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Heavenly islands, a thousand miles of coastline and more than its fair share of art, culture and UNESCO World Heritage sites… welcome to Croatia, the newest kid on the beach holiday block.
Whether you’re after island hopping along the Adriatic coast, an all-inclusive holiday on the Istrian Riviera or a Game of Thrones pilgrimage to Dubrovnik, this Balkan beauty really is the total package.
For a balmy beach holiday, head south from Split along Croatia's spectacular Dalmatian coast and hop over to the lively islands of Hvar and Brač. Alternatively, go north to the Istrian Riviera, where you’ll find more than a touch of neighbours, Italy and Slovenia.
On the Istrian coast, long white-pebble beaches and tiny fishing villages give way to lively beach resorts, like Novigrad, Porec and Rovinj. Here, you can mooch between authentic waterfront tavernas serving brudet, a traditional tomato and seafood stew, and crni rižot, black risotto with cuttlefish, along with a chilled Malvazija wine.
A Croatia holiday reaches far beyond the beach towel. Head inland to explore Croatia's unspoilt interior, especially the staggered lakes of Plitvice National Park and the canyons and waterfalls of Krka in southern Croatia. From Dubrovnik, hop across to Mljet National Park where saltwater lakes and dense forests are great for hiking, cycling and kayaking.
Fancy some city living? Zagreb is spot on for a break. You can visit the National Museum of Modern Art and the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships, and come winter, the Christmas markets are an alternative festive treat with twinkling lights, warm wine and ice-skating.
Endless beaches, shallow waters and waterparks: Croatia's Istrian Riviera is a beach paradise and exactly what you need for a family getaway. The ancient city of Pula is famous for its 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre, the Pula Arena, and is a fun day out for wannabe gladiators. It has lots of family-friendly hotels and resorts along the coast.
The former Venetian town of Rovinj is also a charming place to stay and especially attractive if you’re travelling with younger children. Its beachfront hotels wrap around the bay, many with all-inclusive package holidays, waterslides, pools and kids’ clubs.
It's not all five-star beach resorts and all-inclusive family hotels in Croatia. There is plenty of budget accommodation, too. The larger cities of Zagreb, Split and Zadar, especially, have a great range of cheap hotels. It’s also possible to find cheap holidays to some of the lesser-known islands off Split – in places such as Stari Grad and Korkula, you’ll find budget-friendly beach hotels and welcoming local guesthouses.
In popular hotspots, think Pula and Dubrovnik, it's worth heading slightly out of town to lesser-known districts like Gruž, near the Dubrovnik port, for the authentic (and wallet-friendly) Croatian guesthouses and small budget hotels.
Croatia’s coast is lined with brilliant all-inclusive resorts for every budget. The beachfront hotels and resorts in the Istrian towns of Rovinj and Pula are a great place to sample the local cuisine, and the nearby fishing town of Umag is a treat of seafood restaurants.
Further south, Hvar and Brač for a taste of island life, while resorts near Dubrovnik, such as Cavtat, also have a handful of all-inclusive options.
Laidback beach bars, world class clubs and open-air lounges make Croatia one of the best party destinations in Europe. For a top nightlife with cool beach clubs, hip cocktail hangouts and lots of late-night dancing, head to Split, Croatia's second largest city.
Hvar also has a good reputation for nightlife – you might want to join the crowds to party the night away at Veneranda, an open-air disco in a Venetian fortress. There are several beachfront hotels just steps away in Hvar Town.
Grand squares, baroque palaces and a cathedral make Zagreb, the capital, a good city break any time of the year. The city centre has plenty of stylish urban hotels, including Canopy by Hilton, in the old Union chocolate factory.
Dubrovnik, one of best-preserved medieval towns on the planet, is also ideal for a cultural weekend break. There are a handful of boutique hotels inside the old town walls, but for a grander, more luxurious stay, consider the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik, just beyond the walls.
With the dramatic Dalmatian coastline and the appealing Adriatic waters, Croatia is one of the most popular beach holiday destinations in Europe. Its long white-pebble beaches, rocky coves and safe beaches make the Istrian Riviera an easy fly-and-flop holiday.
There are hundreds of beach resorts and hotels to choose from. Visit Umag and Novigrad in the north, Poreč and Rovinj, down to Medulin on the peninsula's southernmost tip.
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