Today’s episode about the famous things across the globe is about Croatia, so we have asked our fellow travel blogger Stephanie of “Sofia adventures” What is Croatia famous for? This is her awe-inspiring reply!
Croatia is a gorgeous country in the western Balkans that is part of the former Yugoslavia. While it’s very popular with honeymooners and backpackers alike, it’s had a bit of a renaissance lately. Here are 13 things that Croatia is known for.
13 things Croatia is famous for
#1 Game of Thrones
It’s no secret that Game of Thrones used Dubrovnik as its primary filming location for King’s Landing. Because of this, word got out about how gorgeous the city is. Tourists flock there to see where Cersei had her walk of shame, which they can do by taking a Game of Thrones tour.
A few important Game of Thrones sites in Dubrovnik includes the Red Keep, which was filmed at Lovrijenac Fort, Blackwater Bay, which was filmed at Dubrovnik West Pier, and the walls of King’s Landing, which were filmed at Fort Bokar.
Know that the city is very touristy in the summertime, and it is much easier to explore during the shoulder season. The walls of Dubrovnik are one of Croatia’s most famous landmarks.
#2 Gorgeous Waterfalls
Krka National Park is home to Croatia’s most famous waterfall, known in Croatian as Skradinski Buk. Since 2021, you no longer can swim in the pools below the falls, but it still is a fabulous site and a wonderful place to cool off in Croatia’s hot summers. You can easily visit Krka from Split, or you can spend longer in the area.
Plitvice Lakes is home to many beautiful waterfalls. While individually, they aren’t as well-known, I’m sure you’ve seen a picture of these multiple waterfalls from above where you can see many of them at once. This is even one of Croatia’s ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of its two Natural Unesco Sites (the other is the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians).
Strbacki Buk is less well known than Krka or the falls of Plitvice, but it is over eighty feet tall and simply stunning. This is a photographer’s dream since the cascades drop at different levels, giving the waterfall multiple looks depending on which angle you photograph it from.
#3 Red Tourism
As a part of the former Yugoslavia, there are towering Spomeniks in Croatia that Red Tourists love to come to find. Red Tourism is travel to communist, socialist, or former communist countries, usually by people from non-communist countries to learn about the legacy of these governments.
Communist tours and monuments are great ways to learn about what life was like in Yugoslavia. Start with the Podgaric Monument, which is one of the most stunning examples of this particular form of Yugoslav public art.
Even traditionally beautiful tourist spots like Dubrovnik offer opportunities for Red Tourism. Here you can tour the Red History Museum, opened in the former Carbon Graphite’s Product Factory, which is Croatia’s first interactive museum dedicated to educating visitors about what life was like during the communist era.
#4 The Balkan Wars
Yugoslavia did not end with a whimper, it ended with a bang. The Balkan Wars that followed Yugoslavia’s collapse in the 1990s were particularly devastating, resulting in ethnic cleansing and genocide. While many focus on Serbia’s role in violence against Bosnia, Croatia does not have clean hands.
It’s done a little too good of a job whitewashing this period from its history, but you only have to visit neighboring Bosnia to see Croatia’s violent legacy from this dark time period.
Of course, Croatians suffered terribly as well, and they have their own horror stories to tell.
For those interested in learning more about this time period, Vuvokar is the best place to visit. This town on Croatia’s eastern border with Serbia was one of the first places for fighting to break out.
#5 World Cup Football
On a lighter and more recent note, Croatia made it all the way to the World Cup Finals in 2018. Though they ultimately lost to France, they were the pride of the Balkans and showed the world exactly how good and how passionate Croatia is when it comes to the world’s most popular sport.
This might be the country’s most famous World Cup appearance, but the Football tradition here is strong. They have actually competed in the World Cup five times as an independent country. Their first appearance was in 1998 when they were third! Of course, before this Croatians competed as part of the larger Yugoslav team.
#6 Beautiful Islands
The Greek islands might be more famous, but Croatia’s Adriatic islands are just as (if not more) beautiful. From Pag to Hvar, each one is a little perfect gem sitting in the middle of the Adriatic Sea.
One of the most popular ways to experience Croat’s islands is by going on a sailing adventure and island-hopping across the best ones in the country.
Different islands have different reputations. There are islands famous for nightlife and partying, while others are known as more family-friendly places. Still, others have a more romantic vibe.
There are over twelve hundred islands in Croatia, and almost fifty of them are inhabited. So make sure you research ahead of time and pick out the right island (or a mix of islands) to suit the kind of trip you want to take!
#7 Ancient Roman Ruins
If you love visiting Ancient Roman ruins, then you’ll love visiting Croatia! In Split, you’ll find the “Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian” which is a UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a really long way of explaining that Emperor Diocletian’s palace is here in Split.
Diocletian, one of the most famous of the Eastern Roman Emperors, ruled from 284 to 305 CE. His palace in Split was built during this time and was his chief residence.
Other important historic sites in Split that are part of this UNESCO World Heritage Site include twelfth-century churches and fifteenth-century palaces.
Croatia was divided into four historic regions, and Dalmatia might be the most famous. The other three are Istria, Croatia (before it was adopted as the name for the whole country), and Slavonia.
While you might associate the dog breed Dalmatians with England, Firefighters, and Walt Disney, they actually first came from historic Dalmatia on the Adriatic coast.
#9 The Necktie
The necktie originated at the cravat, which is a French mispronounce of the word Croat. French soldiers first spotted Croatian mercenaries wearing them during the seventeenth century. When they brought the tradition back to France, they attempted to name them after their originators but didn’t quite get the name right.
Cravats are wider than modern neckties and they are an extremely popular Croatian souvenir, especially in Zagreb, the country’s charming inland capital.
#10 Croatian Honey
The Balkans are famous for their honey. While every country in the region produces honey and claims that theirs is the best, you really don’t want to miss a chance to try it in Croatia. Or buy it as a souvenir.
#11 Fabulous Christmas Markets
While many people think of Croatia as a summer destination, it’s actually a fabulous place to go in Winter! Zagreb’s Christmas Market has been awarded the title of “Best European Christmas Market” three years in a row!
They truly turn the city into a winter wonderland. You can find an ice skating rink, amazing light displays, traditional food and drink, and holiday performances.
While Zagreb gets the most attention, Dubrovnik and Split also have great Christmas Markets worth seeing! If you spend a week in December Christmas Market hopping, you won’t be sorry!
There are also great winter festivals in Croatia in January and February. In January you can attend the St. Vincent Day Wine Festival in Strigova, while in February you can attend Croatia’s version of Carnivale in Split.
Just remember to dress in warm layers. Croatian winters are no joke!
#12 Pag Cheese
This hard and strong-flavored cheese comes from the island of Pag and is made from sheep’s milk. It’s regarded as the most famous artisan cheese in Croatian and can even be found in many markets outside the country.
#13 Lavender fields
While France might get all the attention for its beautiful and Instagrammable lavender fields, Croatia’s are just as lovely and easy to access. It’s becoming more and more famous, as travelers discover it during their trips.
The most famous lavender fields are located in Hvar. this island has been cultivating Lavender for centuries and during July-August the fields become wonderful and the air impregnated with the distinct lavender scent.
Croatia is an absolutely stunning country, and I highly encourage you to plan your own Croatian adventure! The top five can’t miss destinations are Dubrovnik, Split, Plitvice Lakes, Zagreb, and the island of Hvar. However, Rijeka currently serving as a European Capital of Culture, so you should put that on your Croatia itinerary as well!
Stephanie Craig has been living in, researching, and writing about the Balkans for almost four years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person. You can find her writing about Croatia and the rest of the Balkans at Sofia Adventures
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