From Sailing To Seafood: 5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Visit Croatia ASAP

Famous for its stunning, long-stretching shoreline and hundreds of islands, Croatia boasts everything you could want for a holiday, from medieval towns to gnarly national parks, secluded beaches and countless wonderful places to eat. 

No wonder Croatia has welcomed a whopping 10.3 million tourists so far this year, up 60% on last year’s numbers. If you’re keen to join them and experience all that The Land Of A Thousand Islands has to offer, then you’ve come to the right place. No, not Croatia, silly, but rather, here; from seafood to sailing, here are 5 reasons you might want to visit Croatia ASAP.

Set Your Sights On Sailing 

The Croatian Adriatic has become increasingly popular as a sailing destination in recent decades. Fuelled by the beauty of the extraordinary Dalmatian Coast, as well as its many exquisite islands, one of the best ways to see Croatia is undoubtedly by boat.

Start your cruise from the second largest city of Croatia, Spilt, and head to famous islands Hvar, Brac and Korcula, which are just a short sail away. If you are a fan of the popular television series Game of Thrones, don’t forget to sail to Dubrovnik city where the scenes of Kings Landing were filmed.

You can find luxury boats charter in Croatia that lets you rent yachts and boats of various shapes and sizes, with or without a skipper, allowing you to discover locations close to the town and some amazing islands and coves off the beaten path, too, such as Hvar, Mljet and the Elaphiti Islands. Mind if we join you?

Read: 6 reasons you need to go on a yachting holiday this summer

Wild River Kayaking

Wild river kayaking and even wilder camping in Croatia’s Velebit Nature Park? Sign us up! Not for the faint of heart, the route down the Zrmanja River is framed on either side by gorgeous forest and punctuated by rapids and waterfalls, showing visitors a very different side of Croatia compared to the more familiar images of harbours and sailing boats you’ll traditionally find in travel magazines.

In fact, there are some more sedate stretches, particularly at the beginning of the course, with no experience strictly necessary. You do need to know how to swim, though. The route concludes in the picturesque Muskovci village, where a change into dry clothes and a hearty feed awaits! 

The Seafood 

Croatia is a seafood lovers’ paradise, and there are countless remarkable places to eat on the near 1’800 kilometres of coastline here. 

A must-try is a dish of seafood à la Buzara – Buzara-style cooking is simply a Croatian method of cooking where some type of shellfish or crustacean is cooked with olive oil, wine, garlic, breadcrumbs, and fresh herbs. On our last visit we had a mix of scampi tails, mussels and sea dates, all swimming in a garlicky sauce; just fantastic.

In fact, seafood cooked simply is the backbone of the country’s cuisine. As Croatia Week explains, “Squid, or lignje as it is called in Croatia, with a side of blitva, fries or potato salad, is a popular dish among tourists visiting the coast”.

And for good reason; here at IDEAL, we think that Croatia boasts the best calamari in the world. 

Some other must try things from the sea include…

Crni rižot: You’ll find this dish on nearly every Dalmatian menu. It’s a black risotto using squid ink to give it its distinctive flavour and colouring, with pieces of squid mixed in for good measure. 

Gregada – A fish and potato stew that hails from the island of Hvar.

Kvarner scampi – Scampi from Kvarner Bay are considered the finest variety in this part of Europe.

Kamenice s Limunom – Croatian Oysters have a reputation as being some of the best in the world.

Gradele – Grilled fish done simply and confidently over flames, allowing the freshness of the product to shine. The word gradele simply refers to the metal grate used for grilling. As the fish grills, it’s anointed with olive oil, using a rosemary branch as the brush.

Salata od Hobotnice – An octopus salad that’s traditionally eaten as a starter. Interestingly, a wine cork is added to the water in which the octopus is simmered; it’s believed to help tenderise the octopus’ flesh.

Viška pogača – A savoury bread pie made of flour, olive oil, onions, and salted fish. So nourishing and so good.

IDEAL Tip: Dubrovnik is arguably the best place in Croatia for food, and one of our favourite restaurants here is Restaurant 360º.

Dubrovnik’s only Michelin starred restaurant, and one of only 10 in Croatia as a whole, seafood is their forte, with Italian influences aplenty. For more of our favourite restaurants, check out our article on 5 of the best restaurants in Dubrovnik Old Town.

Dubrovnik’s Sunsets

Due to Croatia’s mountainous landscape, it’s the perfect place to enjoy some pretty stunning views. More specifically, you can experience some of the most mesmerising sunsets known to man here.

Dubrovnik is particularly famous for its spectacular sunsets, and is home to countless places to watch them. To see perhaps the best in the city, take the cable car to Mount Srd for a bird’s eye view across the Old Town and across the Adriatic Sea. Follow this up with a glass of wine at Panorama restaurant and watch everything below become bathed in a hazy pink glow.

Or, why not check out the views at Dubrovnik’s famous (and famously hard to find) Buža bar (meaning hole-in-the wall), which is hidden under the ancient city walls. Here, you have to go through a hole in the wall to find this bar perched on the cliffside right above the sea, but the effort is worth it as the views are unparalleled. One of the most romantic ways in the world to watch the sun go down, we think. 

Visit The Home Of Croatian Wine, Hvar

Hvar, known as the Queen of the Croatian Dalmatian islands, is a three hour ferry ride from Dubrovnik, and mixes serene beauty and sophistication with a vibrant, revelrous nightlife. Could there be a more perfect mix?

Here, the local wine is exceptional. In fact, Hvar is the island of Croatian wine, with the strong sun and wind combining for ideal grape growing conditions and the production of quality wine. The island is home to the oldest Plavac Mali (an indigenous grape to the Dalmatian region) vineyard in the country, perfect for raising a glass in picture-perfect surrounds.

Hvar is equally famous for its lavender, and you can find lavender flavoured ice cream pretty much everywhere on the island, its floral and herbaceous flavour just lovely when the weather is heating up. To see the purple fields for yourself, rent a scooter and follow the island’s lavender scented trails!

And with that, we wish you bon voyage. Or, as they say in Croatia, Sretan Put!

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