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From sun-drenched beaches on its coast, to deeply forested mountain passes, Croatia has much to offer those seeking adventurous holidays. Its coastline ranges more than 1,000km, and inland there are unspoilt rural villages, mountains and lakes to enjoy. If Croatia is not the first country you think of for sporting holidays: think again. From scuba in the Dalmatians, to mountain biking up-country, Croatia can provide the adventure you are looking for.

Thanks to the country's diverse climate, there are a variety of opportunities on offer. The Dalmatian coastline runs parallel to Italy's eastern coast and shares a similar climate: hot and dry summers with cool and wet winters. However, thanks to dramatic topography - which sees mountains rise directly from the sea - visitors to Croatia can quickly find themselves crossing three climatic regions.

Head north from the historic port of Dubrovnik and the ascent begins. You cross the Pannonian plains, which have a continental-type climate of cold winters and hot summers, before moving into the Alpine climate of the Dinara region. Alpine and Mediterranean climates within a couple of hours drive means variety: perfect for travellers seeking a little adventure.

Before travelling, it's perhaps best to decide what it is you want to do. Croatia's hot summers are perfect for watersports, however as temperatures sometimes reach 40C, mountain biking and trekking could be more fun in spring and autumn. Winters are extremely cold, although again this depends on which part of the country you are in - the coast has relatively warm winters but inland you can enjoy months of snow and bone-jarringly low temperatures.

With six world heritage sites and a fascinating history carved from dramatic clashes of empire, there is much to learn about this country. Although, if you are a traveller seeking sporting pleasures, it's probably the country's eight national parks, top winter sports facilities and 1185 islands that will float your boat.

So where to start? If you are flying then it's simple enough: If you want to go inland fly to the capital Zagreb and to the coast try Pula, Split or Dubrovnik, depending on your target destination.

There are also flights to Osijek, Zadar, Krk (Rijeka airport) and to Brac (Bol airport) - flying into either KrK or Brac you will want to have your wetsuit and trunks handy; the two islands are surrounded by crystal clear waters.

Zagreb is joined by rail links to Rijeka, Osijek and Split. Trains from international cities arrive daily, although if you are hoping to backpack your way around, taking the bus will help you get to less well-known destinations.

While improving, the country's road network is perhaps not of the same standard found at home. That's not to say you couldn't drive around from adventure to adventure, just take care on regional routes that traverse the alpine regions - especially during the winter months.

Campsites in Croatia are easy to find. Thanks again to the region's natural variety, you are faced with an oh-so-difficult choice: beaches or mountains? If it's coastal places you are after then you won't be disappointed, as there are many to choose from. Some sites tend to be small, although they are often in fabulous locations. Inland campsites, however, are less easy to source. But thanks to the rich mix of mountains and beaches, many of the sites offer access to both. Notable places to pitch up can be found at Fanzana, Rabic-Labin, Novigrad and Kranjski. If you do find yourself drawn to Plitvice national park, camping places are available in the nearby town. And if it all gets too much and you need to scrub up, worry not; there are plenty of lodges and hotels nearby.

Classic Itineraries

If you base yourself on the coast then look for island-hopping opportunities. There are few better ways to appreciate the topography of Croatia than looking back at the mainland from such beautiful islands - all 1,185 of them! Walking inland you would be foolish not to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Halfway between Zagreb and the coast this Unesco World Heritage Site has 16 lakes set among 300 square kilometres of deeply forested mountains. Looking for a break, or to round off your experience, Croatian culture is equally beguiling: renaissance architecture, coastal forts and international cities all help complete the picture.

Other Activities

You might be surprised at the variety of activities on offer in Croatia. The ever changing climate means that, depending on the season of your visit, youêll find different things to do.

The rocky terrain makes excellent opportunities for mountaineering, with trails suitable no matter your level of skill or interest. The Croatian caves, too, afford the more intrepid with more glorious sights the deeper you go.

Golf has recently become very popular and there are some excellent courses. As with horseback riding, this is best confined to the summer months when you can bask in the glowing sunlight that warms Croatiaês verdant pastures.

Activities in Croatia

Diving Thanks to such clear waters, scuba fans will have a whale of a time. In
Kitesurfing With miles of coast and thousands of islands, Croatia is a natural destination for watersports

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