Croatia is a country which hugs the coastline, meaning that many of the cities here offer both culture and seafront relaxation. It’s something of a winning combination with cities like Dubrovnik and Split drawing in thousands of tourists each year. However, these aren’t the only Croatian cities which should be added to your bucket list – sample the delights of Zadar and Trogir on a road trip or while away a weekend in the capital, Zagreb.
Game of Throne fans will recognise the walled city of Dubrovnik, and the picturesque island of Lokrum which doubles as the city of Qarth in the HBO series. There are guided tours to show excited fans parts of the city where filming took place. Don’t fear if that’s not your scene, there are plenty of other reasons to visit this pretty city. Spend an afternoon walking the 1,940 metres of wall of this ancient walled city. From the top there’s gorgeous views out over the bay, and an almost complete view of the whole city.
Those looking to dance the night away will not be disappointed with Revelin which has a vibe that is equal parts glamour, cheese and hilarity. Those looking to relax for a day or two should head to the Banje Beach Club for cocktails by turquoise waters or Sveti Jakov beach which is slightly further out, but much quieter.
The city of Split is renowned for the sprawling Roman palace at its core – the Diocletian’s Palace makes up over half of the old town, and as such, is hard to miss. The basement has been excavated and you can buy tickets to wander around this historical building. Activity loving holidaymakers will enjoy hiking up to the peak of Marjan, the green forested hill just outside of the city centre. There are a number of benches at the top to allow you to drink in the gorgeous views of the old town and sea beyond. The Croatian National Theatre is located in a grand canary yellow building in Split, and its stage is often traversed by opera singers and ballet dancers, meaning that the productions are accessible for all. If you need any more reason to visit, the Ultra Europe festival comes to town from the 15th – 17th July bringing with it music from David Guetta, Afrojack and Carl Cox.
Despite being the capital city of Croatia, Zagreb, is often overlooked. However, you shouldn’t forget about this thriving city inland – it has plenty to entertain a weekend traveller. There are botanical gardens to wander through, art galleries to peruse and a love of live music that will have you dancing for hours on end. The inMusic Festival takes place in Zagreb from the 20th – 22nd June 2016, and has an absolutely stellar line up. Should you secure a ticket, you can look forward to performances from Florence and the Machine, P J Harvery, the Kooks and The Coral. Set upon the Jarun Lake this festival marries pretty surroundings with wanton hedonism. Even when the festival’s not in town, the lake is a great place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle with clear, sparkling waters to swim in and banks upon which to read a book.
Trogir, like many of its Croatian counterparts, is endowed with an impressive array of historical buildings. This pretty coastal town’s city centre was awarded UNESCO status as a World Heritage Site in 1997, hinting at just how much there is to see. No trip here would be complete without a tour of the Venetian Cathedral of St. Lovro – the building is replete with intricate carvings and inside there are medieval manuscripts, biblical paintings and detailed tile works to be discovered. Alternatively, there are three palaces to be explored – the Ćipiko Palace, Lučić Palace and Berislavic Palace all hold significance; in their time they housed some of Croatia’s most famous figures. When you’re all tired out from all that sightseeing head down to the Obala Bana Berislavića where you can dine al fresco with a palace behind you, and the sea ahead.
There is a youthful energy to Zadar which is reflected in the bars and restaurants which reside here. We recommend spending a morning strolling alongside the sea front where the architectural works of Nikola Bašić will provide a light and sound spectacle for you. The sea organ is a series of steps cut in to the wall. There are strategic holes cut in to the steps which, when the water rushes in, creates a melodic sound. The Greeting to the Sun installation similarly uses solar power to create an impressive light display best enjoyed at sunset. There are a number of festivals in the nearby Petrcane but to dance the night away in Zadar itself head to the open-air bar The Garden which offers a chilled atmosphere with international DJs and a gorgeous view out to sea.
Rovinj, in the north of Croatia, offers a whole host of experiences to its visitors. In order to enjoy the city to the fullest we recommend hiring a bike and cycling out along the coastal road and into the wooded national park nearby. Keen divers will love the opportunity to explore an authentic boat wreck at the Baron Gautsch, often referred to as the Titanic of the Adriatic. Those who like their holiday to be a more sedate affair should peruse the church of St Euphemia, and enjoy the views that this hilltop location affords. For a romantic seaside dinner setting, head to La Puntulina which has a few intimate tables right on the waterfront.
Hvar Town on the island of Hvar sure knows how to throw a good party. While your days should be spent swimming in crystal clear waters in the bay of Dubovica or getting snap happy at the Hvar Cathedral, no trip here would be complete without evenings filled with cocktails. There’s something for all tastes from the gritty rock chic of Kiva Bar which is loved by backpackers, to the glamour of Zori or the incredible sunsets at Hula Hula. However, there is one club to rule them all and that is Carpe Diem. This bar on the harbour has a VIP area frequented by celebrities. But it’s also the launch point for the boats that transport revellers across to its own island replete with swimming pools, world-class DJs and energetic dancers. It’s one night out that you will never forget!