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Croatia, also known as the Country of a Thousand Islands, has all that’s necessary to warrant being called the “land of vacations”. Its 2,600 annual hours of sun, well above the European average, make Croatia's coastlines some of the sunniest in the world. Some of the other factors, all mandatory for a good rest my on the beach, are its sea temperature with its cleanliness and clarity, and the category of Croatia’s beaches themselves.

Even though the longest Adriatic Sea coastlines belong to Italy and Croatia, Italians prefer to spend their vacations in Croatian resorts, which can be explained by the country’s much clearer waters. The mountains of Dinara, stretching along most of the Croatian coastline, protect it from northern and southern winds, ensuring clarity of water – since the rivers flowing from the mountains have no chance of bringing any sediment and soil into the sea, visibility in the Croatian Rivera is up to 50 metres. In these parts, swimming season begins in May, when the water temperature reaches 17-18 degrees, culminating in 26 degrees in July-August. Sometimes, in September and even October, the water is still warmer than even the air.

The beaches of Croatia, most of which lack sand that most of us are so used to, can be divided into three categories: concrete shores, where one can enjoy the sun on a rented sun bed or one’s own towel; tiny rock beaches that offer much of the same advantages; and natural beaches, located between protruding cliffs, where people like to go in search of romance. In any case, every visitor is bound to find a place to his or her liking – the coastline of mainland Croatia is 1,777 km long, not to mention the additional 4,059 km of coastline surrounding its nearby islands.

Thanks to its reputation as the world’s first state to legalise nudism way back in 1958, enthusiasts of this cult come to Croatia from all over Europe. Even though there are entire campsites dedicated specifically for them, visitors clad only in the apparel of Adam and Eve can also be seen a little further away from the common beaches – after all, the entire Croatian coastline is considered to be a place where one can get rid of dermatological and respiratory diseases.

In total, Croatia has 1,244 islands. Of all the Southern European countries, only Greece has more. Krka, Cres, Brač, Hvar, Korčula – these are just a few of the best-known, and each of them has something distinctive and unique. The most enjoyable way of visiting the islands – Only 65 of which are permanently inhabited – is by yacht or boat. The Brijuni National Park, one of the country’s most beautiful parks, is located on the Kornati Archipelago that consists of 147 individual islands.  The summer residence of the famous Yugoslavian leader Broz Tito was also situated on Kornati.

Top to bottom, the entire coastline of the mainland consists of three regions: the Istrian Peninsula, Kvarner and Dalmatia. The first of these is transfused with the spirit of Venice. It was this peninsula that supplied the Italian canal city with stone for building. To this day, many of its small villages are adorned with winged lions. One of Istria’s most ancient and spectacular architectural monuments is its amphitheatre – a large structure showcasing the power of ancient Rome, where gladiators used to fight each other, and staged sea battles took place. Now, the amphitheatre, which used to hold up to 23,000 visitors at a time, hosts performances of the world’s most famous music bands and opera singers.

The best-known object of the city of Poreč is the UNESCO-protected 5th-century Euphrasian Basilica, famous for its mosaics. Istria’s most beautiful jewel, however, is Rovinj. The narrow, winding streets of this city, which used to be located on an island, are simply breathtaking. Following these little streets upwards you’ll end up at the mountaintop Church of St. Euphemia, where the remains of the city’s guardian St. Euphemia are kept in an ancient stone sarcophagus. Visiting small towns like this one allows one to really experience the country’s great archaic aura, intertwined with the warm local customs, southern hospitality and laid-back spirit.

The region of Kvarner is best suited for enthusiast mountaineers. Here you can find excellent mountain programs with fantastic national dinners and tastings of the local raki.

Dalmatia is arguably the most popular and best-advertised region of Croatia. It’s a narrow, elongated part in the south of the country that has the most islands. This region is home to the most visited cities of Zadar, Šibenik, Trogir, Split and Dubrovnik. Each of these has at least one object – or an entire Old Town – that’s protected by UNESCO.

Another interesting phenomenon mostly related to Dalmatia is the polyphonic singing, called klapa, performed by 4-6 men. Klapa groups performing in Diocletian’s Palace, located in the Old Town of Split, is a real spectacle to behold.

The Plitvice Lakes National Park, located in the Lika Region a little further away from the sea, is one of Croatia’s most popular and best-known tourist attractions. Of the country’s eight parks, this one is the oldest, established during Yugoslavian times. Here, situated at different heights above sea level you’ll see sixteen karst lakes. Flowing through them, the Korona River forms thousands of different cascades and waterfalls. Walking on the tourist paths one can feel as if in paradise.

While in Croatia, you might also want to visit the more interesting attractions in other, nearby countries. Some of the most popular tours will take you to Venice and the Postojna Cave or Predjama Castle in Slovenia.

The cuisine of Croatia is certainly worthy of your attention. Over the ages, it was influenced by Turkish, Italian and even Hungarian culinary traditions. If you're a meat-eater, you simply must try some lamb, served in regions located a little further away from the sea. Just like the rest of former Yugoslavians, Croatians are crazy about čevapi (rectangular minced meat cutlets). The seaside is domianted by fish and seafood dishes. Of these, we would especially recommend the octopus salads that go perfectly with refreshing summer meals. Also, don‘t forget the local wine and raki, both of which are excellent with the famous Croatian cheeses.

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