Although Italy has long been the destination for many tourists who nourish the dream of visiting well-known cities such as Rome or Venice, directly across the Adriatic Sea to the east lie a variety of places with their own unique delights.
While the nations that make up the former Yugoslavia may not be among the first places that come to mind when people speak of international vacation stops, a decade of conflict followed by a decade of rest and rejuvenation have made this region an intriguing option for international travelers.
Rich in ancient cities, distinctive cultures, and coastal beauty, the countries and cities of the eastern Adriatic are attracting more and more visitors each year. Here are some sample destinations.
In Montenegro, the oceanside city of Kotor is a destination that has a plenitude of historic monuments and gorgeous views. On the coast of the Adriatic, this city offers travelers a wealth of opportunities for your camera that encompass both the antique works of humans and the ancient labors of nature.
Kotor is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, most notably for its Venetian walls and architecture, which date back to the 14th century. However, it was first settled during the Roman Empire and possess a long and storied past.
Northwest of Montenegro, the unusually shaped Croatia boasts the coastal city of Rovinj, which boasts 134 sunny days a year. Its beautiful Golden Cape Forest Park was cultivated during the 19th century by a knight from Trieste. More than a century has passed and allowed it to mature to a place of stunning scenery beloved to nature enthusiasts and cyclists. No motor vehicles are allowed in the park.
Anyone with an interest in archaeology should visit the Monkodonjo, an ancient hill settlement dating back to the Bronze Age. The nearby town of Dvigrad was abandoned entirely in the 17th century, and offers visitors the experience of a medieval “ghost town” with crumbling buildings and churches untouched by recent habitation.
In addition to attractions for the history-minded traveler, sport fishing and sunbathing on the beaches are popular activities here.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The name “Bosnia” is probably enough to give anyone over thirty a feeling of anxiety, yet the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has attracted large numbers of travelers in the twenty-first century. Reasons to visit Sarajevo include the glimpse of a city where three extremely disparate cultures met: the Ottoman Muslims from the Turkish Empire to the south, the Roman Catholics from the West, and Eastern Orthodox Christians from the Byzantine empire in the East.
Sarajevo is also a living monument of centuries of conflict. Ironically, the city now ranks as one of the safest in Eastern Europe. Its ancient streets, still scarred by the wars that only concluded with the 20th century, still bear the numerous scars of conflict.
Yet it is considered an extremely friendly place, and has become ever more popular with tourists for its Europe-meets-the-East style. Sarajevo shows how peace can at last be attained, despite centuries of fighting.