Packed with stunning gardens featuring vibrant flowers and luxuriant greenery, criss-crossed by superb walking routes and boasting an archaeological history that stretches back through the centuries, Croatia is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to indulge a lifelong hobby, or thinking about taking up a new one. Here’s just a handful of experiences you can enjoy…
Stroll through spectacular gardens
In Dubrovnik you can visit the Franciscan Monastery and Cloister, which dates from 1317. The colonnaded cloister garden is a world away from the busy main street, a place of contemplation and tranquillity. It has a wide central walk with stone benches and an ornamental well at one end.
Master sculptor Mihoje Brajkov created elegant Romanesque twin columns with capitals carved with plant and animal motifs here, then in 1435 he added a pierced stone balustrade with fantastical carved monsters. The original plants were oranges, laurels and vegetables, but in the 19th century, palms and flowering shrubs including crêpe myrtle replaced them.
Discover the fascinating archaeology
Strolling through ancient Split reveals centuries of history, from the 3rd-century Diocletian’s Palace, to the Cathedral of St Domnius – originally the Emperor Diocletian’s mausoleum, it houses a granite sphinx that was brought back from Egypt by the emperor. Admire the Golden and Silver Gates and Jupiter’s Temple, once a Roman temple and now a bapistery to St John – it too has a guardian sphinx, albeit a headless one!
Then enjoy a visit to the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments, which houses a collection of medieval stone monuments, as well as various weapons, tools, jewellery and coins. Alternatively, seek out ancient Salona; once the third largest city in the Roman Empire, it boasts incredible Roman archaeological sights.
Explore the winding walking routes
There’s no better way to get close to the picturesque coastal villages and dramatic scenery of Makarska following the coastal paths connecting Makarska with Brela and Tucepi on foot.
From the village of Simici in the Makarska Riviera you can follow the path to Gornja (Upper) Podgora, located at the foot of the Biokovo Mountain. In 1962 a massive earthquake devastated this village, leaving behind the ruins of churches and a large keep. Following the earthquake, almost the entire population of Gornja Podgora moved to the coast, creating the port and resort of Podgora as it is today.
Overlooking the port you can see a monument known as the ‘Wings of a Seagull’ built in remembrance of the partisan navy formed here during World War II. From Podgora you can then make your way to the seaside resort of Tucepi, four kilometres south-east of Makarska, via the beautiul Osejava peninsula nature park.