Croatia took the next great step in becoming a major travel destination when it finally joined the European Union in July 2013 to become its 28th member state.
A stone's throw away from Northern Italy across the Adriatic Sea, lies Croatia.
Surrounded by Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the north, Bosnia
and Herzegovina to the southeast, the country best remembered for its part in the outbreak of the 90s Balkan conflict
is, today, a jewel in the crown of Eastern European tourism.
physical beauty is only part of the story that lies behind its success as Europeans of all stripes are drawn by media
buzz surrounding the country's new travel motto "The Mediterranean As It Once Was". Read into that "cheaper prices as they once were", and Croatia becomes the much more affordable option compared to the likes of sunny Spain, or its closer neighbor Italy.
In stiff competition to lure tourists who want to stretch their holiday or vacation budget, the Croatian coast is, of course, the country's summer calling card, beckoning tourists to its crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches, a flotilla of yachting or jet-skiing opportunities, as well as world class diving and snorkeling areas.
(Pro Tip: travel in May or September as the weather is fine, the crowds are sparse, and the water still warm for swimming!)
And at the very center of Croatia's tourism revival is coastal and very scenic Dubrovnik, "the pearl of the Adriatic" that combines fun in the sun with Old World charm.
Scenic walks on the old city walls, a visit to the Rectors Palace, the cathedral, the Maritime Museum, and the aquarium are also on top of must-sees while on a visit here. Then, just relax in Dubrovnik''s welcoming cafes and restaurants, set amid vividly
well-preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture.
At the height of the season, also don't miss the Dubrovnik Summer Festival of
theater and music performances held annually from mid-July to mid-August.
More to see in Croatia
Along with favorite Croatian tourist cities, other top hot spots include Croatia's answer to the Roman Coliseum
in ancient Pula; the lush waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park; and the idyllic Dalmation Islands off
the coast at posh Hvar Town, boasting some of the country's best hotels and seafood restaurants.
While inland Croatia holds other attractions, the booming capital city of Zagreb offers a hubbub of activity in its colorful market and well-traveled town square.
As the cultural nerve center of Croatia, Zagreb is a heady mix of historical monuments and museums combined with modern office buildings and the inevitable plans for hi-rise apartment buildings. While on a visit here, also expect to find dozens of theaters and entertainment centers, as well as outdoor summer concerts and other entertainment events planned throughout the year.
Another Croation tourism hot spot, Varazdin, is a popular 2-hour day trip just 50 miles north of Zagreb, offering a stunningly beautiful city scape of baroque architecture and medieval castles at every turn. In addition to its many historical attractions, Varazdin of late has also been attracting 100,000 visitors a season to its end-of-summer outdoor rock concerts and baroque music fest.
More about Croatia & Dubrovnik travel & tourism around the Web:
Croatia travel guide - Wikitravel - Extensive guide to the whole of Croatia with insider details on getting around, hotel and restaurant reviews, background notes on Croatian history and culture, practical travel advice and safety tips.
Croatia Travel Information and Travel Guide - Expert travel advice from Lonely Planet including overviews of Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Samobor, Pula, and Plitvice Lakes National Park, with suggested hotels and restaurants, maps & photos.