Tradition is great and Croatia has no shortage of ancient monuments and local customs. But it’s an ever-changing country with new attractions, hotels, shops and bars. Here’s the best of new Croatia.
Dubrovnik Palace Stuns in Redesign
Why stay in a standard-issue hotel when you can experience the best of Croatian design in the luxurious four-star Hotel Dubrovnik Palace?
This acclaimed hotel has been completely overhauled by the Croatian design company, 3LHD, which has worked to highlight and complement the views of the Adriatic sea and nearby Elaphiti Islands. 3LHD worked with a number of contributors to make this refurbishment a real Croatian design product – mobile furniture and lamps are the work of the successful studio Grupa, artist Mara Šuljak created bespoke wallpaper with Mediterranean motifs, and the choice of fabrics, curtains and bedspreads was entrusted to Croatian design duo I-GLE. The refurbishment took six months but it is now the ultimate in sophisticated design.
Lights on in Pula
“Lighting Giants” Dean Skira, the world-famous lighting designer, with the help of sponsors and workers of Uljanik Shipyard, has lit up the shipyard’s iconic cranes, a characteristic symbol of Pula. “Lighting Giants” have a sophisticated remote control system of lighting and scenography, and can be illuminated with 16 thousand different color combinations.
You can enjoy this spectacular show and lighting display every evening. “Lighting Giants” will light up in different colors every evening on the hour (at 9 pm, 10 pm, 11 pm and Midnight). This magnificent light spectacle will last about 15 minutes each time. There will be a different lighting scheme, specially programmed for special occasions, holidays and events.
Read more about Pula.
Croatian Design in Zadar
Croatian designed furniture, clothing, souvenirs, wine, food and other knick knacks is on offer in the first Croatian Design Superstore now in Zadar.
The mobile pop-up store will stay open throughout the tourist season in Zadar, before opening up in Zagreb in September. There are also plans for the store, which will showcase the very best of Croatian design, to open in other cities around the country. Over one hundred products from local designers ranging from furniture, lighting, clothing, footwear, toys, food, wine, jewelery, tableware and decorative objects, will be on offer to tourists and locals.
Ice Bar in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik’s first ice bar is located next to Onofrio’s fountain,and is appropriately named “Onofrio’s Ice Bar”.Inside are landmarks of Dubrovnik carved in ice. These sculptures were made by local sculptor Ivo Jasic. With a temperature of -4° and extending throughout three floors, this new attraction is sure to be a welcome respite from Dubrovnik’s summer heat.
Adrenaline junkies are sure to appreciate the thrill of flyboarding in Lapad Bay. The ride lasts for around 20 minutes and costs 400 Kunas. Figure on 5 to 6 minutes to find your balance and stop shaking in terror with another fifteen minutes to actually enjoy yourself.The flyboard can reach heights of 8 to 9 meters if you dare but most people are content with 2 or 3 meters.
Boutique Guesthouse in Orebic
Just across the water from beautiful Korcula island is the Mimbelli Guesthouse. On Orebić’s seaside promenade, the new Guesthouse Mimbelli’s five contemporary rooms, one with a pretty olive tree mural, have exposed stone walls and antique tiles. There’s also a top Dalmatian restaurant on site, serving local wines. The town’s shallow public beach – which runs the length of Orebić – is across the promenade from the hotel.
Read more about the Mimbelli Guesthouse.
Why do bad trips happen to good people? Here are the top ten errors, misconceptions and mistakes of Croatia-bound travellers.
1. Croatia is small.
Occasionally someone will approach me for a consultation with a request like “I’d like to visit Istria, Plitvice Lakes and Dubrovnik with a stop at an island or two. I have a week”. Um, no. At 56,538 sq km Croatia is not gigantic but the coast is loooong. From Umag in northern Istria to Dubrovnik near Croatia’s southern tip is 725km or a good eight hour drive, without breaks. And that’s not even counting the islands, some of which are a good three hours by ferry from the coast. To return to Zagreb from Dubrovnik, count on spending at least 6 1/2 hours on the road. See a Croatia map.
2. Ferries go everywhere.
Yes and no. Every inhabited island has a car ferry connection to the coast that runs at least daily. Where tourists get into trouble is assuming that anyplace on the coast has a ferry connection to any island and that all islands are connected by ferry. In fact few islands are connected by ferry and those that are connected have passenger ferries only in the summer. The famous coastal ferry from Rijeka to Dubrovnik runs only twice a week in summer. See more on Croatia ferries.
3. I can get accommodation on arrival.
At the height of the season (like now for example), showing up without a reservation can be disastrous. There may be a few people holding up soba signs when you disembark your bus or ferry but I wouldn’t count on it. And neither the price nor the location is likely to be optimal. Off-season the situation is better but more and more apartment owners are renting online and see no need to hang around bus stations. In case of emergency, head to the local tourist office. See more about last-minute accommodation.
4. Croatia is cheap.
Not so much. Croatia provides good value for money and can be excellent value off-season when hotel prices start dropping. Groceries, petrol, clothes and car rentals are on par with the rest of Western Europe. Buses are cheap; car ferries are pricey. Restaurants can be relatively inexpensive outside tourist hotspots such as Hvar and Dubrovnik. Meat, pizza and pasta are cheap; fish is expensive. The sun and sea are free! See more on costs.
5. I need a car to see everything.
The public transportation system is excellent. Buses link all major towns and in summer there’s a wider choice of passenger ferries to the islands than car ferries. Travelling via public transport is slower, yes, but more convivial. With only a few days to visit an island however, you’ll see more if you rent a car for the day. See more on getting around Croatia.
6. I need a cross-border card to visit Bosnia or Montenegro.
If you rent a car in Croatia your insurance papers will cover day trips to Bosnia or Montenegro. Many car rental companies try to sell you a cross-border card but it’s not necessary. If you bring a car from elsewhere in Europe, check your insurance papers. See more on cross-border cards.
7. I can plan my trip easily.
If travel planning has you tearing your hair out, rest assured that you are not alone. Because of the long coastline and complicated ferry routes, planning a holiday can be tricky. Try not to cover too much. You cannot see everything in a week or two. Throw away the must-see lists and concentrate on what it is you really like. You do not “have to” see Dubrovnik or any other place. Croatia is a rich and varied country with more than enough to delight you wherever you find yourself. See sample itineraries.
8. With my ticket for the car ferry I can drive up at the last minute.
When you buy your car ferry ticket you do not have a reservation, only a ticket. It means that you are not assured to get your car on that particular ferry. If you are late and the ferry fills up, you’ll have to wait for the next one. When you buy your ticket (which you can do at any Jadrolinija office at any point) the agent will tell you how long in advance to arrive. Pay attention. See more about booking Croatia ferries.
9. I can put everything on my credit card.
Hotels, car rentals, car ferries yes. Private accommodation is nearly always cash only and smaller restaurants and cafes may also only accept cash. Fortunately ATMs are everywhere. See more on money.
10. I’d like to visit several islands from one base.
This is extremely dicey. In certain months it’s possible to do a day trip to Hvar island from Split and it’s always possible to visit Brac Island on a day trip but that’s about it from Split. From Dubrovnik, you can visit Mljet on a day trip in summer and Korcula on certain days in summer. The Elaphiti islands are always doable on a day trip from Dubrovnik. Again we get back to geography. Croatia’s major highlights are fairly elongated from each other and just a little too far to make day trips convenient. See more on Croatia’s islands.
And by the way. . .Korčula is pronounced Korchoola NOT Korkula! (I just had to mention it)