A few decades ago, many people wouldn't have had Croatia on their itinerary during Europe travel. The country had been invaded and overtaken countless times throughout history, but independence was established in 1991. In 2013, Croatia joined the European Union. Nowadays, it's one of the top destinations for people exploring what Europe has to offer outside of the most popular capital cities.
If you've never considered travelling east of Venice, check out what you're missing on the Croatian coast.
One of the most popular cities to visit in Croatia is Dubrovnik, where you can climb the old city walls and see centuries' worth of architecture melded together.
The city walls that surround Old Town draw many tourists. Take a walk along the expansive wall that stretches more than a kilometre around the village. According to Travel Channel, it was built during the Middle Ages and has never been infiltrated. With sections reaching up to 26 metres, there are amazing views to be seen from the top of the wall.
If you're interested in architecture and culture, stop by the Cathedral of the Assumption. Lonely Planet suggested buying a ticket into the treasury for the chance to see the painting that hangs behind the altar, which was made in Titian's workshop, as well as precious metals and relics made between the 11th and 17th centuries. The Dominican Monastery and Museum has another Titian painting that you can see, not to mention its exquisite interior. Don't be misled by the monastery's edifice, which resembles the city walls more than the aforementioned cathedral. Finally, find out what the Cultural History Museum has to offer, which is housed in the old Rector's Palace.
With more than 5,500 kilometres of coastline and at least 1,200 islands, you can sun worship in Croatia from the borders of Italy to Montenegro.
Lonely Planet recommended a trip to the Elaphite Islands, which have plenty of hiking trails and beaches in a mainly car-free setting. Three of the islands in the archipelago are inhabited, according to Rough Guides. All beautiful and mellow, Koločep, Lopud and Šipan are amazing to explore while you're in Croatia.
There are many beaches in Croatia that allow topless or nude tanning, but be sure to check local regulations before stripping down. Travel Channel explained that the northern and central islands are more likely to embrace your birthday suit, while southern regions may be more religious and modest.
Logistics and advice
The EU is known for its efficient rail system, but Croatia hasn't been brought up to snuff quite yet. Travel Channel recommended exploring your options for bus transportation if you're making your way through the country, especially between cities. You can also rent a car if you want more freedom with your itinerary. The source suggested making reservations in advance if you're going to be in Croatia during the busy summer months. Additionally, most cars have manual transmissions, so be sure to specifically request an automatic if you're not comfortable with a stick shift. For people who intend to island hop most of the trip, look into the options for public ferries. There are also different types of boats you can charter for the duration of your trip if you want to make your own schedule.
As is the case with other countries in this region, many residents are still sensitive about the violent separation from Yugoslavia. Make sure you call it by the correct name when interacting with locals, and tread lightly if you're inspired to discuss the country's history.