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Located across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Croatia has become an increasingly popular travel destination in recent years. In fact, Lonely Planet named the small country of about 4.2 million inhabitants as one of its best European destinations for 2013. There is plenty of appeal to a tour of Croatia, it has natural coastal beauty, a compelling history and active city life, yet many travelers may be unfamiliar with what the best tourist hotspots are. You can't go wrong when crafting an itinerary of your visit, but there are several places you should be sure to include on your list.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes, the largest national park in Croatia - and the oldest in southern Europe - is home to many of the most picturesque views in the region. About 1.2 million visitors head to the park each year, and it's not hard to see why. Although the heavily-wooded preserve is located significantly inland, it is home to more than a dozen lakes, which offer plenty of waterside charm. In addition to the stunning scenery, there is ample opportunity for hiking, especially around Proscansko Lake.
Home to about 792,000 people, Zagreb is among the most unique capital cities in the region thanks to its combination of both Eastern and Western culture. There's also a rich sense of history that permeates ever corner, and a few sites in particular stand above the rest. The Lotršcak Tower, for instance, is a perfect representative of the city's lengthy history. Built in the 13th century, the tower was originally meant to protect the city's southern gate. For a more modern experience, you should be sure to walk along the city's famous waterfront promenade, which brings you to many of its most well-regarded restaurants.
It wouldn't be a trip to Croatia without experiencing the picturesque coastline, and visiting the island town of Vis is the best way to do so. Home to fewer than 2,000 inhabitants, Vis is the perfect place for visitors to relax during their tour of Croatia. If you can, you should get up early at least one of your days there to catch the sunrise over the pristine waters of the Adriatic Sea.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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