CROATIA Holidays

HVAR

Hvar is the fourth largest of Croatia’s islands at 182 square miles (300 square km) in size. It is even sunnier than Brac, with almost 2,800 hours of sunshine per year. There is however enough rain to keep the island green and to maintain the beautiful fields of lavender, rosemary, sage, marjoram and thyme and the carefully cultivated vineyards. For this reason, many people remark that in the spring the island smells like a herbalist’s shop! When visiting, you must purchase some lavender oil (or lavender itself), which is the main export of the island. Local hoteliers pride themselves on consistently good weather – if there is more than four hours of rain per day, they give a reduction on your stay and if snow falls, your stay is free! The main resorts are Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Vrboska, Jelsa and Sucuraj. Island Hvar and especially Hvar town is one of the most popular destinations in the Adriatic. During the season (May to September) it can be very busy, especially during August when large numbers of Italians visit. Hvar was relatively cheap, without an extensive tourist infrastructure, and it attracted a lot of young people. However, this is changing as large five star hotels are being built and the standard of living in Croatia is rising. Imposing fortifications hover above the fluid blend of grey stone and orange cascading roofs. The remains of walls built by a long list of invaders descend towards the wide promenade edging the brilliant blue sea and the quaint fishing harbor. Marble streets reveal one of the largest squares in Dalmatia, Trg Sveti Stjepana as well as the prized Cathedral of St. Stjepan and the Renaissance theatre. Hvar Town may be the most stunning town on the island but Stari Grad, the oldest village on the island, and Jelsa, as well as a smattering of small villages, dotting the coast or nestled in the lush interior are well worth a visit. Hvar (and in particular, Hvar Town) is increasingly obtaining a reputation as something of an upmarket destination in Croatia. This is partly because it can be a little on the pricey side (everyone always exclaims how “expensive” the coffee is) compared to some other destinations, but it’s also favoured as a destination by the rich and famous (or fabulous) who sail into town on their amazing yachts. In recent years, Prince Harry (who famously fell into a pool whilst dancing at Carpe Diem Bar); Jay-Z & Beyonce (who debuted her baby bump there) and Roman Abramovich have all been spotted. There’s still plenty for those of us who don’t have a mega-yacht, though! It really is a beautiful island, and well worth a visit or a longer stay.

DUBROVNIK

The City of Dubrovnik is buzzing with life all year around. The astonishing beauty of the marble-clad Old Town is only to be found within the city walls. It is always full of people in the squares, in the small alleyways, in the cafés and in the bars. The clean beaches and the crystal-clear blue water surrounding the city walls of Dubrovnik captivate the visitor with their charm. Dubrovnik is one of the world’s most magnificent walled cities. Now a Unesco world heritage site and Croatia’s most up-market destination, it was once the capital of the wealthy sea-faring Republic of Ragusa (1358-1808). During its Golden Age in the 16th century, it had one of the largest merchant naval fleets in the world, with consulates in more than 50 foreign ports. Brave sailors, hard-bargaining merchants and shrewd diplomats, the people of Dubrovnik became extremely rich, leading sophisticated lifestyles and valuing refinement and the arts. Today, visitors come here for leisure, not to trade. The main draw is the charming pedestrian-only old town, packed with aristocratic palazzi and elegant Baroque churches, contained within sturdy medieval fortifications. Most of the top attractions are concentrated in the car-free old town, within the medieval walls. Two monumental arched gates, Pile (to the west) and Ploče (to the east), serve as entrances to the old town, and they are joined by the main thoroughfare, Stradun (aka Placa). Off each side of Stradun lies a grid of narrow alleys (some involving steep stone steps), harbouring countless cafés, restaurants and apartments to rent. Immediately east of the old town, a string of half-a-dozen luxury hotels line the coast, while 2km west of town, opposite Gruž Port, Lapad peninsular is where you’ll find the main concentration of big modern mid-range hotels, plus several beaches. Add to this the beaches, pristine sea, informal eateries serving top-notch seafood, chic five-star hotels and adventure sports facilities, and your holiday is made. Which is why celebrities such as Brian Ferry, Diego Maradona, Francis Ford Coppola and Tina Turner have recently been spotted here. Dubrovnik is steeped in stunning architecture and sculptural detail, and boasts spectacular churches, monasteries, museums, and fountains. A multitude of typical towns and excursions include: The Elaphiti Islands, the attractive town of Cavtat,the Konavle valley, Mljet Island, Korčula Island, Ston and Peljesac Peninsula. The neighbouring towns of Kotor and Perast in Montenegro or Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina also make for intrigiuing day trips.

KORCULA

The sixth largest island in Croatia, Korcula is 20 miles long and rather narrow, between 4 and 5 miles wide on average. This island is known for its dense forest and the ancient Greeks called the island Black Korcula (Kerkyra melaina) for this reason. Like a mini-Dubrovnik, Korcula town (pronounced kor-chula) is a walled town on Korcula Island near some delightful beaches. Korcula Town offers one of Croatia's most romantic views and has become a top sight for cruise lines on their way to or from Dubrovnik. After visiting Korcula town, take a look at the rest of lush Korcula Island or take an excursion to Mljet. Beach buffs can easily hop a ferry to Orebic across the Peljeski Channel and stretch out on a wide, sandy beach or explore nearby Badija Island with its Franciscan monastery. Most of Korcula Town was built in the 15th century when local men were renowned throughout the Adriatic for their stone-carving skills. Fortunately they left some of the best of their work on the distinctive facades of the town buildings. Admiring the architecture of the old town is a big attraction of Korcula, particularly the striking arrangement of walls and towers. Notice the coats of arms adorning the southern land gate and the 15th-century Large Governor's Tower and Small Governor's Tower. The centre of town is dominated by the splendid St Mark's Cathedral. The Gothic-Renaissance style is superb and the interior features a Pietà by Ivan Mestrovic, Croatia's most famous sculptor. The town museum is an interesting excursion into Korcula's history, particularly in its display of Korculan stonecarving and the Byzantine icons in the Icon Museum are worth a look. Local legend has it that Marco Polo was born in Korcula Town (don't argue with a local on this point) and you can visit the new Marco Polo museum to commemorate his life. A series of tableaux and an audio track vividly evoke the great adventurer's adventures in China including his visit to the Mongol Palace of Kublai Khan. Although the entry fee is a steep 60HRK, Chinese visitors are admitted free of charge.

ZAGREB

Zagreb is a vibrant city of around 800,000 people. The city boasts a charming medieval 'old city' with architecture and cobbled streets reminiscent of Vienna, Budapest, Prague and other Central-European capitals. In 2011 it was visited by over 700000 tourists, mainly from Austria, Germany andItaly. Enjoy the free WiFi available at the main square and around the national theater. The city is divided into three parts: the thousand-year old Gornji grad (Upper Town) which contains the Presidential Palace, the iconic St Mark’s Church, the Croatian parliament (Sabor), and museums and galleries which are all set in cobbled streets lit by gas lamps; the 19th century Donji grad (Lower Town) with its shops, restaurants, cafes, theatres and parks; and the modern post-World War II area of Novi Zagreb (‘new Zagreb’) which is full of high-rise buildings and basically has little to offer visitors. Zagreb is also called a city of museums as there are more of them per square foot than any other city in the world. But this doesn’t mean that there is nothing else for you to do if you aren’t a history buff. One of the many pleasures that the Zagrebcani (the locals) enjoy is sitting in one of the numerous cafes watching the world go by. In the evening, you can visit one of the many restaurants, sampling a delicious Croatian dish, and finish the day in the one of the bars or clubs. Whatever you choose to do, you are guaranteed to have a good time! The city of Zagreb, capital of Croatia, on the historic and political threshold between East and West, illustrates both the continental and Mediterranean spirit of the nation it spearheads. Zagreb is the cultural, scientific, economic, political and administrative centre of the Republic of Croatia, and is home to the Croatian Parliament, Government and President. Its favourable location between the Pannonian plain, the edge of the Alps and the Dinaric range has allowed it to become a crossing point for mass international communication. The façades of Zagreb’s buildings reflect the ebb and flow of history, while its streets and squares bear witness to the coming together of the many cultures that have shaped the identity of this laid-back capital. The best thing to do is when you first arrive is to take in Zagreb’s wonderful atmosphere, which, as many claim, is only surpassed by the legendary beauty of the local womenfolk.

TROYES

Troyes is the ancient capital of the Champagne-Ardennes region famous for its vineyards and the finest champagne. It lies in the heart of the Aube department in north-central France, approximately 150 km (93 miles) from Paris. The city centre is aptly shaped like the cork of a champagne bottle with a rectangular outline defined by avenues of trees and a rounded top circled by the River Seine. Troyes is located at the southern tip of the Champagne region and with narrow, cobbled streets and medieval half-timbered buildings, it is a picturesque town with a traditional French atmosphere. It is a treat for lovers of art and architecture, giving visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy the history of this remarkable city amongst some of the most beautiful countryside along the Seine. Troyes is a charming city with numerous museums, churches and medieval buildings to see including the cathedral and 9 churches. In the old quarter, closely built half-timbered wood and stone mansions surround attractive courtyards and line the narrow alleyways leading to the main square where there are many cafes and restaurants facing the fountains. Several streets are now pedestrian precincts making both shopping and cultural attractions easily accessible by foot. Serious shoppers will be delighted that there are over 100 factory outlets offering huge discounts on designer goods. Troyes has traditionally been an important fashion centre and is currently France's leading knitwear producer. It is advisable to buy a Museum Pass which enables you to visit the Abbaye St-Loup, the Hotel-Dieu-le-Comte and the Hôtel de Vauluisant's twin museums, the Musée de la Bonneterie and Musée Historique, and the Musée d'Art Moderne at a reduced rate. However Troyes' most famous museum La Maison de l'Outil and de la Pensée Ouverte is not covered by this scheme.The Cathedral of St. Pierre et St. Paul is a jewel of the Gothic style of construction and well worth a visit. Other churches of note are the St. Jean Church in Southern Troyes and St Urbain Church which is famous for its stained glass windows. The Aube's vineyards currently produce a quarter of France's champagne, and Reims and Epernay have huge wineries, but in Troyes, production has a lower profile. There are however, several tastings and special events held in the town and visits to the vineyards can be arranged through the Tourist Office. The substantial Natural Regional Park of the Forest of the Orient offers many opportunities to enjoy the countryside of the region and has many outdoor activities available, frequently linked to the lakes found in the park.

ZADAR

Welcome to the city of Zadar, a city of exceptional history and rich cultural heritage, a city of tourism. Our web site will try to offer you a complete tourist offer, from searching for an ideal accommodation, autochthonous gourmand delicacies, cultural monuments, a variety of excursion programs and numerous tourist activities that the city offers by combining the beauty of the past and all the privileges that the modern traveller demands. The particularity of the city is irresistible for those who respect and admire historical monuments and cultural heritage, artists, tourists and its citizens. Zadar is a city monument, surrounded by historical ramparts, a treasury of the archaeological and monumental riches of ancient and medieval times, Renaissance and many contemporary architectural achievements such as the first sea organs in the world. Zadar is a city where huge spaces are left for pedestrians. Using your guidebook, your walk along the cobblestone streets of the city will become a walk through history, and also an experience of the contemporary life of the city. When tired, do try to take a break in one of our restaurants, pastry shops or coffee shops that you can find in the gastro offer of this guidebook. Enjoy listening to the concerts, visit the theatre, museums, and exhibitions. The city of Zadar is an easily reached destination by land, sea and air. It has a good traffic infrastructure through which it is directly connected to other bigger cities of the Republic of Croatia: Zagreb, Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik, with extraordinary accommodation and contemporary service of numerous marinas. Whichever way you want to reach Zadar, the natural beauty of the landscape will not leave you equanimous. Experience Zadar at night. Make the effort. It's easy to wander from cocktails to dinner to after-dinner drinks to a nightclub, all within the Old Town. In recent years Zadar has undergone a startling revival. Cafes and bars are filled, museums and churches have been restored and tourists are pouring in to take advantage of the beaches, bars, restaurants and cultural offerings. Not only is Zadar one of the Adriatic's mosthistorically interesting towns but it lies within driving distance of four national parks: Plitvice Lakes, Krka Waterfalls, Paklenica and Northern Velebit, plus there are boat excursions to the Kornati Islands National Park. There are also the large islands of Pag and Dugi Otok to visit as well as an archipelago of smaller islands such as Ugljan, Pasman, Molat and Premuda.