If you are a history-hungry traveller, a must-do on a sightseeing itinerary in Croatia is a visit to one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, recognized for their historic and cultural importance. Go back in time and learn about these jaw-dropping pieces of history as we take you from north to south.
Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč
The requisite of religious architecture rises out of the charming town of Poreč on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula. A major landmark here is the 6th century Euphrasian Basilica. The complex is considered to showcase one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean region and is particularly unique in that all the basic components are preserved. The most remarkable is the intricate Byzantine mosaic art, particularly that of Mother and Child decorating the vault. Before leaving the peninsula, don’t miss a chance to taste the peninsula’s prized truffles, olive oil and Malvazija wines.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
For a scenic walk in pristine nature, take a short detour into the hinterland to visit Croatia’s only UNESCO Nature Site and the country’s largest national park.
Throughout the year, travellers from across the globe come to Croatia just to see the cascading turquoise lakes of Plitvice. In this tranquil green haven, the flowing waters have created travertine barriers coated in moss where the water runs into inter-connecting lakes and over mysterious caves. For hiking enthusiasts, there are a series of marked routes at varying lengths but if walking isn’t your thing, there is a panoramic shuttle train available too.
The Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik
“Great things comes to those who wait,” and after decades of planning and more than 100 years of construction, the magnificent Cathedral of St. James was finally finished in 1536. This remarkable example of architecture made entirely out of Brač stone is nestled just meters from the Adriatic in the Dalmatian town of Šibenik. It demonstrates extraordinary Gothic and Renaissance forms intertwined, along with design characteristics of three successive architects from three regions. Croatian architect Juraj Dalmatinac built most of the cathedral using a unique technique for the stone joints but the most striking features are the rose windows, sculpted domes, and the most impressive frieze decorated with 71 sculptured faces. To take in the cathedral as a whole, sit on the steps of Pelegrini, an award-winning restaurant serving the very best the region has to offer.
Historic City of Trogir
The ancient town of Trogir covers a little islet, which connects mainland Dalmatia with the island of Čiovo just west of Split. It is often dubbed ‘little Venice’ and for good reason, as it exudes so much romantic charm and caries an impressive history dating back 2,300 years. The town’s orthogonal street grid makes it easy to navigate to the many exceptional Renaissance and Baroque buildings and churches, its triple-naved Cathedral of St. Lawrence, and the Kamerlengo fortress. To explore Trogir from a different angle, take a kayak paddle around the island.
Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian
Dalmatia’s capital is centered within the 1,700-year-old walls of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s grand palace, one of the most magnificent examples of Roman architecture on the Adriatic coast. After many rules and conquests, more and more settlements were built within the palace and eventually the palace became the town itself and remains so today. There are many attractions within the palace, but the most viewed is the St. Duje Cathedral where a climb up the bell tower for 360-degree views is worth a sweat. Sightseeing aside, meandering through the narrow lanes to observe city life pass by is simply priceless.
Stari Grad Plain
One of the most visited destinations in Croatia is the island of Hvar, known for its glitz and glamour. While all that truly defines an ideal island getaway, Hvar also has a fascinating history, which is often overlooked by tourists. The Stari Grad Plain in the hinterland of Hvar has a 24-century agricultural tradition dating back to the Ancient Greeks and the original grid of stone walls and water collection systems remain preserved and in use today. An unforgettable way to experience the glory of this grand plain is with a 28-kilometer trek from Dol to Vrboska, the route taken during Easter Procession.
Old City of Dubrovnik
The most famed destination in Croatia is undoubtedly Dubrovnik, known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ located at the very south of Croatia’s impeccable coastline. This Venetian Gothic marvel must be experienced firsthand with a promenade on the city walls before venturing within them for a stroll down Stradun lined with 17th-century houses, Onofrio’s fountains, bell-towers, and a Franscican monastery. Discover the city from above from Srdj Mountain, from below from the jagged rocks of Buža Café, or all-around from the 360° fine dining restaurant atop a defense tower.
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