Croatia offers a distinctive combination of culture, history, food, beaches and places to visit. The
wars that broke up the old Yugoslavia are a distant, if tragic memory, and increasing numbers of tourists are
rediscovering the delights of Croatia. The tourist season is typically Mediterranean, starting in April and extending through
to October with July and August being the busiest (and most expensive). May and September can be attractive months to
visit most years.
Croatia's idyllic Dalmatian islands, the tumbling cascades in Plitvice
National Park, the marble streets of medieval Dubrovnik and Diocletian’s amazing
Palace in Split all contribute to Croatia's soaring popularity.
According to Lonely Planet Croatia, unless you stay in hostels or go
camping, accommodation costs match those elsewhere in Europe, so it cannot be regarded as a cheap destination. In peak season,
Dubrovnik and Hvar, the most popular destinations with the most luxurious hotels are particularly expensive.
And, for some reason, car hire is also very expensive compared with EU neighbours.
However, improving air access, especially with discount airlines and using train or bus connections within the country
mean that Croatia can still be an affordable and convenient destination.
Lonely Planet's Top Ten Natural Wonders are:
- Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Istria's truffle season
- Krka National Park
- Kornati Islands
- Fresh fish and seafood
- Paklenica National Park
- Mljet Island
- The Elafiti Islands
- Cres Island
- Susak Island
In Ancient Greek times the region that became Croatia was occupied by the Illyrians. Later it was
part of the Western Roman Empire and the Dalmatian coast was a particular
favourite of the emperor Dalmatian. The Croats, essentially a Slavic people, are recognisable in the area from the
7th century. They were converted to Christianity after their conquest by Charlemagne in 800AD and their subsequent
revolt against Byzantine rule brought recognition from the papacy, and a Catholic identity thereafter.
Subsequent centuries saw Croatia under Hungarian and Venetian rule and a devastating attack from the Mongols.
Only Ragusa (Dubrnovik) retained its independence. The Ottoman Turks came close to subjugating the country which had
turned to the Austrian Habsburg empire for protection. After the Ottomans were defeated, Croatia was absorbed by the Habsburgs
and then divided between the Austrian and Hungarian administrations in the 19th century. The Austro-Hungarian empire
collapsed with the end of the First World War and Croatia became part of a new kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
in which the Serbs took the dominant role. Tensions between the nationalities were exploited by the Italians and Germans
and a vicious fascist regime took command of Croatia. This was overthrown by Tito's partisans and the end of World War II
saw a new communist Yugoslavia that survived until Tito's death and the final break-up of Yugoslavia.