The Top 10 Best Things About Croatia

The Neretva River Delta grows enough citrus to serve several countries.

The Neretva River Delta grows enough citrus to serve several countries.

Counting down, these items make my list of the ten best things I discovered about Croatia.

10. Fresh fruits and vegetables

There is a great choice of fruits and vegetables during the harvest season.

The fresh markets offer a great choice of fruits and vegetables during the harvest season.

Everything grows fresh in Croatia.  We were fortunate to be living in Croatia during harvest season.  There were melons, pomegranates, figs, plums, grapes and apples.  And there was citrus.  Almost the entire Neretva River Delta is planted with citrus – mandarins, lemons and several varieties of oranges and they are quite affordable.  Other fruits like bananas and tropical fruits are imported.  The variety seems endless and prices are quite good. 

9.   Coffee

Every place we have visited has a coffee bar (or two or three) on every block, or so it seems.  I am not saying that the coffee is as good as what we could purchase at every market in Panama or Costa Rica where it was grown and picked and roasted within walking distance of our house.  But every café, bar and coffee shop in Croatia has an espresso machine, and it is a custom in Croatia to ‘take coffee’ for almost any occasion.

8.   Olive oil and wine

There are countless vineyards and olive tree groves throughout Croatia.

There are countless vineyards and olive tree groves throughout Croatia.

I think everyone in Croatia either has their own olive trees or is related to someone who does.  The same goes for vineyards.  They make a lot of olive oil in Croatia, and they also make a lot of wine.  Production numbers seem small compared to wine growing regions in other parts of the world, but Croatia’s population is only about 4.5 million, and they consume most of what they produce.  However, wine lovers who get a taste of the finer Croatian wines will likely wish to add some bottles to their collections.

7.   Cheese

Farm fresh is not just a saying in Croatia.  Yes, this was my first time milking a cow.

Farm fresh is not just a saying in Croatia. Yes, this was my first time milking a cow.

I confess I love cheese.  And I have come to learn that not every country has great cheeses.  Croatia got it right!  There is probably as much cheese-making tradition in Croatia as there is making olive oil and wine.  Lucky for me!

6.   Bakery breads and other goodies

You should not expect to find a bread aisle in the supermarket.  All breads, cakes, cookies, and other baked goods are made fresh daily in a bakery.  There are in-store bakeries and independent bakery shops on nearly every block in the commercial areas.  Many Croatians still bake their own items if they have time.

5.   Natural beauty

The waters of the Lika River are scenic and pure.

The waters of the Lika River are scenic and pure.

Where do I begin?  The Dalmatian Coast, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Skradinski Falls in Krka National Park, the Neretva River Delta, Lake Vrana, the mountains, the forests, the islands, the natural springs.  Croatia is so diverse that the list of scenic spots seems never ending. 

4.   Clean air

To me there are two key items that define ‘quality of life.’  Being able to breathe clean air is one of those things, and it is not a given everywhere.  It is in Croatia, especially on the Dalmatian Coast with its steady breezes.

3.   Clean water

These springs in Lika County have provided fresh water to the area for two thousand years.

These springs in Lika County have provided fresh water to the area for two thousand years.

This is the second key ‘quality of life’ item, and Croatia has abundant resources of clear, clean water.  Many of their rivers are spring-fed at their sources.  You can dip your cup or water bottle into most streams and expect to get pure water better than the bottled water for sale at the market.  Wherever I travel I compare the water with what I experienced in my youth hiking past creeks and streams in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains.  Clean water is not a given everywhere.  It is in Croatia.

2.   History and Culture

The medieval fortress near Samobar reminds of the civilization that existed here long ago.

The medieval fortress near Samobor reminds us of the civilization that existed here long ago.

Croatia may have finally appeared as a country on geography maps in the last twenty years.  However, as a region with a distinct culture, Croatia has a history of its own dating back over 1,500 years.  Many of the traditional foods, dress, music and dances are still common today.  They have their own language, their own art, their great legends and their heroes.  All of these traditions are woven into the fabric of everyday life.  One of the great things about traveling in Croatia is the people are eager to tell their stories and share their culture.

1.   The people

The friends we made in Croatia will be our most lasting memories.

The friends we made in Croatia will be our most treasured memories.

I have said this before and it bears repeating.  The people of Croatia have been among the most welcoming, most hospitable and most caring of any we have met in any country we have visited.  They care how you feel about their country and about them.  They want you to appreciate the beauty, the history and culture, the food, the wine, and their hospitality.  And I do!

One more thing, the women in Croatia are quite style-conscious.  In the cities and towns women seldom go out in public without putting on makeup and nice clothes.  At first I thought there was simply a high percentage of striking-looking women.  Then I realized that women of all ages take great care to look their best in public.  The men, not so much.  They may be ruggedly handsome, but they do not dress up unless they are hoping to impress the women.  That however, is a whole new story.

 

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17 comments on “The Top 10 Best Things About Croatia

  1. justpackabag says:

    This is my dream trip! Thanks for the info!

  2. As I’ve told you, I was interested in Croatia before, now it is high on my bucket list of places to go! Your posts on this region, Mike, have been amazing! Such beautiful snapshots of the people, food, outdoors… I can honestly say, I’ve enjoyed every single one of the Croatia posts! The photos have really captured so many stunning images, but your writing really brings home the passion you’ve had for this place. I can’t wait to see what you find in Spain, but Croatia will be hard to forget! Bon voyage, mon amie.

    • Mike Lince says:

      Florence and I were just talking about how Croatia has exceeded all of our expectations, and as we move to a new country, we believe Croatia has set the bar quite high for comfort, convenience and enjoyment. That can only happen when people take an active interest in supporting us, and that is exactly what has happened here. There were a few goodbyes that left us on the verge of tears. We know we will always have friends who will happily welcome us anytime we return, and they will continue to follow our travels. Thank you for following along, too!
      Ciao, for now. – Mike

  3. reocochran says:

    The post is excellent and has all kinds of neat facts and interesting pictures of the humanity you find filled with nice people. I love your stories, the summary of the top ten best things about Croatia is a wonderful summary! I told my brother who loves science about the Tesla story and statue. Thank you for all the very astute comments on my blog, as always! Hugs, Robin

    • Mike Lince says:

      When I sat down to summarize my favorite recollections of Croatia, this list just rolled out quickly. I probably could have made a longer list, but nobody cares about the ‘second 10 best things’ so I kept it to ten. I cannot honestly think of anything bad to say about Croatia. It was just the best experience imaginable to call it our home for a few months. As usual, Florence gets the credit for the photos. – Mike

  4. Croatia is definitely my kind of place Mike, and your Top 10 proves it. I don’t think the country could have better advocates than you and Florence. Here’s to your next home and more wonderful experiences. ~Terri

    • Mike Lince says:

      Many thanks. If you ever make it to Croatia there are a number of contacts we can suggest to help make your visit the most enjoyable experience possible. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. – Mike

      • We love Croatia Mike, but didn’t get to see nearly enough of it! Thanks to all of your great posts, it will always be on our “Let’s go back to” list. 🙂 ~Terri

  5. You had me at fruit, but lost me at cheese (haha!!). Most of the other things on your list, however; were great selling points for me. Great roundup Mike!

    • Mike Lince says:

      Thanks, Celeste. I am aware that I have not made the full transition to vegan. Mostly, that is due to not being stationary and having consistent access to vegan options other than restaurants. Plus, I really do love cheese. 🙂 – Mike

  6. Just stumbled across your Blog and so pleased to have found you! Wonderful list, it’s so lovely to hear about how much you enjoyed your time in Croatia. We are originally from the UK and have been living for 3 years on Korcula Island. OK so things can be frustrating here when it comes to getting things done (!!), but your list sums up much of our love for the country too. Hope you come back soon!

    • Mike Lince says:

      I am pleased you found me and shared your comments. We loved Korcula, the island and the town. I love the islands. However, I don’t think I would wish to live on one of them. I like it quiet, but not that quiet. Plus, we don’t have a car so we rely on public transportation to get around. We look forward to returning to Croatia one day. There is so much to see. – Mike

  7. weltohnegeld says:

    As I am one of those people who know Croatia for years, and followed the progress after war, I ve got to say – it’s so easy to tell about Croatia’s beauty, people, wine, oil, water, nature and so on and so on – you could enlarge the list endlessly…because there is no ugly!!! So congratulations to this summary, I saw new and well known too! But i#m happy every time i find something about my “home by heart”…The only thing I have got to mention is: dirt and waste brought by us – the tourists but brought by the sea either!!! If we really love this land, and I know we do, we should help in a quiet way to put away a little part of all that dirt we’re responsible for too! If everybody takes everyday 1 bottle of plastics or tin can from beach or way to the beach or whereever it disturbs the beauty – and take it with us and dispose it into waste boxes – the best would be to out it into the right recycle waste boxes! What do you think about this? Is it possible to get people to follow this idea? I will start this project this year – until now there is no website or fb site – but all is coming up soon, until that we can do that without, simply doing, if wanting to share! To spread the idea social media is perfect – time is perfect – holiday saison 2014 hasnt started yet but is going to come up!!! So – I love your fotos and your text too! to keep it that beautitul we have to act – NOW! We cant leave our croatian hosts alone with that problem – that’s my opinion!!!

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