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  • Oliver Smith

10 Reasons Why It's Time You Went To Croatia

If you've yet to visit Croatia, what's been keeping you? Visits from British travelers rose by more than a quarter last year on 2015, with 26 percent more overnight stays recorded by the country's tourist board.

And it’s not all down to Game of Thrones (though that has helped). Here are 10 reasons why you should join them (if you haven't already)...

1. It’s still good value

Croatia has been a member of the EU since 2013 but kept its currency, the kuna. So while the pound has suffered a massive slump against the dollar and the euro, the outlook isn't quite so alarming for UK visitors to the country.

Even in popular tourist destinations you can still find good value. A beer at all but the trendiest bars in Hvar will only cost the equivalent of a couple of quid; dinner for two at a good restaurant in Split (including wine) will set you back less than £40. Good value hotels are ubiquitous, as are cheap holiday apartments.

2. ​The Game of Thrones appeal

There is surely some correlation between Croatia’s growing popularity and its starring role in the HBO series Game of Thrones. Among the attractions to have featured are Dubrovnik, whose city walls and forts became King’s Landing; beautiful Trsteno Arboretum on the outskirts of the city, which becomes the Red Keep’s gardens; the Fortress of Klis, which is used for exterior shots of Meereen; and St Dominic Monastery in Trogir, which appears as the city of Qarth.

3. ​Its capital is heaven for coffee lovers

Zagreb is “a world away from the sun-soaked islands and seascapes of the Adriatic, with a charm all of its own”, says Jane Foster, our Croatia expert. Explore the medieval quarter, Gornji Grad, home to the 13th-century Church of St Mark and a neo-Gothic cathedral, and the very different district of Donji Grad, filled with green squares rimmed by grandiose Hapsburgian buildings and linked by tree-lined avenues, before embracing the city’s coffee culture. The city is bursting at the seams with fabulous cafes – the residents take their coffee drinking very seriously indeed. The Croatian capital's Museum of Contemporary Art is also among the best in the world.

4. ​There are spectacular beaches

Just don’t go hoping for sand. Croatia is all about picturesque pebbled beaches, lapped by crystal clear water. Zlatni Rat is the best known, and adorns just about every travel brochure, so expect crowds, but there are gorgeous hidden spots on the mainland, such as Nugal, just south of Makarska.

5. ​You can combine beach life with soaring mountains

The Biokovo mountain range contains Croatia’s second highest peak – Sveti Jure, at 1,762m – but lies just a few miles from the sea. Rise early and follow the steep zig-zagging trail, from the little village of Makar, just above the beach resort of Makarska, up to the peak of Vosac (1,422m), or, if you’re feeling very energetic, Sveti Jure. It’s a spellbinding route, scattered with wildflowers and butterflies, sweet-smelling pine trees and limestone boulders. Then head back down for a refreshing dip in the sea and a well earned gelato (the ice cream here is as good as you’ll find on the other side of the Adriatic).

6. ​Incredible national parks

Croatia has eight national parks, including the Unesco-listed Plitvice Lakes and Krka, both of which are famous for their stunning lakes and waterfalls.

7. ​There are some incredible summer festivals

Croatia hosts numerous open-air cultural festivals during the summer, the best known being the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, staged from mid-July until mid-August and attracting well-known international performers. Tiny Motovun, a hilltop village in Istria, hosts a film festival each year, with parties held within its medieval walls each night.There are also plenty of contemporary music festivals.

8. ​Party towns

Ryanair recently added Osijek to its route map - the gateway to the little-known region of Slavonia. Telegraph Travel's Adrian Bridge says: "Venture north from the city to the immaculately preserved traditional village of Karanac, where the Baranjska Kuca restaurant offers hearty Slavonian fare (smoked meats and stews are big here) and excellent local wines; to the east and the bird and wildlife-rich wetlands of the Kopacki Rit Nature Park; west to the Djakovo stud farm, in which the world famous white Lipizzaner horses are bred; or south to Vukovar, the city on the Danube that became a symbol of the Yugoslav wars, but which is now is a key stopping off point for cruise ships plying one of Europe’s greatest rivers. It is a fascinating part of the continent with rich stories and deep histories."

9. ​Has one of Europe’s tastiest regions

"Istria's international profile as a fine purveyor of quality olive oil, truffles, both white and black, and wine is growing at breakneck speed," says Telegraph Travel's Hugh Morris. "Any restaurant worth its salt in any of the peninsula's inland hill-top towns is likely to offer meals that involve all three, more than likely with ingredients sourced within a stone's throw of your table. Homemade pasta (pljukanci or fuži) with a simple cream sauce and a sprinkling of truffles and cuts of the wild asparagus that grows in the region is a must.

10. And ​because Dubrovnik is one of the world's bucket list cities

The crowds can be unbearable in peak season, but what do you expect of a city that is so eternally enchanting? For the best experience, venture to the old town in the early evening to miss the worst of the crush, walk the city walls just before they close at 7pm, then treat yourself to the set menu at Proto, which dates back to 1886 and once welcomed Edwards VIII and Wallis Simpson. Afterwards, get lost in the backstreets en route to Buza, a ramshackle bar that overlooks the sea.

So what are you waiting for? Visit the gem of the Adriatic and get to experience amazing culture, breath-taking views, exquisite Mediterranean cuisine and more.

Click here to book a trip now:

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