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Croatia is now without doubt a popular destination with UK holidaymakers. With its days of war now firmly behind it, the country can finally start to shine - and with its wonderful coastline, array of unspoilt natural parks, and harbour side towns that simply ooze traditional charm - this is easily achieved. Far less commercial than other European destinations such as Spain or Greece, here’s the lowdown of where to go…

Istria, a verdant peninsula in the north-west of the country, is served by Pula airport. Culturally very similar to Italy, this is a region that is very popular with both central Europeans because it is so accessible and is also the best organised part of the country in terms of infrastructure and facilities for visitors. Along the west coast of Istria are a number of beautiful port villages and towns that date back to Venetian times. The rich, verdant hills behind are covered in vineyards; this is a landscape that attracts both seaside holiday types and those eager to explore the interior on foot.

To the south of the country lies Dalmatia - a wilder, rugged region that can be reached directly from the UK by flying into Dubrovnik. Some of this locations many selling points include the gorgeous, pine covered Dalmatian islands and the classically Mediterranean climate. There are also a number of historic towns to explore, set in dramatic settings with the looming Dinaric Alps providing a stunning backdrop.

The most popular islands are hip Hvar - with its cool boutique hotels and bohemian restaurants and bars, the more relaxed and laid Korcula - which boasts a fabulous example of a mediaeval walled town, and Pag - which is a key festival destination.

Quite apart from the islands, the Dalmatian coast has loads to offer the holidaymaker. There are charming spots around every corner - hiring a car is a great way to explore this part of Croatia, especially if you wind your way from Dubrovnik to Split, stopping at the many (and often deserted) beaches along the way. The Peljesac peninsula is famous amongst committed foodies, particularly for its excellent seafood and quaffable red wines produced from its many hillside vineyards.

The capital of Croatia is Zagreb - another handy spot to hire a car. If you choose to drive south towards Dalmatia, make sure to factor in a visit to the Plitvice National Park with its stunning lakes and waterfalls - a veritable showcase of the very best of Croatia’s natural landscape.

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