Web searches for holidays to Croatia are reportedly soaring (according to youth tour operator Topdeck Travel), perhaps in part due to its starring role in Game of Thrones and the multitude of music festivals that liven up its coast during the summer months. What’s more, there are new flights, new trips… even new festivals to tempt visitors there this summer, whether to its historic cities or ravishing, island-speckled coastline.
Split the difference
People often use Split as a jumping off point for other tourist towns on the Croatian coast, or to the islands of Brac and Hvar. But how about lingering instead? Split has a wonderful Venetian city core riddled with atmospheric alleyways; plus scores of shops, bars and restaurants. There are even beaches nearby, and direct flights make it convenient for a weekend break.
Split is served this summer by a slew of new routes, including easyJet from Luton, Belfast, Newcastle and Manchester. British Airways also has a new flight from Heathrow. BA Holidays offers a package for a couple costing £1,186 for three nights at the Hotel Atrium in central Split, including flights on the new Heathrow service (26-29 July with the outbound flight in Club Europe).
Split’s Venetian core (Studio Gobbo)Hit the beach
The Istrian peninsula in northern Croatia is packed with history, Italian-influenced gastronomy and lashings of natural beauty. It’s also perfect for a beach break, with pretty stretches near Pula, Rovinj and Umag that are less crowded than those on the Dalmatian Coast. If you stay at the Park Plaza Medulin, you’re a two-minute walk from the azure Adriatic and 15 minutes from the centre of pretty Pula.
Thomson Holidays has a 14-night holiday for two at this adults-only hotel, departing on 8 August for £1,292 per person, all-inclusive. Flights are from Bristol to Pula with Thomson Airways (0871 231 4787; thomson.co.uk). Thomson also flies to Pula from Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester – and has just launched a new summer service from East Midlands.
Get festival fresh
Get down to Action Bronson, Skepta and more at new festival Fresh Island (July 15-17; 2015. fresh-island.org; festival ticket £69). It takes place at Zrce Beach on Pag (home of Hideout and Croatia Rocks). If you want the leg work done for you, Croatia Wave (croatia-wave.com) will sort you out with festival tickets, five nights’ “premium” accommodation near the site, and five free cocktails to get you started – all for £345. Book the travel to Zadar yourself. Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) has Manchester flights departing 14 July, returning 18 July for £272.
Break a sweat
Cruising the Dalmatian coast is a popular way to explore Croatia’s favoured shores. However, activity enthusiasts will be in their element on an eight-day sea kayaking voyage around the craggy, inlet-heavy Dalmatian islands, including Lopud and Sipan. Snorkelling, mountain biking and hiking are also on the cards on this Adventure Worldwide (01962 737 630;adventureworldwide.co.uk) trip. A departure from London on 29 August costs £1,169pp and includes return flights to Dubrovnik, all transportation, a week’s B&B (plus two lunches and four dinners), activities and the services of a tour leader.
If kayaking sounds like too much effort, then sailing around Croatia’s “coast of a thousand islands” is a serene option. Sunsail (020 3773 9555; sunsail.co.uk) is offering a seven- night voyage for £3,684 for a couple, departing 1 August. The cost covers hire of a three-cabin monohull yacht and flights from Heathrow to Split with Croatia Airlines, departing 1 August.
The price also includes daily morning briefings, guaranteed moorings, snorkelling equipment, a flotilla punch party and end-of-week regatta. ICC or RYA qualifications are required as a minimum for this flotilla holiday, but a skipper is available for £150 per day. Sail from the Sunsail base at Agana to beauty spots such as Krka’s waterfalls.
Alternatively, companies offering skippered boats include Yachts and Friends (020 3514 6775; yachtsandfriends.com) and The Yacht Week (0131 516 4542; theyachtweek.com). A skippered yacht with the latter costs from €730(£518)pp for a week departing 18 July, excluding flights.