What with it holding the title of one of Europe’s sunniest spots (and a handy 2 1/2 hour flight from London), Croatia is top of our travel hotlist. Frustratingly, the worldwide appeal of Game of Thrones has now put it on a few more radars than before, with tourism rising sharply since 2015. But it’s still seen as a little off the beaten track for many, making many of Croatia’s hotspots still relatively tourist-free.
The beaches here are magnificent. With 116 Blue Flag beaches, the coastal resorts boast crystal clear waters; Hvar, Pag, Split and the island of Brač are some of the beach highlights of this weekend-worthy destination but expect fine shingle rather than white sand. Turquoise water is, however, a given. Perhaps best seen by boat, alternatively visit UNESCO-listed Dubrovnik to combine culture with a seabreeze. Dubrovnik’s rich history stems back to the 7th century. Take the cable car up to the panoramic views of Sdrj and visit the Imperial Fortress, walk the 25-metre high walls that surround the city and take in Dubrovni’s most spectacular religious buildings.
What to avoid? Well, the festival scene has exploded in Croatia in the last few years, so make sure you avoid the revellers who flock to Zagreb and Pag every summer, unless you’re happy when surrounded by teenagers in tassles and hotpants.
Croatia makes my heart sing
Villa Dubrovnik is a stunning cliffside spa hotel with glorious sea views. With James Bond-style boat transfers to Dubrovnik Town, you can maintain an air of peace when escaping the summer crowds. With its sleek rooms, chic spa and wonderfully atmospheric restaurant, the hotel is chi-chi with a capital C. A cool rooftop bar, indoor pool and access to the beach, makes it the perfect base to explore one of Croatia’s coolest cities.
Carved into a cliff 30-metres above Miramare Bay, this hotel is only a short walk away from the Old Town. It has its own secluded pebble beach and an indoor pool, both a rarity in Dubrovnik. The hotel also has a wellness centre with Energy Clinic, two unique restaurants and a stylish lounge bar. All the rooms feature flat-screen satellite TV’s, sea views and nautical themes galore.
Ok, so this might not be for everyone, but boy is Obonjan unique. Every summer, the island hosts a 10-week-long festival for grown-ups, just off the coast of Šibenik. Surrounded by pine trees and crystal clear sea, accommodation consists of over 200 safari-style tents and lodges. Some even boast private terraces with sea views – the perfect retreat for when you need a little peace and quiet. This is wellbeing at its finest. There’s a Zen Den wellness centre and obligatory juice bar but the restaurants more than deliver; head for the Curry Bowl or Pavilion Pizza to stock up on those carbs. With sumptuous cushions on South Beach and DJ’s playing under the stars, this is well worth travelling the extra distance from Split.
This is gorgeous seafront hotel is located in a secluded bay just 20 minutes’ walk from Hvar. Known for its elegant 16th century buildings, fresh seafood and prime yacht-spotting, this is a must before you head to Dubrovnik. With a lovely garden restaurant and a private bathing area, you can snorkel to your hearts content. The hotel also has a small outdoor pool and wellness centre with sauna and Jacuzzi.