Why Croatia should be on your Bucket List



Yes, Croatia may just have the best medieval fortress in Europe. And it has more than a thousand picturesque islands surrounded by deep blue turquoise water. But that's not the reason you should put it straight at the top of your bucket list.

You should go and see its waterfalls.

Really... waterfalls? Hello? Boring! I would have said the same.


PLITVICE NATIONAL PARK

A walk around the country's biggest national park is like a tour of a real world Avatar set - it really should be a contender for the most beautiful place on Earth.

Start at the foot of a roaring 80-metre waterfall, before winding along kilometres of boardwalk up through 16 lakes, each draining through dozens of different waterfalls that then join back into another lake. Every turn along the boardwalk reveals another set of cascades more dazzling than the last, and so it continues for six hours. In fact, there's 18km of track around the park, and busses and boats to ferry you around.


Swimming at Plitvice is banned, but you can get in the water at the Krka National Park - another smaller waterfall park a two hour drive away.

INCREDIBLE DUBROVNIK

Another sure reason to put Croatia at the top of your bucket list is Dubrovnik. No other medieval fortress in the world compares.


The old town is surrounded by a 2km wall, which you can walk around and gaze out at a maze of marble paths that connects an elaborate array of palaces and churches.

After a morning spent getting lost, take a swim in the glistening Mediterranean which surrounds the fortress.

HEAD TO THE ISLANDS


With more than 1200 islands - and only around 70 actually inhabited - Croatia has a coastline begging to be explored.

Different islands cater for everyone from campers, to nudists and all-night parties. Our favourite was the much quieter island of Korcula, where we found the clearest water we've seen outside the Maldives, and only two other people on the entire beach.

POP OVER TO BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA


When visiting Croatia it's easy to tick off another country in just a day trip. A winding two hour drive from Dubrovnik you'll find yourself in Bosnia and Herzegovina's most popular city: Mostar.

The city's charming cobblestone streets lead to its main attraction, which stood for more than 400 years before being destroyed in the Bosnian war. But the arched Stari Most (old bridge) was painstakingly rebuilt in the early 2000's using the same Ottoman techniques from 400 years ago, and now supports the main tourist attraction: bridge jumping.

Traditionally young men of the city proved their manhood by taking the 24m plunge into the freezing water below. But now 'elite' members of the Mostar Diving Club jump daily for hundreds of tourists who line the bridge in the summer season.

But the real entertainment is when a slightly crazy tourist decides to jump. For €25 you'll be trained for an hour or two on a low level platform, splashed with cold water to lessen the impact, then jump in front of thousands of cheering tourists (knowing some who've done it before you, never made it). A small bonus is if you survive, you can jump off the bridge again for the rest of your life for free.


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