Spotlight on Croatia

By Méabh Riordan

A Mediterranean paradise surrounded by the azure blue Adriatic Sea and decorated with over a 1000 islands, Croatia is the latest Eastern European hotspot. Being the landscape to Game of Thrones has lent radar to the idyllic, sunny European destination; however the country’s panorama speaks for itself. Think ‘instagoals.’ Think Croatia.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s book the flights for next month?  Maybe there’s a Christmas Market? (Spoiler alert, there is – Advent in Zagreb is the best known.) Unfortunately,  Croatia is not the most accessible of places.

Prohibiting recommended travel times made by the travel blog, are available flights. Despite the suggestion of visiting during off-peak times, with special reference to September, Irish airlines do not coincide with said proposals. Ryanair fly only to Zadar, the Dalmatian coastal city renowned for it’s unique melodious sea organ. Flights from Dublin to Zadar are incipient March 26th and work out a costly one way flight.

There is little difference when it comes to Aerlingus flights, with prices falling into the standard €75-80 range. When it comes to choosing your airline equating ten euro flash sales with comfort is futile; it’s all about location, location, location. Aerlingus fly three Croatian destinations – Dubrovnik, Pula and Split. This doesn’t however sway travel time in your favour with earliest flights to Dubrovnik starting 23rd May and Split from Tuesday 29th May.

Travel grievances aside, the ‘picture perfect towns’ that epitomise Croatia according to Lonely Planet are worth the inconvenience. The vibrant capital city of Zagreb is a cultural hub brimming with galleries, cinemas, cafés and Austro-Hungarian architecture. One of the city’s top sights is ‘The Museum of Broken Relationships’; consisting of donations from all over the world, of which encapsulate personal heartbreaks. The now permanent exhibition is situated in the baroque Kulmer palace and is a ‘unique emotional journey around the world through hundreds of break-ups’, not to be missed.

Mirogoj Cemetery may seem a melancholic excursion but is undoubtedly an impressive and opulent sight.  Croatians celebrate the day of the dead, November 1st, by lighting candles on all the cemetery’s graves, and a visit on the eve ‘is a spectacular thing to see’ according to TripAdvisor.

Croatia is Europe’s hidden gem. With a wealth of both quaint and scenic towns and expansively breath-taking coastline views, it’s at the top of a lot of travel bucket lists. Dubrovnik and its infamous association with tourists has overshadowed the country’s beauty. But why not head to the capital- to Croatia’s ‘King’s Landing.’

Méabh Riordan

Image Credit: Joseph O’Gorman