Exploring Croatia has been created to introduce tourists to the vast and awe-inspiring land of Croatia. Visiting Croatia will expose the tourist to the magnificent scenery, the unspoiled island paradises, and allow them to relive the ancient history and culture of this remarkable country. Croatia, situated on the Adriatic Sea and a part of the Balkan Peninsula, is a country of incredible beauty with a population of over four and a half million people. With its sunny climate, lush vegetation, rivers, mountains, and 1,100-mile coastline, it is an ideal vacation spot.
There are over 1,000 small islands that dot the sea along the shores of the Istrian Peninsula to Dubrovnik, only 40 of which are inhabited, but each having a history and fascination of its own. The Brijuni islands, a group of two large and 12 small islets, form a national park area. The largest of these is Veli Brijun, with over 1700 acres thick with vegetation and a habitat for zebras, camels, bison, and deer.
The largest group of islands in the Adriatic Sea, covering an area of over 193 square miles, is made up of Cres, Losinj, and 28 smaller ones. The picturesque harbor at Mali Losinj, a major tourist attraction, has a great beach and is popular for windsurfing. Cres Town is a delightful village, reflecting the Venetian influence of the past, and Susak is an unusual town on the island of the same name. Susak is an island of sand, where people speak a unique dialect and wear unusual folk costumes. One of the most popular islands, Hvar, the fourth largest, boasts of year-round sunshine and rich fields filled with the delightful aroma of lavender, rosemary, sage, marjoram, and thyme. In addition, there are the Kornati Islands, where one could stay in a cabin for a week amid the vineyards and olive groves, visit Korcula where Marco Polo was born, or see the island of Brac, where stone is a worldwide export.
Split, the second largest city in Croatia, features the Diocletian Palace, a designated UNESCO heritage site. The Palace, built around 300 A.D., is one of the most impressive of the ruins from the Roman era. Located behind the ocean promenade of Split, it occupies an area 250 yards long by 200 yards wide. Designed as a residence for the emperor, its lavish marble décor was imported from Greece and Italy. Stone columns and sphinxes were brought from Egypt, where one of which still remains outside the entrance to the Cathedral of St. Dominius. The Palace grounds are much the same as they have been for 17 centuries, but now people gather for coffee at outdoor cafes or visit the many shops along the way. Split has retained the atmosphere of medieval times, with its narrow stone streets and buildings, and the last remaining tower of a 15th century castle in the Brace Radica square.
The coast of the Istrian Peninsula is one of the most visited spots in Croatia, primarily for its beaches and historical sites. Pula, the largest of the cities and probably one of the oldest, dates back over 3,000 years ago. Here, the Roman amphitheater, built in the 1st century A.D., is the 6th largest in the world. Outdoor festivals and the summer opera are major attractions, as well as further inland where small hilltop towns, such as Groznjan and Oprtalj, are scattered throughout the tranquil countryside. Overlooking the lush fields, one can relax in the simplicity and beauty of the atmosphere. Visitors will enjoy the local Croatian specialties including the Istrian menestra or minestrone soup, the cevapcici or meatballs, and the traditional Istrian welcome pitcher, a bukaleta, of one of their famous wines.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park, another major tourist attraction, is located between the capital of Zagreb and Zadar. Covering an area of over 300 square kilometers, the valley of 16 lakes is connected by waterfalls. Within the densely wooded Park is a variety of wildlife including deer, wolves, bears, boars, and numerous species of rare birds. Ferries and footbridges cross this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site, where wooded trails, three hotels, camping sites, and two restaurants are open year round.