As the southern hemisphere cools down and the northern half of the globe heats up, it’s time to look for the perfect summer escape, whether you are in search of your once-a-year travel hit or a weekend getaway.
Europe is at its best this time of year, and one country where that can be enjoyed to the fullest is Croatia – where the azure water is warm, the history and culture are palpable at every turn, the locals are hospitable and almost all seem to be phenomenal cooks, and prices are low.
If those reasons are not enough for you, allow us to elaborate with eight reasons you should start sourcing flights to the Balkan paradise.
- It’s a swimmers’ dream
Inland Croatia is undeniably beautiful, but the spectacular coastline is perhaps one of the country’s most celebrated features. Croatia has exploded in popularity as a spring and summer destination over recent years and it is not hard to see why. The water is unfailingly clear, the weather is warm and the sun shines for an impressive portion of the year, making it an ideal place to spend long days lounging and swimming, and generally making your Instagram followers envious.
- Your money will stretch a long way
Croatia remains one of the countries in Europe where you do not feel as though you are buying a crepe topped with caviar rather than one slathered in Nutella when handing payment to a food vendor. Along with all the natural beauty, architectural wonders and superb weather waiting in Croatia, the cost of living and goods provides extra incentive to add the land of ćevapčići and red-and-white checks to your list.
- The weather is perfect
Some countries endure weather that must be taken into consideration when planning and booking, but Croatia offers fairly decent temperatures with springs and summers that are particularly perfect. Winter has an unsurprising tendency to make the mercury plummet, but Croatia’s southern position in Europe makes it one of the first countries to embrace the warmer weather when it does arrive, opening a bigger window for summer travel when the temperature sits comfortably in the mid-20s (Celsius).
- The cafe culture that bursts to life in spring
Spring and summer are by far the best time to visit Croatia. In the warmer months Croatians welcome the sun wholeheartedly with a thriving cafe culture that sees squares and streets come to life with chattering people, watching the world go slowly by and staying as late as they can before doing it all again the next day.
- To stand in the Red Keep
Chances are that if you are a Game of Thrones fan you were already aware that Croatia is home to one of the story’s most iconic cities: King’s Landing, played by the beautiful coastal city of Dubrovnik. With its red tiled roofs that stand in appealing contrast to the rocky coastline and sparkling Adriatic sea, and a UNESCO World Heritage Listed old town to explore, the magic of Dubrovnik is guaranteed to enchant – and not only because legend tells us it was once the home of great dragons and an Iron Throne.
- The fusion of food, varied by region
Croatia offers extraordinary variation within the country, with cuisines, landscape and culture changing as you travel away from the shimmering sea to the magnificent mountains. Always you will find meats including sausages and ham, seafood, Croatian cheeses, stews, pastas, vegetables and locally-made wine, but the specific flavour influences vary between location.
Along the coast, for example, dishes will more heavily favour Italian and Greek spices, herbs and oil – all further perfected by adding a Croatian twist.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
The stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s most iconic landscapes. With spectacular multi-cascade falls, turquoise green lakes and rivers, and lush greenery, the UNESCO World Heritage Listed park looks like it was once home to the most beautiful of J.R.R. Tolkien’s elves.
Founded in 1949, Plitvice is one of south-east Europe’s oldest national parks, and at nearly 75,000 acres is the largest in Croatia – though neither of those factors are as impressive as the scenery.
- Sail Croatia
Sailing is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the summer sunshine in Croatia, particularly amongst the tourists that flock to the seaside. You can either book a package tour or rent a sail boat yourself – or if you travel with a tour company enjoy the convenience of having your sailing adventure already arranged and ready when you arrive.
If you like to party, package tours are the most popular option amongst the younger travelling crowd keen to drink their way around the Adriatic Sea – just make sure you’re not prone to seasickness first.
Ready to dive into Croatia? Check out the tours that go there here
Author’s Bio: Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC.