Friday, 4 May 2018

Islands, cities and lakes: the incredible variety of Croatia

The more I travel the more I realize that I really enjoy variety in my trips. If I visit a new country, I tend to plan a visit to a couple of quaint small towns and to at least a natural wonder, or a day of culture-filled sightseeing and then a more relaxing day with some beautiful scenery as a backdrop. 

Of all the countries that I have been to, one that has a lot of variety is certainly Croatia. It has quiet islands and lively cities, history and natural beauty, gorgeous seaside towns and some of the best national parks in Europe. In other words, it is impossible to get bored.  Here's three examples of the diversity that you can find in Croatia. 


Korčula



Some people consider Korčula to be the most beautiful island in Croatia. Its cobbled streets and quaint little squares make it perfect for a day of slow explorationI went there by ferry from Hvar for 90 kn (around 12€), leaving without hurrying in the middle of the morning and going back in the evening.



The laundry in Korcula

What I liked about Korčula is that I didn't have to run around trying to see all the sights: I could just relax and enjoy the beauty of the islandFor as much as I loved Hvar, it felt at times too party-oriented, touristic and glitzy. Korcula is quite another world: the old town has many hidden quiet corners and you just need to walk in any direction to enjoy some beautiful views that are not spoilt by too many tourists. Even though Korčula is definitely on the beaten path, I find it a nice alternative to more busy islands. The food was inexpensive, 


Street in Korcula
One thing that surprised me is that Korčula claims to be the real hometown of Marco Polo, one of the most famous explorers in history. This is why everything on the island bears his name: restaurants, hotels and even a house-museum. This is curious and a bit strange, because most sources consider him Venetian by birth. The connection is that Korčula, like other towns on the coast of Croatia, used to be part of the Serenissima, the republic of Venice.


Marco Polo crazyness in Korcula


Zadar



Zadar receives fewer tourists than Dubrovnik, Split or Pula, but it's a pleasant town to spend one or two days. It looks remarkably like other towns on the Adriatic coast of Northern Italy, for example Grado or Caorle, with a nice historic center full of old churches and a long promenade by the sea.



The historical centre of Zadar



Zadar is famous for its sea organ, an art installation which works with the motion of the sea to produce music. It is a popular place to stroll at sunset time or in the evening. When the sun has set you can enjoiy the Greeting to the Sun, a system of solar panels on the ground that result in a light display.



Sunset in Zadar



Zadar also has remarkable Roman ruins and you can literally sit around centuries-old stones and broken columns. The sqaure in front of the main church - St. Donatus - is in fact the ancient Roman forum. I liked how the ancient and new mingle in Zadar: the many churches with its white marbles, but also the modern shops and ice-cream shops.



Old Stones in Zadar



Plitvice Lakes


How can you say to really know Croatia without going anywhere inland? If you could go to only one place in the interior, I'd suggest that you visist one of the national parks.


Waterfalls in Plitvice


Plitvice Lakes is a convenient day trip from Zadar or a stop from Zadar to Zagreb if you plan to visit the capital city as well. The easiest thing to do is to join a group tour, which will basically drive you to the entrance of the park and back. This means you don't need to study bus timetables and you can focus on other things, like the stunning nature. 

Plitvice is a national park with a system of sixteen lakes connected by wooden foot-walks, with countless waterfalls. All the time you'll be walking among dense woodland. The animals in the park - ducks, butterflies, dragonflies and of course fish - make the visit more pleasant. 





The intense green of the nature and the pristine waters of the lakes and waterfalls are stunning. I was a bit unlucky because it started to rain while I was visiting the park, but this did not completely spoil my experience of the park. 


Plitvice Lakes has an entry fee which varies depending on the time of the year - when I was there in June it was 100 kunas (15€), but it could cost you up to 180 kunas in the summer months of July and August!

No comments:

Post a Comment

01 09 10