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At one time, Croatia might not even have appeared on your shortlist of dream destinations. Nowadays, though, much of the country’s economy is founded on a booming tourist trade: backpackers continue to sample its chic cities and coastline, families bake in the sun-blessed oasis of Hvar, and adventurers flock to the Plitvice Lakes for a week of exploration in the mountains. So what’s stopping you? Go for the culture and festivals, the medieval settlements, the stone-built villages residing on the Adriatic coastline. The cuisine isn’t lacking, either, with everything from roasted lamb and suckling pig to Skrandinski rizot – a slow-cooked, meat-based risotto – on the menu.
Aside from the Eastern European pleasures of Zagreb and Split, the most popular Croatian destinations among visitors are undoubtedly the country’s mesmerising National Parks. With eight to choose from, each as captivating as the last, the outdoor possibilities are nigh on limitless under the Balkan sun.
Top five National Parks in Croatia
The largest National Park in Croatia – and indeed the oldest in all of Europe – is a truly bewitching example of nature at its very best. The 16 lakes themselves are intertwined within a vast forest compound populated by lynxes, wild boar, eagles and even brown bears. As inviting as the crystal waters seem, swimming is strictly prohibited within the park – though this won't stop you enjoying the incredible views, the best of which can be found by following one of many hiking trails to the summit of the craggy waterfalls.
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Named for the river which is encapsulated within its 109-square-kilometre confines, Krka is a wonderland of contrasting green and blue landscapes. The blue, naturally, is provided by the river itself, supplemented by a glittering array of waterfalls. The Skradinski Buk area alone boasts a breathtaking 17 of these features, not to mention the gloriously shimmering natural pool at the heart of it all. From here, you can also take a boat trip to Visovac, an island haven that is home to a 15th-century Augustinian monastery.
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Of the 14 islands that incorporate the Brijuni archipelago, the vast majority are accessible only to the royal, wealthy and otherwise elite of the world. As luck would have it though, the ones open to the public are more than endearing enough! A trip to the Josip Tito Museum is an excellent way to learn about the country’s Yugoslavian heritage; or going even further back, you can take in the 13th-century St Mary’s Church and the Byzantine Castrum remains.
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If rugged landscapes and heart-stopping peaks are your idea of the perfect outdoor adventure, look no further than Paklenica. A pair of awe-inspiring canyons – Velika and Mala – dominate the landscape of this northern Dalmatian terrain, forming a setting of sweeping, forested valleys and soaring mountains. As you may expect, climbing is the preferred activity here, with routes catering to all levels of experience. Of course, the greatest way to really discover the park is by doing so in your sturdiest hiking boots.
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One of the country’s smallest National Parks accounts for roughly one third of its eponymous island. Although numbers are modest, tourists are drawn here in part because of the secluded yet Mediterranean climate, the blessed beaches of Saplunara, and the charming Benedictine monastery on the isle of Melita. The warm and refreshing waters of Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero – translated as Large Lake and Small Lake, respectively – are ideal for cooling yourself off at the end of a long day in the sun.
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Holiday Rentals in Croatia
Villa Dolores, just outside Pazin town, is a spacious property ideal for large groups and families with 8 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms. This beautiful restored old stone house is completely private and peaceful. The big swimming pool and large outside...
At the end of a small traditional istrian village, surrounded only by Fields, Woods and Flowers this villa, Villa A'nika, will charm you with PEACE, PRIVACY and COSINESS within 1200m² of a gated courtyard. Completely built with STONE and WOOD, ECO...
Stancija Folo, 145 m², is the self service accommodation for 10 people, with the large garden, nicely looked after, with the open swimming pool at disposal to the guests only. 1100 m² plot is also at your disposal. Villa is next to the place Žminj...
Villa Divina is new built Villa, opening year 2014. Villa is situated near the centre of the village Marusici. It has best sea view, extra big terraces and access to different beaches in 70 m distance to the water.
Every room has it own 6 m2 and ...
Villa Solis is newly bulit waterforn property with luxury equipment and big terraces overlooking the sea. As a special offer we would like to mention Indoor/Outdoor Pool.
Villa is situated in the peaceful village of Marusici and just 30 m away fr...