You're strolling along white sand beaches, your toes digging into the warmth. Sunshine is sparkling off whitecaps on the crystal blue as you splash in the sea. Sometimes another cocktail? A seaside concert? Dinner at a 4-star restaurant? Wow, surely you must be vacationing along the famed Amalfi Coast in Italy, or along the luxurious French Mediterranean, or maybe even one of the tropical Hawaiian Islands, right?
You're in Croatia!
That's right – this once war-torn country that just recently won its final independence is quickly becoming known as one of the best beach vacation destinations in the world.
That's right – this once poor eastern European country hidden under years of oppression is now being revealed as the seaside gem that can not be missed for the jet set and suburban traveler alike.
With some of the most well-known world vacation beaches being overrun by crowds, exorbitant prices, and tourist traps on every corner, the time to find a new sandy retreat is unfortunately needed. Acclaimed as being more hospitable, more beautiful, and more affordable than almost any other coastal destination, Croatia offers a lot of everything for any beach lover. Let's take a look at the three best Croatian regions within which to dip your toes into the Adriatic.
If you have never been to Croatia, there is no better place to start than Istria. Located in western Croatia, Istria's coastline stretches on for miles and is dotted with numerous gorgeous beaches, bays, and quaint villages that will magically transport you to a better time. Bordering Italy, Austria, and Slovenia, Croatia is like a European smorgasbord of culture, cuisine, and cool sea breezes!
Because Istria was held by Italy before World War II, you will find colorful Italian traditions and culture around every corner. Whether you want to eat authentic Italian truffles, stay in a beautiful palazzo, or simply feel like you are in Italy for a fraction of the price, Istria the place for you.
If you want a break from sunbathing on the beach or one of the countless offshore island paradises, Istria is filled with incredible historical and cultural attractions. Whether you want to take a tour of the medieval architecture in Pazin or take in a concert in Groznjan, Istria is the place to be (and, if you do not ever want to leave, lucky for you, there's never been a better time to buy real estate in Istria either). It's hard to imagine any more romantic destination than Istria, but – believe it or not – you can find just that in nearby Dalmatia.
One of my all-time favorite regions of Croatia is the Dalmatian Coast. Located in the southern part of the country, Dalmatia is reminiscent of the most dramatic spots along the French or Italian Riviera – but without nearly as many tourists as either of these locations (or of Istria either).
The first thing you'll notice in this region is the water. It's the clearest, most sparkling blue you'll find anywhere in the world. The entire coast – all its islands, coves, and beaches – seem to glow with an enchanted feel.
Again, if you're looking for a sightseeing break, historical cities like Sibenik, Zadar, Dubrovnik, and Split, along with the nearby spectacular mountain ranges like Biokovo and Velebit, are just a hop, skip, and jump away. With its renovated national parks as well as the Krka rapids, the Kornati archipelago, and the Mljet Islands, you may just have to move here to take it all in.
After you finish your day – whether soaking in the sun or taking in the sights, you'll be happy to know that Dalmatia loves the Italian tradition of the midday siesta. So even if you become exhausted after your daily Dalmatian adventures, you can rest assured that you'll be able to take things slowly and learn what rest and relaxation really means.
In northern Croatia you'll find the Kvarner Gulf. With mild weather, exotic beaches, and amazing islands, this is one of the most popular regions along the coast – made even more enjoyable because the ideal climate makes a visit enjoyable at any time of the year.
Spilling over with quiet seaside cities and breathtaking scenery, Kvarner is the ideal place for a vacation or for peaceful living. For those seeking a more laid back trip, Kvarner was custom made for you – relaxed, easygoing, and everything at your pace.
Plus, with limitless activities to fill your day or sandy beaches where you simply lay back and relax, Kvarner has a little bit of something for everything. However, if you choose to sightsee, there is no better daytrip than the short trip across the bridge to the beautiful island Krk, or to view the one-of-a-kind architecture in the heart of Rijeka.
As you can see, Croatia – this hidden gem that's tucked away along the Adriatic Sea – is just waiting for you. Do not delay – the time to see Croatia, to tuck your toes into coastal sands, and to sip on a romantic cocktail as the sun sets over the sea is right now. Take advantage of favorable prices, small crowds, and untouched pristine coastlines that are guaranteed to be more beautiful than anything you could imagine.