Croatia (Croatian: Hrvatska) is a country at the crossroads of Southeast Europe, Central Europe and the Mediterranean. Croatia is one of the most popular European destinations because it’s known for its beautiful coastline and more than a thousand islands. Five countries border on Croatia, namely, Slovenia and Hungary to the north, Montenegro to the south, Serbia to the east and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the south-east.
Croatia covers around 56.500 square kilometers and has a population of 4.28 million, most of whom are Croats (90%), with the most common religious denomination being Roman Catholicism. With a population of 792.875, Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of Croatia. The highest peak in Croatia with 1831 meters is Dinara (Sinjal). Croatia is also a member of the United nations, NATO (since 2009) and European Union (since 2013).
The first Croats arrived in this area in the early 7th century. They created two duchies in the 9th century and became a kingdom in 925. The next two centuries, the kingdom of Croatia retained its sovereignty. In 1102 they united with Hungary and in 1527 elected the house of Habsburg to the throne. Habsburgs ruled until late 19th century. After WWI the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs has seceded from Austria-Hungary and renamed into Kingdom of Yugoslavia. During the WWII a fascist puppet state of Croatia was created and backed by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. After the WWII the SFR Yugoslavia was formed. And in 1991 Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia, following a four-year Croatian War of Independence against Yugoslav People’s Army,
Croatian flag and Coat of arms
How to get to Croatia
By car – By car, you may enter Croatia from all neighbour countries at border crossings. In 2011 Croatian had completed over 1100 kilometres (680 miles) of motorways and highways that connect Zagreb to most regions and big cities in the country. Two busiest and also the longest motorways are the A1 (Zagreb-Split-Dubrovnik) and A3 (Slovenia-Zagreb-Vukovar-Serbia).
Speed limits: Motorways 130 km/h, dual carriageway 110 km/h, outside a built up areas 90 km/h and in built up areas 50 km/h. More traffic regulations.
By bus or train – As with a car, you can enter Croatia by bus or train through all neighbouring countries. Buses and trains drive daily to Croatia from many European destinations, so you can check timetables to find your train or bus. For timetables, routes and other information, you should visit BusCroatia and Croatian railways (Hrvatske željeznice).
By plane – In Croatia, we can find nine international airports: Franjo Tuđman Airport, Split Airport, Rijeka Airport, Osijek Airport, Zadar Airport, Dubrovnik Airport, Pula Airport, Bol Airport and Lošinj Airport. The main and the biggest airport is Franjo Tuđman Airport located in Zagreb. Currently flying to Croatia are the following low-cost airlines: Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizz Air, Norwegian, Jet2, Germanwings, TUIfly, flydubai… Of course you can fly with major established companies like Croatia airlines, Air France, Aeroflot, Lufthansa, KLM, etc.
By ship or boat – In Croatia, you have thousands of ways to travel on water. You can use some fast boats from Italy and Slovenia. If travelling with large cruise ships, you will probably dock at Split, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Pula or Dugi Rat passenger ports. There is a large number of local ferry connections to 66 inhabited islands. Sailors can dock sailboats and other boats in marinas in almost all coastal cities and towns. And if traveling on river Danube from Hungary or Serbia, than you can dock in Vukovar (largest river port in Croatia).
Top 10 things to see in Croatia
During the Middle Ages, Dubrovnik (also known as Ragusa) was a wealthy and successful Maritime Republic and was the only city-state to rival Venice in the eastern Adriatic. Today it’s the most visited tourist destinations in Croatia, known for its rich history, walls that surround the city, unique architecture and natural beauty. In 1979, Dubrovnik was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
2. Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is the biggest national park in Croatia and one of the oldest parks in SouthEast Europe. In year 1979, this national park was added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage. Plitvice lakes consisting of 16 crystalline lakes that tumble into each other over a series of cascades and waterfalls. Over 1 million tourists visit Plitvice Lakes National Park each year to walk over 18km of wooden footbridges and pathways.
3. Pula Arena
The Pula Arena is the name for this beautiful Roman amphitheatre located in Pula. Arena was built around 27 BC to 68 AD and is the only remaining amphitheater that has four side towers. Today Arena is among the largest six amphitheatres in the World. Arena impresses with its preservation and for Croatia, it’s the best preserved ancient monument and for sure it’s worth sightseeing this Roman beauty.
Split is the center of the region Dalmatia and also the second largest city in Croatia. Over 2400 years ago (4th century BC), Split was founded as the Greek colony of Aspálathos and is now known as one of the oldest cities in this part of Europe. Split is offering a lot of cultural and architectural history. For example: Palace of Diocletian (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979), ancient city od Salona, Cathedral of Saint Domnius…
5. Krka national park
Krka national park is located in central Dalmatia and is one of many Croatian national parks. Park is named after the river Krka that runs through the park. Krka national park was proclaimed as a national park in 1985 and is mostly used for tourists, cultural, scientific and educational purposes.
Zagreb is the largest and the capital city of Croatia with a population of 792.875 inhabitants (Metropolitan area 1.113.111). Zagreb has a rich history, starting in Roman times as a city known by name Andautonia. Name Zagreb was mentioned for the first time in 1094 and inn 1945, Zagreb was named as the capital of Croatia. Zagreb is particularly known for its rich architecture (St. Mark’s Square, National Theatre, State Archives, Art Pavilion…).
Trogir is a historic city on the Adriatic coast near Split. Interesting feature of Trogir is that the old city center is built on a small island that connects Croatian mainland and the island of Čiovo. In 2016, National Geographic declared Trogir as the most beautiful island city in the world. In 1997 Trogir was also listed on UNESCO list of World Heritage.
8. Brijuni national park
Brijuni national park consists of fourteen small and green islands. Brijuni are famous for their scenic beauty and are registered as a protected Natural Value of the Republic of Croatia. The islands are mostly used as a holiday resort and for playing golf (On the island of Veliki Brijun you can find a golf court with 18 holes).
Rovinj (Italian: Rovigno) is a beautiful coastal city on the Istrian peninsula in north Adriatic. Rovinj is officially bilingual (Croatian and Italian) and is a popular location for tourist from whole Europe and one of the biggest fishing ports in this area.
10. Kornati national park
Kornati islands national park is an sea area of about 320 square kilometres with a length of 35 kilometers and a total of 140 islands. Kornati islands are located in the north Dalmatia near Zadar and Šibenik. They are the densest archipelago in the Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea. This national park is also protected as a Natural Value of Croatia.