January is a fun month to think "Oh, the places you'll go!". The new year always brings dozens of lists describing the "25 Places You Must Visit This Year," but we want to think a little more realistically and with a little more focus. We're going to tell you all about one place in particular that's worth planning a trip to in 2016, and this place is Croatia.
Why Croatia? It's got amazing architecture, delicious local food and markets, fantastic museums, an incredibly interesting and crazy history, gorgeous beaches on the Adriatic Sea, an amazing art scene, and best of all, it's not completely overrun by tourists, meaning that it's significantly cheaper to visit than many other European destinations, reports Rough Guides.
Fast facts from Chasing The Donkey:
Language: Croatian or Hrvatski, after the name of the country Hrvatska (learn to pronounce it here). There are so many dialects spoken that no one knows how many!
Currency: Kuna (kn). Currently, one U.S. dollar is worth about seven kuna.
Borders: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia share borders with Croatia, and Italy is just across the Adriatic Sea.
Population: 4.4 million.
Terrain: Located on the coast of the Adriatic, Croatia has numerous beaches and islands but is also one-third forest when you go inland. The country also has several mountain ranges. Whatever kind of nature is your scene, you'll find it in Croatia.
Climate: The weather varies quite a bit between the coast and the inland region, but in general, the climate is mild and Mediterranean, getting very hot in the summer, reaching high 80s or 90s F (30 C), and the winters are chilly but comfortable, dipping down to 45 F (7 C), says Weather and Climate.
All About The Food
Because of the region's divided and tumultuous history, the cuisine varies greatly from region to region. On the coast, the food will resemble Mediterranean food like Italian and Greek cuisines, and inland, it can resemble Slavic and Baltic cuisines, says Croatia Official. There's been a lot of influence of Hungarian and Turkish cuisine as well. Wherever you go, though, you'll probably find home-cured ham, artisanal cheeses, amazing olive oils, cheese-filled pastries, grilled meat and seafood, and ajvar, an eggplant-and-red pepper relish that's bright and savory.
Split: With seaside cliffs lining the Adriatic and bars and restaurants buzzing all over the city, it's hard not to fall in love with Split. It's also a great place to catch a ferry to one of the country's many amazing islands, says Lonely Planet.
Dubrovnik: Called "the pearl of the Adriatic" by Lord Byron, an English poet, the name holds true today. The Wall of Dubrovnik is a mile long and surrounds the city's Old Town, but it gets very crowded in peak months, reports Chasing The Donkey.
Zagreb: Zagreb is the country's capital, bursting with history, culture and cafes. It's a great central location for swimming in lakes, skiing in the nearby mountains or going for a hike, says Lonely Planet.
As always, it's nice to venture away from the main cities once you've gotten a grasp of what they're like, and Croatia is full of beautiful towns and villages. Ask a local for recommendations!
If none of the above has convinced you, this video uploaded by YouTube user Flipian shows the world's first sea organ, played by the waves of the Adriatic. It's located in Zadar, located halfway up Croatia's Adriatic coast.