• Hvar Harbor at Sunset, Croatia

    7 Best Things to do in Croatia

    If we could live anywhere, it would be <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank">Croatia</a>. Beautiful doesn’t begin to describe Dalmatia’s Adriatic coastline or Istrian vineyards that Napa should envy. Think cinematic <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank">Dubrovnik </a>(aka King’s Landing on “Game of Thrones”), Rovinj perched on the tip of a peninsula, and harbor-side Hvar. This is a country where you can do an artisanal olive-oil tasting lesson, take a country walk a million miles from anywhere, and rest up afterward at a 5-star hotel by the sea, all in the same day. You&#39;ll find it incredibly easy to engage with the locals. This is one of our favorite destinations and we are convinced that you will agree. Here are seven of our favorite things to do in Croatia. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><b>#1 Explore the medieval city of Dubrovnik</b></a><br>Enjoy a day learning about <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank">Dubrovnik&#39;s </a>fascinating history and admiring its beautifully preserved limestone buildings with red-tiled roofs, quaint streets with charming shops and cafes, and massive walls that allow us to experience the city from many vantage points.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="View of Dubrovnik, Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATXH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f953" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><b>#2 Follow scenic coastal paths </b></a><br>Just a short distance from <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank">Dubrovnik </a>you can follow along scenic paths that have been used for centuries by shepherds. Almost every step of the way, the Adriatic is in sight, with olive trees and cypress to frame the view.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Adriatic Coastline in Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATXH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f958" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><b>#3 Visit Lokrum Island</b></a><br>Just a short ferry ride, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank">Lokrum Island</a> is an uninhabited, beautiful nature reserve with botanical gardens, a fortress, and a lake in the middle of the island. Spend the day admiring the wonderful wildlife, and picturesque clear blue waters while taking the time to stop for a picnic and swim.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Lake on Lokrum Island, Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATXH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f95D" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><b>#4 Lunch &amp; wine-tasting</b></a><br>Accept an invitation to our friend, Mario, and his father Teo&#39;s winery. With our incredible hosts, participate in a tasting of the family treasures, accompanied by local cheeses, meats, olives, and fruits served in the cellar and tasting room.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Group at a lunch and wine tasting, Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATXH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f95I" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><b>#5 Stay at the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik</b></a><br>Built in 1895 and renovated in 2005, the hotel blends Belle Epoque style with comfort and technology. Spacious guest rooms, decorated in wood and marble finishes, overlook gardens and rooftops of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank">old Dubrovnik</a>.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="View from terrace of the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATXH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f95N" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><b>#6 Scenic countryside walk</b></a><br>Venture out on a walk through lavender fields and olive groves that leads us to a working olive mill where we&#39;re treated to a tasting of the locally produced olive oil and bread.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="View of an Olive tree and the coastline of Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATXH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f95S" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><b>#7 Hvar &amp; Jelsa</b></a><br>Capture the essence of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank">Hvar</a>, &quot;as golden as the honey the island is famous for.&quot; Vineyards, lavender fields and honey-colored buildings line our route to the coastal village of Jelsa. In Jelsa enjoy lunch at a local agriturismo.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Hvar Harbor, Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATXH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f95X" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>If you&#39;d like to do all these activities, plus a little more, without the hassle of logistics—join a Classic Journeys&#39;<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank"> culture + walking</a> or <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatiafamily/" target="_blank">family </a>adventure to Croatia. You&#39;ll have the trip of a lifetime!

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  • Corsica at Sunset

    6 of Europe's Best-Kept Secrets

    <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/europe/" target="_blank">Europe</a> is known for having some of the most iconic sites in the world. From the picturesque canals of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italyfamily/" target="_blank">Venice</a>, the standing stones at <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Stonehenge</a>, to the lavender fields of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/provence-tours/" target="_blank">Provence</a>. It’s easy to find yourself on a merry-go-round of repeating travels. But you can still find amazing places off the beaten path… the places not known yet to tourists. And with the help of Classic Journeys, you’ll find that Europe is full of them!<br><br>Here you’ll find six of the best-kept secrets in Europe. Which one will you visit first?<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><img alt="Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rP9" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><b>Slovenia + Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula</b></a><br>Just a generation ago, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank">Slovenia and Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula</a> were part of Yugoslavia. Now, they’re two of the great under-the-radar and off-the-chart destinations in all of Europe. These unspoiled next-door lands sit right at the top of the Adriatic Sea just east of Venice. The scenery is so insanely perfect that you don’t want the walks to end. Think vineyards rolling into olive groves sweeping to the Adriatic and mirror calm mountain lakes reflecting snow-capped Alps.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank"><img alt="Basque" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPE" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank"><b>Basque Pyrenees</b></a><br>A museum sheathed in titanium. Wild horses that eat baguettes. Villages with names in three languages—Basque, French and Spanish. Farmers on tractors yield the right of way to fierce but friendly pelota games in village squares. Garlands of brilliant red pimientos dry in the sunlight… then show up on a dinner plate stuffed with seafood. You’ll be surprised at the richness of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">Europe’s oldest culture</a> that few have had the chance to experience.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Corsica" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank"><b>Sardinia + Corsica</b></a><br>Travel between the isles of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Sardinia and Corsica</a> and you&#39;ll only venture eight miles...but they&#39;re worlds apart. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Corsica</a>—part of France, but defiantly non-French—is blanketed in fragrant herbs and dotted with quaint villages. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Sardinia</a> seeks adventure. Travel through the island and see how it&#39;s rustic, mysterious; with a few thousand years of Phoenician, Spanish and Italian blood in its veins. Together, these two gorgeous islands are some of the least-touristed spots in Europe. When you leave behind the yacht-studded harbors for the mountains, pastures and vineyards of the interior, you have the rarest of privileges—to see and experience countryside and culture that seem to have stood still in time.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank"><img alt="Montenegro" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank"><b>Montenegro</b></a><br>How will you explain <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank">Montenegro</a> to your friends who haven’t been (and that will be 99.9% of them)? Do you start with its Adriatic coast, where golden stone villages nestle on secluded, palm-lined bays? You can’t leave out the wild mountains with their sheer canyons and whisper-quiet lakes. You’ll certainly have stories about the hospitable Montenegrins… the olive growers, grappa-makers, shepherds and artists. You’ll fall in instant love with this compact Balkan land because it’s still so undiscovered, unexpected and unforgettable.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><img alt="Prague" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><b>Prague to Budapest</b></a><br>The journey from <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank">Prague to Vienna to Budapest </a>is one of Europe’s best hidden gems. These one-time capitals of the Habsburg Empire, with its spires and castles, create the continent’s most inspiring skylines. Out in the countryside, the sights are spectacular. Powder-blue cathedrals leap up from the heart of valley towns. Incredibly intact villages are so perfectly preserved that the U.N. recognizes them as World Heritage Sites. Vast farmlands make it feel as though you’ve stepped back into feudal times. This is a rich slice of Europe’s life and history that most travelers never see.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Apulia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank"><b>Apulia</b></a><br>When we ask our Italian guides where they&#39;d most like to take our friends who think they know Italy on a walking tour we get one response: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank">Apulia</a>. And then they use their hands. To paint a vista of gnarled olive trees silhouetted against a lapis lazuli sea. To express the amazing sunlight. To sketch the saw-toothed skyline of a village comprised entirely of trulli—the conical stone roofs unique to the region. Best of all, Apulia (pronounced ah-pooh-lya) passes the most important Classic Journeys test—it offers fine leisurely walking, elegant accommodations, and a glimpse into a region and culture that&#39;s not quite like any you&#39;ve encountered before.

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  • Iceland northern lights

    When They Aren’t Guiding: Kommi Tells Secrets to Seeing Aurora Borealis

    When solar winds collide into our atmosphere, layers of gases combine with particles carried in the winds to reveal a dance of chemistry that creates the Aurora Borealis, the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/how-to-see-northern-lights-iceland/" target="_blank">northern lights</a>. Greens and pinks shimmer as layers of oxygen and nitrogen become illuminated in a way that only a natural phenomenon could display—until now.<br><br>Kormakur “Kommi” Hermannsson, a Classic Journeys guide in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/iceland-tours/" target="_blank">Iceland</a>, has engineered real-time displays of solar winds running headfirst into the same gases from our atmosphere. Contained in plasma tubes, Kommi has found a way to track and replicate the entire supernatural process and put it on display for the public. But this was not exactly his intention.<br><br>Kommi, 49, rearranged his life in 2011 when he devoted himself full-time to work as an outdoor guide in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank">Iceland</a>, after already establishing himself as a top search and rescue person in the nation. Possessing an engineering background of more than 20 years (inventor of the <a href="https://noxmedical.com/" target="_blank">Nox Medical home sleep monitor device</a>), it didn’t take long for him to identify opportunities for improvement in his new industry. <br><br><img alt="Kommi and Classic Journeys founders Edward and Susie" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRyF" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>The most significant opportunity being improving the experience of witnessing the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/wonders-of-iceland/" target="_blank">northern lights.</a> Kommi said that most guides during the winter are involved with the northern lights in some way. But the process to see them can take a combination of time and withstanding the elements of nature, something that can be difficult for travelers.<br><br>“The most surprising factor was how insecure people were in the dark,” observed Kommi. “A lot of people aren’t all that comfortable being cold and alone in the dark while in a strange country.”<br><br><img alt="Kommi and Classic Journeys founders Edward and Susie" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRyK" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>That became the goal and driving force behind the <a href="https://www.aurorabasecamp.is/" target="_blank">Aurora Basecamp Observatory</a> - to create the best possible experience of seeing the northern lights. In December 2019 it was in full swing and open to the public, and already in a few short months, they have delivered the visual masterpiece to approximately 2,000 people.<br><br>“We asked ourselves, ‘where would be the best place to take a guest?’ and that is basically where we started.” From there, Kommi explained, the difference was going to be in the education factor. “Nothing I have seen focuses on teaching people how to experience the northern lights.”<br><br>Three geodesic dome-shaped buildings sit off in the distance of an undeveloped lava field located 15-20 minutes south of Reykjavik. They form a small observatory campus, far away from any chance of urban light pollution. The experience visitors leave with is truly otherworldly.<br><br><img alt="Northern lights observatory Aurora Basecamp" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRyU" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>“I have seen the craziest displays myself, but what you see of the northern lights on time-lapse videos…that is not something that I want to show to people.” Kommi was adamant that he wanted to provide real experiences, not photoshopped versions. “The normal northern lights you see is a nice arc, and if you are lucky you will see the lights dance—that is usually what people are looking for.”<br><br>According to Viking lore, the way to Valhalla required death in battle. If chosen, fallen warriors were then escorted by Valkyries to the heavens, which would in effect create the northern lights.<br><br>According to Kommi, though, the lights are a matter of science. A science that he has managed to not only understand and recreate with plasma tubes, but track and showcase to the public in real-time.<br><br>The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/how-to-see-northern-lights-iceland/" target="_blank">northern lights</a> are formed on the edge of the magnetic field associated with the North Pole. When solar winds cross that area, layers of nitrogen and oxygen mix with the charged particles in the solar winds to create a shimmer, or dancing, effect. <br><br><img alt="Northern lights aurora borealis" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRz8" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>This was the process that Kommi was able to reconstruct inside plasma tubes. After a curious two years of experimenting with conductors to mix various gases with charged particles, permits were filed and approved to build perfect, protected land. Today Kommi is replicating the magic of the cosmos in front of groups, exactly as he set out to do.<br><br>A brief understanding of the celestial experience begins when people first enter the Aurora Lounge. Around a wood stove, visitors take a seat and enjoy either hot chocolate or tea. This room allows everyone to truly ease their way into the eventually dark, harsh conditions. <br><br><img alt="Aurora Lounge Basecamp Observatory for the northern lights" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRyj" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>Next, you enter the Dark Park, which is a guided experience through various rooms, each set with different images and information. The tour begins with a photo of very weak northern lights, almost undetectable. This is to explain exactly how difficult they can be to spot on your own if you do not know what to look for. Light pollution is the topic of the following area, where you learn how light can either add to or take away from your viewing experience of the northern lights. <br><br>“We have to teach people how to look for it,” says Kommi. “We have to then teach people how to see it.”<br><br><img alt="Northern lights aurora borealis Iceland" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRzX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>You continue to learn by unlearning everything you thought you knew about seeing the northern lights, with a compilation of the most popular disinformation or confusing information that leaves everyone making the same mistakes. Finally, you come to find six plasma tubes filled with gases and charged particles that artificially display the same show happening outdoors before you exit the building to witness it in nature.<br><br>At this point of the Aurora Basecamp Observatory experience, your eyes have fully adjusted to dark areas and low light. After you exit the dome, you are instructed on how to take the best pictures of what you are seeing. Then, it is up to you to just enjoy the night, with Kommi, and his return customers, which he says most become.<br><br><img alt="Northern lights observatory Aurora Basecamp" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRyo" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>“The northern lights are a natural phenomenon. Sometimes you have activity that produces crazy moments of really nice light,” explained Kommi, calmly, like he does. “That is what makes the northern lights exciting for me as a guide. I can never tell you exactly what is going to appear.”<br><br><i>Skyler Wilder is an award-winning journalist with a Sports Emmy in “Outstanding New Approaches” at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games; a digital producer for the International Surfing Association, Dew Tour, Toyota, Red Bull and NBC; and an independent photojournalist with stories published in Men’s Journal among many publications. Follow him @northwestwilder</i><br><br>Also written by Skyler: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/vatnajokull-national-park/" target="_blank">Chaos theory explains trolls, French Revolution and Europe’s Largest Park</a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Iceland read more" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lS14" style="height: 177px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><i>Photo credit: Aurora Basecamp</i>

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