Croatia Self Drive
With a long and beautiful coastline flanked by more than a thousand islands, Croatia has become one of Europe’s most popular coastal holiday destinations.
Croatia Self Drive
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is the country’s economic centre and also the gateway to Western Europe. The picturesque city is on the slopes of Medvednica Mountain; along the banks of the Sava River, in the north of Croatia.
The core of Zagreb consists of the Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and Donji Grad (Lower Town). The Upper Town is home to the well-preserved medieval city; known as Gradec and Kaptol, while the residential area covers the southern slopes of the Medvednica Mountains. Since the 1950s the city has grown appreciably to the south of the Sava River; as well as the main industrial area is in the southeast.
The Plitvice Lakes are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the national park that encloses them is the oldest in Southeast Europe. It is the natural beauty of the 16 green and turquoise lakes; linked by waterfalls and also surrounded by forests, that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Wooden walkways meander over, around and across the magical watery setting that was formed by mineral deposits in the water creating travertine barriers within the constantly changing limestone landscape. The lakes are split into lower and upper lakes and trails are well marked. Visitors can cover the 11 miles (18km) of walkways on foot; but the park entry ticket also includes the use of buses and ferries to cover certain sections.
The pretty city of Split has a rich history. Since ancient times it has, in various guises, served as the economic and administrative centre of the beautiful Croatian Adriatic coastal region; today called Dalmatia. The city sits mainly on a peninsula on the eastern part of the island of Ciovo, although it has nowadays spread onto the mainland and encompasses the mouth of the River Cetina. From the 5th to the 2nd century BC Greek colonists settled the mainland and adjacent islands. Later came the Romans, in particular the Emperor Diocletian, who, being of Dalmatian origin, elected to build a huge palace at a spot then called Salona, in the year 303. A town grew up around the palace and eventually, by the Middle Ages, the city of Split had begun to develop.
Diocletian’s Palace still stands in the very heart of the old part of Split; which charms visitors with its cobbled streets and classical architecture. The greater Split area is characterised by its lush vegetation and green areas; particularly Marjan Hill on the west of the peninsula with its ancient indigenous forest. The city makes an ideal base from which to explore the islands, beauty spots, and historic villages in central Dalmatia.
Known for its fine accommodation, excellent cuisine, beautiful surroundings and recreational opportunities. George Bernard Shaw is quoted as describing Dubrovnik as ‘heaven on earth’. Over the last few years, the establishment of a stable and prosperous peace in Croatia has ensured Dubrovnik is a booming travel destination once more.
The old town, dating from the 7th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enclosed by city walls built in the 13th century, the buildings represent a cross-section of medieval architectural styles and remain well preserved. Onofrio’s Fountain, situated just inside the main entrance to the old city at Pile Gate, is one of Dubrovnik’s most famous landmarks and a popular meeting place.
The centre of the old town is the Stradun; its main street, which was originally a channel separating an island from the mainland, and was filled in to join two towns into the merged city of Dubrovnik. There are numerous churches, monasteries and museums to explore; the old town boasts plenty of restaurants, bars and shops; and the coastal belt is awash with pretty marinas, coves and promenades. Most of the hotels and the best beaches are northwest of the old town; at Lapad; or in Ploce to the northeast.