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Christmas markets in Croatia

What a wonderful feeling to feel again like children, at least at Christmas time! All the colorful decorations, the lights in the Christmas trees and the sweet scent coming from the streets have the amazing power to bring us back to a time when you waited impatiently for Christmas and Santa Claus.

In Europe there are so many of these kind of Christmas markets that the choice becomes difficult, however. If you want to rediscover the meaning of the tradition, the best choice is to visit the markets of Croatia.

You may decide to go to the capital, Zagreb, but also in coastal towns like Zadar, Rijeka, Split and Umag where you can find, at Christmas time, so many opportunities to experience the magic of Christmas, not only in the markets, but also with many other opportunities and events.

umag

Photo CC-BY-SA in Marianocecowski

To reach Croatia is simple; There is of course the plane, but there is above all the ferries that allow you to make the Adriatic crossing very easily and in a short time, from various Italian ports.

If you choose as a destination the city of Fiume (Rijeka), you will have the chance to admire the fabulous decorations of the Korzo (Corso), turning the stands and stalls in a live Christmas decorative shows! Here you will find everything that can serve to decorate the Christmas tree, and much more. Children can have fun with Santa Claus train that runs through the streets of the city; adults will appreciate, if the stay in the city coincides with that date, the Christmas concert which takes place in the Cathedral.

In Split (Split), also called the Star of Croatia, throughout the Advent season “Adventilacija“, there are festivals, concerts and folklore shows, both in the streets of the central city squares. The Christmas market is held all over the promenade and offers traditional, colorful decorations, handmade crafts of all types and typical Christmas sweets like those in gingerbread. If you can, it’s really worth, at Christmas, to follow the midnight mass in the Church of Our Lady of Bethlehem, Mount Marjam.

If you decide to go to the capital, Zagreb, you will be able to immerse yourself in a fantasy world; everything in the city, the streets of the historic center to the tree-lined streets, reminds us that we are in the most wonderful time of the year: lights, decorations, colorful installations, a real magical kaleidoscope! All this accompanied by music and concerts for all tastes, not to mention the various shows for children.

The markets are the pride of Zagreb: in fact they give their colorful animation at various points of the city located in Piazza Europa, in Ban Josip Jelačic Square e a Zrinjevac. From large halls to simple stalls, everything is perfect to tickle the imagination of visitors. The decorations for the Christmas tree and the cribs are the result of the creativity and skill of the local craftsmen, but also from around the world. You can find many other items, all absolutely fabulous, to give to loved ones as a gifts from your heart. Then there are the various food stands where, among many other specialties, can not be missed all the traditional sweets, to give as gifts, but also to taste at the time, with a hot mulled wine that warms from the bitter cold, but it also has the power to warm the hearts!

Happy New Year in Croatia

Croatia during New Year can satisfy everyone: it is certainly great to be able to choose one among the amazing Croatian destinations. You can decide how to kick off the new year in the best way here! If you prefer the North-West coast of Croatia, there is the city of Rijeka; again going north, but in the inner area, there is the capital Zagreb. Back on the coast, you can find the city of Umag, and then Zara, on the far South, Split.

umag

Photo CC-BY-SA Marianocecowski

Do you want to go to the mountains and enjoy the ski resorts? In Croatia, the offer is wide; you can for example go close the capital, in the ski resort of Sljeme (Medven) where you can go skiing and snowboarding. Near the city of Rijeka is the Platak station, a small location but ready to host tourists with all the necessary equipment. Near the border with Bosnia and close to the Risnjak National Park, there is the ski area of PETEHOVAK (Delnice).

To start the year there are also relaxing spas and many hotels with spas to choose all over the Croatian territory.

If you want to celebrate New Year in the square, mingling with many other people, then the capital Zagreb is perfect; you will dance and enjoy fully music and you can admire the show put up by the fireworks.

The city of Zadar is very interesting from a cultural point of view, starting from its churches, like the Church of San Donato in Byzantine style or the St. Anastasia Cathedral built in Romanesque style. There are numerous museums and the old town is particularly impressive with its ancient walls surrounding it.

zadar

Photo CC-BY-SA 2.5 Böhringer Friedrich

The old town of Umag isalso embraced by its historic walls; you can visit the Cathedral, the Church of Santa Maria and the Castle once there.

If you appreciate the sea in winter and free beaches equipped with beach chairs and umbrellas, you can discover the beauty of new landscapes and enjoy the pleasure of walking in absolute peace. The Croatian coast is beautiful, from north to south, and you pass by the pine woods to the cliffs with among the many sandy beaches. Whether it’s river, Umag, Zadar or Split, each city offers beautiful coastal scenery.

Croatian islands are countless and form real archipelagos; from the largest to smallest, they are all spectacular. Among the largest are: the island of Brac and Hvar, in front of Split; the island of Cres and the island of Krk, in front of river, and the island of Pag in front of Zadar.

The natural parks are an highlight of Croatia, and if you love nature, you will certainly discover them all, perhaps as a family. One of the most famous is the National Park of the Plitvice Lakes.

Throughout Croatia accommodation facilities offer the best for celebrating the New Year’s Eve, and most of them also boast traditional cuisine dishes.

The lamb is a must in the festive menu, but also pork or beef are part of the typical Croatian dishes. In the North you will taste janjetina Peka (lamb under a baking lid); on the Dalmatian coast it is much appreciated Pasticada (beef stew). In the areas of Istria there is the Prsut which is a smoked ham with a unique taste. The traditional desserts are the sweet crepes Palacinke; a typical liquor is the Maraschino which is a distillate made from cherries.

So have a good trip and Happy New Year in Croatia! To get to Croatia by ferry click here.

Exploring Croatia by motorbike (travel itinerary)

You can find here a great itinerary for pleasant trip by motorbike in Croatia. But why bother to go? First, the landscape, especially along the coast and islands, is absolutely unique. Then the road is well paved in many points and has those beautiful curves: travelling by car certainly this element is not that exciting, but the motorbike makes it a more interesting journey. Croatia is also good for a passionate, long ride on the Croatian highway which goes through many forests and wooded areas, so full of shade and fresh air. Considering that, in the summer, you will suffer the heat enough with the helmet and motorcycling outfits, it is a relief to travel in these cooler areas.

There are many possible routes, which are starting from Italy. So if you wish to shorten a little the trip and save time, it could be a great idea taking the ferry, at least on the way back. The most important Croatian cities, such as Umag and Zadar, are very well connected through this way, and both cities are on the planned itinerary we prepared for you.

The proposed route here has Venice as a starting point, then it goes through Trieste, Umag and Pula to arrive at Zara (Zadar). From Zadar we go then and visit the islands and the Plitvice Lakes, ending up taking the ferry that will take us back in Italy, precisely to Ancona.

The route is expected to be done in five days, so you can visit and enjoy quietly these places. If you have more time you can stretch up to Split, or even go to the capital, Zagreb. What matters is that you can appreciate, without haste, the natural beauty of Croatia, and even the local gastronomy and exquisite fresh cousine.

Having decided on the departure date, it is absolutely necessary to book your accommodation, especially if it is summertime, obviously a period which is more crowded. We must remember that Croatia is one of the most popular destinations for holidays in recent years, therefore making no reservation means you will end up sleeping outside on the street! The accommodations may be a modest b&b or either rooms to rent privately, without forgetting to contact the camping resorts if you love sleeping in a tent. Obviously there are many hotels available virtually everywhere.

So we are ready to leave Venice towards Trieste; once arrived in Trieste, after a short break we continue along the coast (it will be longer but certainly more interesting). After Koper, you keep on going from Punta Salvore, and so we arrive in Umag. Here it is worth stopping to admire its beautiful beaches for a swim and then, in peace, stop over for a night before continuing your tour discovering Croatia.

Umag

Photo CC-BY-SA 3.0  Peko
For a swim you could choose the Savudrija beach which is surrounded by pine forest; quietly in the shade you can admire the sea.

For the evening, after a walk in the center of Umag visiting the Castle and the Cathedral, passing in the narrow, winding streets, you can dine in one of the typical restaurants. No surprise if you hear somebody speaking in Italian, because here a large part of the population could speak this beautiful language. If you want to then continue with the fun, the tourist center of Katoro is 2 km far from the city and also offers a lively nightlife.

The next day we can go towards Pula. Here, after visiting the city and the town’s ancient arena that looks much like the Colosseum, you can go to the Aquarium which is located in the Austrian fortress. In the afternoon we can jump on the saddle again, but just for a few kilometers (around 10): the place to visit in the south of Istria is the Natural Park of Kamenjak, Premantura. Entrance to the park is free if you enter on foot, but by motorbike you must pay still a little fee.
It is a fine 5 km long spit of land, absolutely wild. Only the sea, rocks, some pebble beach, and lots of green will surround you. The only exception is a small bar made of reeds.

Returning to Pula, if you are lucky, it could be possible that some concerts or events are held in the Arena, so you could pleasantly spend the evening in town.

The day after we can take the direction towards Zadar (Zara), which is in fact the main destination and that will amaze and fascinate you. The whole city, with its port which is located on a peninsula, is a continuous discovery, including the Roman ruins and Byzantine churches. You absolutely must go and see, or rather hear, the Sea Organ that is considered the pride of Zadar, because it is a work of art that enchants all passers-by with its melodies.

Zadar

Photo CC BY-SA 2.5  Böhringer Friedrich

In front of Zadar there are an infinite number of inhabited islands and wild islets. The Kurnati Islands are the best known, but there are many others, such as the Isle of Uglian, or the Pasman Island. At this point you’ll be spoiled for choice, because you can not, for lack of time, to see them all!

The National Park Plitvice lakes certainly deserves a day to be visited (you can cross the lakes, ponds and small wooden bridges and waterfalls by boat) and, from Zadar, it will not be difficult to get there.

Returning to Zadar, before taking the ferry to Ancona, there will be still time to get to know the city and, for example, entering a museum, such as the unique site created in 2009, meaning the antique glass museum. Or, wandering for the streets of the old town, you can go for Porta San Rocco which separate the market from the port. The churches are a testimony of the various cultures of the past and it’s worth stopping for visit a few: the Church of San Donato is Byzantine in style, the Cathedral of St. Anastasia is instead Italian Romanesque.

At this point, you can happily get on the ferry that will bring back to Italy, without forgetting to turn back to admire the amazing spectacle offered by the city of Zadar, with all its islands. We are sure that once on the ferry you will start to plan the next itinerary in Croatia by your motorbike!!!