Late Summer Escape – Croatia
Croatia is quickly becoming the latest European hotspot for a long, late summer weekend away. With its long coastlines, thousands of islands, Dinaric Alps and historic castles, Croatia encompasses all of Europe’s best features.
Croatia’s hidden capital, Zagreb, is a treasure waiting to be discovered with its deep and diverse history played out upon the streets, in the form of the finest architecture in the country. And with over 1,000 kilometres of coastline, only in Croatia will you stumble upon your own private beach.
If the cities and the seas haven’t whet your appetite, then how would you like to sample some of the finest food, drink, music and dance in Europe against the backdrop of the majestic Lake Bundek? Rujan Festival will be taking place in mid-September, and is the Mediterranean’s best kept secret.
With such a diverse landscape and rich cultures to be discovered, what are you waiting for?
To truly escape to Croatia, surround yourself in the white rustic walls and miles of green fields found at Relais and Chateaux’s Wine Hotel & Restaurant Meneghetti. This hotel offers a secluded and special get away as it holds only a handful of rustic, artisan guest rooms alongside a suntrap swimming pool. This peaceful retreat sources all ingredients for the restaurant from local producers, and produces its own wine and olive oil for a true taste of Croatia. The Wine Hotel encourages you to explore and enjoy rural life through its horse riding facilities, hiking, fishing and biking trails.
Zagreb is Croatia’s colourful capital. With a beautiful combination of pristine architecture and wide parks and squares, Zagreb is the perfect place to sit back, relax and enjoy. Sit with a coffee or a glass of wine people watching in Ban Jelacic Square, or study the eminent statues of important figures from the city’s past.
Ban Jelacic square is the main square in the city, and from there you are within walking distance of all the major attractions and shops. Of course, no European holiday is complete without visiting the local markets! Dolac Market, situated in the shade of Zagreb’s stunning cathedral is the biggest market in the city. You will find many Croatian delicacies, pastries, cakes and beverages made with care by local bakers and brewers, as well as traditional craft pieces and wares.
A short wander through Zagreb’s pleasant cobbled streets is one of its most iconic sights- St Mark’s Church. The church stands out in the city with its famous tiled roof featuring the coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia, and inside houses artworks by Ivan Mestrovic, Croatia’s most highly acclaimed artist. St Mark’s Church stands in-between Croatia’s parliamentary buildings and the presidential palace, both must-sees while visiting Zagreb.
If you are still craving more after such an illustrious walking tour of the city, then you’ll be pleased to hear that Zagreb is also called a city of museums, as there are more of them per square foot than any other city in the world.
If you’re looking for an escape to the country then the legendary Krka National Park is well worth a visit. The park stretches over 142 square km of dense forest, diverse plant life, magical waterfalls and the Krka River itself. The Skradinski Buk waterfalls, the most famous collection of waterfalls in the park, range in height by over 45 metres and fall into a luscious pool for visitors to bathe in.
Take in all the sights at Krka Park on a guided boat excursion, which allows you to explore exclusive footpaths alongside the river. Only on a boat excursion can you reach the tiny island of Visovac, which is nestled amongst the currents of the Krka River. The island has been inhabited by Franciscan monks for hundreds of years, who have preserved local artefacts and built a humbling library on the island’s shores.
Croatia has many islands off its coast, and of those which are inhabited, each has their own distinctive culture. Pag is one of the largest of these islands, with a breath taking landscape completely different to that of the mainland.
Pag is quickly becoming a premier party destination thanks to Novalja, a town to the north of the island, because of its pool of luxury open air bars and clubs. To the south of the island, you’ll find that traditional trades like lace making and cheese farms still drive the local way of life.
Pag Town, the biggest settlement on the island, boasts the best of both worlds. The town is home to respectable museums which paint an intimate portrait of life on the island, as well as the local beauty the Church of Assumption, which displays an ornate stone rose window reminiscent of the lace for which Pag is famous for. However, the historical town springs to life twice a year with a widespread carnival celebrating the Pasko kolo, a traditional Croatian folk dance, which floods the adorned streets with music.
With average flight time just over the 2 hour mark, and with a range of airports to choose from in each country, it’s easy to visit Croatia for a long late summer weekend. Enjoy!
More information: Croatian National Tourist Board