Ask Lonely Planet: Croatia - Split the difference

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Diocletian's Palace in the Croatian city of Split, is not to be missed. Photo / Creative Commons image by Wikimedia user Ballota
Diocletian's Palace in the Croatian city of Split, is not to be missed. Photo / Creative Commons image by Wikimedia user Ballota

My wife and I are going to Croatia, where my great-grandfather came from. He lived in a small village south of Split, before moving to New Zealand. I know nothing about Croatia and want to immerse myself in Croatian and Dalmatian culture.
- Michael Kokich

Lonely Planet's Sarah Bennett & Lee Slater write:

Touted for some time as a hot new destination, Croatia now holds its own and then some. Sapphire waters around its 1778km-long Adriatic coastline and 1244 islands lure visitors to traditional fishing villages, hidden coves and remote beaches.

If time is limited, we suggest skipping the capital Zagreb and starting your journey in Split; between EasyJet and Germanwings you can fly there from about 20 European cities.

With a balance of tradition and modernity, Split is a great place to experience Dalmatian life as it's really lived. Diocletian's Palace is a must-see - not only is it one of the world's most impressive Roman ruins, it's the living heart of the city, too, with labyrinthine streets buzzing with bars, shops and restaurants.

Canvassed by a mountainous backdrop, Split's cityscape can be appreciated from one of the armada of island ferries heading into or out of port; Jadrolinija and Krilo sail regularly to about half a dozen islands.

Luxurious Hvar is the most touristed with crowds packing its beaches in summer, while nearby Korcula Island and Mljet offer more genuine and natural experiences.

No trip to Croatia is complete without spending a few days in Dubrovnik, "the pearl of the Adriatic".

Protected behind its curtain of walls are marble streets, and finely carved baroque architecture that recalls the city's vibrant artistic tradition. Jadrolinija sails to Dubrovnik from Korcula twice weekly.

Welcome to Europe

I am planning to go to London for a holiday around Christmas and New Year. I have about three weeks. Can you suggest an itinerary? I have never been to Europe and would like to see a variety of sights. Also, can you recommend a stopover?
- Vivek Anand

As you've never been to Europe, we suggest skipping the stopover and heading straight to Europe to maximise your grand tour.

Squadrons of budget airlines and an extensive rail network make European travel easy. You could visit a dozen countries in your allotted time, but choosing about five and spending at least three days in each will allow you to really appreciate them. This itinerary provides a broad sample of Europe's many flavours, although options are almost endless whatever your taste.

London's a good place to start. Storm the Tower of London then stroke your chin at the Tate Modern. Catch a West End play, and pick up a bargain in the frenzied January sales. An extra couple of days could be well spent exploring the nearby countryside - Dorset and the Cotswolds are easily accessible by train or car.

From London, whisk yourself off to gay Paris on the high-speed Eurostar train and scale Europe's most famous erection, the Eiffel Tower. Next, see some of the world's finest artworks at the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay and Centre Pompidou.

For a taste of Spain, you can't beat Madrid, only two hours' flight from Paris or a 10-hour scenic train ride. Scratch the surface (not literally) of the Museo del Prado's 7000-plus paintings, then go on a tapas crawl in the medieval barrio of La Latina before watching flamenco at a traditional tablao.

From Madrid it's another two-hour flight to the Italian city of Rome, or Renaissance-rich Venice. These destinations are separated by a four-hour train ride, so you could easily visit both.

Lonely Planet's Discover Europe guidebook includes other suggested itineraries.

Good online resources for European train travel include seat61.com and bahn.de, while bargain flights can be searched for at cheapoair.com, kayak.com and hipmunk.com.

- NZ Herald

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