Croatia has a lot to offer tourists seeking all manner of escapes, but being one of the most picturesque countries in the world, it is an ideal place for a romantic holiday. Here’s a few reasons why…
We all know oysters are believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Ston on the Pelješac Peninsula has hosted oyster farms since Roman times and has a solid reputation for the best oysters in Croatia. It is also the only place where the Ostrea Edulis variety is found. Smaller than its Atlantic counterpart, it is served open on its flat side, and the meat is firmer and more richly flavoured. Ston is also on the revered Pelješac wine trail so order a bottle of the local Postup and Dingač as well, and then walk it off along the secluded sandy Divna beach to the north of the town.
Take a scenic boat ride across the harbour from a jetty outside the former Maraska (cherry) liqueur building to Zadar’s Old Town with the Barkarjoli (boatmen) of Zadar who have rowed passengers across this stretch of water since the 12th century. Stroll along the waterfront listening to the rhythms of the sea play out on Zadar’s mesmerising Sea Organ, eerily like that of mating whales. Take in the city’s famous sunsets – Hitchcock declared these most beautiful he’d seen – and enjoy the unique ‘Greeting to the Sun’ installation that projects UV light (stored during the day) into the evening sky.
Woo her by taking a water taxi from the airport to the sumptuous, sunken champagne bar of Le Meridien Lav, Split; a luxury hotel with island views. Alternatively check into one of several romantic city centre hotels, such as the Hotel Vestibul Palace and Hotel Peristil, both built within the walls of the famous Diocletian’s Palace. Stroll the city’s Riva (waterfront), stopping off at one of the many cafés for a spot of people watching.
Give the traditional sweetheart’s token: Zagreb’s licitar (gingerbread heart) is a cookie made from honeyed pastry dyed red and colourfully decorated which is traditionally presented to one’s beloved. Croatia’s little known, yet stylish capital of Zagreb is only a 2 hour flight from London. This central European city break will take your breath away with its dazzling architecture and city parks, plus a softer, more bohemian side of coffeehouses, cake shops and street performers. Its oldest parts Gradec and Kaptol are some of the most beautiful and best preserved quarters in Europe. The quirky, cobbled Upper Town is connected to the buzzing Lower Town by funicular. The exciting new ‘MSU’ or Museum of Contemporary Art which opened in late 2009 is a sure way to an art-lover’s heart. www.msu.hr
Warm the cockles of her heart on the elegant Opatija Riviera which is known for its micro-climate (Austrian ladies used to visit to enjoy the milder temperatures). It is now one of Croatia’s foremost spa centres with many wellness spas offering treatments costing 30% less than in neighbouring countries such as Italy. The lungomare (seafront promenade) stretches for 12km from nearby Lovran to the old fishing village of Volosko. Book a table at Plavi Podrum seafood restaurant and ask the country’s most famous sommelier about Croatia’s award-winning wines.
Pop The Question
Spend a weekend in Dubrovnik, one of the world’s most romantic medieval cities and do as my brother-in-law did and ask your sweetheart to marry you. Walk the city ramparts (approx 1 hr) in an anti clockwise direction and take in the coastline or watch life unfold in the 15th century, honey coloured houses within the city walls. The cityscape is breathtaking with bell towers and terracotta rooftops set against the shimmering Adriatic to one side and mountains on the other. In July 2010 a new cable car launches that will ascend Mount Srd (which towers behind the city) in around 3 minutes to 405 metres above sea level. At the top is a viewing platform plus bar and restaurant with visibility of up to 60 kilometres on clear days. www.tzdubrovnik.hr
Discover the Heart-shaped Island
Galesnjak is an uninhabited island in the Zadarski Kanal between Zadar and the Island of Pasman is the ultimate lovers’ hideaway.
Take the Plunge
The Kempinski Hotel Adriatic in Savudrija, Istria (the appropriately heart-shaped peninsula in Croatia’s north-west) is a five-star luxury coastal resort beside beautiful Adriatic Sea complete with its own Wedding Chapel! What more do you need?
For more information about Croatia telephone the Croatian National Tourist Office, 020 8563 7979 or visit the website www.croatia.hr