Why Croatia is becoming the next luxury villa destination


Sitting in the Adriatic Sea, Croatia was missed as a holiday destination for many years. As if it were invisible, people were unaware of the stunning scenery, temperate climate, crystal blue waters and long sandy beaches.  However, Europe’s best-kept vacation location secret has finally got out, and with real gems like Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia has starting climbing to the top of the best holiday locations.

With popularity comes demand

With crowds of tourists now flocking to this fantastic, if little-researched destination, the demand for facilities goes up.  There has always been a good selection of hotels and guesthouses, but a new class of holidaymaker has seen a surge of luxury villa rentals starting to appear.  Actors and actresses and the rich and famous, have decided that Croatia is an excellent location for their getaway which means that they require a secluded and well-equipped accommodation. Supply readily meets demand, and there is a new wave of luxury villas appearing.

What is the draw?

As well as having the perfect year round holiday climate the area is steeped in history and boasts a wealth of fantastic sights.  Game of Thrones has really pushed the popularity as some of the location filmings took place in Croatia. In Split, you will find the Diocletian’s Palace which is a pretty spectacular Roman ruin, a real bucket list type venue that you really want to see in your lifetime.  Located centrally in the city there are amazing ancient temples, remains of walls and rooms and some underground cellars.  This fantastic relic plays host to hidden shops and bars that are discreetly tucked away for holidaymakers to discover.

Moving to Istria the port city of Pula plays home to another slice of Roman history.  This time in the form of an amphitheater, which each July gives the most authentic home to the annual film festival.

As well as this film spectacle there is also a regular schedule of concerts taking place throughout the year.

Sand, forest or mountain

Croatia really does have it all.  With some amazing hidden gems of beaches, eight national parks, and the Biokovo mountain range there are some impressive ways to spend your days right on your doorstep. Lakes and waterfalls, amazing butterflies and views of shimmering blue seas as far as the eye can see.  It is quite surprising the secret of this country managed to be kept as long as it was.

Bustle or seclusion

Thanks to the massive variety of locations and cultural sights the discerning tourist has the choice of whether to join the hustle and bustle of city living in the capital Zagreb or hug the coasts and country parks for a quieter life.

In the city, you will find a wealth of cafes boarding the tree-lined avenues, and you will be warmly welcomed to sample some of the most beautiful beans on offer.   If you want more culture, schedule a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art while you are there, before finally heading back to your luxury villa base for some well earned poolside relaxation.

Kerrie Potts is CEO at Exclusive Private Villas Limited.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Julia Roberts in Split: the latest in a long list of celebrities who can’t get enough of Croatia


Croatia, officially the world’s best country of 2017, has been attracting a long list of celebrities, with the latest being Julia Roberts, accompanied by her cinematographer husband, Daniel Moder. The beautiful famous couple elected the incredible city of Split as their chosen Croatian destination. Meanwhile, Croatian luxury travel agency VIP Holiday Booker has experienced an increasing level of interest from celebrities and High Net Worth Individuals. And who can blame them, as stunning Split is home to one of the most awesome Roman monuments in the entire world; the very impressive UNESCO listed Diocletian’s Palace. Split, which is the capital of the Dalmatia region, left Julia and Daniel spoiled for choice.

Julia Roberts Split Croatia - Photo: Miranda Cikotic/PIXSELL

Julia blended in perfectly with her surroundings, on this return visit to Split, making her difficult to recognise. However she was spotted on the city’s ever-so elegant promenade, Riva, as well as on the quieter, pretty pebbly beach, Trstenik. The famous couple also dined at the restaurant, Bokeria Kitchen & Wine, where their foodie experience was perfect, and Julia even posed for photos with the restaurant team.

Imagine staying in the Diocletian’s Palace: the world’s oldest inhabited monument

One of the options that Julia and other visitors to Split have is the amazing opportunity to stay in the Diocletian’s Palace, which is the only historic palace where people still live. This monumentally impressive example of Roman architecture boasts over 1700 years of history.

Golden Teak Split Croatia

Located on the Adriatic Coast, the Roman emperor Diocletian chose it for his summer residence. This amazing palace, which incorporates squares, narrow streets, residences and churches, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. It is situated in heart of the beautiful, vibrant old quarter, which is brimming over with buzzing restaurants, bars and shops.

Bel Etage-Split Croatia

Beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters, like an island paradise

I can imagine that Julia was very pleasantly surprised to discover that a city with a population of around 200,000 inhabitants, has such a great range of beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters, to choose from. This is pretty unique. One of these is the white sandy beach, that is a popular choice for families and water sports lovers, Znjan, which also has some good bars to go to and a restaurant. But in reality, Split offers an incredible choice of super beaches, each with their own attractions. The city’s other main beaches are Bacvice, Kasuni, Obojena and of course, Trstenik beach, where Julia was spotted.

White Oasis Split Croatia

Did Julia learn to play picigin?

Of course Julia did such a good job of merging with the local landscape, that the paparazzi didn’t manage to discover too much about her time in Split. So we’ll all be left wondering if she learned to play picigin. Picigin is a local ball game, which is played by several players in a circle, in the water. They bat around a small ball using their hands and the aim of the game is to keep the ball out of the water, in the air for as long as possible. Players are not allowed to catch the ball. If Julia did play picigin, most likely she headed to the city’s most famous beach, Bacvice. Located only ten minutes walk from the centre, this is the most popular beach to play picigin and has a wonderful, shallow sandy bay.

Marjan Palace Split Croatia

Perhaps she practiced Pilates in the Mediterranean oasis of Marjan?

Any Julia fan knows that she has an amazing fitness regime, which includes both yoga and Pilates. Might she have followed in the footsteps of local citizens who have used the beautiful Marjan park, as far back as the 3rd century, for their outdoor pursuits? Marjan is the green-lung of Split, surrounded by the sea and city, but covered in a dense Mediterranean pine forest; a blissful location to practice Pilates. A great place to stay in this high-end neighbourhood is the Marjan Palace.

Peaceful retreats out of the public eye

This wasn’t Julia’s first visit to Split and no doubt it won’t be her last. As well as being a striking city, that blends the ancient and modern, with a buzzing atmosphere, Split is also home to some very beautiful, tranquil suburbs. These are perfect hideaways for Julia and the ever-increasing list of celebrities who visit the city, offering wonderful peaceful retreats out of the public eye.
Life 2 Enjoy Split Croatia

Watch this space, to discover who is the next famous celebrity to visit the fabulous city of Split. Perhaps we’ll see some Hollywood stars later this year, as it is an excellent destination in the winter months, with a beautiful Christmas market on the main promenade, Riva.

Split Croatia wonderful winter destination

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by VIP Holiday Booker.



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5 of the best hotels in Croatia and Montenegro


Croatia and Montenegro are seeing a renaissance in hotels – here are five of the best hotels in the region. Food, service and style have come along way in Croatia and Montenegro, even in the last 5 years, with standards and quality improving constantly.

Hotel Excelsior, Dubrovnik

2017 saw the complete refurbishment of the Excelsior Hotel in Dubrovnik, which was much needed and highly anticipated. The hotel has some of the very best views of Dubrovnik from the rooms, restaurants and sea terrace. Ideally located and within walking distance to the Old Town, the 158 rooms and suites are spread between the Villa Odak (built in 1913) and the modern Tower. We particularly like the Deluxe rooms with sea view and balcony, located in the Villa Odak. Whichever rooms you select, it should have a sea view! The Excelsior has stunning views of the old town and Dubrovnik walls. Enjoy a drink on the outdoor terrace, or eat right by the sea at the Prora Restaurant. Rooms are decorated in neutral tones and public areas now have a touch of modernity.

Aman Sveti Stefan, Montenegro

Truly unique, the Aman Sveti Stefan is a resort located on a private island that was a fishing village 600 years ago. In the 1950’s the island was turned into a hotel, and 10 years ago, Aman Resorts created their very first European resort. Some of the existing staff had family that were born on the island before it was turned into a hotel, so there are strong local connections. Sandy beaches, an amazing spa and even a working church on the resort are just three of the reasons to stay. To say that each individual room at Aman Sveti Stefan is unique would be an understatement. There really are no two rooms the same, and advice should be taken on which room suits your needs exactly.

Aman Sveti Stefan

Villa Meneghetti, Bale

The Relais & Chateaux Villa Meneghetti is the perfect inland retreat. Located in Istria, which is the foodie region of Croatia. Romans called it Terra Magica (magical land). The hotel is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves and the family that own it produce both wine and olive oil. During the era of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Villa was used by officers that were stationed at the fort nearby in Pula. The buildings were completely restored in 2001 and now the villa has 10 rooms and suites and 15 stand-alone residences. The award-winning restaurant focuses on local produce. As the Villa Meneghetti is away from the coast, it feels like a secret. The hotel has three pools and a spa and is perfectly located close to the Brijuni National Park which offers plenty of opportunity for walkers and hikers and even golfing. The perfect place to switch off your phone and completely unwind and remember how to relax!

Brown Beach House, Trogir

The Brown Beach House is located in a converted Tobacco factory right on the water in the town of Trogir, about a 40-minute drive from the Dalmatian capital of Split. With just 25 rooms, and a new spa added this August, the Brown is one of the newest and most fashionable places to stay on the Dalmatian coast. Trogir itself is a UNESCO world Heritage site and a small island that is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Staying here is recommended for people that may be return visitors to the region and that value relaxation above exploration.

Brown Hotel Trogir

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

The Istrian peninsula has strong Italian influences in architecture and food. The town is also home to Monte, one of our favorite restaurants in Croatia, the only restaurant in the country to be awarded a Michelin star. The Hotel Adriatic has just had a dramatic renovation, and is unique in that it is located right in the heart of the old town in the harbor area, and not like the other luxury hotels located a 20-minute walk from center of the town. The hotel now has just 18 rooms in total and the best as the Piazza category that look on to Rovinj Old Town Square. Some also have views of the island of St. Katarina. The Adriatic is perfect for a fall season foodie trip.

Adriatic Hotel Rovinj

Mainland Croatia and Montenegro are also wonderful places to enjoy a trip just outside of the summer season – April and October are perfect months to travel, and not quite as crowded as May-September.

Ala Osmond is Director at Exeter International.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Top 6 destinations for an affordable luxury villa in Croatia


Did you know that on 2nd November 2017 Croatia was voted the best country in the world in the 2017 World Country Awards? It is also ranked in the Rough Guides’ top 20 beautiful countries in the world; although this is not surprising given its vast range of incredible sights, which include wonderful beaches, charming old-walled cities and stunning natural parks. Additionally Croatia offers an idyllic Mediterranean climate, untouched nature, affordable luxury, and delicious, local homemade food. The country oozes history and culture and perfectly blends traditional with modern architecture. We spoke to our friends at VIP Holiday Booker to identify Croatia’s top 6 destinations where you can stay in affordable luxury.

Top 6 destinations to stay in a luxury villa in Croatia for a reasonable price

1. Dubrovnik

While it may not be the country’s capital city, Dubrovnik is Croatia’s capital city of charm, lying in the south, facing the Adriatic Sea. Who wouldn’t fall in love with its fabulous old town, which was finished in the 16th century and is encircled with great, impressive stone walls. The country’s most famous destination has also been used as a film location for Game of Thrones. Dubrovnik was actually a maritime republic from 1358 until 1808, called the Republic of Ragusa. It’s a city with an amazing history.

Dubrovnik luxury villa in Croatia reasonable price

2. Hvar

The glitzy, glamorous town of Hvar is so beautiful, and on top of that its marvellous marble streets are traffic-free. Hvar is actually an island, which seems to sit perfectly in its small bay, lying in the Adriatic sea. The town is filled with great restaurants and nightlife, but its romantic 13th century walls, which surround wonderful Gothic palaces, make it a mecca for honeymooners and wedding parties.

Hvar luxury villa in Croatia reasonable price

3. Split

Capital of the Dalmatia region, Split offers visitors the perfect blend of ancient and modern architecture. The city is home to one of the world’s most amazing Roman monuments; the ever-so impressive Diocletian’s Palace; which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Head inside the town’s ancient walls, to enjoy a buzzing atmosphere, with charming, thriving shops, bars and restaurants.

Split luxury villa in Croatia reasonable price

4. Makarska

Located between Dubrovnik and Split is the idyllic seaside Makarska Riviera, with its pristine turquoise waters and natural beaches. Backed by wonderful dramatic rocky heights, Makarska is actually constructed around a beautiful deep, sheltered bay. The slopes of the rocky heights of Mount Biokovo are home to well-marked trails, making it a great spot for nature lovers and hikers.

Makarska luxury villa in Croatia reasonable price

5. Brač

The island of Brač is paradise with its untouched nature and mountainous cycling paths. It might surprise you to know that its famous radiant white stone was used in the White House, in Washington D.C. You may even know Brač without realising it, as Bol, its long pebbly, which extends into the Adriatic Sea, is used on many of the country’s tourism posters. Other charms of this island are its delightful pine forests and its charming, sleepy villages.

Brac luxury villa in Croatia reasonable price

6. Primosten

Located in North Dalmatia, close to Sibenik, Primosten was once an island and nowadays is a pretty town, with the appearance of a half-island. Primosten is the place to go for those of you who like to have plenty of tourist facilities on hand; it is a perfect, idyllic resort. The town is also a great place to base yourself to head off and visit a variety of great tourist sites, including the spectacular Krka National Park.

Welcome to the wonderful country of Croatia; which is 2017’s best country in the world.

Primosten luxury villa in Croatia reasonable price

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by VIP Holiday Booker.



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10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit on a Mediterranean yacht charter


A luxury yacht charter is the ultimate way to visit the great UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Mediterranean. Disembark by day to wander the villages of Amalfi, hike Sicily’s volcanoes, or walk the walls of Dubrovnik, before returning to your yacht, chatting excitedly about the wonders you’ve seen, dining on deck as the yacht gets underway for the next incredible UNESCO site.

Stunning scenery in Sicily

Here are our 10 top yachting destinations that will astonish with their UNESCO-listed treasures, from ancient temples to modern architecture and landscapes of breathtaking natural beauty.

1. Cinque Terre and Tuscany, Italy

The UNESCO listed Cinque Terre National Park enchants with its five pastel-painted fishing villages strung along the steep coast, green terraces of olives and grapes, and colourful fishing boats bobbing in tiny harbours. Head ashore from your yacht to walk the coastal path between the towns, stopping on a flowery restaurant terrace for a delicious seafood lunch, looking out at the yachts crisscrossing the blue. Just offshore, the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto make for a lovely detour, while charming Portovenere also graces the UNESCO list for its history and beauty.

CInque Terre, Italy

Those with the time to continue their charter can easily continue down the coast to Tuscany, which has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to UNESCO sites – whether you’re visiting Florence, the Medici Villas and Gardens, Pisa’s Piazza del Duomo, or gorgeous Siena.

Florence, Italy

2. Amalfi Coast, Naples and Pompeii, Italy

The Amalfi Coast was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 for its combination of dazzling natural beauty, superb architecture, and rich history of human settlement. Colourful towns cling on steep hillsides, grand white villas perch high above cobalt blue sea, and pink bougainvillea scrambles through gardens of lemon and olive trees. Whether you’re floating through Capri’s Blue Grotto, exploring Amalfi’s Arab-Sicilian cathedral, or shopping in Positano’s boutiques, the Amalfi Coast is one of the world’s most breathtaking yacht charter destinations.

The Italian island of Capri

Just across the water, the entire historic district of fascinating, gritty Naples is also a UNESCO listed site,while just beyond the city’s outskirts, the atmospheric ruins of the buried city of Pompeii sit under the ominous shadow of Vesuvius. Wander between the columns, sit quietly in the amphitheatre looking across the ancient city, admire the mosaics and baths of ancient villas, and see the casts of the bodies, frozen in time by the volcano’s shocking heat.

Pompeii, Italy

3. Sicily and Aeolian Islands, Italy

Sicily dazzles with the richness and variety of its UNESCO sites, from the Greek temples scattered across the landscape, to the wild volcanic beauty of the Aeolian Islands chain, declared a UNESCO site in its entirety. Sicily was considered part of ‘Greater Greece’ during the period of classical flowering, meaning it is littered with some of the finest Greek temples existing today, the best of which can be seen at UNESCO site Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples.

Favignana, Sicily

If the Greek temples and spectacular volcanic beauty of Sicily were not enough to lure you to charter a yacht here, there are also some utterly magnificent UNESCO listed cities and towns, including the unique Norman-Arab architecture of Palermo, the cathedrals of Cefalu and Monreale, the late baroque towns of the Valli di Noto, and the gorgeous city of Syracuse with its preserved island district, temples, and cliff necropolis.

Noto, Sicily

You may need a longer charter!

4. Venice and Montenegro, Adriatic Coast

Venice’s breathtaking skyline of golden domes and soaring spires are enough to make a romantic swoon, and there can be no better way to approach this 5th century city than on a luxury yacht at sunset, preferably with a glass of Venetian Prosecco in hand. There’s an astonishing treasure trove of UNESCO highlights to visit, with Venice labelled a city of exceptional universal value for its extraordinary density of architectural and artistic masterpieces. Whether you’re gasping at the wonder of St Mark’s Basilica, admiring Tintoretto canvases at Doge’s Palace, or taking a gondola ride under the Bridge of Sighs, Venice pulls at the heartstrings like few other places.

Venice, Italy

Venice is also an excellent embarkation point for your yacht charter if you’re planning to cruise down the Adriatic Coast to the UNESCO delights of Montenegro, where the city of Kotor impresses with its medieval beauty, stunning natural setting, and glamorous yacht marina at Porto Montenegro. Inland, the Dumitor National Park hides some of the deepest gorges in Europe, glaciers, and a beautiful landscape of pine forest and crystal clear lakes, making the UNESCO list for its exceptional natural value.

Kotor, Montenegro

5. Malta

Malta’s popularity as a superyacht destination is rising fast, due to its crystal clear waters, amazing diving, and incredible UNESCO sites. The entire city of Valletta is a heritage site, with its 320 historic monuments making this grand fortress city one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. The Cathedral of Saint John stuns with its gold-gilded opulence and the tombs of the Knights of Malta, and is also the home of Caravaggio masterpiece ‘The Beheading of St John the Baptist’. Other highlights include the Palace of the Grand Master, Auberge de Provence, and the Infirmary of the Order.

Valetta, Malta

Just outside Valetta is the spectacular and wildly atmospheric  Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, a vast underground cemetery spanning three levels and dating back to 3600 BC. Malta is a superb destination for those interested in ancient history, with the seven Megalithic Temples of Malta also earning UNESCO status.

Church in Malta

6. Athens and the Greek Islands

As the cradle of democracy and a birthplace of Western civilisation, it’s little wonder that Athens makes this list. The Acropolis is a must-visit in a lifetime, and it’s difficult not to be awestruck as you wander through the columns and statues of this  hilltop citadel, marvelling at the sheer grandness of the Parthenon and looking out across the city of Athens, where Hadrian’s Arch and the Olympian Temple of Zeus are surrounded by the modern, bustling city.

Parthenon

Returning to your yacht docked in Athens marina, you have the choice of heading to other UNESCO listed sites in the Greek Islands. You might cruise the Cyclades, where you can visit the sacred island of Delos, believed to be the mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Meanwhile, in the Ionian Chain, Corfu Old Town displays beautiful Venetian and neoclassical architecture, and if you’re cruising the Dodecanese, Rhodes impresses with its gothic Upper town, its Palace of the Masters, Great Hospital, and Street of the Knights.

Greek Islands

7. Dalmatian Coast and Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast offers several spectacular UNESCO listed sites to visit on a week-long charter, as you float along this heartbreakingly beautiful coastline from Dubrovnik to Trogir to Split. Dubrovnik, known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, bewitches with its high city walls, baroque architecture, and white limestone laneways. Further along the coast, the walled island city of Trogir is less well known than Dubrovnik but it is an astonishing place in its own right, with marble streets, seaside promenades, and Romanesque and Renaissance buildings. Moving onto Split, you’ll discover the truly incredible Diocletian’s Palace, now a giant historical district, in a vibrant ancient city framed by mountains and sea.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

From Split, those seeking UNESCO sites of astounding natural beauty, should take the 2.5 hour trip to Plitvice Lakes, where a scattering of small blue green lakes are fed by waterfalls, giving the impression of film-set swimming pools, surrounded by fragrant pine forest and rushing rivers. Breathe deeply.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

8. Barcelona, Ibiza, and Serra Tarumata

Begin your UNESCO themed yacht charter in Barcelona, where a collection of 9 UNESCO listed sites makes this city the title holder for most in the world. An astonishing seven of the sites are the work of architect Antonio Gaudi, whose unique and colourful modern style transformed the city. The other two UNESCO sites in Barcelona are the Hospital de la Creu i Sant Pau, and the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall, both designed by modernist Catalan architect, Lluis Domenechi Montaner.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Once you’ve had your fill of Barcelona’s iconic, spirited architecture, return to your yacht and head out into the Balearics islands, where famed party isle Ibiza has been accorded UNESCO status for its incredible underwater meadows of Poseidon grass, splendid preservation of architecture, and long history of human settlement.

Ibiza

Finally, to the island of Majorca, where a cruise up the west coast of Palma reveals the searingly, jaw-droppingly beautiful Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, which has been awarded UNESCO status for its incredible terrace fields, drystone towers, and pretty villages perched upon the vertiginous landscape.

Mountains of Mallorca

9. Turkey Ephesus, Turquoise Coast

Cruising along the Turquoise Coast of Turkey is a staggering experience, with lush pine forest and mountains contrasting against a limpid turquoise sea. This stretch of coastline was bestowed as a wedding gift to Cleopatra by Mark Antony, and is rich in historic ruins, including the ancient capital of Lycia, Xanthos Letoon. This site offers splendid temples and theatres, as well as fine examples of the stone tombs that are found carved into cliffs all along the Turquoise Coast.

Beach in Turkey

For those with the leisure of time, a trip north to the ruins of Ephesus are a must for any ancient history lover. Ruled by the Greeks and the Romans, this port town was once one of the greatest seaports of the ancient world, but now lies 9 kilometres from the sea due to its harbour silting up over the centuries. Ephesus is a vast site, with highlights including the remnants of the Temple of Artemis, the Grand Theatre with seating for 25,000, and the beautiful Library of Celsus, once one of the great libraries of the world and now the site of atmospheric summer concerts.

Ephesus

10. Corsica – Gulf of Porto

It’s hard not to gape in wonder as you cruise through Corsica’s UNESCO listed Gulf of Porto, where monumental rock formations loom over emerald and sapphire seas. Taking in a vast expanse of area including the Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, and the Scandola Reserve, this is a natural paradise born for yachting exploration, with mighty red cliffs and black volcanic rocks, hidden grottos, and stunning calanques to drop anchor in.

Piana, Corsica

The Gulf of Porto is also home to an abundance of life, from the dolphins that play and jump in the yacht’s bow wave to the eagles and peregrine falcons that soar above the rugged cliffs. This is wildly beautiful place, where rosemary and sage grow wild in the maquis and the few signs of human life are the old Genoese watchtowers on lonely bluffs, and the pretty village of Girolata, only reachable by boat or by foot.

Girolata, Corsica

For history lovers and admirers of nature, there can be no better holiday than a UNESCO-themed yacht charter in the Mediterranean. Where would you go first?

Alexander Coles is Co-Founder at Bespoke Yacht Charter.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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9 of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world



 



There are hundreds of thousands of different waterfalls across the world in many different countries, both in prominent locations, and secret hideaways. All of the waterfalls I am going to describe are spectacular, exhilarating, beautiful, and often a popular tourist attraction in that area. Some waterfalls are better known than others, but whether it’s a planned trip or an added gem to your itinerary these breath taking waterfalls are a must.

Gullfoss, Iceland

Gullfoss waterfall is located in the canyon of the Hvita River in the southwest of Iceland. It is also known as Golden Waterfall, as due to when the sun shines the waterfall takes on a golden brown colour. Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland; it has two cascades before reaching the 2.5km crevasse below, the first which is 36 feet and the second which is 69 feet. The waterfall is the largest in Europe and is part of an eponymous nature reserve, to ensure it is protected for all to enjoy its natural beauty.

Gullfoss-Falls,-Iceland

Angel Falls, Venezuela

Angel Falls is located in the western sector of Canaima National Park in Venezuela. Angel Falls is the highest waterfall in the world, falling from a height of 3230 feet. There are many different ways to observe the falls; fly, canoe or hike. Should one wish for a bit more adventure, abseiling down the falls is a real thrill, but involves some rock climbing first! Although this does take two days, the views and adrenaline rush are worth every second.

Angel-Falls

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Igauazu Falls, also known as Iguassu Falls and Iguacu Falls, are located on the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. There are 275 individual cascades making it one of the natural wonders of the world. The falls stretch out over 2.7 km and a height of 200-269 feet. The best way to see the falls in their natural beauty is through the special walkway, which has been built around the falls which allows tourists to see it up close. The falls are so incredibly beautiful that they have been used as the backdrops for many different films. If one allows a couple of days to see this incredible waterfall, it is worth viewing from both the Brazilian side and the Argentinian side. They both offer unique and jaw dropping experiences and of course both countries will claim their side is better!

Iguazu-Falls

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia

Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. With a width of 1.6 km and a drop of 354 feet, it’s not a surprise that the spray of water can be seen from miles away. One special vista is from the Knife-edge Bridge, as visitors can enjoy the best view of the Main Falls as well as the Boiling Pot (where the river parts and heads down the Botoka Gorge). Falls Bridge, Devils Pool and the Lookout Tree offer panoramic views across the Main Falls.

Victoria-Falls

Niagara Falls, US and Canada

One of the worlds most well known falls, Niagara is a shared name for three individual waterfalls, which make up part of the international border between Canada and the US. The individual falls are; Horseshoe Falls, America Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. As there are three cascades, Niagara Falls has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world. Located on the Niagara River, the falls have a drop of 177 feet. Although it may not be the tallest waterfall in the world, the combination of the width of the three falls and the volume of water make it a truly spectacular sight. Take a boat trip – the ‘Spirit of Niagara’ into the falls and see the mesmerising power of the water up close along with the spectacular sight of the falls from a different perspective – it’s a really fun and must do experience.

Niagara-Falls-2

Huangguoshu Waterfall, China and East Asia

Huanggushu Waterfall, which translates to Yellow Fruit Tree it is the largest waterfall in China and Asia, located on the Baishui River in Huanggushu Waterfall National Park. It is 243 feet high and altogether there is an impressive 18 falls. Make sure you plan your visit around the morning sunrise, as this is when rainbows appear, which create a truly magical moment not to be missed. A path has been cut into the cliff behind the fall, which gives visitors a beautiful view of the water-curtain and the flowing river below.

Huanggushu-Falls

Plitvice Lake Waterfalls, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park is the largest National Park in Croatia and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Register. The national park is world renowned for its beautiful collection of lakes and their distinctive colours. There are two waterfalls, Veliki slap, which is 255 feet, and Galocaki buk, which is 82 feet. Both waterfalls contribute to the beautiful 16 lakes.

Plitvice-Falls

Mackenzie Falls, Victoria, Australia

Based in Grampians National Park, Victoria, the waterfall is 114 feet, and there is a beautiful area at the top of the falls – a lookout point where visitors are able to see down the falls and appreciate the views of the higher drops which cannot be seen from below. The falls are year round flowing, unlike some other falls in the national park, due to the humid weather and droughts throughout the year. The waterfall is beautiful, with two tiers and both with pools that link them – this is definitely a fall to see while in the National Park.

Mackenzie-Falls

Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Wales

Meaning the Fall of the White Meadow, based in the Brecon Beacons National Park (on the Western side). There are spectacular waterfalls of all different sizes, colours and beauty in the National Park, but one which really stands out is the Sgwd Clun-Gwyn waterfall. There are two cascades in the waterfall that can be viewed from above by following the footpath, or from the river below. It may only be 40 feet, but the sheer beauty of this waterfall should not be missed.

Sgwd Clun Gwyn Falls

Mike Kelly is Director at Oxford Private Travel.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Top 5 things to do in Dubrovnik’s Old Town



 



Towering medieval buildings meet warm Adriatic waters, it’s no surprise Dubrovnik has become increasingly popular for luxury travel. For those looking to plan a trip to The Pearl of the Adriatic, the evocative old town is by far the most attractive draw of this beautiful city. Narrow cobbled streets and impressive medieval buildings are enclosed by huge stone walls. Remarkable preservation has endeavoured to keep everything from the cobbles on the street exactly as they would have been. Below we have selected 5 of our favourite things to do in Dubrovnik old town.

Walk in she shoes of famous film sets and explore the city’s charm

It’s easy to get lost in the charming streets of mystic ancient stone. Discover romantic city lanes and breathe in the city’s aromatic smells. Although there are lots of historic sites to see, part of the allure is simply the dynamic feel of the city. Simply walk through the city and catch the charming chatter of locals and the sunlit squares. Discover Gothic churches, impressive monasteries and sturdy stone houses. It’s easy to lose yourself in the ‘olde worlde’ charm of Dubrovnik old town. Now famous for more than its history the old town has made its appearance on several film sets including Game of Thrones, Robin Hood and more recently Star Wars VIII.

Walking tour, old town Dubrovnik

Visit Onofrio’s fountain

Long and dry summers in Dubrovnik meant the city needed a better way to supply water.  In 1438 the 16 sided Onofrio’s fountain was constructed as part of an intricate water supply system. The 16 sides are richly decorated with unique stone carvings, which are different on every side. Unfortunately an earthquake in 1667 damaged some of these so the appearance today is somewhat rough around the edges. You can find the fountain on entrance to the city gates from the west.

Onofrio's fountain during Star Wars VIII filming

Take a refreshing dip on the city’s edges

When thinking of Dubrovnik, beaches don’t really spring to mind but swimming certainly does. Surrounding the city walls the rocky cliffs are a popular hangout for sunbathers and swimmers. It’s always a good idea to wear your swimsuit wherever you go in Dubrovnik, so you can grasp the first opportunity to jump in and cool off. In several places there are pool ladders so you can gradually enter the water, but you’ll see a lot of brave tourist’s dive bombing in as the water is deep. Perched on these cliffs you’ll find bars that provide a ‘hole in the wall’ to the inside of the city.

Old Town Dubrovnik, Adriatic Sea

Tour the old city walls

The walls build around the old town were constructed to protect the city from pirates and unwelcome guests. These walls are by far the city’s most famous attraction. Ranging from 3-6 metres wide and 25 metres high, you can walk along these walls and gaze upon the city’s fascinating orange rooftops. Take the 1,940 metre walk along the walls and gaze out to the shimmering Adriatic Sea.

Tour the city walls, Dubrovnik

Shop on Stradun, the popular main street

The main shopping street in the old town is a bustling scene to behold. Multiple restaurants, bars and cafes stand out proudly against the old fortified walls of the city. The 300 metre street stretches from east to west, attached to a lovely square with an impressive bell tower. On Saturday there is a market with local foods and Croatian souvenirs, giving the impression this street is never quiet. A popular tourist haunt there are street entertainers, luxury boutiques and art galleries, providing a beautiful contrast to the medieval buildings.

Stradun, Dubrovnik old town

Nick Munday is Managing Director at Classic Collection Holidays.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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10 great reasons to visit Croatia



 



Croatia is one of the last unspoiled gems of the Northern Mediterranean. With breathtaking coastal vistas, hidden islands and incredible food and wine, it strikes the perfect balance between relaxation, culture and activity. If you’ve yet to visit Croatia, read on for inspiration on why to go!

1. History and culture

Although Croatia is one of Europe’s ‘youngest’ countries, having gained independence just quarter of a century ago, it is a real melting pot of history. Packed with historic UNESCO World Heritage sites, Croatia features influences ranging from Roman and Illyrian to Venetian and Austro-Hungarian. From the Old Towns of Zagreb and Dubrovnik to the island retreats, the Dinaric Alps stretch down to the Adriatic to create one of the most stunning landscapes in Europe.

zagreb theatre

2. Gastronomic heaven

Croatia is blessed with excellent local produce. Olive oil like you have never tasted, from small artisanal producers, oyster heaven in the Peljesac Peninsula where you can have your own private oyster feast on a small islet. Istria, christened terra magica (magical land) by the Romans is renowned for the abundance of truffles, both white and black. You can go on your own private truffle hunt with dogs! Also in this region is the very first restaurant to achieve a Michelin star this year – The Monte restaurant in Rovinj. On the Dalmatian coast seafood restaurants specialize in freshly caught fish – Leut in Cavtat and Dvor in Split are two of our favorites as they also have wonderful sea views.

olive oil

3. Secluded islands

Croatia has some very well-known islands: Hvar, known for lavender carpets in June, Korcula, known as the birthplace of Marco Polo, and Brac, where the marble from the White House comes from. There are still 997 other islands to explore, and the perfect way to do this is to hire a boat for the day. Close to Dubrovnik are the Elaphiti islands some uninhabited and some inhabited by just a handful of people. Here you can still find a secluded beach or cove.

island

4. Safe haven

In uncertain political times instinct is to travel to countries that are considered safe-havens. Places away from chaos and uncertainty. Croatian’s value family above all else and the pace of life here is slow compared to many. With a population of just 4 million, Croatia has over 14 million visitors a year, and the vibrant travel economy is one of the most important parts of the local economy. You will be greeted with charm and friendly smiles everywhere you go.

safe haven

5. The weather

Croatia is one of the sunniest places in Europe. You can expect 12 hours of sun a day from May to September. Even if you are not going for beach time, everything in Croatia is improved by the great climate that the country enjoys.

croatia sun

6. It’s not all about the Dalmatian coast

Dubrovnik is the Pearl of the Adriatic and Split has the amazing Diocletean’s Palace, but you should not confine your visit to the Dalmatian coast. For stunning countryside, truffle hunting and Venetian gothic beauty, Istria is totally unmissable. There is also coastline there, so you don’t have to completely miss out on sea views, but this region is equally as fabulous as the Dalmatian coast.

croatian countryside

7. Natural beauty

Dubrovnik was described as paradise on earth by George Bernard Shaw and Lord Byron described it as the pearl of the Adriatic. If 1,000 islands and a stunning coastline wasn’t enough, there are also entire islands dedicated to being national parks. With eight parks in total it is good to get advice as to the best for you as some can be overrun at certain times of the year.

national park

8. Great hotels

Croatian hotels today are becoming more sophisticated than ever. One of our favorites, the Villa Dubrovnik has had a revamp, as has the previously tired Excelsior. In Split, the Hotel Palace has changed the hotel landscape, providing the perfect compromise between charming city hotel and resort. In Istria the hip Lone sits alongside the sophisticated Monte Mulini, both offering something for each traveler, while the Adriatic in Rovinj old town is perfect for an out of season foodie trip.

hotel room key

9. Game of Thrones

Many sites throughout Croatia have been made even more famous today as filming locations for HBO’s original series.  Between Split and Dubrovnik, one can travel across the mythical Narrow Sea from King’s Landing in the west to Meereen and Slaver’s Bay in the east.

dubrovnik

10. Award-winning wine producers

Croatia is a major wine producer. Delightful vintners are dotted all over the country – small private wineries in stunning locations. The hotel Meneghetti is a tiny inland retreat that is owned by wine producers and has an award winning restaurant. Close to Split, the family owned Bibich Winery is a must visit and close to Dubrovnik the husband and wife Karaman winery produce award winning dessert wines in an idyllic environment.

wineries

Croatia is the perfect destination to combine history and culture with food, wine and nature. With a warm Mediterranean climate and even warmer people, there is something to suit all tastes in this wonderful country.

Ala Osmond is Director at Exeter International.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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