When you stroll through Croatia’s leafy towns, enjoy a walk in a national park, and marvel at its sparkling emerald lakes, it’s easy to see why other countries are green with envy. With its glorious coastal cities, ancient Roman ruins, magnificent medieval architecture, and stunning natural wonders, Croatia has it all. On this Undiscovered Tour of Croatia and Slovenia, you will see what European vacationers have long tried to keep secret from the rest of the world—impressive caves and castles, spectacular waterfalls and walled cities, picture-perfect shorelines and famous film locations. Game of Thrones fans will recognize Old Town Dubrovnik as the medieval setting for the fictional city of King’s Landing, yet at the end of this dramatic vacation to Croatia, you’ll be perfectly happy with the start-to-finish storyline.
Classed as a world heritage treasure by UNESCO, Dubrovnik is a place of ancient streets lined with stone palaces, Venetian-style buildings and bell towers. The city is enclosed by stone walls, and the highlight is a leisurely walk atop these massive walls for a great view of the city and the sea. Entering Dubrovnik, you are greeted by an impressive pedestrian promenade, the Placa, which extends before you all the way to the clock tower at the other end of town. The Orlando Tower here is a favorite meeting place. Just inside the city walls near the Pile Gate is the Franciscan Monastery housing the third-oldest functioning pharmacy in Europe, operating since 1391. For a fantastic panorama of the city, take a cable car ride to the summit of the 1,340-foot Mount Srdj.
Split, the largest Croatian city on the Adriatic coast, is the heart of Dalmatia. The old town is built around the harbor on the south side of a high peninsula sheltered from the open sea by many islands. Split achieved fame when the Roman emperor Diocletian (245-313), noted for his persecution of early Christians, had his retirement palace built here from 295 to 305. Since 1945 Split has grown into a major industrial city with large apartment-block housing areas. Much of old Split remains, however, and this combined with its exuberant nature makes it one of the most fascinating cities in Europe.
This charming, inexpensive city with its relaxed pace, active cafe life and fondness for poets could be "the next Prague" with its own distinctive character. Several remaining structures show Roman and Baroque influences. The heart of the city lies on both sides of the Ljubljanica River. Over time, architects have used the Ljubljanica as an opportunity to build a handful of tasteful bridges. On one side of the river are the narrow cobblestone streets of the old town, which sits in the shadow of Ljubljana Castle. On the other side of the Ljubljanica is Tivoli castle, a graphic arts center, and the main shopping streets, lined by graceful art-nouveau buildings. The ultramodern Cultural and Congress Center, near the neo-rococo Opera House, is the setting for cultural performances. Worth seeing are the Franciscan Church and the Baroque town hall, with its monumental fountain. Hike to the top of 3,600-ft Mt. Katarina from Ljubljana. A trail begins in the suburb of Podutik before winding through spruce forests and up to a small church at the mountain's peak.
Zadar's many promenadors on the shore have a feeling they are on board the starboards of which are being laved by the waves carried by the warm zephyrus. Zadar is a town on the seaside. It is floating on the reef and closing from times a gap between itself and land, a harbor which was a pulse of its history. All the maritime and land ways led to this harbour and on their crossings the ancient marketplace was made, which became the origin of the Town, the very springwell of its life.
Opatija, this elegant tourist destination, lies at the center of the Riviera with the longest tradition of tourism in Croatia. The very attractive geographic position, enabling its warm seas to be quickly reached from many cities in Central Europe, lush green scenery and pleasant climate were some of the main reasons for its beginning and the quick development of its tourism at the end of the 19th century. Well-maintained public gardens, the illuminated 12-km-long coastal promenade known as the "Lungomare", well-kept beaches and fountains provide a stunning backdrop for the villas and hotels that cater comfortably for up to 6,000 guests.
Croatia's capital and largest city, Zagreb also was the cultural capital of the former Yugoslavia. The city boasts many museums, art galleries, orchestras and folk festivals. Today, outdoor cafes are full, dance clubs pump music into the night air and art festivals are as popular as they were before the war. Zagreb has several reminders of the Austro-Hungarian period, particularly the decorated facades and the deep yellow color of old government buildings.
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