Croatia has been a popular destination for Europeans for years, but North Americans are only beginning to recognize the jewel of the Adriatic. The medieval cities, natural beauty and low prices make the small coastal country ideal for travellers of all types, but for couples there are some special places that need to be on your itinerary. Every visit should include Dubrovnik, but don’t miss out on these other stunning places to visit.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
The oldest national park in Southeast Europe, Plitvice is tucked into the karst area and features 16 surface lakes arranged as a series of cascades. All the lakes are interconnected and separated by dams of travertine over which the water flows. Although the location and mix of bare rock and lush vegetation are very picturesque, the most striking thing about the lakes is there distinctive colouring ranging from deep green to bright blue. The mineral content, algal blooms and even the angle of sunlight produce different depths of color and two adjacent lakes may appear completely different in colour.
Take a gentle hike through the marked trails and visit the waterfalls that feed the lakes. Explore the small side trails that take you to caves and tunnels that are hidden in the hills around the waterways. End your day on the electric ferry that takes you across Lake Kozjak and back to the small hotel just outside the park.
Krka National Park
In central Dalmatia the Krka River runs through an incredibly diverse region filled with more than 800 different plant species. Patches of reeds, swampland and saltwater influxes occur along the length of the Krka creating a variety of habitats for fish, birds and reptiles. There are even Roman ruins here if you get tired of wildlife.
Visit the Skradinski Buk near the end of the river to see one of the prettiest calcium carbonate falls on the continent. The vegetation, mineral concentrations and whirlpools make for an incredible show almost any time of the year. Roski Slap is another picturesque series of falls and these are easily reached through a romantic boat ride. If you don’t mind risking a little spray, several trails will take you close to the falls for a different perspective.
A small island in the Adriatic Sea, it’s also densely populated and utterly charming. With three towns and 10 villages, there is plenty of easy town-hopping connected by rich green parks, forests and vineyards. The island is reached only by boat – a romantic start to any adventure – and the town of Korčula is the perfect place to walk around.
Korčula is a walled city that was once a Venetian arsenal. Portions of the fort remain and the buildings are all Venetian Renaissance. It sits on a promontory that is surrounded on three sides by water and the Cathedral of St. Mark has an incredible view and the peaceful Franciscan monastery still retains the Venetian-Gothic cloister. The mix of Italian/Croatian history has created a unique Mediterranean culture that is different from both countries.
Beautiful beaches and green hills await you on this archipelago a few km away from Dubrovnik. The main islands can be reached by ferry but the smaller, uninhabited islets may require a private boat to get to.
Kolocep is the smallest inhabited island and despite having a population of less than 300, there are seven pre-Romanesque churches here. Visit this island if you love to wander through history.
Lopud is a bit touristy but most are day-trippers from the mainland. Stay overnight at the hotel and you’ll have the glittering white beaches all to yourselves in the evenings. Watch the sunset over the Adriatic Sea and couples in the farthest ends of the friend zone can’t help but fall in love.
The islets have no permanent population but they are fun to explore and wander the beaches. Bring a picnic and arrange to have the boat pick you up after a day alone enjoying the sun and sea.
Reaching from Zagreb to the Slovenian border, the area is filled with fun things to visit and is almost a vacation-within-a-vacation spot. The town of Krapina is fun to explore and makes an excellent home base. Stay here while you visit the wineries and vineyards, tramp through medieval castles perched on hillsides, soak in the hot springs and hike through the hills.
Trakošćan Castle dates from the 13th century and is extremely well preserved. Visit this fairy tale castle with your sweetie and don’t forget to spend a few minutes on the balconies overlooking the entire valley below you.