What do you get when you mix villages dripping in elegant, old world charm with mountains that fall straight into intensely blue coastal waters? The Adriatic.
The breakup of Yugoslavia left in its wake six countries (Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Montenegro to the southeast, Slovenia to the northwest and Macedonia which doesn’t border Croatia but is found further south), each with a distinct history and cultural make up within Europe.
Croatia is the land in which the Croats arrived during the early part of the 7th century AD and resulted in a Kingdom for nearly two centuries. Due to proximity, Croatia would historically become a part of Austria-Hungary Empire before the World Wars would alter the nation into becoming a communist state which lasted until the 1990s. The war of independence was a violent four year period at the end of the 20th century and minor battle scars are still visible in many of the town centres. These days Croatia tours find a safe and independent country with a unique identity within Central and Southeast Europe.
Known for an incredible array of nature, densely forested mountains with pristine alpine lakes, this region beckons everyone from the adventure enthusiasts to casual countryside strollers, museum aficionados to marketplace bargain hunters and foodies who wish to indulge.
Sophisticated cities offer flavours from numerous empires, balancing an East and West feeling with noticeable impressions from older civilizations that moved within the borders such as the Roman, Greek and Ottomans. In an area suspended between the Balkans and Central Europe, culture oozes from every town.
Croatia is often considered the jewel in the Adriatic and Croatia tours focus on the stunning cities and marvelous nature. Sapphire coloured waters are broken up by picture perfect islands, while the mainland is home to charming cities with exquisite vistas.
Coastal cities such as Dubrovnik, with its marble streets, stone buildings and red tiled roofs, have seen visitors and rulers from the Ottomans, the Venetians, the Austro-Hungarians, to Napoleon's army. A walk along the city walls feels almost akin to a walk along a museum with a mass of towers and fortifications rising above the harbours and gleaming sea.
Throughout Croatia tours, one can find evidence of Roman inhabitants such as the beautifully tiled mosaics of the Euphrasian Basilica in Porec, massive gladiatorial amphitheatre in Pula, the Roman Forum in Zadar, to the enormous retirement Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian in Split.
For nearly 3.5 centuries, the Venetian empire ruled over much of Croatia and the prosperity of the empire can be felt in photogenic harbours and towns such as Hvar.
Inland from the dazzling Adriatic Sea, a diverse nature of the region really shines. From the wooded walkways that twist through the cascading waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Croatia is also home to the Dinaric Alps, which hug the coastline and stretch across from Italy to Albania. Made from mostly limestone, the jagged and craggy peaks of karst hold numerous caverns, river canyons, waterfalls and picturesque lakes.
Nestled in southeastern Europe and bordering Slovenia to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the south, Serbia and Montenegro and Hungary to the east and the shimmering waters of the Adriatic Sea to the west, Croatia is a land with a bleak history and a bright future.
Its beginnings lie in the seventh century when Croats settled in the area, but it wasn't until 1992 that the nation gained its independence. In the interim, the country that is now known as Croatia was ravaged with wars and spent a large potion of the thirteen centuries either under siege from or on the offensive against foreign armies. This trend continued up to the recent past, when in the 1990s Croatians were at odds with Serbians, though for a country with so tumultuous a history, and moreover a torrid history whose latest troubles lie in the so recent past, the Croatia of today bears little resemblance to the devastated nation that one might expect.
In actual fact, Croatia is on the verge of experiencing something of a boom in terms of tourism, as ever more people are becoming increasingly aware of the bounties the country has to offer - its natural wonder, cultural uniqueness and welcoming people.