1. The water looks like THIS.
Croatia doesn't have many big off-shore industries, and the clear-as-day water shows that off.
While each region of Croatia is cool in its own way, the most popular one for vacations is probably Dalmatia, which is the coastal area on the Adriatic Sea, right across from Italy. It includes Dubrovnik and the surrounding islands (i.e. it's the region with all the water).
2. Croatia is a backdrop for two huge fandoms: Parts of Game of Thrones and Star Wars 8 were filmed there.
3. And it's a history buff's dream.
Dalmatian history stretches all the way back to the 2nd century BC (!!). One of the most popular historical sites is Dubrovnik's City Walls, which surround the center of the city — called the Old Town — and were built back in the 7th century. The walls, which today are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are often referred to as one of the greatest protection systems of the Middle Ages.
But though Dubrovnik is perhaps the most well-known historical city in Dalmatia, there's lots of history on the other islands, too. More info here.
4. There are boats galore ...
... and it's super easy to take them around, or rent one for yourself.
Croatia is already well-known for Yacht Week, the week when you charter a yacht with your friends and sail around and party. But you don't need to rent a boat for an entire week if you don't want to — because it's easy to get around by boat on a daily basis, too.
There's a popular ferry catamaran route that goes from Dubrovnik —> Mljet —> Korcula —> Hvar —> Split, all insanely beautiful Dalmatian islands. The ferry is roughly $10 per ticket, give or take, and rides are mostly under two hours. Taking the ferry is a great way to go island hopping on the cheap, and once you're on each island, you can take even smaller boats out to other smaller islands, or rent one for the whole day while you're there.
5. You can swim basically anywhere you want.
6. And there's lots of cliff jumping, too.
7. Speaking of bars on the water, Beyoncé and Jay-Z may or may not have come up with the name Blue Ivy WHILE AT a coastal bar in Hvar.
8. There are tons of cute alleyways everywhere you turn.
Instagram potential: high.
9. And it's also one of the most bike-able places ever.
Lots of outdoor adventure tour companies, like VBT and Hooked On Cycling, offer bike tours through Dalmatia, and the rest of Croatia, too, because the landscape is so stunning. But even if you don't devote your entire trip to cycling, you can rent a bike for a day (it's around $10) and ride around on your own. You can also rent an ATV for some serious off-roading, which I highly recommend.
10. The hiking's amazing, too.
Here are some of the best trails.
11. There are abandoned villages and ruins just ~waiting~ to be explored.
One great example is the village of Malo Grablje on the island of Hvar. The village, which dates back to the 15th century and was abandoned in the 1950s, is set far away from the center of Hvar Town. It's mostly accessible by off-roading in an ATV or taxi (though some do make the rugged hike). Once you arrive, there is a cute konoba (traditional restaurant), called Stori Komin, that serves local authentic cuisine — but it's only open at 4 pm, and you have to call ahead to let the owner know if you want fish. Otherwise, there is no menu; you simply eat what he cooks that day.
You can get more info on other ruins and villages to explore here.
12. Accommodations can be pretty affordable, if you know where to look.
Rental apartments are quite popular in Dalmatia. You can find them for around $25 a night, like this one for $28 if you're traveling alone or this one for about $22 each if you're traveling with a partner. All of the sharing economy biggies — Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, etc. — operate in Croatia, so that's the best way to find a rental. Hostels are also a good option in Dalmatia, like this island one in Hvar for $13 a night.
And if you pay a little more for your rental, you can get breakfast included.
Staples might include cured meats, fresh cheeses, and one hell of a coastal backdrop.
13. While we're talking food: Dalmatian cuisine is delicious.
Insanely fresh seafood, homemade pasta and local cheese, and tasty street food. More info here.
14. The local booze is on point, too.
First, the wine: There are over 300 defined wine regions scattered throughout Croatia. But, sadly for us, they don't have a hugely developed export market, which is why you may not have ever tried it before. The wineries in the interior of the country produce mostly white wine, while the wineries along the Dalmatian coast cultivate mostly red. (Rosé isn't a huge thing there.)
Croatia is also very well-known for both fruity liqueur, which is made from wine or fermented fruit juice, and rakija, which is made from various local fruits. The idea is to sip these spirits either before a meal to warm up your palate for your food, or afterward to help you wind down.
15. The sunsets are simply magical.
I mean ...
16. And the countryside is stunning.
17. The locals are resilient, and very proud of their country.
Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, followed by the Croatian War of Independence that lasted until 1996. The war was brutal, and even though it's over now, Croatians haven't forgotten. They seem to be even more appreciative of the peaceful times. More info on Croatia's history here.
18. The flowers are beautiful.
They're everywhere — some even grow out of the walls.
19. As are the urban gardens.
Croatians have quite the green thumb, especially those who live in city alleyways. Many of the alleyways look like the ones above, filled with well-trimmed plants and flowers. So pretty!
20. And all of the trees.
Especially all the cyprus trees, pictured on the right.
21. You can take home all sorts of cool, crafty souvenirs.
The region is especially known for their lavender and agave lace. (In fact, nuns in the Benedictine convent in Hvar started the lacemaking tradition on the island back in the mid 19th century. More info on that here.)
22. It's home to one of the sunniest spots in Europe.
Locals in Hvar say one of the reasons they love their home so much is that it's just so sunny. And they're not wrong: According to this New York Times article, the island of Hvar gets about 2,720 hours of sunlight per year (while Paris only clocks in 1,800 hours).
23. And golden hour there really is truly golden.
24. But perhaps most of all, it's a great place to just take a deep breath of fresh air ...
... admire the serenity ...
... and remember that sometimes, the simple pleasures really are the best ones of all.
Hotel and airfare were provided free of charge by the Croatia Tourism Board and Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik. BuzzFeed writers do not guarantee coverage.