Hidden Treasures Croatia

By Meenakshi Shankar

Reasons why we think you should head out to Croatia for a vacation.

It’s on our destination watch – simply because the country is spilling over with gorgeous Adriatic beaches, boasts over a thousand islands, and throws in some ancient Roman ruins just for kicks. Top it with unique natural sights that hold the promise to taking your breath away…and voila – it’s a must pack and head out to destination.

An old world charm:  Founded in the 6th century BC by the Greeks, the little towns are loaded with history. But we always believe that it is the people who make the place – and in Croatia – the warm smiles greet you all the way through.

It’s the place where you can spend the morning lounging next to the crystal clear waters, lunch at one of the many  outdoor restaurants lining the promenade, and go back to watching the ridiculously huge yachts go by…soak in the local flavor as we Wanderers like to call it.

A Long Splendid Coast

Yes…the long splendid Adriatic coast is one of the reasons to explore this gorgeous land.  You could head out on a cruise along the Southern Dalmatian islands with its innumerable bays, inlets and coves which make it seem surreal.  Or simply head out to the islands – where the windy bays and channels  lure the wind surfers, quiet coves and rocks serenade the divers, or simply laze around the beach with a book….the beaches cater to just about everybody.

If you can’t find the beach of your dreams here, it probably doesn’t exist.

Behold the beauty

Explore the lush green meadows, forested mountains, lakes and rivers – the unadulterated beauty of the land beckons you. The gorgeous Plitvice Lakes – UNESCO’s List of World Natural Heritage is a must see – sixteen lakes, each at a different level, are joined in a series of cascading waterfalls. Surrounded by dense wood, it’s a rare and one of a kind beauty that captivates you.

To experience the magic of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s Old Town maintains a precarious equilibrium between Then and Now, Here and Elsewhere. And whilst you explore the layers – capture the gorgeous sights which await you – the twisting staircase above Gundulic Square, an explicit homage to the Spanish Steps; the 16th-century Baroque cathedrals abutting Renaissance palaces and medieval fortresses; and the Gradska Kavana, a café straight out of fin de siècle Vienna.

Head out on a cruise

The Adriatic cruise is a definite must do for the virgin as well as a seasoned traveler. Sailing along the  Dalmatian islands, the peace and beauty of its secluded coves and crystal clear sea – you wander through the quaint villages and drink in the local flavor – cuisine, wines and the way of life.

Listening to the Sea Organ (Zadar)

Waves move water through this organ’s undersea pipes, creating music. Add a set of white stone steps descending into the crystal water above the organ and a sky full of stars, and you have a matchless venue to enjoy the moonlight. Let the water lap at your feet, and luxuriate in the organ’s haunting sounds.
Haven for history buffs:  Diocletian’s Palace, in Split – the retirement home of a Roman Emperor is the reason the whole city exists. Today, the crumbling walls woven into the fabric of the city might seem less commanding, but coupled with the sequence of underground chambers they’re considered the greatest Roman ruins in Western Europe. Escape the street-level crowds to wander the foundations of the royal quarters before admiring the Peristyle, an open-air square flanked with colonnades and guarded by a granite sphinx.

You have walled cities instead of a wall of condos, local markets instead of souvenir shops, fresh locally caught fish instead of fast food.

Try the famous “dalmatinska pašticada” [Dalmatian stew], a meat dish that takes two days to prepare.

In Zagreb, –  steak a la Zagreb — veal stuffed with cheese and ham.

In Coastal Dalmatian dishes are Mediterranean-inspired, and rich in seafood and risotto.

In Istria, the wild truffles are deliciously divine.

Explore the caves: As a true Karst region, Croatia is full of caves. The most famous and most magical are the Modra Špilja [Blue cave] on Biševo and the Zmajeva Špilja [Dragons cave] on the island of Brač. It’s a whole new world which awaits the Wanderer.