Millions of hearts broke around the world as Croatia lost 2-4 to France in the World Cup final in Moscow. Beating the likes of Argentina and England en route the summit clash, the Croatian squad garnered respect and fame among not just football fans but laymen too. Though Luka Modric's men failed to bring the cup home, it shouldn't stop you from visiting the Balkan nation on a holiday. Croatia is simply spectacular. Carved out in the early '90s from erstwhile Yugoslavia, Croatia's has become a tourist hot spot over the years. A mix of the past and present with gorgeous coastlines, natural beauty and architectural marvels, here are five places that must be on your bucket list when visiting Croatia.
Museum of Broken Relationships
The Croatian capital, Zagreb, recently hosted a massive congregation of Croats as they welcomed back their national heroes from Russia. A city with a rich past dating back to the Roman times, Zagreb is home to many must-see places. One of those places is the Museum of Broken Relationships, a museum built in dedication to failed relationships. Beginning as a travelling collection of donated items, the museum found a home in the Croat capital where it attracts a large number of visitors on a daily basis. If you want to shop, visit the bustling Ban JelaÄÂiÄ‡ Square where you can also observe the architecture from several eras. On the other hand, make your way to Jarun if sports is your calling. Take the "Walk of Fame" in the area to get more information on famous Croatian athletes.
Temple of Augustus
Most of you must have read William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and are probably a fan of his work. A lot of you probably wonder how far and influential the Roman Empire was at its peak. Well, an example of its towering influence is the monumental Temple of Augustus in Pula. Dedicated to the Roman Emperor, Augustus, the temple was built during his rule between the 27 BC and 14 AD and still stands to this day. Recognised as one of the two most complete Roman monuments outside Italy, the temple is a feast for the eyes of any architecture and history fanatic.
Hum, the smallest town in the world
The legend says that the town was built by Giants who did not have many stones left when building cities along the Mirna River. To utilise what they had leftover, their created this miniature city. If you are a fan of exquisite brandy, then Hum has to be on your itinerary. A city with only 30 inhabitants, it is well known for Biska, a traditional Istrian brandy made by a recipe over 2000 years old.
The Old City of Dubrovnik
Are you a Game of Thrones or a Star Tek fan? Well, the old city of Dubrovnik happens to be the perfect location for you. Founded in the 6th century, this Croatian city was once an important mercantile and maritime centre of the Mediterranean. region One can enjoy a surreal and mesmerising panoramic view of the historic city from the encircled complex city walls intended to protect it. Remember to take the cable car to the Srd mountain from where you can tour around Fort Imperial, built during Napoleonic Wars in the 1800s. With both shows shot in Dubrovnik, it's drawn tourists from far and near and put Dubrovnik on the tourist map. If history or television shows isn't your cup of tea, take day trips to the Elafiti Islands, neighbouring Montenegro, or even Mljet national park.
Another one from Roman Empire, Diocletian built this enormous, extravagant castle as his retirement home. An inspiration for the neoclassical form of architecture, the palace occupies half of what is the modern day city of Split. Today, numerous shops, cafes, restaurants, and apartments occupy the old buildings of the palace. Don't you wish your retirement home is this luxurious?
Getting There: There are no direct flights from India to Croatia. Many airlines run connecting flights. Turkish Airlines connects you at Istanbul, while Emirates has a layover in Dubai. There are several ways to travel within Croatia. Buses, taxis, and ferries are reliable. Croatian Airlines, the nation's only domestic carrier, offers another mode of travelling within the Balkan nation. If you hold a Schengen Visa, then you aren't required to get a separate visa for Croatia.