With a remarkable run to the 2018 World Cup Final, Croatia won the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. Once the team advanced from the Group Stage, they won two straight rounds on penalty kicks after the matches ended as draws. In the semifinals, they defeated England with a goal in the 109th minute to advance to the championship against France. Even though, Croatia lost by two goals in the final game, 517 million people tuned in and learned about the nation that became independent in 1991.
With this newfound awareness, Croatia saw 18.5 million tourists visit their country in 2018. The following year, Croatia set all-time records with more than 23.5 million international visitors who combined to stay more than 91 million nights in the country. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic halted Croatia’s substantial tourism growth in 2020 and 2021.
However, history may be repeating itself. Croatia recently advanced to the 2022 World Cup Semifinals before losing to Argentina. As one of the final four teams remaining in the bracket, the country is once again gaining buzz as an international destination people want to see. Although it is less than 22,000 square miles in size, the country has 10 distinct tourist regions according to the Croatian National Tourist Board. Based on those, we have compiled four tips to help with first-time travel to Croatia.
1. See Ancient History and Modern Fun in Split
Located along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, Split is the second-largest city in Croatia. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, Split is home to Diocletian’s Palace. This structure was built for the Roman emperor more than 1700 years ago. If Roman architecture and ancient history aren’t your things, you can opt for modern-day attractions with the Markarska Riviera instead.
If you do this, you probably want to consider luggage storage in Split. This cheap and convenient service will give you a place to safely store your stuff while you enjoy kayaking, sailing, hiking, and more. The Markarska Riviera is approximately 35 miles of coastline where people can experience beaches, cafes, and clubs in addition to the activities just mentioned. Luggage storage in Split is a smart way to avoid your bags and souvenirs slowing you down.
2. Choose Your Adventure at Istria
Istria is a peninsula that has several ancient Roman towns but also features the Croatia Open ATP tennis tournament each year. Similar to Split, this area has UNESCO-designated sites to visit thanks to history that goes back to the sixth century and beyond. Much like Split, you can also find modern-day thrills if you desire.
The region’s largest city is Pula, which has a well-preserved amphitheater that continues to host festivals. In this coastal town, you can participate in wreck dives to World War I ships and ancient Roman galleys. It also offers beaches, sailing, and cliff diving to adventurous souls.
3. Witness Spectacular Views In Kvarner
In Kvarner, you will find a region that not only presents amazing views of the water, but also breathtaking landscapes in the mountains. Kvarner Bay has multiple islands with cliffs where you can see water in all directions as well as dolphins, seals, and griffons. Nearby in the same region, you can encounter other rare wildlife and protected species while enjoying a sea of green vegetation in the mountains of Risnjak National Park.
4. Gain Understanding and Appreciation for Croatia’s History in Zagreb
As one of the oldest cities in Central Europe, Zagreb serves as the nation’s capital. After declaring its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Croatia fought for four years before eventually claiming victory in 1995. In 2000 and 2001, Croatia amended its constitution to change many aspects of its governing structure.
The country also joined the World Trade Organization and began the process of joining the European Union during this time. If that type of history fascinates you and you desire to learn more about the culture and history of the region, Zagreb has approximately 20 theaters and 30 museums to satisfy your curiosity.
Compared the other nations, Croatia is young. However, the country allows tourists to see historic structures from thousands of years ago. It also offers pristine views along the Adriatic Sea and inland. Whether you use luggage storage in Split before kayaking the Markarska Riviera or you decide to see dolphins and forestry within a few miles in Kvarner, we hope these tips give you a good starting point for planning your first Croatian adventure.