Beyond the Final Whistle! Wowcher’s Guide to World Cup Nations: Croatia

The clear aquamarine waters, ancient fortifications and distinctive red-tiled roofs of the picturesque city of Dubrovnik

The clear aquamarine waters, ancient fortifications and distinctive red-tiled roofs of the picturesque city of Dubrovnik

OK, so the first thing that many of us will associate with Croatia is 1989 Eurovision Song Contest-winning pop act Riva. Whilst achieving a total of 137 points in a Eurovision final is nothing to be sniffed at, trust us when we say there is far more to Croatia than the great keyboard-led melody of Riva’s hit Rock Me.

Sitting between Slovenia and Bosnia & Herzegovina on the stunning Dalmatian coast, Croatia is a place of outstanding natural beauty with vast swathes of practically untouched landscape and the thriving cultural hubs of Zagreb and Dubrovnik. As well as being the birthplace of Real Madrid central midfielder Luka Modrić, Croatia has so much to offer as a place of history, culture and stunning scenery. Here is Wowcher’s guide to one of Southeast Europe’s most intriguing destinations…

Dubrovnik Old Town

Forget Paris and never mind Venice – if you’re looking for a romantic European destination, the charming and beautiful city of Dubrovnik in the far south of the country is without doubt one of the most amorous locations in the world! The crystal-clear blue waters of the Adriatic Sea and the distinctive red-tiled roofs give Dubrovnik a picture-postcard look, and the famous city walls make Dubrovnik a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take a walk along the impressive fortified walls that originally date back all the way to the Roman period or enjoy a special Croatian tapas seafood dish, fished locally from the Adriatic Sea, in one of the city’s many seafood restaurants.

As well as the famously vast number of small islands that scatter along the Adriatic coast from Zadar down to Dubrovnik, Croatia also offers some spectacular landlocked natural delights. Krka National Park in the central Dalmatia region of Croatia (just inland from the coastal town of Šibenik) is a protected natural reserve, full of interesting wildlife and outstanding views. Famous for its many gushing waterfalls and lush vegetation, Krka National Park is a must-see for any fans of hill walking or river canoeing.

One of the many stunning waterfalls in Krka National Park

Culture Vulture
Croatia has a rich and intriguing history, with many present day towns and cities dating back to settlements made during the time of the Ancient Greeks and the Roman Empire. Indeed, the Roman emperor Diocletian retired to the famous city of Split in 305 AD. In the modern period, the area we now know as Croatia was variously part of the Habsburg ruled Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Soviet Union under the leadership of Josip Tito. The various upheavals in Croatia’s past have led to a strong sense of national identity and an inspiring appreciation for history.

The Dalmatian coast is littered with numerous excellent examples of Ancient Greek and Roman archaeological remains. For instance, the 1st century Roman amphitheatre at Pula is one of the largest and best preserved gladiatorial arenas in the world. Further up the Dalmatian coast in the two-thousand-year-old town of Poreč is the brilliantly preserved 6th century Euphrasian Basilica.

The stunning Roman amphitheatre in Pula

The stunning Roman amphitheatre in Pula

As well as the history and ancient culture of Croatia, the country also boasts up-to the-minute pop culture attractions, with outdoor music festivals proving a big draw for the biggest acts from around the world. The Unknown rock festival is in September 2014 and boasts a line-up including indie bands Chvrches and Wild Beasts.

Whilst the tourist industry in Croatia is booming, there still remains many areas that can truly be described as undiscovered marvels of Southeast Europe. Why not discover for yourself this outstanding land of diversity, beauty, history, culture and romance with the help of a very reasonably priced Wowcher deal today? We’re offering you a seven night break to Opatija in the north of the country, on the Adriatic coast. With the stunning clear waters that typify Croatia’s coastline at your doorstep, and Pula’s Roman Amphitheatre less than an hour away, you can begin to discover this amazing country for yourself with Wowcher!

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