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What Is Croatia Known for & Famous For

Croatia, which used to be part of Yugoslavia, is a famous honeymoon destination that boasts beautiful beaches, national parks, and a seemingly endless array of breathtaking destinations. However, between the culture, tradition, and rich history, Croatia has more to offer than just its picturesque attractions.

Croatia is mainly known and famous for its booming tourism industry. The country is teeming with breathtaking views and destinations. It’s also the birthplace of many greats like Nikola Tesla and Marco Polo, the origin of the necktie, and home to some of the world’s best food.

If you want to get to know Croatia better, here are some of its notable and interesting people, destinations, places, and cultural exports.

Dubrovnik

Arguably the heart of the country, Dubrovnik is often referred to as “Old Town” or “Pearl of the Adriatic Sea.” This medieval city fronting the Adriatic Sea is perhaps the most breathtaking sight in all of Croatia, with ancient walls and 13th-century architecture still intact.

If you plan to visit Dubrovnik, make sure that you put on comfortable shoes, as you will be walking a lot. The city features many traffic-free zones, where no vehicles (even bicycles) are allowed. Besides, since there are too many stairs in the city, you can’t really explore any other way except on foot.

Zagreb

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and is the biggest city in the country. Just like Dubrovnik, Zagreb is also marked by medieval architecture, which is apparent in ancient hilltop settlements, squares, and cobbled streets.

For the tourist looking for something to do, you’re sure to never get bored in Zagreb. The city has a vibrant social life that’s felt in its cafés, festivals, art shows, and theatrical performances. You can also simply take a walk around the city and enjoy the beautiful architecture.

Split

The port city of Split is the second-largest city in Croatia that was founded in the 3rd or 2nd century BC as a Greek colony by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Steeped in history, the city is practically a remembrance of the Roman times, which is most evident in its architecture

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It’s said that the city was named after a bright yellow flower found in many parts of the area. Locals call this flower brnistra, but its Greek name was said to be asphalatos, which blooms to signal the start of the spring season.

Wine

If you consider yourself a wine connoisseur, you probably have heard about Croatian winemaking. The Croatians have long developed their own unique way of making rich, flavorful wine, dating back a couple of thousand years ago.

For this reason, many people consider Croatia as one of the best places to go wine tasting. If you consider yourself a connoisseur, you won’t want to miss out on Plavac Mali, as it’s touted as the most important wine produced in the country.

Beaches

Croatia is indeed blessed with lovely, warm coastlines and sparkling aquamarine beaches and white sand. However, unlike other beach destinations in other parts of the globe, Croatia doesn’t have many sprawling beaches. It’s more common to see patches of sandy beaches here and there, some of which can be found on the islands of Rab and Susak.

White sand beaches can also be found in the regions of Istria, Zadar, and even in the city of Dubrovnik. Tourists and locals alike usually flock to the beaches in summer when the weather is delightful.

National Parks

Croatia has a total of eight national parks, all with breathtaking landscapes–if you’ve ever seen pictures of them, you’ll be amazed at how much more beautiful they are in person. Plus, there are so many outdoor activities that you can partake in. You can even go swimming in some of these parks.

If you come to Croatia, don’t forget to visit these national parks:

  • Plitvice Lakes and National Park
  • Krka National Park
  • Paklenica National Park
  • Kamenjak National Park
  • Risnjak National Park
  • Brijuni National Park
  • Kornati National Park
  • Mljet National Park

Waterfalls

If you’ve been to Croatia’s national parks and loved the scenery, wait until you visit its waterfalls. Thanks to the country’s lush landscape and protection of natural resources, there seems to be an endless array of waterfalls that can be found in Croatia.

However, if you don’t have time to explore them all, do check out these five waterfalls that many consider to be Croatia’s best. Plus, some of them can be found in national parks, so you can hit two birds with one stone.

  • Skradinski Buk
  • Roški Slap
  • The Great Waterfall
  • Rastoke
  • Mrežnica
  • Zrmanja

Plitvice Lakes National Park

The Plitvice Lakes and National Park is the biggest park in the world, a sprawling 30,000-hectare (74,131.6 acres) expanse of pure beauty. The park features lakes, waterfalls, and a canyon all perfectly put together in one stunning landscape.

If you’re a lover of the outdoors, you should not miss this park for the world. You can go hiking, swim in the lakes, or enjoy a leisurely stroll around the area and take in its breathtaking beauty.

Krka National Park

The Krka National Park was named after the Krka River, which forms part of the expanse of the park. Measuring 149 square kilometers (57.5 square miles), it’s not nearly as massive as the Plitvice, but the biodiversity that thrives here is nothing short of amazing.

Here, you’ll find four waterfalls:

  • Skradinski Buk
  • Bilusica Buk
  • Manojlovac Slap
  • Roski Slap

However, swimming has been banned in Krka since January 1, 2021 in order to protect the biodiversity in the area. While that’s sad news for tourists who have never gone swimming in Krka, it’s definitely a small price to pay to keep the place as stunning as it is.

Kamenjak National Park

The Kamenjak National Park is a nature reserve situated at the top of the Premantura Peninsula in Istria, Croatia. If you want a break from swimming but are eager to go on an outdoor adventure, this is the place to go.

It boasts caves, cliffs, and large flat stone surfaces where you can take pictures or go sun-bathing. At the park, you can also go cycling, cliff-jumping, or enjoy an educational trail, which is perfect if you are traveling with your kids.

Coastline

Croatia gets a lot of attention because of its coastline. It has 3,600 miles (5,793.6 kilometers) of coastline in all, consisting of mainland and island coastlines. The Croatian Coast is also considered to be one of the most indented coastlines in the world.

Of the entire coastline, the so-called Dalmatian Coast is the most popular because of its picturesque limestone cliffs and sparkling blue waters. Several islands can also be seen near this coastal stretch, which adds to the overall charm of the place.

Golden Horn Beach (Zlatni Rat)

The Golden Horn Beach, also called Zlatni Rat or Golden Cape, is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe and arguably the most beautiful beach in Croatia. It’s popular among tourists for its unique beauty–practically a line of sand jutting from an island that changes in shape depending on the direction and force of the wind.

Because it’s so unique, people recognize the beach quite easily and is said to have become a symbol of Croatian tourism. The beach is located on the island of Brac.

UNESCO World Heritage

With so much beauty in Croatia, it’s no surprise that the country has amassed ten UNESCO World Heritage Site recognitions. Aside from its beautiful mountain landscape and coastline, Croatia also has a rich history that makes it a must-see destination.

Here’s the list of all ten of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia:

  • Plitvice Lakes and National Park
  • Diocletian’s Palace
  • Old Town
  • St. James Cathedral
  • Stari Grad Plain
  • The Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica
  • Medieval Tombstones Graveyards
  • City of Trogir
  • Zadar and St. Nicholas Fortress
  • Parts of the Primeval Beech Forests

Hvar

If you like lavender, don’t miss the City of Hvar. Here, you will see large swathes of lavender that cover a huge part of the city in the summer. As you can imagine, the air smells particularly lovely this time of the year, and seeing the city from afar when the flowers are in bloom is an entire experience in itself.

Not only can you spend time in the lavender fields in Hvar, but you can also enjoy theatrical performances in one of the oldest theaters in Europe, have cocktails with friends, or go yachting.

History

Croatia, often called “The Land of a Thousand Islands,” has a rich and colorful history dating back to the Paleolithic Age, when it was said to have been first occupied. It has also had its fair share of colonizers, from the Romans, Ottomans, Illyrians, Hungarians, and Venetians.

In June 879, after hundreds of years under foreign dominion, Croatia finally became an independent state, under the leadership of Duke Branimir. Its first recorded language can be traced as far back as the 9th century.

Nikola Tesla

Thanks to Nikola Tesla, humanity has been able to advance its use of electricity. However, the engineer has received so much fame and recognition for his achievements (and rightfully so), that very few people know that he was actually born in 1856 in a small town in Croatia.

There’s little mention of his birthplace because he spent most of his time outside of Croatia, particularly Budapest, Paris, and the U.S.

However, Tesla once said that it was thanks to his high school Physics professor that he developed an interest in and decided to pursue electrical engineering despite the push from his parents for him to become a priest.

Former Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia, or more specifically the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was made up of six republics, including Slovenia and Croatia that declared independence from the SFRY in 1991 after much political tension and unrest.

Upon its declaration of independence, Croatia no longer was just a part of Yugoslavia but its own separate country. Following their track, other republics that used to form the SFRY also declared their independence, save for Serbia and Montenegro.

Afterward, Yugoslavia turned into The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, which lasted until 2006. Afterward, the former country was dissolved altogether when both republics declared their independence.

Game of Thrones

Millions of viewers around the world were hooked when the hit series Game of Thrones or GoT aired. And it was not just the story and the characters that had us all waiting for the next episode. The picturesque settings where the scenes were shot also made an impression on all of us.

But did you know that most of the scenes were actually shot in Dubrovnik? You got that right. King’s Landing is set in Dubrovnik. Its castles, coastal areas, and cathedrals can all be found in Dubrovnik’s Old Town.

The Yugoslav Wars

The deadly Yugoslav Wars that happened between 1991 and 2001 reportedly cost 140,000 lives and were fought between the Serbs and the Croatians as a growing Serbian movement led by Slobodan Milošević seemed aimed at creating a “Greater Serbia.”

The Yugoslav Wars are said to be the worst conflict since World War II and were the backdrop to several crimes against humanity, such as genocide. The wars ended with Croatia triumphant, but with an economy on the brink of collapse.

Incredible Islands

Thanks to thousands of miles of coastline, Croatia enjoys an amazing seafront view and numerous islands surrounding the country. On these islands, you get a fantastic view of the Adriatic Sea while enjoying sparkling waters and fine white sand.

In this country, you won’t run out of beaches to swim in, but to help you figure out which ones you should fit in a tight schedule, here are five of the most beautiful islands in Croatia:

  • Hvar
  • Korcula
  • Elaphiti Islands
  • Mljet
  • Brac

Dalmatians

Those white dogs with black spots that we call Dalmatians today? They actually originated from Croatia, particularly the ancient region of the country called Dalmatia. Interestingly, the most well-known stretch of the Croatian Coastline is also called the Dalmatian Coast, and is characterized by the presence of nearby islands dotting the waters off the coast.

While they are mostly house pets now, Dalmatians used to be hunting dogs. And even among the more domesticated ones, those hunting skills still manage to show.

Pag Cheese

If you want to have a wine and cheese party, being in Croatia will definitely not hurt your plans. Aside from having great wine, Croatia also boasts its own artisan cheese, called Pag cheese. This cheese is characterized by its distinct hardness. It also has a unique herby flavor and a hint of sea salt.

Pag cheese is produced on the island of Pag and made of sheep milk. There are several Croatian dishes that feature this type of cheese.

Ancient Cities

Take a trip back in time by visiting Croatia’s ancient cities. The rich history of the country is evident in its thousands-old cities, some of which now lay in ruins. Thankfully for us, some still stand as majestically as they did in the past.

Here are Croatia’s ancient cities to add to your travel itinerary:

  • Dubrovnik Old Town
  • Diocletian’s Palace
  • Trogir Old Town
  • Korcula Old Town
  • Ciovo Island
  • St. Nicholas Fortress
  • Zadar Old Town
  • Zorec Old Town
  • Pula Arena
  • Salona Roman City Ruins

Rijeka Carnival

Care to party? Croatia’s Rijeka Carnival will not disappoint! It is considered one of the most famous carnivals in Europe and the most colorful carnival in the country. It’s celebrated during the latter half of January to the early first half of February every year before Lent.

The carnival features full-on festivities, with parties, parades, and shows attended by hundreds of thousands of people.

Sunshine

If you live in a place that hardly gets any sun, you’re in for a treat. Croatia is one of the sunniest countries of the world, some parts of which even experience 48 hours straight of sunshine. Croatia typically enjoys 300 days of sunlight a year. Hvar, in particular, is known to have long periods of sunshine.

Regrettably, however, Croatia isn’t known to utilize its long daylight hours for renewable energy.

Tourism

Tourism is definitely big in Croatia. In fact, it’s one of the main drivers of its economy as the country draws in more and more people who want to see for themselves its beautiful beaches, historic old cities, and national parks.

And because Croatia is regarded as a safe country for tourists to travel–even those going solo–there seems to be no shortage of people who go to Croatia every year.

Football

Today, when we think of football, we automatically think of Brazil or England. However, did you know that one of the game’s earliest renditions was invented in Croatia? And true enough, football (called nogomet in the local language), is the most popular sport in the country.

The sport is led by the Croatian Football Federation, with the national team competing in the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 1998. 

Mountains

It’s no secret that Croatia has an amazing mountain landscape. True enough, the country has an astounding 7,907 peaks, the tallest of which is the Dinara Mountain at 1,831 meters (6,007 feet). There surely are enough mountains for everyone to go hiking here where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the country’s natural beauty.

Alcohol

Croatians are reported to be among the biggest drinkers in the world. They are known to produce lovely red wine, the most famous of which is the plavac, and rakija, the country’s national drink. If you like beer, you’ll be delighted to know that Croatia has its own kinds of beer, the most popular of which are the ozujsko and the karlovacko.

Rivers

Croatia does not only have lots of mountains and waterfalls, it also boasts lots of rivers. In total, there are 26 rivers in the country, the longest of which is the Danube River. The Danube is also the second-longest river in Europe and passes through 10 countries.

Necktie

Did you know that the Croatians invented the necktie? In the local tongue, it’s called “cravat” and in its early stages, it was merely a triangular neckerchief that Croatian workers wore around their necks during the time of Louis XIV.

As time went on, the young king eventually took to wearing neckerchiefs and made it fashionable even among the royals and social elites.

Lavender

Here, we go to Hvar once again. Aside from being the location of one of the country’s most beautiful beaches, Hvar is also known as the lavender island for its many, many lavender fields that color the island a lovely purple and perfume the air as they bloom.

If you want to see lavender in full bloom, make sure to visit Hvar in summertime.

Diocletian’s Palace

Named after the Roman Emperor Diocletian, Diocletian’s Palace was built as a retirement villa for the emperor during the third and fourth centuries. Today, Diocletian’s Palace is considered one of the best preserved palaces from Roman times.

The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site teeming with life, as there are numerous shops and cafés inside it.

Christmas Market

Christmas markets are a huge deal in Croatia. In fact, at Christmastime every year, the country’s streets are lined with shops and lights, and people from every corner of the country seem to be out shopping.

If you want to have a great Christmas market experience, you need to go to Zagreb, where Christmas markets are considered the best in Europe.

Ultra Europe Festival

Ultra Europe is one of the biggest music festivals in the continent. It’s usually held in Split, Croatia and is a two-day festival that is attended by more than a hundred thousand people. Occasionally, there are also accompanying parties or events to the music festival, such as the beach party that was held in Hvar back in 2013.

Food

Croatia is known to be the origin of a wide range of mouth-watering dishes, from sweets to savory meats and stews. However, the most famous Croatian food is zagorski štrukli, a traditional Croatian specialty made of dough, eggs, sour cream, and cottage cheese.

Conclusion

If only for its breathtaking landscapes, scenic views, and spectacular coastlines, Croatia is a must-see for every tourist who wants to experience the true beauty of nature and cultural heritage. While you’re at it, don’t forget to take your time to enjoy its food, wine, culture, and history.

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