Croatia
Croatia is a country that has endured much of late. But after more than a decade of civil and political unrest, it has once again emerged as a popular tourist destination.
It is fast becoming one of Europe's top seaside destinations. But it’s also steeped in history as is seen in the stunning walled cities of Dubrovnik, Spilt and Trogir which all overlook the clear blue waters of the Adriatic. 
Its magnificent Dalmatian coastline boasts more than 1000 islands, islets and reefs and on land its Roman ruins and picturesque medieval villages makes it a worthy rival to the Greek islands. Croatia is a superb destination for lovers of fun, sun, local colour, great food and history.
For those who are more interested in culture than sea and sun, the vibrant capital Zagreb is sited on the slopes of Medvednica Mountain along the banks of the Sava River in the northern part of Croatia. Although being modernised (with a distinct European feel) its core is the preserved medieval city, known as Gradec and Kaptol.
As well as stunning beaches and picturesque villages, Croatia is also becoming a very popular destination for the more adventurous traveller. The rugged mountain ranges of Northern Velebit National Park are a great draw for hikers and rock climbers while the Cetina Valley offers challenging white-water rafting.  If you enjoy your winter sports, Croatia is also becoming recognised as an excellent location for skiing, especially the resorts of Bjelolasica, Platak and Velika.
All in all Croatia is a European jewel just waiting to be explored. Its people are friendly and welcoming, its countryside stunning and diverse and its coastline an exquisite location for relaxation.
Croatia’s official unit of currency is the Kuna (HRK). You will find ATMs are plentiful throughout the country and banks, authorised bureaux de change, post offices or most hotels will exchange foreign currency or travellers cheques. Major credit cards are widely accepted at the main hotels and restaurants.

 

 
Dubrovnik
Introduction
Known as “the pearl of the Adriatic”, a holiday in Dubrovnik promises not only world-class views and beaches lapped by turquoise waters but also a stunning medieval centre, pedestrianised and surrounded by its original city walls (stretching 2km).  
Despite its turbulent history and especially the most recent episode, Dubrovnik has remained relatively unscathed.  Safe within its walls are numerous churches, monasteries and museums to explore. The Old Town also has plenty of restaurants, bars and shops to satisfy its many visitors.
Sited on the stunning Dalmatian coast, Dubrovnik is awash with marinas, coves and promenades. Most of the hotels and the best beaches are located north west of the old town at Lapad, as well as in Ploce to the north east.
Dubrovnik’s appeal doesn’t just stop at its magnificent beaches and breath-taking history. Visitors can also explore nearby islands such as Lokrum, Mljet or the Elaphite islands, which are only minutes away from the mainland.  
Whatever you are searching for, you are sure to find it in Dubrovnik.
See & Do
With Dubrovnik’s location on the Dalmatian coast, and its incredible history, it is hardly surprising that there is a wealth of sites to see and activities to indulge in. It would be impossible to list everything this amazing city has to offer, but here are a few highlights.
  • Gradske Zidine (city walls)
  • Placa (wide marble pedestrianised street)
  • Franjevaĉka Samostan (Franciscan Monastery)
  • Palaca Sponza (Sponza Palace)
  • Crkva Svetog Vlana (Church of St Blaise)
  • Dominikanski Samostan (Dominican Monastery)
  • Knezev Dvor (Rector’s Palace)
  • Katedrala (Cathedral)
  • Pomorski Muzej (Maritime Museum)
  • War Photo Limited
  • Onforio’s Fountain
  • Marin Drzic’s House
  • Dubrovnik Port
  • Ethnographic Museum
  • Lapad Bay Beach
  • Luža Square Clock Tower
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Pile Gate
  • Banje Beach
  • Copacabana Beach
  • The Elaphit Islands
  • Water polo
  • Jet skiing
  • Kayaking
  • Volley ball
  • Hiking
  • Climbing
  • Diving
  • Water skiing
  • Wind surfing
  • Fishing
  • Sailing
  • Horse riding
  • Paint balling
  • Bungee jumping
 
Shopping
Dubrovnik isn’t renowned for its shopping and certainly can’t compete with many of its European neighbours. Most of the shopping is concentrated within the Old City. Many of the goods that aren’t locally produced are imported and therefore will not be cheap.
The best buys are Dalmatian wine (especially from Vinoteka Dubrovnik located in Dubrovnik’s Clock Tower), rakija (spirits), olive oil and truffle products.
In the Old Town, many souvenir and gift shops line the Placa however these tend to be quite pricey. If you want to pay a bit less, go to shops down some of the side streets. If you are short of something to read, you will also find an excellent shop called Algoritam (on the Placa) that sells English books.
For a spot of vibrant colour, the Old Town is also the venue for the daily (Monday – Saturday) fruit and vegetable market on Gundulićeva Poljana (Gundulić Square). You will also find here local crafts, cheeses, dried figs and travarica (homemade rakija flavoured with herbs).
But if you crave the shopping mall experience, head for Lapad where you will find a shopping centre full of all your favourite international chain stores.
 
Food & Drink
Many of the restaurants tend to be traditional with only the odd international restaurant thrown in for good measure. The majority of the restaurants are found in the Old Town although there are several nice places to eat on the coast.
As you would expect seafood predominates however you should remember that the fresh fish is priced by the kilo therefore the price of your meal will be determined by the size of your fish. Popular dishes include salata od hobotnice (octopus salad), crni rižot (black risotto made with cuttlefish ink) and barbequed fish such as san pjero (John Dory), brancin (sea bass) and trilja (red mullet).
One thing to note, the restaurants along Prijeko (a paved alley that runs parallel to Placa) tend to be overpriced and commercialised.
Here are a few of the names you should look out for during your stay.
  • Brsalje
  • Proto
  • Jadran
  • Buffet Skola
  • Orhan
  • Konoba Sesame
  • Lokanda Peškarija
  • Mea Culpa
  • Kamenice
  • Labirint
  • Taverna Rustica
  • Rozarij
  • The Gaffe Pub
  • Pizzeria/Spaghetteria Baracuda
  • Porat
  • Poklisar
  • Chihuahua Cantina Mexicana
 
 
Entertainment
Most of the bars and clubs are found in the Old Town. Whether you just want to sit and relax and enjoy a drink whilst people watching, or party until the small hours you will find a venue to suit.
Below are just a few names to look out for.

Bars
  • Hard Jazz Café Troubadour
  • Hemingway
  • Cervantes
  • Buža I
  • Buža II
  • Pub Karaka
  • Eastwest Beach Club (Banje Beach)
Clubs
  • Labirint
  • Latino Club Fuego
  • Orlandinjo Nightclub (The Palace Hotel)
If you prefer your music a bit quieter the Dubrovnik Orchestra often plays at the atrium of the Rector’s Palace and the Dubrovnik String Quartet at St Saviour Church.
There are also several cinemas including Sloboda cinema, Lapad open air cinema and the Old Town open air cinema.
Special events and festivals run throughout the year. Here are a few that you might like to see should your trip coincide:
  • February – St Blaise’s Day
  • May – Dubrovnik International Film Festival
  • July/August – Dubrovnic Summer Festival
  • August – Karantena Festival
  • August/September – Julian Rachlin & Friends Chamber Music Festival
 
Excursions
Whilst staying in Dubrovnik you may want to take the opportunity to explore more of what the stunning Dalmatian coast has to offer. Here are just a few of the places you could visit.
·         Island of Lokrum
·         Mljet (national park)
·         Korcula Island
·         The Elaphite Islands
·         Day trip to Bosnia
·         Day trip to Montenegro
·         Split
·         Zaton
·         Trsteno
·         Ston
 
Health & Safety
The tap water in Dubrovnik is chlorinated which may cause minor stomach upsets so you are advised to drink bottled water, although tap water is fine for teeth cleaning.
Healthcare is good in the cities and UK nationals are entitled to free medical treatments on production of a UK passport. However you should still ensure you have medical insurance before travelling.
Dubrovnik is a safe city with relatively low crime rates. However you are advised to take the usual precautions with your valuables especially when in crowded areas.
 
 
Zagreb
Introduction
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia situated on the slopes of Medvednica Mountain along the banks of the Sava River, in the northern part of Croatia.
It is Croatia’s commercial hub as well as a tourist centre with a history dating back thousands of years. Rich in historical monuments, museums and galleries, it also has numerous modern shops, restaurants and sport facilities making it a city with something for everyone.   
In the centre of Zagreb is the medieval city known as Kaptol and Gradec (Gornji Grad or Upper Town).  Development in the late 19th century announced the arrival of the railways and as a consequence the construction of Donji Grad (Lower Town).
Whether you are looking for plush hotels and chic restaurants and bars or history and culture, Zagreb will not disappoint. And being only 2-3 hours from the coast, Zagreb is the perfect city break.
 
See & Do
As a city, Zagreb offers travellers numerous sights. It would be impossible to list them all, so here are just some of the highlights.
  • Trg Bana Jelačića (Ban Jelacic Square)
  • Katedrale (Cathedral)
  • Markov Trg (St Mark’s Square)
  • Sabor (Parliament)
  • Banski Dvori (Ban’s Court Palace)
  • Crkva Svetog Marka (St Mark’s Church)
  • Meštrovic Museum
  • Museum of Arts & Crafts
  • Andautonia Archaeological Park
  • Croatian History Museum
  • Croatian National Theatre
  • Museum of the City of Zagreb
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Archbishop’s Palace
  • Botanical garden
  • Dverce Mansion
  • Ethnographic Museum
  • Kaptol Sq
  • Lotrščak Tower
  • Maksimir Park
  • Medvedgrad
  • Stone Gate
  • Technical Museum
  • Trg Josip Jelačića
  • Zoo
  • Opatonvia Park
Shopping
For a real shopping treat you can’t do better than visit the colourful, vibrant and atmospheric Dolac. This market is held daily on the north side of Trg Bana Jelačića. It sells a vast array of fruits, vegetables, flowers, meat, dairy, wine, crafts and souvenirs and is a wonderful opportunity to shop with the locals.
The Old Town is full of shops selling unique souvenirs and gifts as well as local specialities, wines and clothing. But if you want to do some serious shopping Zagreb is also home to department stores (Nama and Vartek’s), chain stores, individual boutiques and several large shopping malls such as:
  • Avenue Mall
  • Branimir Centar – with cinema, bars, cafés and restaurants
  • Castello
  • Centar Kaptol – with cinema
  • City Centre One
  • Importanne Galleria
  • Importanne Centar
  • Mercatone
  • King’s Cross (with large international shops)
 
Food & Drink
Zagreb offers a range of cuisines so whatever your taste you will be guaranteed to find something to suit you. There are numerous restaurants in the city but here are a few of the best you might like to try, washed down with some local wine or a glass of rakija.
  • Boban
  • Dubravkin Put
  • Giardino
  • Paviljon
  • Pivnica Medvedgrad
  • Agava
  • Baltazar
  • Cantinetta
  • Din Don
  • Kaptolska Klet
  • Konobo Čiho
  • Nocturno
  • Okrugljak
  • Zinfadel’s Restaurant
  • Jadera
 
Entertainment
Zagreb is a city with much to offer after dark. There are many bars, clubs, cafés and casinos in which to enjoy yourself. For student orientated bars head for the street called Tkalčićeva in Gornik Grad but for a more sophisticated evening try Hemingway, Vertigo Bar or Škola.
There are also a couple of European-style beer halls attached to breweries – Pivnica Medvedgrad and K Pivovari.
But if you are looking for a club here are a few names that you should look out for.
  • Sax!
  • Gjuro II
  • Saloon
  • Aquarius & Aquarius 2
  • Boogaloo
  • No.1
  • Piranha
  • Ritz Cabaret
  • Shamballa
The city is also home to a number of casinos, so if you feel like a flutter you could try out venues such as the City Casino (The Regent Esplanade Zagreb Hotel), Casino Fortuna, Casino International and Grand Casino (Hotel Sheraton).
Various events happen throughout the year, here are a few you might like to enjoy should your visit coincide.
  • April – Zagreb Music Biennale & Croatian Open (rowing regatta)
  • May/June – Animafest
  • June/July – Zagreb Baroque Festival
  • August/September – International Puppet Festival
Excursions
During your stay, you may want to make the most of your time in Croatia and visit other nearby sights. Below are just a few of the places you may like to visit.
  • Medvednica Nature Park
  • Samobor
  • Zumberak & Samobor Nature Park
  • Trakoscan Castle
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park
  • Jarun Lake
  • Varazdin
  • Karlovac
  • Veliki Tabor Castle
  • Marija Bistrica
Health & Safety
Although the tap water in Zagreb is safe, it is heavily chlorinated which may cause minor stomach upsets so you are advised to drink bottled water.
Healthcare provision is good however you should still ensure you have medical insurance before travelling.
Zagreb is a safe city with relatively low crime rates. However you are advised to take the usual precautions with your valuables especially when in crowded areas.
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