Why you should cruise trendy Croatia in 2020
By Jenna Berndt
The waters of the Adriatic Sea sparkle in every shade of blue imaginable and the sun glints on the red roofs of Dubrovnik, as travellers wander the maze of cobbled streets. Trendy Croatia has topped many a travel list in recent years, mostly thanks to Game of Thrones fans.
But there’s much more to see than just the capital and its iconic filming sites. The best way to discover this pearl of the Adriatic? Cruising her coastline.
Here’s what awaits intrepid explorers on a Croatian cruise:
Travellers who don’t stop in Zagreb miss out on a real Croatian gem. This Medieval city, located in the country’s northwest, is characterised by grand Austro-Hungarian buildings and beautiful promenades.
Austria, Hungary and Turkey have all influenced Croatian cuisine, as have the delicious flavours of the Med, so a typical Croatian breakfast depends on what you feel like eating. Start the day at one of the outdoor tables spilling out of the pastel-painted cafes that line Tkalčićeva Street, a pedestrian-only street in Zagreb.
Opatija is another must-do on any Croatian itinerary. The town hugs the Adriatic and is easily a rival for any of Italy’s fashionable riviera towns. It’s been an elegant seaside haunt for the blue-blooded and discerning traveller since the 19th century. Take in the views from the Lungomare promenade, which winds its way along the coastline and make sure to squeeze in some time to visit the Croatian Museum of Tourism, set in a beautiful villa and gardens.
Cruise to Rab to fall in love! Sometimes referred to as the “island of love,” Rab is known for its church towers, oak forest and beautiful beaches. Visitors can join one of the local-led tours visiting the churches and monasteries, sample the famous Rab cake (a spiral-shaped cake filled with almonds and Maraschino liqueur) and seek out the murals hidden in the city’s streets.
“Interacting with the locals and opting for local-led experiences remains a key travel trend for 2020 and beyond,” says Teresa Richardson, Managing Director of The Travel Corporation in South Africa, the parent company of Trafalgar guided holidays.
“Studies have shown that 70% of travellers want to embrace local culture on their holidays, so we have included even more ‘real people and real stories’ experiences on our trips,” says Richardson, adding that these immersive local experiences are included in the new for 2020 eight-night Pearls of the Adriatic itinerary.
From Rab, cruise to Zadar, where students have sought out education since 1396, making it the country’s oldest university town. History lovers, in particular, will enjoy exploring aeons-old Zadar. Not to be missed is the Riva, the famous Sea Organ. This instrument was dreamed up by the human imagination and creates music through the waves and wind interacting with the tubes hidden underneath a set of marble steps.
Head off the beaten path, essential for sustainable travel, and stop in Croatia’s less well known, Skradin. From here, travellers can journey to a winery to sample some of Croatia’s varietals. “Skradinski Buk” is a popular viewpoint – take in the view of 17 cascading waterfalls, and cool off in the pools below.
Split is a popular spot to drop anchor. “A tour with a local specialist is the best way to find the hidden gems of the UNESCO listed city that you’d be hard-pressed to find on your own,” recommends Richardson. One such gem, which Trafalgar guests can explore with their local specialist is the Split Markets. These open-air markets are colourful and buzzing with local food, fish, flowers and produce. Follow a local to find the best stalls and treats.
A wetland delta is not what you’d expect while cruising the Adriatic, but Croatia likes to deliver a surprise or two. Amongst the sunning and swimming, be sure to stop in Metković, home to one of the last wetland deltas in Europe. Horticulturalists and bird watchers can spot the local species here.
Follow the call of Marco … Polo … to Korčula, the birthplace of the famous explorer. Explore the winding streets and alleyways of the Old Town and toast a successful day with a drink in one of the cafes, restaurants or cocktail bars.
Trust us, the best way to approach Dubrovnik is from the sea. Seeing those iconic city walls guarding the city against the sea is unforgettable. Explore the Old Town, walk the city ramparts, travel up Srđ mountain by cable car or find famous filming locations. Dubrovnik is the perfect end to a magical cruise holiday.
Soak up the last of the sun-splashed spirit of the Adriatic. We bet that after this cruising holiday, you’ll be head over heels in love with the Adriatic.
Packed with just the sort of experiences the 2020 traveller is looking for, book your Croatian cruise and get ready to discover the treasures that await.