international airport and a wealth of Roman and mediaeval treasures. Among these are: one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world, the ancient Temple of Augustus, The Arch of Sergi, the Gate of Hercules and the Twin Gates, the Cathedral of Pula, the Venetian Kaštel, etc
Poreč is the largest holiday resort in Istria, with wonderful beaches, lively streets and squares buzzing with restaurants, shops, coffee bars and native Istrian tavernas and ice cream parlours; a marina lined with market stalls selling crafts and local products and of course it's exceptional cultural treasures. The Euphrasius Basilica, built in the middle of the 6th century in the Byzantine style, with it's mosaics being amongst the most beautiful works of art in the world, has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Worth visiting are also the medieval Romanesque house with it's interesting wooden balcony, the Gothic pentagonal tower (13th c), the Bishop's Palace (6th c), many sites of Romanesque architecture, beautiful Venetian Gothic palaces and it's well preserved Roman cobbled streets and remains.
The Adriatic pearl of Rovinj is one of the most attractive small towns on the western Istrian coast. It's houses are closely built and once you enter the old town through the Balbi arch, you will enjoy the atmosphere of it's lovely little cobbled streets that take you to the top of a small hill. Here you will delight in wonderful views over the sea and surrounding islands, as well as Rovinj's most significant monument - the church of St Euphemia. Near the town there is a 3500 year old burial ground on the Maklavun Hill. Also worth visiting is the ornithological reserve Palud with more than 200 bird species.
A visit to the enchanting eleven kilometre long Lim Canal is an extraordinary experience. This only genuine fjord in Istria is a protected nature area and is especially suitable for cultivation of mussels and oysters, a true paradise for the genuine gourmand.
Vrsar situated between Poreč and Lim Canal, offers the splendour of its irreplaceable idyllic island archipelago, the green environment and the crystal clear sea. On the top of the Vrsar hill, you can see Kaštel-palace, a fort protected with a defensive rampart with towers, two Romanesque towers with a unique sundial, the 17th c. church of St Foška. In the port of Vrsar one can find the Romanesque basilica of St. Mary of the Sea. Vrsar proudly wears the name of "town of sculptures". Every summer at the abundant Montraker Quarry the school of sculpture takes place and all the sculptures from previous workshops can be seen on the beaches, the quayside and town parks. Also worth a visit is the park of sculpture of one of the most famous Croatian sculptors, Dušan Džamonja.
If you enjoy exploring small places of great history, you will love Motovun, a picturesque medieval town that has a rich cultural and historical heritage. Placed on a hill, it dominates the valley of Mirna River and the famous Motovun wood, a habitat of the best truffle in the world. The ancient interior walls serve as a promenade from which one can enjoy the magical Istrian panorama everyone talks about. Motovun is also famous for it's international film festival in August and a contemporary art gallery.
Other attractive towns and places worth visiting are: Brijuni Islands National Park, the uninhabited bronze age ruins of Dvigrad, the inland town of Pazin and the nearby chapel of Beram, Grožnjan (the artists' town), Hum, the smallest town in the world, the coastal towns of Novigrad, Umag and Bale.
Food and Drink
Eating out is inexpensive, there is a huge variety of delicious local and international dishes to enjoy and a wide choice of places to eat. This area of the Adriatic is fish lovers' paradise with over three hundred species cooked in almost as many ways. Another local choice is "pršut", dark smoked Istrian ham and the mature domestic cheeses. Stone cooked pizzas, home made pastas, legendary truffles, wild asparagus, are just some of the local delicacies you might like to try. In addition Istria produces one of the best olive oils in the world and some great white and red wines.
What you can expect in Istria:
- Warm sunshine
- Crystal clear sea and beautiful beaches
- Magnificent natural beauty
- Peaceful countryside
- Great variety of birds and butterflies
- Historical treasures
- Great food, wine and ice cream
- Relaxation on uncrowded beaches
- Fun for the family
- Cycle tracks on picturesque country lanes
- Boats trips to the islands and to Lim Fjord
- Friendly, helpful, warm-hearted people
- Folklore, entertainment, art and beauty
- Good value for money holidays
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