CROATIA: Once on one of Croatia’s 1,185 islands, stress melts like ice cream. Here mass-tourism is still no more than a rumour, and nightlife generally means a restaurant, followed by fresh seafood beside a harbour whitewashed with moonlight. If your priority is to forget the hurly-burly at home, Croatian islands are the last word in escapism. Catch them while you can. Croatia is now easier to visit than ever before, with more and more airlines flying to a country of dramatic rocky landscapes and dreamy crystal-clear turquoise seascapes.

The harbor of Solta island

The best time to visit Croatia is during the months of May and June and September and October, with all the tourist facilities up and running but no crowds. In contrast, the peak season of July and August sees the costal resorts extremely busy – on the plus side you get cultural events and a lively cosmopolitan nightlife.

The Islands. The main hubs for ferries to the islands are Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar. The most visited islands are trendy Hvar, with slick design hotels, and Korcula with its medieval-walled car-free old town, and Pag, hosting a string of music festivals through summer. With almost 1,000 miles of coast, all the islands, countless coves and inlets, Croatia is one of the best sailing areas in the world. The most popular stretch of sea is around the Dalmatian islands, from Dubrovnik to Zardar. For families, it’s important to choose the right spot – even children can get bored with playing around on the beach after a while.

Beyond the beach. Visiting the inland of region Istria, west part of Croatia, beaches are never far away. The amazing canyons of Paklenica are an easy drive from the central Dalmantian coast – or combine time by the sea with a week among the folk tales that fill Zagreb’s back garden.

Istria is Tuscany without the crowds and a stronghold for truffles and wines – and has the best-kept foodie secret in Europe. Fly to Pula and book a Gourmet Istria tour with top-notch chefs and time to lose yourself in the region’s timeless landscapes.

Resort beaches. All the guidebooks flood about Opatija, just 15km west of Rijeka. This town is full of character, culture and charm – a proper resort in a spectacular setting by the sea. Girdled by medieval walls, Korcula is the ideal small town. Day-trippers faint over its romantic looks, but only those who dawdle discover its secret. Hvar town is the elegant resort on Croatia’s sunniest island, Pula for antiques and Cres for rustic charm.

The New Kalamota. Formerly known as Hotel Villas Kolocep, the new Kalamota Island Resort had an overall and complete renovation. Half hour boat trip from Dubrovnik, this resort offers all inclusive accomondation, pools, leisure facilities and the beach in frot of the main building.

Dubrovnik. Don’t miss out the fairytale city of Dubrovnik; you will fall for this city by the Adriatic Sea. The old town is hilly and timeless, but it’s walk able and it’s friendly and historic with several must-see sights. Add the beaches, informal eateries and chic five-star hotels, and your holiday is made.

Croatia used to be a part of the Roman Empire – it used to be a part of everywhere, it seems. Today it’s definitely a part of the most popular holiday destinations in the Mediterranean. Mass tourism has arrived. Don’t forget September and October, when the sea is at its warmest and the pace of life shifts down from top gear to peace.

Click large photos of Croatia


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