With its fascinating history, stunning architecture and breathtaking natural beauty, a Croatia travel adventure is one truly versatile trip. There are world-class beaches to flop down on, Game of Thrones-style fortified towns to explore and some of Southern Europe’s most lip-smacking cuisine to get stuck into. All this, and Croatia is relatively unspoiled compared to near-neighbours like Italy. Sounds good, right?
“You will instantly fall in love with Croatia! Beautiful country, awesome people and with Contiki you can never go wrong. Made great friends, the crew on the boat was absolutely fantastic and the tour guide was fabulous. I would recommend this to anybody, whether you are travelling alone or as a couple.”
“This trip was the most amazing week of my life. Croatia is stunning, and seeing it by boat is even more incredible. The trip is the perfect mix of relaxation, nightlife, and sight-seeing, and the seafood was the best I've ever tasted. Considering going on this trip again... great for solo travelers like myself, and a fantastic way to meet people all over the world. I can't say enough about my time in Croatia!”
“Absolutely fantastic trip. The crew were so helpful, our Contiki tour rep (Kassie) was awesome, knew all the great bars to go to and even enlightened us with some history about the islands we were visiting. This tour caters for those who want to go out and party but also those who want to take it a little slower. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough. Enjoy!”
Sun worshippers, culture vultures and foodies are especially going to love Croatia. We've put together a top 5 to get you going:
Marvel at the iconic Sagrada Familla in Barcelona.
Gaudi’s majestic creation has been wowing crowds since it first began construction in 1882. Since then, multiple architects have taken up the reins on the project, some honouring Gaudi’s original designs, other’s redefining the creation completely. The multiple and varied facades of the building, plus its sheer size and majesty, make it a must do for any traveller visiting Barcelona.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Indulge in traditional Andalusian delicacies in Seville.
Seville is renowned for its gastronomic offerings, and whilst the traditional dishes may be simple to prepare, they’re bursting with fresh regional flavours. Gazpacho, Pescaito frito and Huevos a la Flamenca are all famed Andalusian specialities, or for those preferring traditional tapas, Seville has around 4,000 tapas bars to choose from – take your pick!See all trips that visit Seville
Live like a King in the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Get a glimpse of life as the other half live with a guided tour of the Royal Palace in Madrid. The largest palace in Europe, the Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, though is only used formally for state ceremonies. Gorge your eyes on the many works of art by famed Spanish painters as you delve a little deeper into Spain’s rich history.See all trips that visit Madrid
Party till dawn in the clubbing mecca of Ibiza.
Nowhere on Earth will you experience clubbing quite like Ibiza. Home to some of the world’s most infamous clubs, come and join the party as night after night revered world class DJ’s play their hearts out to adoring crowds. Get into the mood with sunset cocktails at Café Del Mar then party till sunrise at Space, DC-10 or Ibiza Rocks.See all trips that visit Ibiza
Bask in sunlight on Barceloneta Beach.
Some cities are fortunate enough to have the perfect city/beach balance, and Barcelona is one of them. Whilst Barceloneta Beach may be man-made, the water is clear and refreshing and the beach is alive with travellers and locals alike chatting, swimming and generally loving life. Spend long leisurely lunches in the surrounding cafes and restaurants, hire bikes or rollerblades or just relax in the sunshine.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Explore the Islamic inspired fortress of Alhambra.
Rising from woods of cypress and elm, the Alhambra reigns supreme on the hillside of Gibraltar. Born in the 11th Century and then further developed over the 14th and 15th century’s, the fortress holds an extensive network of lavishly decorated palaces and irrigated gardens and gives those who visit it a glimpse into the rich history of the Spanish empire and the influence both Islam and Catholicism had on the Alhambra’s design.See all trips that visit Gibraltar
1. Hideout Festival – The new kid on the block of Croatia's festival scene, Hideout boasts an unbeatable lineup of cutting edge electronic artists guaranteeing the heaviest dance floors of the summer. Its setting, on Zrce beach on Pag island, is one of the most stunning in Croatia.
For more information on the Hideout Festival, click here.
2. Soundwave, Tisno – Set in the picturesque fishing village of Tisno, Soundwave features an eclectic lineup of soul, jazz, electronica and afrobeat as well as an extensive arts program. And if that all gets a bit much, soak up a little local flavour at the Tisno International Donkey Racing Championships, which in some masterstroke of programming is on at the same time. Yes, really.
For more information on the Soundwave Festival, click here.
3. The Garden Festival – Believe it or not, sleepy Tisno is also home to The Garden Festival, a Croatian summer institution. The dance-centric line-up features big name DJs and electronic acts from around the world, but book well in advance if you want to get in on one of the legendary and not-to-be-missed boat parties.
For more information on The Garden Festival, click here.
4. INmusic Festival, Zagreb – INmusic is Croatia's largest and most eclectic festival, with a huge variety of top-level performers from around the world. Set on Youth Island on Zagreb's Jarun Lake, here you'll find some of the biggest names in rock rubbing shoulders with legendary DJs and world music stars, so it's no surprise it regularly ranks amongst Europe's best festivals. A must for your Croatia travel 2016 calendar.
For more information on INmusic, click here.
5. Dubrovnik Summer Festival – From its humble beginnings as a showcase of local talent, Dubrovnik Summer festival has grown into a world-renowned exposition of drama, ballet, orchestral music and opera. It's held in over 70 stunning venues throughout the city, with the Rector's Palace Atrium the majestic centerpiece.
For more information on Dubrovnik Summer Festival, click here.
1. Rector's Palace, Dubrovnik – Despite having been menaced by various fires, earthquakes and gunpowder explosions throughout its history, the Rector's Palace is somehow still standing. As the former administrative center of Dubrovnik, this 15th century Gothic palace has been variously rebuilt with Renaissance and Baroque finishes, and now serves as a cultural centre filled with antique furniture, Italian paintings and old coins. It also hosts concerts by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra amongst others. A cultural heavyweight, and no mistake.
For more information on the Rector's Palace, click here.
2. Archaeological Museum, Zagreb – Zagreb's Archaeological Museum is home to a whopping 450,000 artifacts that span the ages. Step back in time as you're surrounded by tombstones, Roman military equipment and ancient Egyptian treasures. After strolling through the museum, be sure to take a look at the Archaeological Park to view the remains of a well-preserved Roman city - it just might be one of the most interesting things to do in Zagreb.
For more information on the Archaeological Museum, click here.
3. Franciscan Monastery, Dubrovnik – The Franciscan order arrived in Dubrovnik in the early 13th century, and building one of the Middle Ages most impressive monasteries seems to have been the first thing on the to-do list. It’s still standing, too, and within it’s thick stone walls you’ll find the world’s third oldest pharmacy, dating from 1317, as well as an 14th century cloister.
For more information on the Franciscan Monastery, click here.
4. War Photo Limited gallery, Dubrovnik – The War Photo Limited Gallery is a very moving and powerful collection of images designed to expose 'the myth of war'. Curated by photojournalist Wade Goddard, it focuses on how war inflicts injustices on bystanders and combatants alike. There's a permanent exhibition on the wars in Yugoslavia as well as a changing cast of exhibitions on conflicts from around the world.
For more information on the War Photo Limited gallery, click here.
5. Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb – Zagreb's quirkiest museum was conceived as a dedication to failed relationships, and consists of a range of personal objects donated by ex-lovers themselves. This peculiar and hugely popular collection was originally a touring exhibit but now occupies a permanent home in Zagreb. It's open 7 days per week, and donations are welcome. After all, we’ve all been there.
For more information on the Museum of Broken Relationships, click here.
Though Croatian cuisine may lack the international reach of neighbouring Italy, it's no understatement to say that this country is an absolute powerhouse of gastronomy. The quality of produce is unmatched anywhere in the world, with wines to rival France or Spain and those long miles of sparkling Adriatic coastline yielding the freshest of fish.
Ispod peke – This traditional cooking method involves putting a few simple ingredients - generally octopus or lamb with potatoes - in a stone oven under a heavy metal lid, then covering them with embers from an open fire and allowing them to cook slowly in their own juices. Like much of the food in Croatia, it's simply scrumptious.
Best eaten at – Konoba Škojera, Ul. kralja Tomislava 22, 20240, Trpanj
Crni rižot – This Dalmatian delicacy is a seafood risotto cooked with cuttlefish, squid or octopus. A healthy measure of squid's ink gives the dish its signature black colour and intense seafood flavour.
Best eaten at – Orsan, Ul. Ivana pl. Zajca 2, 20000, Dubrovnik
Pašticada – The beef for this traditional stew is marinated in garlic and red wine for 24 hours before it's allowed anywhere near the pot, so you know it's going to be good! It's then cooked slowly with vegetables, dried plums and various spices like cloves and nutmeg for a thick and indulgent sauce.
Best eaten at – Konoba Varos, Ban Mladenova 7, Split
Brudet – This simple Istrian fish stew is a true one-pot wonder. Several types of fish are layered carefully then cooked gently with wine and tomatoes. Once it's reached simmering perfection, it's ladled generously over soft polenta.
Best eaten at – Konoba Stomorica, Stomorica 1, Zadar
Pržene lignje – This Croatian staple is as delicious as it is simple. Fresh squid is fried or grilled then served with boiled potatoes and Swiss chard, covered with garlic and olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon. If you try only one Croatian dish, make this the one!
Best eaten at – Konoba Stomorica, Stomorica 1, Zadar
Beach towel - Croatia boasts some of the world's best beaches, so be prepared to spend some serious time on the sand!
Flip-flops - Whether you're strolling between seafront bars in Hvar or browsing the markets of Rovinj, the flip-flop is the footwear item of choice here.
Sunglasses - Croatia's summer sun can be fierce, so be sure to protect those peepers!
Travel adapter - Croatia uses the standard European 2-pin plug, so don't forget your travel adapter.
Camera - You won't manage 10 paces in a town like Dubrovnik without being confronted with yet another stunning photo op. Extra SD cards are the order of the day here.