TIEBREAKER: ITALY OR CROATIA?

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Sicily

You’re heading to Europe for one week and trying to decide whether to explore Italy or to travel through Croatia. Read these tips to decide whether to visit Italy or Croatia.

You are heading to Europe for one week and are trying to decide whether to explore Italy or to travel through Croatia. If you head to Italy, you could visit Florence and Venice, explore the Tuscan countryside or island hop to Sicily, Sardinia or Capri. If you head to Croatia, you will likely visit historical Dubrovnik first and then head to the Dalmatian islands of Hvar and Vis, hunt for truffles in the Istrian countryside or check out the scenic waterfalls at Krka National Park. Given the limited time, should you visit Italy or Croatia?

THE CONTENDERS

Italy is located across the Adriatic Sea from Croatia. The Alps mountains border the country in the north and there are clear, beautiful lakes throughout the rest of the country (our favorites include Lake Garda and Lake Como). Italy is the world’s largest producer of wine and also home to amazing fashion, just think Valentino, Versace and Gucci. Across the Adriatic stands Croatia, a relatively new country which declared independence in 1991 and joined the European Union in 2013. Croatia has a lot of nature – the country is home to eight national parks and two nature reserves. Croatia is also one of the world’s oldest producers of wine with over 800 vineyards.

THE TIEBREAKER

Hi, I’m Lids. I’m a U.S. ex-pat in my early thirties. I have lived in London for four years and work in the creative industry. During this time, I had many adventures in Italy ranging from skiing in the Italian Alps, wine tasting in Piedmont, road tripping through Tuscany and kitesurfing in Sardinia. I have also spent two weeks sailing and road tripping through Croatia. Outside of skiing, I love to sail and paint.

THE PROS AND CONS

Having visited both Italy and Croatia, my first recommendation is to take two weeks off and spend one week in each place. However, if you are limited to one week, consider the following:

If you are interested in style and design, head for Italy. Italy excels in design centered accommodation such as the magical Villa Feltrinelli on Lake Garda and the contemporary J.K. Place in Capri. Make sure not to miss the infinity pool at the Torre di Moravola hotel in the Umbrian countryside either. Besides hotels, Italy is has some of the world’s best art museums such as the Uffizi Gallery Museum for Renaissance works in Florence and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection for modern art in Venice. Lets also consider Milan, a fashion capital known for its fashion week.

If you’re excited to dance all night, head for Croatia. Croatia is home to some of Europe’s best music festivals including Hideout, Electric Elephant, Outlook, Soundwave and Dimensions. There are also incredible beach clubs for afternoon drinks by the ocean which include Carpe Diem and the Laganini Lounge in Hvar.

If you’d like to stay active by skiing or hiking, then base yourself at the Hotel Spa Rosa Alpina in the Italian Dolomites, but just remember to book months in advance. If you’d rather sail or swim, head for Croatia and consider joining Yacht Week or head for the waterfalls at Krka National Park.

If you want to go make the most of your travel funds, head for Croatia where the exchange rate is USD 1 to HRK 7, your money will go further here than in Italy where USD 1 gets you roughly EUR 1. Restaurants, hotels and activities are generally priced lower in Croatia.

Last, if you love food, find a way to take more time off and visit both countries. Italy has delicious pizzas, pastas and cheeses. There are stellar restaurants in Rome, Venice and Florence as well as lots of hidden gems in the Tuscan and Piedmont countryside. Our favorite gems are located in the tiny village of Pienza in Tuscany. Drive out there to try La Terrazza Del Chiostro or what’s cooking at La Bandita or the La Bandita Townhouse while taking in the views. Croatia is better known for its hearty, meat based dishes and fresh seafood near the coast. If you’re heading for Hvar, make reservations at the Zori, Macondo or Passarola restaurants for a meal to remember.

THE TIEBREAK

Croatia and Italy are two of my favorite destinations making this a tough tiebreak, so here goes: if you’re keen on cutting edge style, design and flawless execution, head for Italy, but if you’re more laid back and seeking an authentic experience at a fraction of the price, Croatia is likely the better choice for you.