Category Archives: Croatia

Things to do in Croatia, Croatian attractions and the best places to visit in Croatia.

Review of Dimensions Festival 2012 in Croatia

Here’s a review of the Dimemsions Festival 2012, from our son Simon Bryan, who you can find on beat beneath.

“Having long been skeptical about the majority of UK festivals and their lineups stuffed with indie-pop bands that were popular 7 years ago, questionable crowds, unappetising burger vans and of course the unpredictable weather, and further convinced by a great experience at Sonar Festival in Barcelona last year, the highlight of my summer musical calendar this year was the Dimensions festival which took place in Fort Punta Christo a few miles from Pula, Croatia. The announcement of the lineup exhorted in equal measures excited gasps amongst those who keenly follow and enjoy the current electronic and dance music scene, and confused looks from those who don’t and probably wondered why anyone would make the slightly inconvenient trip to an obscure location when Snow Patrol aren’t even on the bill. Headliners included Carl Craig, Nicolas Jaar, Little Dragon and Four Tet, although well over a hundred acts in total graced the nine stages, with many also committing to one of the numerous daytime boat parties which took place through the weekend. These were overwhelmingly DJs or electronic live acts – the festival was pulling no punches with its musical aims. Unlike notable dance music events such as Sonar, Exit or just about any club in Ibiza these days, the organisers of Dimensions had opted against compromising the underground, forward-thinking musical ethic by booking dubious big-name acts to headline, instead choosing to simply stuff the bill with even more quality music.

Dimensions Festival

The Mungo’s Hi Fi stage, with the Mungo’s Hi Fi DJs and MC Soom T

First things first – the location. Pula is an historic city in the Istria peninsula, and a short bus trip from Fort Punta Christo where the festival took place. It’s not the first time someone has thought of rigging up large speakers in the stone ruins – sister festival Outlook, now in its fifth year, took place the weekend before at the same site bringing a more dubstep, reggae and drum n bass flavour compared to Dimensions’ house and techno leanings. Not that either of these stylings were mutually exclusive to each festival, with Glasgow’s own Mungo’s Hi Fi keeping their infamous array of speakers on site post-Outlook to curate one of the best stages at Dimensions. Although punters did not get a chance to see the fort in daylight, it was undeniably an impressive location, with walls surrounding many of the stages and several interesting arenas being fashioned into the former military outpost’s various rooms.

Dimensions Festival

Illuminated entrance to Fort Punto Cristo

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Croatia Week on Europe a la Carte

Croatia Week will be running on Europe a la Carte from 15 – 21  January 2012. On Europe a la Carte we’ve put together 25 ideas on what to do in Croatia and city guides to Dubrovnik and Zagreb.

Krka Waterfalls

I’ve been to Croatia a couple of times; to Zadar and to the Istrian peninsula. I’d love to go back again to explore more of the country.

The Colosseum in Pula

Throughout the week I’ll be sharing our Croatian posts on things to do in Croatia on the Europe a la Carte Facebook page and in my Twitter stream using the hashtag #croatiatips.

25 Places to See in Croatia

Croatia is a fantastic European destination which has become increasingly popular after the war of the early 1990s. And with good reason, as not only has its history meant prices are lower than in western Europe (perhaps not for long if it joins the Eurozone?), but it is an amazingly scenic country with a photogenic coastline, great food and many other hidden gems.

Croatian seafood including Squid Rissotto

Over the years, many of the Europe a la Carte writers have visited Croatia and one former writer was based in Zagreb, so our archives are jam-packed with suggestions on places to see in Croatia. I’ve sorted through and here are my travel tips on 25 places to see to give you a good overall experience in Croatia – with plenty of relaxing coastal time included!

Plitvice Lakes

Starting off away from the coast, the Plitvice Lakes are not only one of the most gorgeous sites in Croatia, but one of my favourite places ever in all the world! The Plitvice Lakes National Park is in the middle of Croatia, close to the border with Bosnia & Herzegovina, and was with good reason one of the first natural sites to be put on the UNESCO World Heritage list. You can explore the lakes and waterfalls on foot via excellent pathways and small bridges and I promise you’ll break your personal record on number of photos taken in one day!

what to do in Croatia

Plitvice Lakes by Amanda Kendle

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Best of Zagreb Tips

Here’s my round up of all our travel tips on things to do in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, from our expert Neha.  It’s one of those cities that a lot of people pass through on their way to somewhere else but don’t stop to appreciate – I’m guilty of that too, having spent two or three hours there in the middle of the night while changing buses!  If you are planning a trip to Croatia, then take some time to explore Zagreb with the help of Neha’s insider tips.

Things to do Zagreb

Zagreb City Museum by neha

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Landmarks of Zagreb

The main cathedral of Zagreb, the The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary, is an impressive neo-gothic building with particularly tall spires, and you can use them to navigate your way around the town centre.

Things to do Zagreb
Zagreb’s cathedral by neha

The Croatian National Theatre is also well worth a look, and if you have any interest in opera, ballet or theatre, then check out what will be performed during your visit.

Zagreb’s Old Town is also full of intriguing architecture, including the Lotrščak Tower, which dates back to the 13th century. These days you can climb to the top of the tower for some good views over Zagreb. You should also take a look at the Stone Gate in Zagreb, the only surviving town gate from medieval times.

Things to do Zagreb
Zagreb’s stone gate by neha

You will also inevitably come across Illica, the main street of Zagreb. Look out for the cafes in between the numerous buildings; there is also plenty of convenient accommodation along this street and it’s a handy location to stay in.

Things to do Zagreb
Zagreb’s main street, Illica by neha

If you’re visiting in December, then the main city landmark becomes the Zagreb Christmas Markets, with a giant Christmas tree being erected on the main square and numerous stalls being set up to sell all kinds of Christmas fare.

Things to do Zagreb
Christmas Markets in Zagreb by neha

Museums and Galleries in Zagreb

One of the most visited museums in Zagreb is the Zagreb City Museum, housed in an old convent in the Old Town. Exhibits range from artefacts from the Iron Age through to modern models of the city of Zagreb.

Art lovers will get a lot out of this round-up of five Zagreb galleries, including the Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art and the Mestrovic Studio where famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic’s works can be found.

In the Old Town you can find the Croatian Museum of Naive Art; there were several famous Croatian artists in the naive style in the 1930s and they popularised this art form, making this museum full of the works of successful local artists.

Things to do Zagreb
Naive art by neha

Parks in Zagreb

The planners of Zagreb apparently realised the importance of parks. The largest green area in Zagreb is Maksimir Park. It includes a running track, several cafes, a new zoo and concerts during summer.

Closer to the centre, the Lenuci’s Horseshoe (or Lenucijeva Potkova) is a series of parks and squares running between the main station and the main square in the shape of a horseshoe.

Things to do Zagreb
Lenuci’s Horseshoe by neha

And finally, while not quite a park, the tree-lined Strossmayer Promenade is still very green and is also home to the Strossmarte street festival during the summer.

Zagreb Cafes

Neha recommendations for locations in which to sip a coffee include Tkalciceva in the city or slightly further afield at the artificial lakes of Jarun or the Sljeme peak (reachable by cable car).

Things to do Zagreb

Zagreb Cafe

Day Trips from Zagreb

If you want to escape winter in Zagreb, Neha recommends heading about two and a half hours away to Volosko, a small fishing village on the coast which has a reputation for warmer weather. It’s famous for its seafood restaurants so take your appetite with you!

Things to do Zagreb
Volosko by neha

One of the most obvious day trips from Zagreb is to head to the Plitvice Lakes. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and I can’t recommend it highly enough, except to say that rather than making a day trip from Zagreb to Plitvice, try to stay there for a couple of days instead.

Things to do Zagreb
Plitvice Lakes by Amanda Kendle

Neha also recommends several other day trips from Zagreb, including Samobor, Veliki Tabor and Trakoscan castles and Krapina.

Click here for the lowest prices on Zagreb hotels

Best of Dubrovnik Travel Tips

Dubrovnik in southern Croatia is easily one of my favourite European cities, because it seems to have everything I like: beautiful views of the sea, UNESCO-listed historical beauty, great food and friendly people. The city is featured in our best European cities to visit post. This collation of our tips for what to do in Dubrovnik should help you plan your trip or simply inspire you to add Dubrovnik to your list of must-see places in Europe.

Things to do Dubrovnik

View over Dubrovnik by Amanda Kendle

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Walk Dubrovnik’s Walls

The old walls of Dubrovnik are between five and eight hundred years old (they took a few hundred years to be built!) and are certainly one of the sights which give Dubrovnik so much charm. You can walk around the top of the walls in as little as an hour, but take your time and spend closer to half a day doing it if you can.

Walking around Dubrovnik walls by Amanda Kendle

Stradun – Dubrovnik’s Main Street

In the old town, exploring Stradun, the main street, will give you a good overview of Dubrovnik in a short time. Its gorgeous architecture is reason enough to take a walk here but there are also plenty of sights located in just this small area, including the Onofrio Fountain, the Sponza Palace, St Blaise Church, the Bell Tower and the Franciscan Monastery Pharmacy.

Things to do Dubrovnik

Stradun by Neha

The Rector’s Palace

One of Dubrovnik’s must-visit buildings is The Rector’s Palace. It’s a place where you can both admire the intricate architecture as well as explore various different exhibits.

Things to do Dubrovnik

Rector’s Palace by Neha

Fort Lovrijenac

For a Dubrovnik attraction which (for once) is just outside the city walls, visit Fort Lovrijenac – you’ll probably have had a good view of it from the walls, and the entry price is included in a city wall ticket, so take the extra stroll and do it! You can get even more incredible views from the towers of the Fort and you might come across some newly-weds – it’s a very popular wedding photo venue.

Things to do Dubrovnik

Fort Lovrijenac by Neha

Dubrovnik’s Morning Market

With Dubrovnik often feeling a little over-run by tourists these days, it’s great to find something that still seems like it’s really for the locals. The morning market in Dubrovnik is held on Gundulićeva Square near the Rector’s Palace and amongst the fresh produce you’ll even find some stalls selling some locally-made souvenirs.

Things to do Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Market by Neha

Dubrovnik’s Jewellery Boutiques

You’ll find many jewellery boutiques in the lanes of the old town, often run as family businesses,  where you can pick up hand made pieces at every reasonable prices.

Dubrovnik Jewellery Boutique by Neha

Day Trips from Dubrovnik

There are lots of fabulous day trips to make from Dubrovnik, and the most popular ones involve visiting some of the many islands situated nearby. Some of Neha’s island day trip suggestions include Korcula, Mljet and the group of 14 islands which make up the Elaphite Islands. You can use regular ferry services to these islands or join tour groups – take your pick – but you can guarantee a very scenic day out either way.

Things to do Dubrovnik

Sailing near Dubrovnik by Neha

Click here for the lowest prices on Dubrovnik hotels

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

What’s your dream Europe trip?

In a dream world, right now I’d ignore my emails, pack a weekend bag and skip to the airport. My dream Europe trip? If money wasn’t an issue, a little bit of this:

Sipping cocktails in a London hotel (and perhaps playing tourists for a couple of days), before getting a taxi to the airport and hopping on a plane to Northern Italy. The catching a train through the countryside. Hopping on an off trains as I see fit. Parma, Verona, Milan. Maybe visiting my ol’ friend Florence for the day. Stopping in little hotels, just because they’re pretty, trying little trattoria’s for lunch. That’ll keep me happy for about a week. Trains are so cheap in Italy that I’ll be able to keep on the move.

Europe trip

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Then hopping over to the West of Sicily on the ferry (for such a small Island there’s an awful lot that I haven’t explored), Off I go to eat arancina and drink unusual spirits. There’s plenty of exploring to be done, most of it best done by car – those little villages all need visiting (in my imaginary dream holiday, I can also drive). Seafood will definitely have to be eaten by the sea.

Then? A short flight to Croatia, to go and play on my very own private island. There are so many dotted around the place, and not at all expensive. Some for playing on for the day, some with lighthouses that your can rent out. I’ve never been to Croatia, so I’ll walk around, taking lots of photos. I’m not really a beach dweller, and get bored after an hour or so. I need some thing to do, and Croatia seems like the perfect place to keep me busy.

Europe trip

Rovinj, Croatia

Oh, what’s that? It’s nearly time to come home? I don’t really want to, so I’m going to fly back to Paris instead. I’ve been to Paris a couple of times, but the catacombs were being restored after (terrible) vandalism, and I didn’t get to go. I’ve also never been to the Sacre Coure, and despite visiting the Louvre, I want to see some of the art inside too.

Europe trip

Pyramids at the Louvre, Paris

Obviously I’ll eat all the cake too. And maybe stay at One by The Five Hotel Paris.

Oh, it really is time to come home now? Oh, that’s sad. Can I go first class on the Eurostar? Actually, it’s my Holiday, so I’m allowed on the Orient Express. That’ll do nicely for my dream Europe trip.

For more travel inspiration read the Europe a la Carte Dream European Travel Itinerary, compiled as part of the Blog’s 4th birthday celebrations.

Visiting the Main Square in Pula, Croatia

One of the most pleasant spots you’ll come across when exploring Pula attractions is the ancient core of  the town’s main square. Also known as Forum, this square has been the centre of town activity since the 1st century.

The Forum was an important religious and administrative address during the Roman era. Remnants from the time continue to be the highlight of square even today, drawing in thousands of tourists.

Back then the square housed Roman temples – of particular importance were the twin temples. One was dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva while the other was built in the honour of Augustus. The latter, luckily, continues to command just as much awe as back in the day, as it stands fully preserved.

Another important landmark is the Communal Palace. For years it has been the seat of government, run by the Romans and Venetians, and even by the current regime. As the mayoral seat, it continues to influence the town’s administrative and legislative landscape.

The ancient buildings play the perfect backdrop to the many cafes that line the square. It is also the location for many cultural events and festivities especially during the summer months. You can also go on Karen’s photo and video tour of Pula and read Jason’s Pula – The other side of Croatia.

Find the Best Prices on Pula Hotels

Click here to find the lowest prices on hotels in Pula using the HotelsCombined price comparison site, which quickly checks the prices on more than 30 popular travel sites.

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

Croatian Attraction – Bol on the island of Brac

Bol used to be a small isolated fishing village on the island of Brac in Croatia. Now it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, visited mainly for its many beaches. Given its location – flanked by mountain and sea, the town enjoy a great climate and a picturesque landscape.

The Water – Like the other stops on the Adriatic, the sea is the main point of interest in Bol too. The town is lined by pebbled beaches – the most popular being Zlatni Rat – that offer the perfect opportunity to sunbathe, swim, sail and indulge in various water based activities like windsurfing, snorkelling and scuba diving; there are a number of underwater caves and shipwrecks to explore in these parts. Rental boats and other water sport equipment are available along the beaches, as are beach chairs and a constant supply of beer.

An Art Walk – Walking along the waterfront opens up a great sea view. It also doubles up as an art walk. One of the quirky aspects of the town is that the waterfront is peppered with interesting (sometimes complex, but never boring) stone sculptures. For the art inclined, this walk leads to Bol’s Branislav Deskovic Gallery. Not only is this a historic Renaissance town house, it also houses over 250 works of art by some of the most prominent Croatian artists like Ivan Mestrovic and Edo Murtic.

Nightlife – Post sundown the party in Bol moves from the beaches to the shore. There are a number of cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs to choose from, particularly along the promenade. During the summer months when every establishment is open for business, the lively beats of pop hits can be felt all along the town, through the night and into the early morning.

The easiest way to reach Bol is on the local ferry line or via taxi boats from other high profile Croatian stops including Split.

Being on the tourist trail, Bol has a variety of accommodation options, the HotelsCombined price comparison site can help you quickly find the best deal.

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

Dubrovnik Attractions – Fort Lovrijenac

Fort Lovrijenac is a Dubrovnik landmark that isn’t located within the city walls. It can be seen from along the walls over the Pile Gate, and is one of the most photographed landmarks in the city.

The fort was built to defend the ancient kingdom against the advancing Venetian army. Its walls are 121 feet high, and overlook the water. Entry to the Fort is included within the price of the wall tours.

Dubrovnik Attractions - Fort Lovrijenac

A Different Perspective – Most tourists scale the Dubrovnik city walls for views of the city, which includes Fort Lovrijenac. But for a different angle, walk the short distance from the Pile Gate to the Fort and enjoy a fresh look at Dubrovnik’s old core. While the tower interiors are plain, the views are worth the climb.

Drama on the Adriatic – The Fort Lovrijenac is one of the most important venues during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. At this time the Fort transforms into a theatrical venue. It is best known for staging productions of Shakespeare, particularly Hamlet, in addition to other regional and internationally renowned plays.

A Stage for a Wedding – The fort doubles up as a wedding venue too. With the lapping water and towering history, it is a very romantic setting. It has an on location chapel (chapel of St. Lawrence) and its courtyard, which is also the stage for theatrical performances, hosts wedding parties. The Fort stairways too have become an iconic setting for the perfect ‘newly weds’ photograph.

Tips for Things to Do in Dubrovnik

Find more tips on things to do in the city in our Best of Dubrovnik Tips post.

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More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

Croatia in Autumn – Best Time to Visit?

Autumn, or Jensen, as it is known here, is my favourite time to travel around Croatia. I find everything, right from the colours and sights to the service better during this quieter period.

1. Cool and Red

The temperatures are known to soar during late July and August. It’s perfect if you mean to flop on a beach through your stay, but if you are planning on some sightseeing, it can get really hot and uncomfortable. Autumn on the other hand is just perfect. The heat has been watered down, and the bitter winter winds are still a few months away. The temperatures are in the low 20s and the leaves are red.

2. No More Summer Crowds

During the summer months thousand of visitors make their way to Croatia. As a result highways, hotels and beaches are permanently clogged. This makes for a pretty great party atmosphere, but if you are anything like me, you may prefer some peace and quiet and the chance to explore the place at your own pace. Come September, the crowds begin to filter out and this makes the country a whole lot roomier.

3. Cost Effective

Like most popular tourist destinations, prices along the Croatian coast tend to inflate during the peak season. At times the prices are plain ridiculous. But post September many establishments return to more acceptable off-season prices. I also find the service during this time is much better as compared to that offered by hassled, disinterested summer hires. The other thing to consider is accommodation. During the summer months, the best deals get snapped up beforehand, and in winter, many hotels and boarding facilities shut for the season. This makes autumn the best time to score a good deal without stress.

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots of tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.