A fascinating land with a hard-fought history in a complex corner of Europe, Croatia is emerging as one of Europe's top destinations. Sampling the very best of Croatia, we start by exploring the fabled Dalmatian Coast from dramatic Dubrovnik to crusty Adriatic island ports. Heading inland, we hike through Plitvice Lakes National Park and enjoy the thriving capital city Zagreb. Our Croatian finale: the Istrian Peninsula and its enchanting port town of Rovinj.
Apartments Lenni in Korčula
Apartments Lenni is run by Lenni and Periša (Peter) Modrinić, both of whom are outgoing and speak good English. They rent three tight, modern, comfortable rooms (one with a private bathroom across the hall) and three apartments in a nicely renovated house right in the heart of the Old Town. Since they live off-site, confirm your reservation the day before and let them know your arrival time (near Konoba Marko Polo restaurant at Jakova Baničevića 13, tel. 020/711-400, mobile 091-551-6592, www.ikorcula.net/lenni, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Diocletian's Palace in Split
The remains of Roman Emperor Diocletian's enormous retirement palace sit on the harbor in the heart of the city. Since the ruins themselves are now integrated with the city's street plan, exploring them is free (though you'll pay to enter a few parts, such as the cellars and the cathedral/mausoleum). Fragments of the palace are poorly marked, and there are no good guidebooks or audioguides for tracking down the remains, making Split a good place to take a walking tour (www.travel49.com) or hire a local guide (guide association tel. & fax 021/346-267, mobile 098-361-936, www.guides.hr).
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice is one of Europe's most spectacular natural wonders — a refreshing playground of 16 terraced lakes, separated by natural travertine dams and connected by countless waterfalls. Over time, the water has simultaneously carved out, and, with the help of mineral deposits, built up this fluid landscape. Countless cascades and water that's both strangely clear and full of vibrant colors make this park a misty natural wonderland. Plitvice's 16 lakes are divided into the Upper Lakes (Gornja Jezera) and the Lower Lakes (Donja Jezera). The park officially has two entrances (ulaz), each with ticket windows and snack and gift shops (www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr).
Zagreb's Croatian Museum of Naive Art
This remarkable spot, founded in 1952 as the "Peasant Art Gallery," is one of the most enjoyable little museums in Croatia. It features expressionistic paintings by untrained peasant artists. On one easy floor, the museum displays 80 paintings made mostly by Croatians from the 1930s to the 1980s (ulica Sv. Čirila i Metoda 3, tel. 01/485-1911, www.hmnu.org.)
Rovinj's Valentino Champagne and Cocktail
This memorable, romantic, justifiably pretentious place is good for a late-night waterfront drink with jazz. Fish, attracted by its underwater lights, swim by from all over the bay...to the enjoyment of those nursing a cocktail on the. Or you can choose to sit on one of the terraces. Classy candelabras twinkle in the twilight, as couples cozy up to each other and the view. While the drinks are extremely pricey, this place is unforgettably cool (Via Santa Croce 28, tel. 052/830-683).
For up-to-date specifics, see the latest edition of the Rick Steves' Croatia & Slovenia travel guide or the Rick Steves Eastern Europe travel guide — or join us on one of our free-spirited Eastern Europe tours.