13 Reasons Why You Need to Get to Croatia (Before Everyone Else Does) Mary Zakheim September 8, 2016 Travel Guide 2 Comments If you’re in the market for a beautiful Mediterranean getaway, you’re probably thinking of heading to Spain, France or Italy, right? I guess those places are cool (okay, who are we kidding, they’re super for a million and a half reasons), but there’s one thing they aren’t: Croatia. Just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, this Eastern European country has long been a hidden gem, just outside of the glamorous spotlight on tourism in Europe. Until now. Armed with all of the things that make the modern traveler swoon — picturesque beaches, mouthwatering cuisine, striking nature, Gothic architecture, sunny skies — it’s hard to believe that the enclave remained an off-the-beaten-path destination for so long. So get ready to skip over more popular European cities for the Medieval magnificence, modern flair and cultural romance of Croatia. Here are 13 reasons why you need to make this country next on your hit list (before everyone else does, too). 1. Mediterranean beauty (without the crowds). Croatian coastal towns have all the sun, beauty and fun as other popular Mediterranean towns, but without the annoying crowds. Morning 👋🏻👋🏻 #sakarun #dugiotok #crostagram #ljetoincroatia A photo posted by Marina Pezer (@marinapezer) on Aug 10, 2016 at 11:21pm PDT 2. Brad Pitt is building a luxury resort there. In the coastal town of Zablace, where Pitt was recently spotted vacationing. He later remarked that Croatia is “the most beautiful country he has ever visited”. Last sunset for the summer in #zablace #croatia #jadran #dalmacija #iphone6photography #nofilter A photo posted by Valentina (@valentina_perk) on Aug 15, 2016 at 2:40am PDT 3. Game of Thrones is filmed there. Dubrovnik, the capital city, is the setting for GOT‘s royal King’s Landing. Croatia has also been used as the setting for The House of the Undying and Meereen. Visit #Dubrovnik #Croatia #gameofthrones filming locations #dalmatia #discoverdalmatia #VisitCroatia #Hrvatska #croacia #croazia #kroatien #chorwacja #europe #landscape #landscape_lovers #landscape_specialist #travelphotography #travelgram #adriatic #adriaticsea #crostagram #instatravel A photo posted by Visit Croatia (@visit.croatia) on Apr 4, 2015 at 12:18pm PDT 4. Their cycling game is strong. For adventure travelers, one must head to Istria, a peninsula shared by Croatia, Slovenia and Italy, and offers a comprehensive web of biking routes that vary from lazy coastal cruising to strenuous mountainous trails. Hello from #rovinj #croatia Went for a #bike #ride #training #roadbike #roadcycling #cannondale #supersixevo #croatiafulloflife #istria #keindlsport #shimano #fulcrumwheels #camelbak #fizik #tubulars #garmin #garminvector2 #garminconnect @spozgaj to je tvoj omiljen grad 🙂 A photo posted by Cycling Croatia (@cyclingcroatia) on Aug 3, 2016 at 10:50am PDT 5. You can actually island hop. Unlike Greece, the romanticized stories of quick and cheap island hopping are alive and well in Croatia — with over 1,000 islands and many ferry services, a lazy trip consisting of beaches and boats are well within our wallet’s grasp here. We’re sure #sailcroatia beats going to work every day of the week 😎 A photo posted by Sail Croatia (@sailcroatia) on Aug 23, 2016 at 4:13am PDT 6. The food will make an addict out of you. Wine trails, olive tree orchards, fresh seafood… What’s not to love about the deliciously seasoned, unpretentious Croatian cuisine? To eat like a local, head to foodie haven Vis! The octopus peka! #nofilter #peka #croatia #vis #veggies #octopus #seafood #pescatarian #paleo #primal #fish #nomnomnom #travel #realfoodtravel #realfood #recipes #delicious #cooking #culinary #kitchen #fresh #split #traveling #adventure #foodie #paleofood #paleodiet #stayingfit A photo posted by Real Food Travel (@realfoodtravel) on Jul 18, 2014 at 7:57pm PDT 7. Thru-hike a 1,200-mile trail. If hiking boots are always on your must-pack list, you have to try out this trail that connects the Western Balkan countries. Trek through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia for months, weeks or even days to get a unique outlook on Balkan life. A photo posted by Via Dinarica (@viadinarica) on Jul 28, 2016 at 7:39am PDT 8. You can surround yourself with lavender. In the glitzy town of Hvar, you might feel as though you’re relaxing on the French Riviera… Sparkling beaches, fields purple with lavender and wine glasses always half full promise to await you. One of the oldest towns in Europe. 💜 #leaathvar A photo posted by Leonarda_ (@leonarda_) on Sep 7, 2016 at 10:19am PDT 9. Find yourself on an art trail. We’ve heard of beer trails, wine trails and hiking trails… But now the coastal town of Istria offers a more cultured take: an art trail. Weave through the cobblestone streets, where most every cottage is either a gallery or a restaurant. #Novigrad is a real #architectural gem filled with astounding #historical #sights and rich #cultural #heritage. #ColoursofIstria #Istra #Istria #Istrien #travel #instatravel #Croatia #Hrvatska #Kroatien #Croazia #NWIstria #summer #travel #trip #vacation A photo posted by Colours of Istria (@coloursofistria) on May 31, 2016 at 3:51am PDT 10. Travel through time. Built at the height of the Roman empire, many of Croatia’s most vibrant cities still have hulking monuments that remind you of its past. Gaze at the astounding architecture in Split — some of which dates back 2,400 years! A photo posted by Gabriella Zákány (@gabriellazakany) on Sep 7, 2016 at 10:02am PDT 11. Explore nature at its finest. Tour through the jaw-dropping Plitvice Lake National Park — on your feet or from the seat of a bike — and take a peek at the country’s amazing verdant landscapes, waterfalls and biodiversity. Mutlu pazarlar💚 happy sunday🍀 Plitvice, Croatia with @oldkyrenian A photo posted by HATICE KORKMAZ THE COLOR QUEEN (@kardinalmelon) on Sep 4, 2016 at 6:35am PDT 12. Stargaze on an island. Want a front seat to the skies? Take advantage of the plentiful amount of campsites offered on the island of Krk — Croatia’s largest island. A photo posted by LIFE&VENTURES (@thelifeandventures) on Apr 9, 2016 at 7:33am PDT 13. Party hard. Music festivals, national celebrations and yacht culture prevails in this coastal country — snag a spot on the beach and get ready to dance all night in any of the country’s towns, islands, cities (or yachts). @olympics consider this our official application to make circle rafts an Olympic sport. #rio2016 #rio2016🇧🇷 #representingallnations🌎 A photo posted by The Yacht Week (@theyachtweek) on Aug 5, 2016 at 3:25am PDT Are you from Croatia or have you been there and think we left something huge off our list? Let us know in the comments!