On July 1, Croatia officially became the 28th member of the European Union. This Balkan country has been a hot tourist destination for about ten years now, drawing visitors with its idyllic landscapes and rich natural and cultural heritage. A look at the country's must-sees.
Away from the coast, the Croatian capital is renowned for its warm, welcoming ambiance and its style of architecture, characteristically Central European. Historic monuments include the neo-gothic Cathedral of St Stephen.
Located in the south of the country, the cities in the region of Dalmatia are among the country's most visited areas: Dubrovnik, often called "the pearl of the Adriatic," boasts medieval architecture and fortifications that are listed on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites; the center of Split is home to the iconic palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian (3rd century BC); and picturesque Zadar is known for its narrow white paved streets.
More than a thousand islands and islets stretch along the Croatian coast, nestled with beaches. Hvar, the most famous island, is a haven for the jetset. Krk, in the northern Adriatic Sea, is the largest of the islands, while the island of Pag, renowned for its peaceful creeks, is also home to the town of Novalja, a favorite spot for beach parties.
There are eight national parks in Croatia, contributing to the preservation of the country's ecosystem and natural heritage. These parks are full of various plant species as well as being refuges for wild animals (bears, lynxes, wolves). Plitvice and its 16 interconnected lakes and Krka with its dizzyingly high waterfalls are both must-sees.
The Dubrovnik Summer Festival (July 10-August 25) will be the main event of the summer, featuring performances of theater, ballet and classical music in stunning monuments. Opera is in the spotlight during the Split Summer Festival (July 14-August 14) and the Dubrovnik International Opera Festival (July 3-6). Electronic-music fans meet up at the Tisno Garden Festival (July 3-10) while film buffs can enjoy outdoor screenings at the Pula Film Festival (July 13-27).