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Lavender, ancient toilets & fishing: 10 surprising facts you didn’t know about Croatia

Croatia cruise holidays are the ultimate way to soak up multiple destinations in this stunning corner of the Adriatic – but how much do you really know about the country?

Croatia cruises whisk travelers off to a land of beautiful walled cities and miles of pristine coastline, crystal-clear waters and picturesque islands.

P&O Cruises offers an array of cruises to Croatia, calling at a wealth of ports so holidaymakers can explore cities both famous and little-known on their Adriatic holidays.

Plus, with P&O Cruises’ Mediterranean summer 2025 voyage you can bag not one but two launch offers. Firstly you need only pay a 10 percent deposit on select sailings and secondly you can snaffle up a 10 percent introductory discount!

But back to the destination itself. Hit TV show Game of Thrones did an outstanding job of putting Croatia on the travel map, with many of Dubrovnik’s historic landmarks and fortifications standing in for locations in the fictional city of King’s Landing.

However, there’s much more to this amazing country than a production set. For instance, did you know that the Dalmatian dog breed is named after the Dalmatia region of Croatia? Or that the necktie was invented there?

We’ve had a look at the five ports visited by P&O Cruises to Croatia – Dubrovnik, Hvar, Rovinj, Split and Zadar – and rounded up some fun and surprising facts to tempt you to cruise to Croatia.


Ancient walls

Dubrovnik – a hugely popular stop on Croatia cruises – is a beautiful walled city located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in southern Croatia.

Known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a rich history dating back to the 7th century. It’s famous for its stunning Old Town which is surrounded by ancient walls and features impressive Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

Explore the city’s museums, churches and palaces, stroll along the picturesque Stradun promenade, or take a cable car to the top of Mount Srđ for breathtaking views of the city and sea during your Croatia cruise port of call here with P&O Cruises.

Dubrovnik fun facts


Dubrovnik is home to one of the oldest functioning pharmacies in Europe. The Dubrovnik Pharmacy is located in the heart of the Old Town and is over 700 years old, having been in operation since 1317. It has a rich history of serving Dubrovnik’s residents and visitors through wars, plagues and other crises.

Today, the Dubrovnik Pharmacy is a popular tourist attraction, and you can see the original equipment and medicine jars used by pharmacists throughout the centuries. Perfect for picking up aesthetic inspo for your medicine cabinet at home.


Open-air theatre has reached new heights in Dubrovnik (if you’ll pardon the pun) – the city has a centuries-old tradition of using the ancient walls as a stage for theatrical performances.

The first recorded performance on the walls was in 1950, when a local theatre group performed Shakespeare’s Hamlet al fresco and the tradition has continued ever since (perhaps not one for actors with vertigo).

Today the Dubrovnik Summer Festival features numerous theatre and musical performances on the city walls so be sure to swing by if you time your Croatia cruise right. You’ll be treated to panoramic views of the city and the Adriatic Sea from the top of the walls as you watch the drama unfold à la Cersei Lannister.


Sun-drenched goodness

Ready for some sun, sea and sand on your Croatia cruises? Hvar, a beautiful island off the coast of Croatia in the Adriatic Sea, is renowned for its natural beauty, crystal-clear waters and picturesque towns.

The island features a variety of activities for tourists on a cruise to Croatia, from hiking and cycling to swimming and sunbathing on the many beaches. Visitors can explore the charming towns of Hvar Town and Stari Grad, sample the island’s delicious cuisine and enjoy Hvar’s famous, vibrant nightlife.

Hvar fun facts


We weren’t joking when we promised sun. Hvar has the highest number of sunny hours in Croatia, with an average of 2,724 hours of sunshine per year, making Hvar one of the sunniest destinations in Europe, with warm temperatures and clear blue skies for most of the year! *books tickets immediately*


The island probably smells pretty good too – it’s famous for its lavender fields. Hvar has been producing lavender for over 2,000 years, and it is still one of the most important agricultural products on the island.

The town of Velo Grablje on Hvar was once the centre of lavender production in Europe and every year in June the town hosts a Lavender Festival to celebrate this fragrant herb.

Why not stock up while you’re cruising Croatia with P&O Cruises? Lavender oil and dried lavender products make great souvenirs.


Historic gems

For culture and looks, Rovinj, a picturesque coastal town located on the Istrian peninsula in Croatia, is the perfect stop. With its narrow, winding streets, colorful buildings, and beautiful harbor, Rovinj is often described as one of the most beautiful towns in Croatia.

During your Croatia cruise call here you can wander around the town’s many historic sites, (including the attractive St. Euphemia’s Church), stroll along the scenic waterfront promenade or take a boat trip to nearby islands.

Peckish? Rovinj prides itself on excellent cuisine, with a variety of fresh seafood and local wines on offer in its many restaurants and bars.

Rovinj fun facts


Rovinj boasts one of the best-preserved old towns in the Adriatic. The historic center of Rovinj is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, with gorgeous views of the sea and the surrounding countryside.

The old town is built on a hill, and so stretch those sea legs and climb to the top of the bell tower of St. Euphemia’s Church for panoramic views of the city and the coast. The old town is also home to numerous historic landmarks, including the Rovinj Heritage Museum and the Balbi Arch, which dates back to the 17th century.


Calling all angling fans! Rovinj is home to a unique tradition known as “batana fishing.” Batana is a traditional wooden boat that has been used for fishing in the Adriatic Sea for centuries and its fishing tradition is unique to Rovinj, involving a specific technique in which fishermen stand in the middle of the boat and use a special type of net to catch fish.

The batana boats are still used for fishing today, and visitors to Rovinj can take part in batana fishing tours to experience this ancient tradition firsthand.


Roman ruins

How many puns can you make at this port of call? Split is a buzzy coastal city in central Dalmatia in Croatia known for its pretty waterfront promenade, ancient Roman ruins and impressive beaches.

You simply must explore the iconic Diocletian’s Palace on a Croatia cruise to Split – the UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most well-preserved Roman structures in the world. Split also offers a range of cultural activities, including museums, galleries and festivals, as well as excellent dining and shopping options.

Split fun facts


Time to offer up a prayer? Split has one of the world’s oldest cathedrals still in use – the Cathedral of Saint Domnius. Built in the 7th century AD, the cathedral was originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary but was later rededicated to Saint Domnius, the patron saint of Split.

The cathedral is an outstanding example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, with a bell tower that offers splendid views of the city. It also houses a fascinating collection of religious artifacts, including a 13th-century wooden choir screen and a range of medieval manuscripts.


OK, you might not have seen this one coming but Split is home to one of the world’s oldest public toilets! The ancient Roman public toilet, located in the basement of the Diocletian’s Palace dates back to the 4th century AD and was used by the residents of the palace and the surrounding area.

An impressive feat of ancient engineering, the toilet was designed with a series of stone seats, with a sophisticated drainage system, which ensured waste was carried away from the city and into the sea.


Mysterious melodies

Last but not least we have Zadar, a charming coastal city in Croatia’s northern Dalmatia. With its alluring historic Old Town, delightful waterfront promenade and hopping nightlife, Zadar is a popular destination for tourists seeking a mix of culture and entertainment.

Visitors can explore the city’s many historic sites, including the Roman Forum, St. Donatus Church and the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, as well as its many museums, galleries and theatres. It’s not all city tramping though – Zadar is also known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing and water sports.

Zadar fun facts


Remember when you used to hold a shell up to your ear to hear the sea as a child? Well, Zadar is home to the real deal – an architectural sound art installation called the Sea Organ that produces music using the sound of waves.

Designed by the Croatian architect Nikola Bašić and completed in 2005, the musical instrument is made up of a series of pipes and resonating chambers that are installed beneath the steps on the city’s waterfront. As waves enter the chambers, they create a unique sound that is amplified by the pipes, producing a soothing and otherworldly melody. Is that a mermaid calling your name?


Croatia’s gems aren’t just limited to above ground; Zadar has an underground world featuring an intriguing collection of artefacts and structures dating back to the Roman period. The Roman Forum in Zadar was discovered in the 1920s and was excavated over several decades.

Today, visitors can explore the underground world of the Roman Forum, brimming with ancient streets, walls, columns and even a well-preserved Roman aqueduct, and catch a glimpse into the daily life of the people of Zadar over 2,000 years ago. Wonder what their toilets were like….

Set Sail

Central Mediterranean with P&O Cruises

Duration: 7 nights

Where: Malta | Split | Trieste | Zadar | Dubrovnik | Malta

Ship: Azura

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Published 05.07.23