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Affordable Croatia
by
Christine Roberts

Croatia is a summer tourist destination with over 1 000 unspoilt offshore islands, forests, scenic coastal routes, lakes, beaches, vineyards, bears, birds, outstanding UNESCO sites and more.

I found September to be an ideal month for discovering Croatia, especially in view of the slightly cooler weather and fewer numbers of tourists encountered. 

This newest, safest, exciting, diverse and affordable destination for travellers offers real value for money. 

Zagreb is Croatia's capital city and gateway for foreign airlines. A safe city to explore on foot by day or early evening, it has an Upper, Lower and a New Town with interesting museums, lovely parks, shops, cafes, restaurants and architectural wonders. A pedestrian walkway leads to a funicular railway connecting the Lower and Upper 
towns. 

Most European airlines connect to Zagreb, including Lufthansa, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, KLM and Turkish Airlines.

There are many good hotels, villas and private accommodations available. Information on cultural events, walking and minibus tours, lively bars, restaurants and exceptional museums is obtainable from hotels or the local tourist office, on arrival.

You can elect to hire a car or take one of the numerous tours offered including escorted air-conditioned coach tours, "Old Timer" cruises, senior citizen and special interest tours such as art and history, diving programmes, pilgrimages to Medjugorje or individual tailormade tours.

Car Hire

I hired a car from Budget in Zagreb and was delighted with the vehicle's performance over 1 800 km. Drivers move fast in this part of the world and as a visitor I was actually glad to catch glimpses of traffic police en route, checking on the speedsters! My itinerary for the week was Zagreb/Opatija/Rijeka/Split/Trogir/ Dubrovnik/Korcula (island) /Plitvice National Park and return to Zagreb.

Car hire plus insurance and petrol is fairly expensive but for those who like to explore at their own pace, it is worth every cent!

Lying half-way between Zagreb and Zadar is the 20-hectare Plitvice Lakes National Park with wooded hills surrounding 16 lakes that are linked to waterfalls and cascades. Boardwalks and foot bridges facilitate enjoyment of the Park on foot while optional bus and boat transport is offered, too - all included in the price of the Park's day ticket.

For those wishing to stay overnight, the Hotel Jezero is highly recommended as it is situated inside the National Park. 

The beautiful medieval walled city of Dubrovnik is a highlight of the trip to Croatia and is included on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Tips

* Interestingly, Croatia is the birthplace of the cravat, first worn by Croatian soldiers in the 17th century. Also, the mechanical pencil was invented by a Croatian engineer. If you've seen the movie, "101 Dalamatians" and wondered where all the dogs originated, then, you need look no further than the Dalmatian Riviera in southern Croatia.

* Zagreb. Restaurant Okrugljak serves traditional Croatian cuisine and is only a short tram ride from the city centre. Check which tram to take with your hotel concierge - the driver will advise you on where to alight, following which it's just a five-minute walk to the restaurant.

* Hotel Dubrovnik is recommended for the business executive and leisure traveler, conveniently located in Zagreb's city centre on Ban Jelacic square. 

* Split, on the Dalmatian coast, has been given World Cultural Heritage status by UNESCO. It is unique for its annexing, partitioning and transformation of its 4th century Diocletian Emperor's Palace to a medieval city.

* Porec, a Roman town on the west coast of Istria, was built in the 2nd century. Defended on three sides by the sea, its most significant monument is the basilical complex of the Bishop Euphrasius (6th century) with early Byzantine wall mosaics comparable only with those in Ravenna.

* Trogir, built on an island by the Romans in 400 B.C., is connected to the mainland and neighbouring island by bridges.

Among the fantastic works to be viewed are The Renaissance Chapel; the most significant gallery of sculpture and reliefs of the early Renaissance humanism.

* Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape) situated in the town of Bol on the island of Brac is a unique geomorphological phenomenon. Formed from pebbles brought by torrents from Mount Vidova Gora - highest peak of the Adriatic islands - extending into the sea for some 400 metres, changing its shape according to the sea currents.

Further details on Croatia from the Croatian National Tourist Board in Zagreb: e-mail: info@htz.hr web site: www.htz.hr or, your nearest Croatian National Tourist Office. In New York, e-mail: cntony@earthlink.net. In London: info@cnto.freeserve.co.uk and South Africa, represented by Euro Africa Tours: mc@euroafricatours.com

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Email:  Christine Roberts

 

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