Why Croatia should be at the top of your bucket list

It’s not mainstream yet – well, not really

Croatia has an incredibly fast growing tourism industry, welcoming over 14 million tourists a year. And it’s for good reason. While it may not be as popular a destination as Spain or France, it’s still got a huge amount to offer.

Right now it’s at that perfect middle stage where it’s a well-established tourist destination, but still cheap and not overcrowded. So you may as well go now before it becomes as mainstream as Mallorca and as expensive as Paris.

Here are all the reasons you need to go to Croatia right now.

It has more culture than you imagined

Croatia is full of vibrant culture and history. Walking through the streets of Split or Pula is like walking through ancient Rome. Both cities are scattered with Roman ruins, whether it’s the Diocletian’s Palace or the Triumphal Arch of the Sergi.

It’s crazy cheap

Well it is compared to your usual European destinations but not if you compare it to Asia or South America. But overall, you’ll be surprised at how cheap the accommodation, food and activities are. For a more than decent four star hotel you only have to pay around £30 a night, and for your dinner, don’t expect to pay more than £8 for your share of the bill. That’s including your pint of Tomislav.

It’s not overcrowded or mainstream

Although it receives thousands of visitors, Croatia, compared to Spain, Portugal or France, is much less touristy – so you better go now. The best times are in June before peak season and before it gets unbearably hot. A good 26°C will do for a nice tan and minimal sweating.

They have good grub

I’m a vegetarian, but the mmmming of my friends when they were eating their seafood dishes was enough to tell me that the food was good. If you’re going to Split, try going to Bokeria for dinner one night. It has a great lively atmosphere and amazing food.

But if you are a vegetarian fear not; there are always veggie options at any restaurant you go to.

There’s a great range of watersports

There are heaps of fun water activities you can do, the list is endless. Try tubing, although beware of the whiplash, or have some fun on the Wibit. Or if you want something more adventurous you can go jet skiing in Brac.

You can also go rafting from Split, which is perfect if you’re afraid of water because the river is only around two feet deep. And if you’re tired from manning your oar, don’t worry because river guide Tony has got it covered at the back.

Everyone speaks English

I know the Brits have a reputation of being awful linguists, but why bother trying when everyone in Croatia speaks English anyway? It’s not like you’ll have time to take an intensive Croatian language course before you go there.

Best thing is if you get lost or need any kind of information or help, you can be at ease knowing that everyone has excellent English. And there’s no need to be a twat and use your ‘foreign’ accent. But if you want to know some Croatian words, all I know is ‘vod’ means water. I was thirsty.

And they’re all super friendly

You may find the occasional creep, but they’re probably tourists just like you. On the whole everyone Croatian is extremely friendly, warm and happy. They have no reason not to be really, they live in a beautiful place.

The stunning beaches

Some of the beaches in Croatia are among the best in the world. Try Zlatni Rat on the Island of Brac. I know it has an ugly name but it’s the most stunning beach I’ve been to. The beaches aren’t composed of your standard sand, but rather of small, smooth pebbles. But that’s actually better because it means you don’t get sandy camel toe.

There are loads of Islands you can visit

If you’re staying in Split or Dubrovnik, there are ferries every day going to other untouched islands in the Adriatic sea. Check out Hvar, Vis and Brac if you want something more mainstream, or try Mljet or Brijuni to be more in touch with nature.

Be warned though – the ferry won’t wait for you, even if you’re running to it as fast as you can while your friend is on it alone at the top.

It’s like Rome but better

If you go to Pula, you’ll feel like you’re in Rome only without the crowds, humidity and ridiculous traffic. Plus you won’t be charged ten euros for a coffee for being a tourist. The Colosseum is great and all but in Pula you can find the Pula Arena, one of the six largest surviving Roman amphitheatres in the world.

Unlike the Colosseum, there are no queues, and tickets are only around £3 for students. It’s even a concert and festival venue, and last September Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour played in concert there. Croatia also has amazing gelato for around 80p for a two-scoop cup, and it’s no different to Rome’s £3.50 version.

The dinosaur prints and national parks

These are real btw

If you enjoyed the Lake District and Lake Windermere, you’re gonna love the National Parks in Croatia. If you’re staying in Split, go to Krka or Plitvice, and if you’re in Pula, go to Brijuni.

In Krka and Plitvice, you’ll find stunning scenery, and waterfalls and natural pools that you can swim in. In Brijuni, you’ll be stunned by the tranquility, and the fact that there are over 200 real, untouched dinosaur prints dotting the island. There’s also an open air zoo where the animals are free to run around.

Krka National Park

You can get to Venice by bus

If you get bored (unlikely) and fancy a mini trip in the middle of your Croatia trip, you can get to Venice by bus. There are coaches going from Pula to Venice and vice versa every day and they only cost around £14 each way. (If you want to take a ferry it can get as pricey as £100 each way).

The journey is around five hours long, which may sound like a lot but it’s pretty scenic and takes you through Trieste and it’s equally beautiful coastline.