Croatia has undoubtedly been one of the most popular countries for tourists to visit in 2013. We spoke to Sara, the author of expatincroatia.com and Franziska from travel agency Adria24.com, to get an introduction to this unique country.
If you were planning a 3-4 day trip around Croatia, where would you recommend as your 'must see' areas?
Sara: Drive down the Adriatic coastal road, starting in Opatija near Rijeka and ending in Dubrovnik. The road twists and turns along gorgeous beaches and turquoise waters then rises onto vaulted cliffs overlooking Croatia's endless string of islands as you journey south. Along the way, stop off in some of the seaside villages. Šibenik, Makarska, Omiš, Trogir and Ston are all worth a visit.
Franziska: I always recommended Kvarner, Dalmatia and Lika, these are very beautiful places. If I were doing a road trip, I'd suggest starting off in Slavonia, then taking the old road down to Plitvice before heading to Rastoke, Krka and finally ending up in Zadar.
Which of the islands (all 1000+ of them!) are top of your 'must see' list?
Sara: Vis is the farthest flung island in Dalmatia, and is still mostly untouched by tourism. From Vis, you can take a quick boat ride to the incredible Blue Cave. For fans of cheese (and honestly, who isn't!), Pag Island, where sheep outnumber humans, is home to some of the best sheep's cheese in the world. The sheep feast on grass and herbs, made salty from the Adriatic Sea, which gives it a very unique flavor.
Franziska: I'd recommend taking a chartered boat to the beautiful and historic Dalmatian towns and islands like Hvar, Split, Vis and Maslinica. Sailing is the best way to discover the beautiful Dalmatian coast.
Which foods must you try while you're in Croatia?
Sara: In Istria, try any of the dishes made with local black or white truffles. The pasta, risotto, omelettes and cheeses are all excellent. In Dalmatia, pašticada (a slow-cooked beef) with gnocchi is one of the most traditional dishes. Dalmatian pršut, a smoked ham like prosciutto, with freshly baked bread is a perfect lunch. Peka is lamb, veal or octopus cooked with vegetables under a bell over hot coals. In the Zagreb area, dishes are heartier. Try a pork and bean stew with a big glass of gemišt (white wine with sparkling water). Near Dubrovnik is the small seaside town of Ston, where the best oysters in the world are harvested.
Franziska: Kulen, prsut and spicy fish soup are some of the most traditional and popular dishes in the country. Typical Croatian cuisine also includes grilled fish, fried squid and seafood stews. In Dalmatia you have to try Pasticada (slabs of beef stewed in prunes) and the famous frogs' legs, which are either fried in breadcrumbs or grilled with garlic
If you had to recommend one activity to do while you're in Croatia, what would it be?
Sara: Take a boat ride from Split around the islands Brač, Šolta & Hvar during the summer. It's an experience for the bucket list.
Franziska: The Croatian inland still needs to be discovered -there are so many woods, mountains and great valleys close to rivers, just waiting to be explored! Whenever I can, I try and go mountain biking, diving and paragliding in Croatia. The scenery is amazing and it's the perfect place to just let go and take on some crazy outdoor activity that you never normally would choose!
Image Credits: Under Licence from Shutterstock:
Cold plate, sea-food salad an cakes served on table - Image Number: 125438492, Copyright owner: Ivica Drusany
Classic red tiled rooftops with Adriatic sea – Image Number: 170810963, Copyright owner: maratr
Waterfall in Krka National Park,Skradinski Buk,Croatia,Europe – Image Number: 171005462, Copyright owner: Gaspar Janos