Situated between the Balkans and central Europe, Croatia has been passed from kingdom to kingdom, empire to empire and republic to republic over the course of history. While this was most likely less than ideal for those who lived there during the time, the changing hands of the land have left behind a rich legacy of culture and history. One of the most popular experiences in Croatia is eating and drinking with the locals. In addition to this, there are plenty of other things to experience in Croatia.
The city of Dubrovnik has bounced back greatly from the shelling it experienced in 1991. Those who experience Dubrovnik multiple times say it’s just like their first time. From the city’s limestone streets, beautiful buildings and the inviting shimmer of the Adriatic Sea, there’s so much to take in. Here are some of the city’s top things to check out:
- City walls and forts: Dubrovnik is a city that was always under attack, which is why there are a multitude of walls and forts guarding the city. After multiple stages of rebuilding, the city became contained in a stone barrier that is 2 km long and 25 meters high. It’s tradition that visitors walk around the city walls, as the walls are the city’s claim to fame. From the tops of the walls, you’ll be able to see all of the city, the sea and the shelling damage the city experienced.
- Rector’s Palace: Built for the elected rector of Dubrovnik, this Gothic-Renaissance palace is home to everything from the rector’s chambers to a dungeon. This palace is no longer home to the rector, but it is home to the city’s Cultural History Museum. It features fully restored rooms, coats of arms and highlights the area’s history.
- War Photo Limited: Curated by photojournalist Wade Goddard, who, in the 1990s, worked in the Balkans, these exhibits cover the rawness of war. On the upper floor of this destination, there’s a permanent exhibit that highlights the Yugoslavian wars. Other exhibits feature different conflicts over the years.
Istria’s madly popular coast gets crowded, and for good reason. This region is known for its gastronomy, particularly its seafood, white truffles and world-renowned wines. It’s also known for its historical charm. Visitors are often drawn to Istria’s hilltop villages by the view of the idyllic countryside’s rolling hills and plains.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
This national park is home to many treasures, including 16 crystalline lakes. While you can’t swim in any of the lakes, you can still explore. On average, it takes about six hours to explore the lakes on foot. It can take four hours to explore the same lakes if you use the park’s free boats and busses. These tours leave the docks every 30 minutes from April to October.
In addition to the Cathedral of St. Domnius, a palace was built for Diocletian. This palace is known as one of the most imposing Roman ruins ever. However, it’s not exactly a palace, per se. It was actually intended as a combination of military fortress, imperial residence and town. The area is quite large, covering 38,700 square meters altogether. Diocletian’s palace is jam-packed with bars, restaurants and shops.
Construction of the palace began in the 4th century, and lasted for 10 years. The whole process was not one done on a budget. Diocletian allegedly imported marble and sphinxes from different countries. Each gate of the palace is named after a different metal, and between the gates is a main road that separates the different sections of the area. Approximately 3,000 people live within the walls in the 220 buildings.
This 1st-century oval amphitheater is Pula’s most famous and imposing sight. Overlooking the old town, the truly magnificent structure is composed of local limestone. It was designed to host gladiator contest and could seat up to 20,000 spectators at one time. Now, it’s used as a concert venue and is there to meet Istria’s entertainment needs.
Krka National Park
Krka National Park runs from the Croatian interior mountains all the way to the Adriatic Sea. Featuring waterfalls and gorges, the park has attracted monks and tourists alike for years. All five entrances to the park accessible by car.
Cathedral of St. Domnius
One of the best preserved ancient Roman buildings on Earth today is found in Split. This octagonal cathedral was originally built as Diocletian’s mausoleum. Diocletian was best known for persecuting the Christians. Diocletian was interred here in 311 AD, but the Christians destroyed his sarcophagus and converted his tomb into a church. A ticket to this cathedral will let you explore the baptistery, treasury and crypt.
Croatia has so much to offer. From its beautiful national parks, to the ancient Roman ruins, to the bustling city life to the delicious cuisine. While it’s not the most popular of destinations in the region, those who travel here can reap so many delightful rewards. If you intend to come here, be sure to make friends with the locals, who will surely show you around the local restaurants and sites.