Image: Croatian rooftops.

Book by: ASAP

Travel by: Through September 2006

The deal: Long gone is the time when Croatia was a no-go war-ridden zone. In fact, the country's comeback has been so glamorous that it currently ranks as one of Europe's hottest summer vacation spots. Since its economy doesn't rely on the euro, a visit here is definitely great value, but peak-season airfare can still be known to break the bank. You'll be able to discover this new "it" destination with the four deals we've found, ranging from an escorted eight-night air-and-hotel Adriatic combo from $2,199 to a historic lighthouse overnight from less than $20/night.

Dalmatian sunshine for $2,499
The best-value summer fling to Croatia is currently on offer by Gate1Travel: the escorted 10-day Dalmatian Coast escapade for just $2,499. In addition to air from New York, known to run over $1,500 during summer months, this stellar special covers eight-night hotel stays; 14 meals; guided sightseeing with entrance fees; and all transfers. The itinerary includes sojourns in Dubrovnik, also known as "the pearl of the Adriatic"; the historic port city of Split; the breathtaking Plitvice National Park with its terraced lakes; Slovenia’s lake village of Bled; and Croatia’s picturesque capital of Zagreb. Other stops en route are the stunning Postojna Caves; the immaculately preserved historic town of Trogir; and the elegant Opatija sea resort.

Lodgings provided throughout are at properties like the four-star Sheraton in downtown Zagreb. At this price, you can pick between the following departures: June 23; July 7 and 21; August 18; and September 1.

Save $300 on fall tours
Summer may be the peak season for visiting Croatia but what most people don’t know is that early fall is just as beautiful and less crowded to boot. So if you want to save a serious chunk of change, we recommend an autumn jaunt to this European treasure.

Go-Today's deal is the best one going here, as $2,199 gets you exactly the same inclusions as above and it’s good for travel between September 15 and October 27. You’ll save $300 over summer departures plus you’ll have the Dalmatian gems practically to yourself. On top of destinations mentioned above, other highlights of the extensive itinerary include a visit to the Roman-era Diocletian’s Palace in Split, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site; a pit stop in Slovenia’s charming capital city of Ljubljana; and a stopover in Croatia’s Zadar, the oldest Slavic city on the Adriatic.

Kayak around the Adriatic for $2,390
How about a little adventure thrown into your Croatia stay? If the idea rocks your boat, we suggest Travel Time’s Dubrovnik and Dalmatian islands kayaking trip for $2,390. Valid for weekly Saturday departures through August, this 11-day odyssey covers air from New York, with transfers; three nights at midrange Hotel Lero in Dubrovnik; seven nights at privately owned guesthouses; daily breakfast, five lunches and three dinners; and all local taxes. But here’s the best part: This fun trip includes eight days of kayaking in small groups around Sipan and Lopud islands or Korcula Island. September is also a great time to go, with weather perfectly pleasant, sea temperatures still balmy and prices for the same package down to $1,990. Add-ons from other getaways are available at low prices: From Boston, it’s $50 more; from Chicago, it costs $110 extra; L.A. or San Francisco departures increase the price by $250.

Lighten up with a lighthouse stay in Croatia this June
We also have a unique travel suggestion if you can pack up and head to Croatia in short order. Why not lighten up with a stay at one of the historic lighthouses along the Adriatic and save 10 percent off rack rates for stays through June? You can pick between 11 lighthouses, located both on the mainland and on small islets out in the open sea. Each property features well-appointed apartments with fully-equipped kitchens and TVs. Most of the lighthouses have a resident keeper, so you won’t have to play Robinson Crusoe, but you will have to bring your own groceries and drinking water and be prepared to cook as there are no on-premise facilities.

Note that there’s a one-week minimum stay, from Saturday to Saturday only. Per person rates (before the discount) start at $17/night for a stay at Struga Lighthouse on the island of Lastovo and go up to $38/night at the hilltop Palagruza Lighthouse on a remote island of the same name.

The dollars: See details above. The packages exclude air taxes and fees, while the lighthouse stays exclude boat transfers (if you pick one of the island lighthouses).

The catch: Croatia’s so hyped that prices are rising by the minute.

The booking details:

  • For the summer jaunts to Croatia, go to Gate1Travel.com or call 1-800-682-3333 and mention ShermansTravel.
  • For the Dalmatian Coast fall flings, visit Go-Today.com or call 1-800-227-3235 and mention ShermansTravel.
  • For the kayaking adventure, visit TravelTimeNY.com or call 1-800-354-8728 and mention ShermansTravel.
  • For the last-minute lighthouse stay, check Adriatica.net.

ShermansTravel is a guide to top travel deals and destinations. Sign up for Sherman's Top 25 e-newsletter which features the best editor-screened deals from hundreds of travel providers and is delivered to over 2.5 million subscribers, free, each week. ShermansTravel also publishes trip ideas and travel features to inspire, guide, and go. Click to Home Page and More Deals.

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