Visit small towns for their big stories
The "small country for a big vacation" is filled with picturesque and unusual little towns in which big things happen! Each one has its own story and personality that makes it worth taking the time to both find it and find out all about it.
This little town has been an Istrian must-see for years, due to its unusual title: Hum is said to be the smallest town on Earth! In 2001 only 17 people lived there, and today there are 30! The doors of Hum, through which you have to pass in order to enter the town, stand decorated with 12 medallions representing months of the year. The doors are also the last stop of the Glagolitic Alley. The lunch you can have at the Hum tavern will certainly live up to the reputation Istrian cuisine boasts! While there, you can also sample the legendary biska, the Istrian mistletoe brandy.
This charming little town on Pelješac, the second largest peninsula in Croatia, is famous for three things, in Croatia and all around the word: the Walls of Ston, the Ston Saltworks and the famous oysters from the Malostonski Bay. The 5,5 kilometers long walls connecting Ston and Mali Ston are one of the biggest building ventures from the Middle Ages. Once incredibly important as the defense of the saltworks and oyster farms which existed here in ancient Roman times, today an unforgettable site to visit.
In addition to the Ston Saltworks, in Croatia there is another highly regarded source of salt – the Nin Saltworks. This is not only a successful business (the award-winning Nin salt was even made into a souvenir in 2011), but also a protected Nature Park which is a home to 90 species of birds. The Saltworks is also the reason why the small town some 15 kilometer northwest of Zadar bears the title of a European Destination of Excellence. This little jewel, founded in ancient times on an island 500 meters in diameter, is a place were you can find stunning beaches, medicinal mud and the smallest cathedral in the world.
Istria is full of beautiful hills which serve as homes to unusual small towns, each with its own story and tradition. The most famous among them is the one that lies in northern Istria and is home to the smallest film festival in the world – Motovun. Since 1999, film aficionados have been besieging this small medieval town founded on a very steep hill to watch movies in its narrow streets and old fashioned squares, surrounded by the best preserved Istrian medieval fort and, beyond the town's limits, by the legendary Motovun forest, known for truffles since the Roman times.
Traveling through Istria, you will see creativity at work everywhere. But only one place in Istria has focused so completely on art - Grožnjan. This small town is known as the "Town of Artists" due to the fact that it is a place with only 193 inhabitants featuring a whopping 60 art galleries and ateliers. Grožnjan is also a gracious host to the summer film school called Imaginary Academy and to the International Cultural Centre of Jeunesses Musicales. There can be no true specialization in Istria, so Grožnjan is also a member of the City of Olive Oil Association.
Known mostly for its July folklore festival of Đakovački vezovi this small town in eastern Croatia was first inhabited five thousand years BC. Afterwards it became a bishop's town, then it spent 150 years under the Turkish rule after which it also laboured for some time under the Austrians. Discovering the traces of all these cultures is an unforgettable experience which will be heightened by the Đakovo State Stud Farm, famous for the Lipizzaner horses it breads.
Once it was the Greek town of Epidaurus, today it is a true paradise of the Mediterranean as it once was. Situated in the very south of Croatia, some twenty kilometers from Dubrovnik, Cavtat features a beautiful promenade, interesting architecture and stunning nature. The Vlaho Bukovac gallery is just the right thing to satisfy visitors who want more than breathtaking nature, along with the heritage of the biggest Croatian bibliophile, Baltazar Bogišić, whose collection can be seen in Cavtat because the famous 19th century scientist willed it to his home town.
The queen of tourism in Croatia is also its eldest lady – Opatija, the place where more than a hundred years ago members of royal and noble families of Europe took their vacations. Take a walk down Lungomare (Seaside Promenade) that was strolled on, and in some sections constructed for, kings and queens, swim under the famous statue of the Girl with the Seagull and enjoy everything the local tourist offers can give you – you will be amazed by what dedication and a hundred years of experience can come up with.
The diversity of Croatia has always delighted visitors and the same can be said of its tourist offers. Still, some of her jewels remain hidden even today, quite undeservedly so. Scattered all over the country, they are worth every minute and every effort spent in discovering them.
One thing rarely crosses our minds when picking a vacation destination and yet we do think of it quite often while decorating our homes – the importance and influence of colors. Blue does not do for the living room or study, calming though it is, since it induces depression and exudes cold. On the other hand, green is the current queen of interior design: it relaxes the body, diminishes stress and improves vision. However important our living environment may be, the best way to get exposed to colors is in nature. Because nothing calms the soul like a body in movement surrounded by the beautiful shades nature creates
Every coast is charming in its own way, but once you experience the beautiful blue Adriatic, you will never want to leave! Small islands, interesting peninsulas, uninhabited isles and heart shaped islets, hidden coves and even more hidden vineyards in stunning bays will thrill you almost as much as the fantastic people who have chosen to build their lives in this at times cruel but always breathtaking beauty, far away from the mainland.
Croatia is most often referred to as the country with a thousand islands, but in this small country for a big vacation, there are over a thousand castles, palaces and forts as well. Some are home to museums, some to hotels, and in some people still live, be they in private hands or just happen to have towns grown around them.
Croatia is a small country extremely rich in history. Since the seventh century, when Croats are supposed to have arrived to this territory, countless armies have marched through it, antique empires built their strongholds in it, but we stubbornly kept claiming what we considered ours. The cultural diversity of all these centuries has become an integral part of our identity.
Wherever you might find yourself in Croatia, you are likely to stumble upon fragments of history: Zagorje and Slavonija are full of burgs, forts, castles, but also prehistoric archaeological sites, while Dalmatia and Istria are brimming with traces of antiquity, Byzantium, medieval times and the Renaissance carved into stone. Tribes, nations and rulers have succeeded each other with a higher frequency than anywhere else, as can be seen in the recent turbulent history of the region.
Every country has its charms, but some places are truly special; whether they are the result of natural processes, remains of ancient civilizations, or cities with ancient histories that still overflow with life. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known as UNESCO, has formed a World Heritage List of sites that serves to protect these magnificent localities, whether they belong to natural or cultural heritage, or sometimes both. In Croatia, seven sites have been inscribed on the List in the last 36 years, while 15 more have been nominated.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do, goes the ancient proverb. It is the best advice any traveler ever got. Go local and do everything locals do in order to live the country you are visiting!