Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Suncani Hvar Continues Investment Cycle: New Riva Marina Hotel Opens in June!

May 4, 2022 - The new-and-improved Riva Marina Hotel by Suncani Hvar opens in Hvar town just in time for the summer! 

The start of summer is well and truly around the corner, though we're already feeling a breath of what it used to be with a tourism boom since the long Easter holiday weekend. With Covid measures lifted and travelers back to planning trips as scheduled, all forecasts reveal a standout summer ahead, which will be enhanced this year on Hvar thanks to the newly renovated Riva Marina Hotel. 

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Namely, Suncani Hvar Hotels continues with intensive investments in 2022 to strategically reposition its portfolio towards high-quality offers and services. The most significant investment this year is the complete renovation of the Riva Marina Hotel, worth 40 million kuna. The planned opening of the newly renovated hotel is at the beginning of June.

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Hotel Riva, located in the center of Hvar, is one of the first hotels in Hvar town, opening in 1914, precisely 15 years after the historic Hotel Elisabeth. It was named Hotel Kovačić after the initial founder of the hotel and named 'Riva' in 2006 when it was completely renovated. In 2022, this century-old hotel with striking and original architecture will change its name to Riva Marina, emphasizing its first-class position in the heart of Hvar's marina. The hotel is intended for guests who expect superior service and high-quality accommodation and will primarily be focused on the British and American markets.

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rivamarina13.jpeg"Today, trends in the hotel industry are changing rapidly, and it is important to keep up with new challenges and competition, both in Croatia and in the wider world market. The Riva Marina hotel renovation confirms the company's development strategy, aimed at continuously improving the quality of portfolios and services for high-paying guests, which will further raise the competitiveness of the entire Hvar destination," said Gordana Tomičić, President of the Management Board.

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Thus, the Riva Marina Hotel will have 50 new unique rooms and suites ready for this season, providing every guest with complete comfort and enjoyment. Carefully designed and executed interior design further emphasizes the historic building itself, and its quality continues the direction harmonized with the most prestigious Hvar hotel Palace Elisabeth. The newly renovated hotel will also have a new restaurant and bar concept, designed according to the latest standards and adapted to modern world travelers. Guests will enjoy a variety of delicacies and drinks on the iconic outdoor terrace that offers a unique view of the yachts and marina.

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The project was entrusted to the architectural studio Tissa from Poreč, the interior design by Oto Blaha, and the contractor Kvantum from Zagreb.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 22 April 2022

Green Tourism: Sunčani Hvar Hotels to Open First Sustainable Hotel in Hvar Town

April 21, 2022 - The first sustainable hotel in Hvar town designed according to the latest environmental principles will open in July this year.

It is located in the city center, on the famous Hvar waterfront. The hotel in question that is being renovated is the annex of the old hotel Dalmacija. Upon completion, this 4-star hotel will shine in new splendor. Moreover, it will be renamed Beach Bay Hvar Hotel, which will emphasize its superlative position along a natural pebble beach a few meters from the entrance to the hotel. All rooms and suites have a view of the picturesque bay, the Franciscan monastery, the Hvar bay, and the Paklinski Islands.

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The investment is valued at 22 million HRK, and after the renovation, the hotel will receive 21 completely renovated accommodation units with carefully designed interior details. Rooms and suites are harmoniously decorated, with natural fabrics and materials, and provide guests with complete comfort at all times. The hotel is entirely designed according to the principles of sustainable development so that guests can enjoy a pleasant and environmentally conscious vacation.

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"The development of "green hotels" is the future of sustainable tourism and represents an opportunity to completely transform the accommodation offer. By renovating Beach Bay Hotel, we are establishing the concept of sustainable development that communicates built-in values ​​with modern and environmentally conscious guests. This way we are preserving the natural environment and the authentic offer of the local community," commented the President of the Management Board Gordana Tomičić.

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The island of Hvar is the sunniest island in the Mediterranean. With 2843 hours of sunshine a year, solar energy is a natural solution and the best renewable energy source. The hotel is equipped with solar panels and energy-efficient equipment to increase the energy efficiency of the building. Special emphasis is placed on local foods and products from small local suppliers, in order to support the local community and provide guests with an authentic experience when holidaying on the island.

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The project is assigned to the architectural studio Tissa from Poreč. The contractor is Slavonska gradnja.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 15 April 2022

Ancient Adriatic Treasures Discovered Near Hvar

April 15, 2022 - Significant progress has been made in the research of the seabed around Hvar, testifying to the island's importance as far back as ancient times thanks to new Adriatic treasures found. 

As 24Sata writes, iron ship cannons, amphorae for the transport of wine and olive oil, ceramic vessels, and many other items are just some of the findings of the latest research on the seabed of the island of Hvar. The findings prove that Hvar was an important maritime center 3000 years ago, in fact, one of the "guardians" of traffic in the Adriatic Sea. Research of the Hvar seabed has been going on for decades, and the last one was conducted by the company Khantaros, along with the Art Academy of the University of Split which both specialise in underwater research. All was done with the support of the Split-Dalmatia County through the project "Maritime is good!". According to everything that was found, Hvar was one of the important points for the control of maritime routes and the establishment of maritime dominance in the Adriatic and the eastern Mediterranean during late antiquity.

In certain positions that show the highest density and value of material archaeological research using a probe will continue, with expectations of finding extremely valuable archaeological artifacts. This research could provide key information about the history and archeology of Hvar and Dalmatia in general. 24Sata spoke about the details with the head of the research, Teo Katunarić Kirjakov, a senior lecturer at the Academy of Arts of the University of Split:

“Near the island of Šćedro, which means ‘Merciful Island’ in Old Slavonic, a real multitude of traces of life from all periods have been found. Šćedro has always been an island that has protected sailors in its safe harbours, from prehistoric times to the present day”.

However, the "Merciful Island" failed to provide a haven for a cargo ship with wine amphorae from the second or first century BC, which was caught in a storm and violently pulled to the seabed. Neatly arranged amphorae of the ship's cargo still lie intact in the depths of the sea. It is the only fully preserved ancient shipwreck in the Split-Dalmatia County and as such we must preserve it, said Tea Katunarić Kirjakov and added that extremely valuable finds were discovered in the bay of Stari Grad:

“The bay of Stari Grad is deep and well protected from almost all winds, and people have lived along the shores of the bay since prehistoric times. And then in 385/384 BC the Greeks from the island of Paros founded a colony at the bottom of the bay of today's Old Town and named it Faros”.

The Greeks not only significantly changed the appearance of the islands they occupied but also the appearance of the coast and the seabed of the bay. It is not certain what the seashore next to the town and the bay in front of it looked like in ancient times, but in the area of the Bonj bay, an artificial embankment along the rocky shore is visible. This is perhaps the most valuable and the only preserved part of the built ancient coast, as explained by Katunarić Kirjakov. Near the town of Sućuraj, in the far east of the island of Hvar, numerous valuable finds were also discovered:

“The eastern cape of the island of Hvar, Cape Sućuraj, and its deep well-protected bay was an unavoidable port in that waterway, while the oldest underwater find in the area is a Greek-Illyrian helmet from the fifth century BC”.

Finds from all periods have been recorded in the wider waters of Sućuraj, including a Roman shipwreck and a fighter plane from World War II - concluded Tea Katunarić Kirjakov, who went on to describe her personal experience of diving among objects hundreds and thousands of years old:

“It's a magnificent thing. The most impressive find is the Roman shipwreck near Šćedro, where all artifacts have been completely preserved, unlike many other locations that were devastated. By the way, parts of a Roman villa with a breakwater are also being explored under the sea near Šćedro. It is possible that the Roman ship that sank near the island was sailing toward it. And when you dive in and arrive at that world of peace and quiet that you disrupted after two thousand years, it’s simply indescribable. We must preserve such locations, we must not allow their devastation, concluded Katunarić Kirjakov.

24Sata also discussed the latest research with Igor Mihajlović, a senior conservator and archaeologist at the Department of Underwater Archeology of the Croatian Conservation Institute, who researched several shipwrecks in the Hvar area:

“The most recent site currently being explored is a shipwreck in the Pakleni Islands, which can be dated to the 17th century.

Three large iron anchors, six iron cannons, fragments of glass cups, several specimens of maiolica-type ceramic vessels, and numerous items related to the ship's weapons were found.

The interesting thing about this shipwreck is that the probe in the stern area found bone remains of a 170 cm tall man. Along with the bones, a bronze saint's medal from Rome was found, with the image of St. Longinus piercing Jesus on the Cross. These findings indicate a sudden sinking of a ship caused by extremely bad weather or an attack by another ship.

An extremely rare find was collected from the site – a ship bell made of bronze. So far only four ship bells from the period from the 16th to the 18th century have been found, concluded Mihajlović.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Hotel Adriana Opening, as a UNESCO Hvar Easter Beckons

March 31 - Easter is just around the corner, a magical time on Hvar, as Hotel Adriana opens its doors for the season. 

And just like that, here we go again. 

Having lived on Hvar for 13 years, I got used to the subtle changes not only in the seasons, but in the mindset towards the tourist season. The winters were longggg. Initially, locals were tending to their olives and relaxing after the stress of another good season. But by January, many were itching to get started again, to see more signs of life. 

And then came the run-up to Easter, the opening of hotels and businesses, and the first sizable numbers of tourists, predominantly for the UNESCO-protected Holy Week procession called Za Krizen (Behind the Cross), which has taken place every year for more than 500 years, including in a refugee camp in the Sinai Desert during the Second World War, so that the cycle would not be broken.  

As a local, after a long winter with many businesses shut, the sight of a new season beginning with the opening of restaurants and hotels in the Spring sunshine is a heartwarming thing. It makes one long for lazy summer days at the beach even more. 

April is one of my favourite months of the year to visit Hvar. It still has that local, pre-season feel, where the locals have time to chat, and where the businesses that are open are welcoming and reasonably priced. It feels at times that tourists and hosts are sharing a guilty secret - off-season Hvar is really pretty cool, just don't tell anyone. 

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So it is nice to see Suncani Hvar announcing the opening of Hotel Adriana on Saturday. The 4-star wellness hotel is a popular venue, with its spectacular waterfront views overlooking the fortress, main square, fabled Hvar riva and the Pakleni Islands. The views from the Top Bar are among the best there are on the island, a delightful spot for a coffee or something stronger. 

Hotel management must be a very stressful business in these trying times, but it seems that the Hvar hoteliers are confident of a good season, with all its flagship hotels scheduled for opening this summer. Hotel Amfora and 5-star Palace Elizabeth hvar heritage hotel will open at the beginning of May, and Hotel Riva at the beginning of June. 

One of the big advantages of visiting, apart from the lack of crowds, is of course the price. A Spring offer from Hotel Adriana looks a real bargain for those looking to explore Croatia's premier island at this time of year:

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INCLUDED: 
✓ Price from 59 EUR per person with breakfast included ✓ Bottle of house wine ✓ 10% discount in restaurants and bars 

TERMS: 
✓ Stay period April ✓ Min stay 2 nights ✓ Free Upgrade upon availability.

The winter cobwebs are being slowly brushed away, and another season in Paradise awaits. 

To learn more about the Hvar hotel opportunities, visit the Suncani Hvar website

To learn more about this magical town, check out the Total Croatia Hvar guide

 

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Jelsa Trail Race to Showcase UNESCO Heritages of Hvar Island

March 15th, 2022 - An exciting event has been announced by the Jelsa Tourist Board: the first trail running race to take place in this part of Hvar island


The recently announced Jelsa Trail is a bit different than your average trail race. Namely, it will retrace the route of the renowned procession Za križen (Behind the cross), which takes place every Maundy Thursday on Hvar island. The race is scheduled for Saturday, April 23rd, ten days after the traditional procession.

And what a setting for a trail race! Hvar island boasts no less than six UNESCO heritages, Za križen being one of them. You’ll get to discover a few more as the immensely scenic trail takes you through olive groves and vineyards, with cerulean waters of the Adriatic as a backdrop. The route runs through the Stari Grad Plain and along numerous dry stone walls, both UNESCO heritages.

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Participants can compete in one of three categories, all endearingly named after a few local favourites:

Srdelica (Sardine) - 5 km, +260 m

The shortest and easiest route Srdelica is beginner-friendly and a perfect choice for those who’d prefer to participate in a more casual manner, soaking in the sights while they walk the trail at a comfortable pace. The trail starts and ends on the waterfront in Jelsa, in the meantime offering wonderful views of island scenery, including the splendid view from the ancient tower Tor. There won’t be an aid station on this trail, and the time limit to finish the race is 2 hours.

Škarpina (Scorpionfish) - 11 km, +420m

This route is beginner-friendly, but also suitable for more experienced runners. The trail starts and ends on the waterfront in Jelsa. After the initial ascent and passing by the tower Tor, the trail continues to run through olive groves and vineyards to the picturesque Pitve village, then back to Jelsa. The trail will have one aid station in Pitve (7km mark), with 3 hours allowed to finish the race.

Šanpjer (John Dory) - 20 km, +620m

The longest route requires a higher level of physical fitness, but isn’t technically challenging. Like the other two, the Šanpjer trail starts and ends on the waterfront in Jelsa. After they pass by the ancient tower Tor, runners will head to Pitve and then follow the route of the renowned procession Za križen. The trail runs through gorgeous places in the environs of Jelsa: Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirče, Vrbanj and Vrboska. Two aid stations will be set up on this route, in Pitve (7km mark) and Vrbanj (12km mark). Four hours are allowed to finish this route, with an added time limit halfway through - racers are allowed 2 hrs 15 mins to reach the checkpoint in Vrbanj.

 

Sweet and salty snacks will be offered at the aid stations, together with fruit, water and juice. After the race, you can look forward to a proper Dalmatian feast in Jelsa, complete with klapa singing.

The winners will be awarded medals in the shape of Hvar lace, another iconic Hvar feature to bear a UNESCO title.

Interested? You can register for the race on Stotinka.hr - everyone who pays the entry fee before April 14th gets a t-shirt and a glass water bottle for free, both adorned with the Jelsa Trail logo.

Friday, 4 March 2022

Sunčani Hvar Hotels Spring Specials: Preseason Deals at Adriana & Amfora!

March 4, 2022 - Because you don't have to wait until the summer to visit Croatia's sunniest island. Sunčani Hvar Hotels Spring Specials are here! 

It's no surprise that the glamourous Hvar town is one of the busiest summer hotspots in Croatia. Still, many may not know that the popular town is also a gem in the offseason months - and you get to experience it without the peak season crowds. 

As a way to tempt travelers to Croatia's sunniest island in the calm before the tourism storm, Sunčani Hvar Hotels Spring Specials are here, with enticing offers at two of its most in-demand hotels - Adriana & Amfora!

Namely, spice up your Easter break with a minimum 2-night stay at Adriana spa hotel, with prices starting from 59 EUR per person and breakfast included! But that's not all. Adriana guests will receive a bottle of house wine and a 10% discount at its restaurants and bars during their stay. This offer is valid for the month of April with a free upgrade upon availability. 

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And if you can't make it in April but still want to explore the charms of Hvar this preseason? 

Amfora resort has also announced a Spring Special during one of the most beautiful periods to visit the island. From 51 EUR per person with breakfast included (and a minimum 2-night stay), guests also receive a bottle of house wine, a 10% discount at its restaurant and bars, and a free upgrade upon availability. This offer, however, is valid from April 20 to June 1, 2022! 

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And should you need another reason to visit Hvar? 

The island Hvar was voted the #1 island in Europe according to Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards, with readers naming its abundant nature, culture, and rich history as to why you should visit. 

“With warm summers and mild winters, the island of Hvar is the sunniest spot in Croatia—there are over 2,800 hours of sunshine annually. It may be known for its beaches and turquoise water, but there’s another side to this resort island. From the town of Hvar on the island’s southern shore, make the slow, uphill climb to Tvrđava Fortica, a 13th-century fortress with the best views on the island. Pro tip: To see Hvar’s spectacular fields of lavender in full bloom, visit in early summer. The harvest takes place in late July, but you can buy all sorts of scented souvenirs in the local markets year-round,” writes Condé Nast Traveler.

Need we say more?

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Jelsa Becomes the First International Dark Sky Community in Southern Europe

February 28th, 2022 - With its dark night sky now officially certified, the town on Hvar island is set to become a notable astrotourism destination

We recently reported that considerable efforts were being made on Hvar island to decrease light pollution, as part of Jelsa Municipality’s bid to become an International Dark Sky Community.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has now granted the coveted title to Jelsa, making it the first International Dark Sky Community in Croatia and southern Europe. Jelsa is also the 37th local self-government unit in the world to bear the prestigious title, reports Morski.hr.

The International Dark Sky Community is a title given to local communities that have shown outstanding commitment to dark sky conservation through the implementation of lighting policies, education on dark sky conservation, and citizen support for the initiative.

‘Jelsa Municipality has set a high standard that should be followed by other local governments in your country and this region of the world. We’re honoured to bring attention to Jelsa as a prominent leader in setting an example of how the proper use of lighting benefits people's well-being, as well as the night environment in our communities and beyond’, said the International Night Sky Protection Programme Director Ashley Wilson.

The process of declaring Jelsa an International Dark Sky Community was set in motion by the Jelsa Tourist Board Director Marija Marjan, and the procedure and activities related to the bid were managed by the Croatian Astronomical Union. In the past two years, the municipality has swapped 82% of its unprotected public lighting for fully protected 3000K lighting in accordance with IDA requirements.

The project was implemented over the course of a year, and it involved numerous activities ranging from public telescope observations, lectures, exhibitions, events and astronomy schools for elementary school students to the development of a five-year work plan and environmental lighting guidelines.

Jelsa’s bid was submitted in December last year, and once the additional conditions required by the IDA were fulfilled, the municipality was granted the title of an International Dark Sky Community.

The International Dark Sky Places is an initiative launched in 2001 as a non-regulatory and voluntary programme meant to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect the natural night sky through the adoption of effective lighting policies, environmentally responsible outdoor lighting, and education.

‘Careless use of artificial lighting can disrupt entire ecosystems, have an adverse effect on human health, unnecessarily waste money and energy, considerably contribute to climate change, and obstruct our view and connection to the universe we live in. Jelsa joins the international community of more than 195 protected areas that have made exceptional contributions to the protection of the dark sky from light pollution, and is well on its way to becoming the first serious destination for astrotourism in Croatia’, stated Jelsa Tourist Board.

Places that are known for dark night skies, especially those destinations that have received official certification in this regard, are extremely rare and attract amateur astronomers from all over the world. Citizens of countries that are struggling with light pollution, such as Germany, France, Spain and Italy, constantly seek out locations that will allow them to enjoy the dark night skies.

A Croatian island now joins the list of such locations, with Jelsa officially certified as an ideal location for night sky watching. As such, it will surely attract a new group of tourists, who will no longer have to travel to the Canary Islands to gaze at the night sky.

Monday, 21 February 2022

Zagreb to Dubrovnik: the Ultimate 10-day Road Trip Itinerary

21 February 2022 - It’s never the wrong time to start planning the perfect getaway to the paradise that is Croatia. We decided to give you a hand in planning the perfect 10-day road trip from Zagreb to Dubrovnik (plus some bonus island time!) that showcases the best the country has to offer.

The best way to discover Croatia is by car, giving you the freedom to go off the beaten path and chart your own adventure around the country, all the way from Zagreb to Dubrovnik.

Before we jump into it, do be aware that most car rentals in Croatia are manual transmissions! Automatic cars are available for rent, though mostly by larger rental companies like Sixt, and are more expensive.

If you’re not a confident driver, no need to worry, there are plenty of private bus companies that run daily trips to most cities and tourist attractions during the high season (June - September). In larger cities such as Zagreb and Split, bus schedules are also available online. Transfers between major ports and the islands are also regularly serviced by ferries and catamarans.

Day 1: Zagreb

Welcome to Zagreb, the capital and largest city of Croatia! Nicknamed the city of museums, Zagreb is home to over a dozen award-winning museums such as the Archeological Museum, with over 450,000 artifacts and monuments.

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The gorgeous buildings of Upper Town in Zagreb. Visit Zagreb/Facebook.

Cultural landmarks of the city include Ban Jelačić Square which has existed since the 17th century, the Zagreb Cathedral, or the magnificent Croatian National Theater whose unveiling ceremony was attended by Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I. So, make sure you squeeze in some time for a walking tour to absorb the sights of Zagreb’s Old Town.

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Evenings on Tkalčićeva Street, Zagreb. Visit Zagreb/Facebook.

Hungry? Head to Dolac market, Zagreb's main open-air farmers market to pick up some fresh, seasonal produce and souvenirs. You can also choose to end your day with a tasty meal and local wine from any of the excellent restaurants, bars, and cafes along Tkalčićeva Street.

Day 2: Rovinj

After a bustling day in Zagreb, the enchanting city of Rovinj is a splendid change of pace. Perfectly situated on the Istrian peninsula, the city boasts a rich heritage, from being settled by Venetian tribes, to becoming part of the Byzantine and Frankish Empires, all reflected in the diversity of the city’s architecture, art, and culture.

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This stunning setting has been a popular film setting for movies such as "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard". Rovinj Tourist Board/Facebook.

Stroll along the beautiful cobbled streets and narrow alleys of Rovinj Old Town and make your way towards St. Euphemia Cathedral. Along the way, you should pass by Grisia Street, lined with souvenir stalls and galleries with the most unique pieces to add to your collection.
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The charming, picturesque streets of Rovinj's Old Town. Rovinj Tourist Board/Facebook.

If you have time to spare, take a day trip to Sveta Katarina, a small picturesque island that’s a mere 10-minute water taxi ride from the pier. Spend the afternoon taking a dip in the aquamarine waters of the bay, or hike on one of the numerous trails dotted around the island, or both!

Alternatively, sit back and relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in Istria such as Amarin, Borik, or Valdaliso Beach.

Day 3: Pula

Before leaving the Istrian Coast, make Pula the next stop on your road trip. Serving as the capital of Istria, Pula was the main military port for the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy at the height of its military glory. Today, remnants of these times are reflected in the city’s breathtaking landscape.

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The Pula Arena frequently hosts concerts and festivals throughout the year. Pula Plus/Facebook.

The famous Pula Arena, one of the most well preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world, is a must-see! Another not to be missed landmark is the Temple of Augustus, a monument dedicated to the first Roman emperor in honor of his rule.

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The unique shape of Fort Puna Christo. Pula Plus/Facebook.

Also check out the impressive Fort Punta Christo, which includes an underground section to explore and a well-stocked rooftop bar for refreshments after. You can also enjoy magnificent 360-degree views of Pula from the Venetian Fortress (Kaštel) which also houses the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria.

Day 4: Plitvice National Park

Although Croatia boasts some of the best coastlines in the world, Plitvice Lakes National Park consistently appears in the top must-see places to visit in Croatia, and for good reason! This UNESCO World Heritage Site holds the title as the oldest and largest national park in Croatia, famous for its gorgeous turquoise lakes. Well worth the detour inland.

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Be aware that the park can get very crowded during the season! To avoid this, just be prepared to visit early (7-8am), or better still, stop by during off-peak seasons where the park transforms into the perfect winter wonderland.

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Plitvice Lakes National Park/Facebook.

Day 5: Zadar

After a day in the lush forests, take a scenic drive back to the Dalmatian coast and spend a day in the charming city of Zadar, the oldest continuously inhabited Croatian city. Today, cozy cafes and art galleries are seamlessly woven into remains from the times of Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus.

Enjoy a relaxing stroll through Old Town and admire the historical architecture including the Church of St. Donatus, the Landward Gate, the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, and the Roman Forum.

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Ruins in the Old Town of Zadar. Zadar Region/Facebook

Along the way, catch the famous Sea Organ, and a sunset so beautiful, it even captivated Alfred Hitchcock! Just after sunset, take in the light show at the Sun Salutation, an installation created by Nikola Bašić, the same artist who designed the sea organ.

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The Landward Gate, Zadar. Zadar Region/Facebook

If you have some time in between, head to Pag Island to try some of the famous Paski Cheese or to Nin, home to Queen’s Beach, the longest sandy beach in Croatia. Other gorgeous beaches along the coast of Zadar include Kolovare and Borik.

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Award-winning sheep's cheese from Pag Island. Pag Tourist Board/Facebook.

Day 6: Split

Welcome to Split, the largest city in Dalmatia, and second-largest in all of Croatia. The city was founded as the Greek colony of Aspálathos between the 3rd and 2nd century BC.

It was later where Diocletian's Palace was built for the Roman emperor in AD 305. The palace also houses the Peristil, or the main square, another great place to enjoy some coffee and people-watch in addition to the Riva promenade.

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Enjoy a drink inside the walls of the Diocletian's Palace, Split. Visit Split/Facebook

While exploring the Old Town, stop by the Green Market, the largest farmer’s market in Split, to pick up some fresh, organic produce. Turn the corner and it is difficult to miss the 8.5-meter statue of Gregory of Nin, sculpted by world-renowned artist Ivan Meštrović. Rubbing the statue’s toe is said to bring good luck, so much so that it has been worn smooth by visitors over the years.

You can also squeeze in a light hike up Marjan Hill, also known as the “lungs of Split”. Its summit is an ideal place for a picnic, offering marvelous views of the harbor and neighboring islands.

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The crystal clear waters of Bačvice beach. Visit Split/Facebook

Fancy another beach day? Bačvice beach is a popular hangout spot in the center of Split. Relax at one of the many cafe bars and watch the locals play picigin, a traditional ball game. Rumor has it this beach is also where the sport originates from.

Day 7: Krka/Omiš/Trogir

Don't be too quick to leave Split. From here, there are several options for day tours to surrounding attractions.
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Some of the most stunning waterfalls in Croatia can be found at Krka National Park. Krka Nationa Park/Facebook

For nature lovers, Krka National Park is another national park about an hour’s drive from Split. Spend a day walking along well-maintained trails that wind along some of the most stunning waterfalls in the country. Again, make sure you get there early to avoid the crowds!

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Try white water rafting in Omiš. Tourist Board Omiš/Facebook

For those craving more action, head to the picturesque town of Omiš which offers one of the most dramatic scenes on the coast. The city is nestled in a canyon surrounded by gray, craggy mountains, contrasting the peacock blue waters where the Cetina River meets the Adriatic Sea. Omiš offers white water rafting, free climbing, ziplining, abseiling, and canyoning, amongst other activities for visitors seeking a bit of a thrill on their vacation.

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Just one of the many well-preserved remains scattered around Trogir's Old Town. Visit Trogir/Facebook

For the history buff, head to Trogir which has the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex in all of Central Europe. Take a walk around the Old Town, surrounded by walls comprising a series of dwellings and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods.

Day 8: Hvar

With over 1,000 islands, it wouldn’t be a complete trip to Croatia without doing some island hopping. From Split, take the 1-hour ferry ride over to Hvar. Its beauty and vibrant nightlife have made it a regular vacation spot for the likes of celebrities such as George Clooney and Beyonce.

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Hvar is one of the longest and sunniest islands in Croatia. Hvar Tourist Board/Facebook

Start by wandering around St. Stephen’s Square, the largest square in Croatia and don’t miss the Cathedral of St. Stephen and the Hvar public theater. For the best view, climb to the top of the Španjola Fortress to get an unobstructed view overlooking Hvar Town and nearby Pakleni Islands. You can even rent a small boat (no license required) to explore these islands on your own!

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The view from the top of the Španjola Fortress is unparalleled on the island. Hvar Tourist Board/Facebook

Once you’ve taken in all these sights, enjoy another relaxing beach day at one of the many pristine beaches such as Malo Zaraće, Dubovica, or Pokonji Dol.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for another day trip, book a tour with one of the local travel agencies to the Blue Caves on Biševo and marvel at its clear, iridescent blue waters.

Day 9: Korčula

After the buzz of Hvar, take the ferry to the tranquil town of Vela Luka on the island of Korčula, the birthplace of famed explorer Marco Polo and home to some of the best Croatian wines.

From Vela Luka, take a scenic drive towards the town of Korčula, also known as “little Dubrovnik”. Along the way, stop by the numerous family-run vineyards that welcome visitors for wine and cheese tastings.

Grk is a white wine variety grown almost exclusively on Korčula, other white wines such as Pošip and Rukatac are also premier Croatian wines, often served on celebratory occasions. For fans of red wine, do grab a bottle or 2 of Plavac Mali.

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Vineyards of Korčula island. Visit Korčula/Facebook

In Korčula, walk off the afternoon’s indulgences exploring the streets of the Old Town with its architectural influences by the Venetian Renaissance, before capping off the night with a meal and more wine at any of its superb restaurants.

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Korčula town. Visit Korčula/Facebook

Day 10: Dubrovnik

There’s no better way to end the trip than with Dubrovnik. And yes, there is no shortage of Game of Thrones tours to indulge your senses, but there is so much more to this medieval city than where Cersei Lannister did her walk of shame.

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The beautiful Saint Blaise's Church in Dubrovnik was built during the 10th century. Dubrovnik Tourist Board/Facebook

Talk a walk along the city walls and through Stradun, Dubrovnik’s main street. From here, you can also catch Onofrio’s Large Fountain that used to supply Dubrovnik with fresh water during the Middle Ages and other impressive structures including the Clock Tower, Saint Blaise's Church, Saint Ignatius Church, Cathedral of the Assumption, and the Franciscan Monastery.

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The view from beyond the walls of Dubrovnik looking upon Fort Lovrijenac. Dubrovnik Tourist Board/Facebook

Watch the sunsets and reminisce on your amazing road trip through the country at one of the cliff bars along the city walls, before capping it all off with an exquisite meal at one of the many Michelin-starred or recommended restaurants Dubrovnik has to offer.

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Nothing like a luscious meal to top off a fantastic experience road-tripping in Croatia. Dubrovnik Tourist Board/Facebook

And that’s all folks, you’ve done it! Croatia in 10 days! Bear in mind, this is merely the appetizer of what Croatia has to offer. Customize this guide to better suit your tastes and pace and remember, don’t hesitate to ask the locals in order to unlock the best secrets each location has to offer.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Roman Mosaics Unearthed in UNESCO-Protected Historical Centre of Stari Grad, Hvar

February 20, 2022 - Founded by the Ancient Greeks more than 2,400 years ago, Hvar's oldest town continues to reveal secrets of the past, this time from the Roman Era.

Text from the Stari Grad Museum Facebook page

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Archaeological excavations are currently underway in Stari Grad on the island of Hvar, because of the construction works on the town's water supply and sewage network. Part of the excavation was carried in the Middle Street (about 20m in length) where, in addition to the previously known mosaic (discovered in 1923), we found the remains of several other rooms with the remains of mosaic floors.

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The mosaics are decorated with multicolour geometric and floral motifs and are of superior workmanship. By analogy with similar mosaics and known workshop styles, thy can be dated to the 2nd century AD. We will have a better insight into the purpose of this luxurious building of the Roman Faria after the analysis and interpretation of archaeological finds and after merging all the plans of rooms with mosaic floors under surrounding houses, which were excavated in previous decades.

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In the past one hundred years, this area has been excavated by numerous archaeologists (Frane Bulić, dr. sc. Jasna Jeličić-Radonić, Ana Kordić Galić), while the last conservation and restoration work on the mosaics was carried out by dr. sc. Branko Matulić and dr. sc. Tonči Borovac. The current excavations are led by dr. sc. Marina Ugarković from the Institute of Archaeology, while the deputies are Andrea Devlahović from Stari Grad Museum and Martina Korić from the Institute of Archaeology. Dr. sc. Sara Popović from ArheoProjekt and a multi-member team of young archaeologists from all over Croatia are also participating in the excavations, which are conducted under the supervision of Saša Denegri from the Conservation Department of the Ministry of Culture in Split.

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Finally, we should mention that the decision on the presentation of the preserved mosaics will be made by the Conservation Department from Split in cooperation with the Stari Grad Municipality.

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[We remind you that the use of photos is allowed as long as the photographer's name is mentioned.]

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To learn more about this amazing town, check out the Total Croatia Stari Grad in a Page guide

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Sunday, 20 February 2022

Well-Preserved Luxury Ancient Villa Found in Carkvica Bay near Jelsa

February 20, 2022 - Professor Tea Katunarić Kirjakov and her team have uncovered an ancient luxury villa in Carkvica Bay near the town of Jelsa on Hvar.

According to historical sources, the first written mention of an archeological site in the Hvar Island seabed, but also the whole of Croatia, was left by the Italian naturalist Alberto Fortis in 1774, recording the findings of Roman amphorae in Sućuraj.

Since then, more than 200 similar sites have been registered in the area, and many underwater archaeologists have given their all to their research and protection. Among them is Tea Katunarić Kirjakov, a professor at the Academy of Arts in Split.

Her recent engagement has been associated with a fully preserved Roman shipwreck with wine amphorae from the turn of the second to the first century BC in the seabed of the island of Šćedro. 

The ship did not reach Rake Bay, where the architectural remains of the Roman villa dock are found today. The seabed is rich in traces of life from all periods. However, she was recently transferred to the northern side of Hvar to work with her team in Carkvica Bay near Jelsa, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

"Since we heard about this locality from local fishers and divers, we decided to check what it is really about, map and valorize it in the right way, and determine its age and cultural value. Of course, it should be formal and legal, but also protected so that the site could eventually be included in the tourist offer," says Katunarić Kirjakov.

The activities are carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the Jelsa Tourist Board, and the Agency for the Protection of the Stari Grad Field. Her team consists of local divers Bariša Sušić, Boris Huljić and Dino Ćurin, and archaeologist Vedran Katavić from Split.

At the entrance to the bay is the church of Sv. Luka from the 14th century, probably built on an older building that guided sailors on their way to safe bays, such as Carkvica. Research on the nearby mainland is not being conducted for now, although it will be necessary for the near future to understand the context of the findings in the sea fully.

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Mirko Crnčević

"On the mainland, we see a large scale luxury Roman farm building whose walls are exceptionally well preserved, and by their construction, we can conclude that they are from an earlier time, meaning from the beginning of the imperial period. We also have pottery fragments possibly dating back to the Roman Republic era, when sea levels were lower than they are now.

The coastal hiking trail passes through an ancient cistern, which on the one hand, is very unstable and will eventually collapse if protection measures are not taken. In the sea, there are structures of walls, floors made of mosaics, terraces, plateaus, and small breakwaters that served in everyday life," adds Katunarić Kirjakov.

On the other side of the bay are ancient tombs, so from everything seen and the findings of vessels from the Early Roman period, it can be preliminary concluded that the site is from the first century BC to the fourth or fifth century AD. Such economic facilities have survived for a long time; they had fertile soil in the hinterland, streams on dry land, drainage canals, and communication with the world took place correctly.

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Vedran Katavic

These springs of water are still visible in the sea, and it is brackish; let's say that in antiquity, all the conditions for a beautiful life in that valley, in that bay, were met."

Professor Katunarić Kirjakov's team moved to Stari Grad to continue the earlier research.

"In the area of Bonj/Kamareta, we are exploring the only visible original part of the ancient coast in the Stari Grad bay because it was upgraded and built elsewhere over time. We already have a lot of finds there - fine Hellenistic wine drinking vessels, tableware, amphorae from Greece and Spain, which confirms that the city was connected to the whole rich world at that time."

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

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