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5 Reasons to Visit Croatia in 2017

Secluded sands, spectacular parks and centuries-old ruins beckon.

U.S. News & World Report

5 Reasons to Visit Croatia in 2017

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Escape to Croatia to soak in striking seaside towns, natural gems and storied palaces, just in time for the country's 25th anniversary.(Getty Images)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Croatia's independence, making now an ideal time to travel to the Adriatic coast and soak in the country's versatile villages, seaside towns, parks and can't-miss natural marvels. While the country's seen an influx in tourism, with "Game of Thrones" fans flocking to the striking backdrops like Dubrovnik depicted as King's Landing in the HBO hit series, there are still plenty of isolated, off-the-beaten-track destinations that merit a visit on their own. Aside from sweeping landscapes, Croatia beckons with the right combination of natural splendors, fresh seafood, unspoiled beaches, affordable hotels and colonial architecture and culture. Best of all, a Croatia vacation offers plenty of Mediterranean sunshine, scenery and charm without high price tags, thanks to low-cost carriers offering cost-effective plane tickets, as well as the favorable exchange rate against the Croatian kuna.

If you're ready to map out a Croatia vacation to remember, read on to discover must-see attractions, can't-miss experiences and enticements for planning a trip in 2017.

You Can Marvel at 80-Foot-High Walls in Dubrovnik

Prior to the Dalmatian Coast's HBO debut on Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik's Old City has long lured history buffs. Originally built in the 7th century, an extensive expansion resulted in fortified walls that today stretch nearly 6,400 feet around Dubrovnik. Three circular towers, bulwarks, angular fortifications and the large St. John's fortress were also incorporated in the building. The fortifications were so powerful that the city's walls were never breached during the Middle Ages. And today, 1,000 residents still reside within the old city walls. In 1979, UNESCO deemed the walls of Dubrovnik a World Heritage site. For an unforgettable day viewing inspiring forts and towers, with the pristine waters of the Adriatic below, carve out time to tour the walls.

Krka National Park

One of two natural UNESCO Heritage sites in Croatia – with the other being Plitvice Lakes – Krka National Park is located in a remote park in southern Croatia. The park is so isolated that monks picked the idyllic location to build the Krka Monastery, embracing the area's unspoiled landscape. Today, five entrances make Krka National Park accessible to the public for a nominal fee. Start your tour of the park via the Skradin entrance, which is closest to seven magnificent waterfalls. Cascading down nearly 800 feet, the waterfalls offer a mesmerizing view.

You Can Discover Picturesque, Lesser-Known Gems

A small port city town on the western part of the Istrian Peninsula, Rovinj is perched along the Adriatic Sea between the Trieste and the Kvarner Gulf, and is shared by Croatia as well as Slovenia and Italy. Travel through town and you'll find streets lined with gorgeous white marble, buildings painted in bright colors and emerald waters gently lapping against the sand. But the main reason to plan a vacation to Rovinj is the food. Fresh fish, crabs and shellfish, as well as Istrian cured ham, truffle and wild asparagus, makes Rovinj a must-visit on any vacation to Croatia. Visit Atlas Restaurant for a memorable pizza slice on the Istrian Peninsula, or if pizza is not your style, travel to the farmers market and buy bottles of truffles and olive oil for less than $10.

You Can Admire Centuries-Old Roman Ruins in Split

Emperor Diocletian, who voluntarily gave up his throne to the Roman Empire at the turn of the 4th century, built his eponymous palace, which stretches a staggering 322,917 square feet. Diocletian settled on Split's beach in the Illyrian province of Rome, and today, guests can tour the ancient fortress and check out a crop of shops, cafes and homes. Plus, at Diocletian's Palace, you can can witness a Roman-style changing of the guards during the weekday and take the beauty of Split, a charming port city. When you're ready for a meal break, travel to the lively farmers market just a few blocks from the palace, where you'll find fresh produce, fruits and flowers.

You Can Explore Brac Island

Brac Island is centrally located in Dalmatia and is the third-largest island in the Adriatic. Sun-seekers who visit the resort town of Bol can stretch out along the lovely Zlat Rat (or the "Golden Cap"), a pebbly beach open to the public. But what Brac Island is well known for is its limestone. Limestone carved with seemingly infinite crevices and round coves are located through the island. You can explore all of them with a tour led by a local expert guide.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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