With a beautiful coastline that stretches for more than 1,000 miles and is home to quaint towns, Croatia is a perfect vacation destination any time of the year.
Even in the busiest months, Croatia’s large number of islands nowhere feel completely overrun. Brac and Losinj are great family options, with good beaches and pleasantly unspoiled inland areas. Cavtat on the mainland south of Dubrovnik makes for a romantic week.
Magical: The beach of Zlatni Rat in Brac is a long, golden sandbar that extends into the sea
Losinj: Losinj, one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia, is best suited for active families. It offers diving, water sports and cycling as well as other opportunities such as parachuting and climbing (visitlosinj.hr). There are surfing and diving schools on Cikat Beach, while the lush and shady Cikat Forest Park is a gentle place for biking or walking.
Younger families will love Veli Zal, a shallow pebble beach with lounge chairs. For lunch, you can eat delicious pizzas with a view of the water at the Veli Zal restaurant. The neighboring island of Cres, which is connected to Losinj by a short road bridge, is also worth exploring. It offers hiking trails through the Tramuntana forest and a quiet beach at Sveti Ivan.
A week long B&B at Hotel Bellevue costs from £ 955 per person including flights and transfers (completecroatia.co.uk).
Brac: It may not be as green and lush as Losinj, but Brac has the most beautiful beaches in the country, especially Zlatni Rat – a long, golden sandbar that extends into the sea and changes shape depending on the tide and wind.
In Supetar, the port and the capital, you’ll find a charming cluster of waterfront restaurants. Take a table on the Palute’s terrace and watch the fishing boats come and go.
Most vacation rentals are in the resort of Bol, but it is worth having a car to explore the interior of the island, which is wonderfully unspoilt.
A week long B&B at Gava Waterman Milna Resort costs from £ 782 per person, including flights and transfers (jet2.com).
Cavtat: The pretty and small town of Cavtat is hidden between pine forests and dates back to Roman times. Today there is a lively promenade with restaurants and bars.
The best beach is in front of the hotel in Albatros, a ten-minute walk from the center. However, there are regular boat taxis to nearby bays, as well as regular 40-minute crossings to Dubrovnik.
The city really comes to life from the late afternoon. Make yourself comfortable in the Beach Bar Little Star – a simple hut surrounded by pines – and watch the sunset before strolling for dinner in the nearby Leut, which has been run by the Babic family for 50 years (restaurant-leut. com). .
A weekly B&B at Hotel Croatia costs from £ 760 per person including flights and transfers (balkanholidays.co.uk).
When the scorching summer heat has subsided, autumn allows for a relaxing break to discover Croatia beyond the beaches, from the foodie trails that run through the northern region of Istria to the magnificent Plitvice and Krka National Parks and the enchanting Konavle wine region.
Charming: Rovinj in Istria, as pictured above, looks a lot like Italy with its cobbled streets and colorful houses
Istria: Part of Italy until 1945, the vineyard-covered hills in the interior of Istria, which stretch between picturesque mountain towns, are strongly reminiscent of Tuscany.
Motovun and Groznjan are particularly worth seeing. At this time of year the fields are busy with olive and grape harvest. Follow one of the well-marked wine routes (istra.hr) or book a truffle hunting tour (trufflehuntingcroatia.com).
Combine time inland with a few days on the coast. Rovinj is a miniature Dubrovnik, the old town of which is surrounded by walls protruding into the sea, while Pula is best known for its spectacular Roman amphitheater. Gourmets should reserve a table at Monte, Rovinj’s most elegant restaurant, which has the region’s only Michelin star (monte.hr).
A week long B&B at Heritage Hotel San Rocco costs from £ 713 per person including flights and rental cars (completecroatia.co.uk).
Konavle: Hikers and wine lovers should head to Konavle, where vineyards and sleepy villages roll south from Dubrovnik to the Montenegrin border.
There are shards of beach in Cavtat and Molunat, but be sure to explore this region on foot and enjoy wine tasting and lunch at the famous Konavoski Dvori restaurant (esculaprestaurants.com).
Visit Brajkovic Winery (opg-brajkovic.hr) and try Malvasia, a classic Croatian white wine, and its own olive oil.
A week in Duka, a one bedroom villa with private pool, starts at £ 550 excluding flights (vintagetravel.co.uk).
Golden glow: The Krka National Park is interspersed with hiking and hiking trails and is famous for its seven waterfalls
National parks Plitvice and Krka: Croatia may be known for its stunning coastline, but Plitvice National Park – two hours inland from Split – is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe.
Cascading down a hill is a vast network of 16 terraced lakes and waterfalls, tinted emerald green by naturally occurring minerals.
Krka, closer to the coast, is famous for its seven waterfalls. Both parks are dotted with walking and hiking trails, which are most beautiful in the fall.
A two-week self-drive tour, including overnight stays in Plitvice and Krka, costs from £ 995 per person, including transfers and rental cars (responsibletravel.com).
The coldest months are the best time to visit Croatia’s cities, from the snow-covered streets of Zagreb to the spectacular Roman sites of Split.
Christmas greetings: The mushroom fountain in Zagreb, the Croatian capital, was illuminated for Christmas
Zagreb: The cobbled streets of the elegant Croatian capital are at their most atmospheric in winter, when the trees in Zrinjevac Park are lit with more than two million lights and the Christmas market (repeatedly voted best in Europe) takes over Ban Jelacic Square. The Upper Town is the historical heart of the city. Take a stroll along the Stross Promenade to the Caffe de Matos, a collection of bars and shops that give the feel of a winter festival.
A three day B&B break in the Esplanade Zagreb costs £ 628 per person including flights and transfers (kirkerholidays.com).
Splits: Split is surrounded by the snow-capped Dinaric Alps and feels very different in winter than in the hectic summer months.
The streets of the old town were built for Emperor Diocletian as his age complex in 305 AD and it is a joy to see them in a clear winter light without the crowds. In the evening, discover the hearty local cuisine – the fish stew in the family-run Konoba Hvaranin is considered the best in town.
The three night B&B at Hotel President Solin costs from £ 361 per person (baholidays.com).
Before the summer crowds arrive, this is a wonderful time to follow the gleaming yachts to Hvar, take the ferry to mountainous Korcula, or explore Dubrovnik.
On the way up: Dubrovnik’s famous cable car on Mount Srd offers a spectacular panoramic view
Dubrovnik: In spring, the weather is still cool enough to walk over the old city walls at any time of the day. Take the queue-free cable car up Mount Srd (dubrovnikcablecar.com) for spectacular views. Avoid the overpriced restaurant upstairs and instead try the best pizza in town in Tabasco right next door when you return to the lowest cable car station.
Visit the Homeland War Museum (mdrd.hr) for a glimpse into the city during the Civil War in the early 1990s, or swap the busy streets for a cool island vibe – the car-free Elafiti Islands of Kolocep or Lopud are ideal for a day trip.
A week long B&B at Dubrovnik Palace costs from £ 946 per person, including flights and transfers (tui.co.uk).
Hvar: Everyone from backpackers to European royalty come to Hvar in the summer to soak up the Ibiza atmosphere. But spring is quieter – it is possible, for example, to get a table for cocktails on Riva’s elegant terrace, and the winding roads that lead to the island’s hidden beaches are less congested.
Hop on a boat taxi to the nearby island of Sveti Klement, where the Meneghello restaurant in the cute Palmizana Hotel (palmizana.com) is an idyllic spot for lunch.
A week at Amfora Hvar Resort costs from £ 799 per person B&B, including flights (onthebeach.co.uk).
A thing of beauty: Korcula, above, the alleged birthplace of the explorer Marco Polo
Korcula: Known as the supposed birthplace of explorer Marco Polo, Korcula is dramatic – surrounded by forests and vineyards with a windy coastline ideal for yachtsmen and windsurfers.
The elegant streets of Korcula town are littered with art galleries and boutiques, perfect for a morning visit before lunch at Adio Mare (konobaadiomare.hr), one of the island’s most popular taverns – small Croatian restaurants with simple menus that are frequently served are family owned.
A week at Hotel Marko Polo costs from £ 549 per person on half board basis, including flights and transfers (presteholidays.co.uk).