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Planning a Trip to Croatia - 10 Holiday Highlights

Shunning neon lights and mass tourism development, Croatia rightly dubs itself "the Mediterranean as it once was".

Vast stretches of the beautiful Adriatic coastline remain untouched by modern-day tourism. It's a place for ambling rather than rushing around - particularly in the sleepy, well-preserved medieval towns dotted along the coast and around the tiny islands.

Here are 10 reasons to visit Croatia to help start your holiday planning.

History: You'll find it hard to put the camera away as you explore picture-perfect places such as Dubrovnik, with its sturdy town walls and ancient alleyways, and Split, where the heart of the city is built within the impressive remains of a huge Roman palace.

Islands: A tempting array of unspoilt islands runs the full length of the Croatian coast. Options range from trendy Hvar and historic Korcula to the Robinson Crusoe-like Kornati islands.

Beaches: Most beaches are fine shingle or pebbles, rather than sand. Among the best are Zlatni Rat on the island of Brac and the long stretches of gleaming white pebble beaches in and around Makarska.

Sailing: Charter a yacht or join a flotilla holiday to discover picturesque islands, pretty fishing villages and secluded coves and bays.

Diving: Clear, clean water made the sea off Croatia one of the favourite spots for legendary French diver Jacques Cousteau. Top venues include the island of Vis, where divers can explore several shipwrecks, and the Kornati islands.

Cities: Dubrovnik, with its baroque palaces and Venetian architecture, is known as the Pearl of the Adriatic. In the north, Pula boasts an impressive Roman amphitheatre. Also worth discovering are Split, Zadar and Zagreb.

Countryside: Head inland to admire the rolling hills of Istria in the north and the dramatic mountain scenery of Dalmatia. North of Zadar, Plitvice National Park has waterfalls and 16 lakes criss-crossed by wooden walkways.

Food: Fresh seafood can be enjoyed all along the Croatian coast. If the catch of the day doesn't take your fancy, try prsut (cured ham) in Dalmatia, strukli (cheese pie) in Zagreb and Italian-inspired dishes in Istria.

Wine: Quality wines are one of Croatia's most pleasant surprises. Good for raising a glass are the white Vrbnicka Zlahtina from the island of Krk and the red Plavac Mali and Dingac from Dalmatia.

Music: Summer festivals are staged throughout the country. The choice ranges from classical music recitals among Dubrovnik's historic settings to rock concerts by top artistes in Pula's Roman amphitheatre.

A holiday in Croatia offers a great escape from the frenetic pace of today's high-tech world, and will leave you wanting to come back for more. And with plenty of discount flights to Croatia from most European countries, there is every reason to do so!


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