The vast landscapes of stunning Croatia are spread across a myriad of regions with each their own story to tell however, most commonly, Croatia can be divided into three main regions; Istria, Slavonia, and Dalmatia. This spectacular trio defines Croatia’s beauty and impressive story in a nutshell… so let’s find out what each region is all about!
Perched out into the sea at the very north of the Croatian Adriatic lies the Istrian Peninsula, often referred to as little Tuscany, or Italy-but-better. This little country within a country is characterized by its rolling hills dotted with Malvazija Istarska vineyards and olive groves, villa rusticas, dark truffle forests, ancient towns, and bilingual Italian-Croatian street signs. Istria’s soil trio – red, gray, and white – provide nutrients to the most flavorsome products that nature can offer, making Istria a gastronomic paradise. The deep Motovun Forest hides some of the world’s most prized truffles, an obligatory addition to any Istrian dish, as well as chestnut trees, and asparagus in the millions. Coastal towns such as Rovinj (Rovigno) scream with Venetian charm with crammed stone houses, winding lanes, cliff homes, bitinada songs and batana boats gliding whilst Poreč is blessed with a UNESCO listed 6th century Euphrasian Basilica. Uncover the little villages in the hinterland such as Hum, recognized as the smallest town in the world, before lazing on one of the peninsula’s pristine beaches – Medveja, Crveni Otok, and Oliva to name a few. Istria hosts a heap of interesting events throughout the year, such as Motovun Film Festival, Umag Tennis Open, Rovinj Salsa Festival, Vinistra Wine Fair, and more.
In the hinterland of Croatia, to the northeast, is the region of Slavonia (no, not Slovenia), bordered by the Danube, Drava, and Sava Rivers. Slavonia is particularly rich in agriculture and is often nicknamed ‘the golden land’ due to its vast corn plains and white Graševina vineyards. The Habsburg Dynasty has left clear marks in Slavonia, with fairytale-like castles and holiday estates decorating the idyllic landscapes, whilst baroque Austro-Hungarian architecture primarily make up the fascinating cities of Osijek, Vukovar and Slavonski Brod. Slavonia puts a lot of emphasis on its folklore traditions, and any rural feast must include tamburica and Bećarac, a humoristic chant played with a mandolin-type instrument. Experience Slavonian traditions in all its glory at the The Golden Strings of Slavonia music festival in Požega before going on a discovery of the many flavors of the region. Visit the Medieval wine cellars of Ilok and sip on their famed Graševina or get your hands dirty at the Ilok Grape Harvest fest, try a spicy kulen sausage or a freshwater fish paprikash, both flavored with paprika. Oh, and did you know that all those fancy wines around the world that have been aged in SlOvEnian oak barrels? Well, wrong, its SlAvOnian oak from Croatia!
Images of Dalmatia, covering the southern half of Croatia and its islands, are what most people have already seen before setting foot in the country. These images include the magical islands, turquoise Adriatic, the Dubrovnik city walls, a donkey and a Dalmatian dog have placed Croatia on the tourism map, and for good reason. From the Diocletian’s Palace in Split and Marco Polo’s house in Korčula to the untouched Pakleni Islands and magical Krka waterfalls, Dalmatia spans a vast area with a heap of experiences to offer. What you will uncover are humble island traditions such as the moreška sword dance, klapa a cappella songs, or the alka equestrian competition in Sinj, all paired with a full-bodied Plavac Mali red wine, a sizzling grill, refreshing dips in the Adriatic, jagged beaches and chirping crickets.
Each region of Croatia undoubtedly offers a unique experiences to visitors. Have you been to any of these three regions or if not, which will you choose on your visit to Croatia?