On September 18, 2012Alex Crevar answered the question:Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest that right now is the right time to visit Croatia because after years of transition, this seaside nation has put its past behind it and is getting down to what it does best: hosting visitors hungry for its island-studded shoreline. Also, after 50 years of communism, Croatia has learned how to separate its formerly collectivized gourmet ingredients and hone their excellence. Where red and white wines were once general table varieties, for instance, they are now top-shelf merlots, cabernets and chardonnays. Finally, on July 1, 2013, Croatia is slated to join the European Union. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean permanent change, Croatia will certainly find itself in another unprecedented time of transition. The upshot? Visiting Croatia during its fully independent days means visiting Croatia now.
On September 18, 2012Alex Crevar answered the question:The best thing to bring home from Croatia is wine. You may not have heard about Croatian varieties yet, but Forbes Travel Guide thinks that’s likely to change. The mixture of tradition (the country’s methods date back to the Greeks), magnificent terrain and technology have all intersected to make today’s perfect vino. And since this is a small country, the amount of wine they export is limited. So once you return home and pull out one of your bottles of Croatian red or white, we doubt that any of your guests will have seen the label before.
On September 18, 2012Alex Crevar answered the question:The five best food experiences in Croatia span the length of the country and include both sea and terrestrial treats. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s top five picks:
1. Eating truffles in Istria. Though France and Italy are better known for truffles, the central part of Croatia’s northern peninsula — especially between the towns of Motovun and Buzet — is dense with these tuber diamonds. The best time to enjoy dishes covered with truffle shavings is in the fall.
2. Oysters on the Pelješac Peninsula. About an hour north of Dubrovnik, in the town of Mali Ston, oystermen from the adjacent bay deliver fresh goods straight from the water to the tables of the three shore-side restaurants.
3. Cheese from Pag Island. When the salty wind blows across the island and covers herbs like rosemary, the result is perfectly cured sheep food and, thus, magnificent cheese that has a taste similar to (but we think better than) Parmesan.
4. Olive oil from the southern half of Istria. The peninsula’s northerly position makes for top oil that’s low in acidity. The epicenter of this oil-making region is the town of Vodnjan.
5. Dalmatian pršut. In northern Dalmatia, near the city of Zadar, prosciutto (cured ham; known here as pršut) is a way of life. The villages of Drniš and Posedarje are perhaps the most famous for its production, but families throughout the region hang legs of pršut in open attics to cure in the strong, salty northern wind.
On September 18, 2012Alex Crevar answered the question:The best nightlife in Croatia is on Zrće Beach, near the town of Novella and along the north side of Pag Island, according to our Forbes Travel Guide editors. This is where the country’s version of Ibiza kicks into gear and stays at full tilt all summer long — and where you’ll find a long, smooth-pebbled strip of coastline that’s dotted with waterside nightclubs. Depending on the day or night, the businesses on this strip are constantly morphing from cafés to lounges to dance parties steered by international DJs. Expect lots of scantily clad sun worshipers, go-go dancers and smiling faces on bronzed bodies.
On September 18, 2012Alex Crevar answered the question:Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest that the best way to see Croatia in one day is to visit the Istrian Peninsula. It’s lodged between Croatia and Italy, making it a perfect hybrid of the two — a dream spot for both beach lovers and gourmands. Once on Istria, go to the city of Rovinj. It serves as a great representative of Croatia and is a one-stop-shop for all the tastes, sounds and sensations of this densely textured country. Here, on the western coast and above an oyster-filled canal, Venice meets the Habsburgs; truffles, olive oil and wine meet great seafood; and old world Slavic ways intertwine with western European modernity.
On September 18, 2012Alex Crevar answered the question:Forbes Travel Guide editors say the best shopping in Croatia is found along Ilica Street in Zagreb. Not only is this avenue one of the capital’s longest streets, it is also one of the chicest. Window shopping here means sharing sidewalk space with high-heeled women and dapper men donning the latest styles. Cafes and eateries frame the promenade, where boutiques and stores such as Lacoste, Juicy Couture, Max Mara, Hugo Boss and Givenchy — which are either on the avenue or just off of it — make any serious shopper feel right at home.
On September 18, 2012Alex Crevar answered the question:The numerous opportunities for kids in Croatia vary from historical to active. And here’s the best news: There are so many options in this child-friendly European country, you’re unlikely to make a wrong step. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s top five picks for kids:
1. Take a sailing course. Hvar Adventure, on the island of Hvar, offers sailing trips and lessons that cater to all levels and teaches boating theory while cruising through the Adriatic islands.
2. Dubrovnik by cable car. Get a bird’s-eye view of the ancient city with a ride on a cable car, which takes passengers from the city center to the top of Srđ Hill, more than 1,300 feet above the sea.
3. Get a history lesson in Zagreb. Museums can be heavy for kids, but the Zagreb City Museum is a swirl of interactive exhibits that cover everything from archeological collections to photojournalism. The room-sized model of Lower Town is a favorite that will have children and parents alike mapping out the rest of their stay in the Croatian capital.
4. Tour the Palace. The city of Split, on the mainland, is the unofficial capital of Dalmatia. The nexus of this ancient town is the palace built by Roman emperor Diocletian in 305 AD. Take the little ones on a tour of this living museum where, even today, citizens live, work, shop, eat and carouse among the columns and temples.
5. Sleep under the stars. Paklenica National Park is a dream for families looking to get away from the hustle and bustle. Located on a beach underneath the Velebit Mountain range, the park’s campsite is an ideal spot to explore caves and offers more than 100 miles of hiking paths. Bonus: Kids between the ages of 12 to 18 are half-price and children under 12 are free.
On September 18, 2012Alex Crevar answered the question:Though Croatia is small (roughly the size of West Virginia), the influences shaping its architecture, gastronomy and personality are vast. The Greek, Roman, Venetian and Habsburg Empires have all had a hand in the country visitors enjoy today. Thus the activities aren’t just the beach-bound varieties — as you might expect of a place with more than 1,000 islands. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best things to see and do in Croatia:
1. Go island hopping. Croatia has 1,244 islands (only a fraction are inhabited) bobbing above the surface of the Adriatic Sea. Some of the most popular are those of Central Dalmatia, which include Hvar, Vis and Brač.
2. Become a foodie. The Istrian Peninsula, in Croatia’s northwest corner, has been described as the new Tuscany. It is brimming with vineyards producing magnificent wine, olive oil makers with scrumptious oils and even great truffle hunting. When one combines these ingredients with the fresh fish surrounding its shores, you have the recipe for a top-notch progressive dinner.
3. Get natural. Croatia has eight national parks, where the country’s pristine natural heritage is frozen in time. One of the oldest and most popular is Plitvice Lakes, a UNESCO site. Some 16 lakes are connected via an underground river network, which flows through a limestone landscape and over travertine dams. The result: boardwalks surrounded by dramatic falls.
4. Walk the walls. Dubrovnik, in the far southern tip of the country, has ancient protective walls, which completely surround the Old Town — and walking around them is a rite of passage for any Croatian visitor. Completely enclosed by the 14th century, Dubrovnik’s walls are more than 80 feet high and nearly 20 feet wide in places. They also provide stunning views of the sea.
5. Cruise the capital. Often visitors are so focused on getting to the coast that they overlook one of the most interesting capital cities in central Europe: Zagreb. This walkable city lathered in Secessionist architecture feels like a miniature Vienna and is loaded with parks, museums, restaurants and vibrant nightlife. Visit the Mimara Museum, which has more than 3,000 art pieces, and make sure to take in the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, with its mammoth Gothic steeples reaching more than 350 feet.
On July 3, 2012Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Because of all its natural, high-end ingredients, Croatia is a great place to eat — a point that often gets overlooked. Here is Forbes Travel Guide’s take on the five best places to eat in Croatia:
1. Hotel Boškinac (Pag Island). Located in Novalja on Pag Island, this family-owned restaurant is part of a boutique hotel and vineyard complex that’s helping to change the rules of service and quality in Croatia. The menu celebrates the country’s inland and island traditions, serving locally sourced dishes like roasted lamb, octopus salad and tuna.
2. Konoba Bako (Vis Island). Year in and year out, this tavern ranks among the best seafood restaurants in the country. Classically Dalmatian with its old-stone decor, you can’t go wrong with any of the grilled fish you choose. However, those in the know rave over the local specialty of brodet: a stew with lobster.
3. Konoba Morgan (Istria). Located in the village of Buje on the Istrian Peninsula’s northwest corner, this down-home bistro is a secret to many. But those who know of owner Marko Morgan’s game-filled dishes like polenta with wild boar or rabbit will tell you this is one of the best eateries in the country.
4. Restaurant Nautika (Dubrovnik). Located inside the former Dubrovnik School of Maritime Studies, Nautika specializes in Mediterranean dishes. It combines top-shelf seafood (with luxurious ingredients like truffles) and a seductive setting on the sea.
5. Marcellino (Zagreb). This fashionable spot — its upscale dining room is enclosed in glass and overlooks a leafy park — serves dishes like veal, salmon and baked lamb.
On July 3, 2012Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Every year Croatia improves its accommodations on offer by leaps and bounds. Today visitors will find a growing number of international luxury hotels and tasteful boutiques in every corner of the country. Here is Forbes Travel Guide’s take on the five best places to stay in Croatia:
1. The Regent Esplanade Hotel Zagreb (Zagreb). This luxury spot is the Grand Dame of Croatia’s hotel scene. Built in 1925 for passengers traveling with the Orient Express, its 208 rooms combine a 1920s Art Deco-style with overstuffed furniture and marble bathrooms.
2. Design Hotel Astoria (Opatija). For a more modern turn, stay at this hotel in Opatija. Though it was a grand hotel in an old villa in the early 1900s, today it has been remodeled with a sleek and minimalist look. Many of the rooms come with balconies — be sure to ask for one that overlooks the sea.
3. Stancija Meneghetti (Istria). If you had to choose one place to stay in Croatia, this would be it. Stancija Meneghetti, a former Austrian admiral’s villa built in the 19th century, sits among olive orchards and vineyards, just a mile or so from the beach. The estate, which sleeps 10, is outfitted in a modern manor style with all the latest gadgets and a rustic charm. Exposed-beam ceilings and tile floors surround an elegant but not overstated interior decor. Outside, the terrace-filled grounds boast a swimming pool set among the grapevines.
4. Hotel Pucić Palace (Dubrovnik). Located in a 17th-century, luxuriously outfitted structure in the heart of Old Town Dubrovnik, this 19-unit boutique hotel combines a prime location with an amazing gourmet experience at its Café Royal.
5. Kempinski Hotel Adriatic. Open since 2009 in Istria’s northwest corner, this signature Kempinski hotel has a championship golf course and a spa to accompany rooms appointed with sleek, minimalist furniture and framed by terraces that overlook the Adriatic Sea.