Traditions of the Mediterranean

With thousands of kilometers of coastline and more than a thousand islands, the Croatian coast is the Central European Riviera. The pleasant climate, gorgeous beaches, and spectacular mountains are obvious reasons to visit. But there’s a vibrant history here, too. Strategically positioned in central Europe, this land has passed between competing kingdoms, empires, and republics for millennia and the rulers of the past have all left their mark. Just a few of those remnants include ruined Roman arenas, Byzantine mosaics, Venetian bell towers, Habsburg villas, and even Communist concrete.

Most travelers to Croatia flock to the Dalmatian coast islands, visit the impressive waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes and spend some time in the cosmopolitan capital, Zagreb. But savvy travelers make time for more. We recommend the Venetian-flavored Gulf of Kvarner and the scenic Istrian peninsula, where there are generally more local farmers than foreign visitors. The Istrian peninsula is dotted with quaint hill towns, rolling vineyards, and sleepy fishing villages, making it the perfect place to slow down.

Food culture is a blend of Mediterranean and Eastern European. Simple home-style cooking is a feature of many taverns, but increasingly, a new generation of chefs is bringing a more adventurous approach to the table. If you are lucky enough to cross the tourist/guest barrier and be invited to a local’s home, you will soon become familiar with the refrain “Jedi! Jedi!”, which translates to “Eat!, Eat!”

Perhaps Croatia’s best-kept secret is the exceptional quality of its wine. Because they produce wine in small batches, they do not export like other wine-producing countries in Europe. The only way to experience it is by tasting it locally. And, in case you’re wondering, “Cheers” in Croatian is ” živjeli “, which is pronounced “Zhee -ve-lee”.

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