If you want an ultimate communist chic experience in Croatia, nothing beats a stay at Brijuni National Park off the coast of Istria. This small archipelago is known as the former playground of Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito, who used to spend many months per year here between 1947 and 1979.
The island has a safari (Tito loved exotic animals), a wealth of subtropical flora planted here during Tito’s time, plenty of bike paths, dinosaur tracks, an exhibit of stuffed animals, a photo-exhibit about Tito’s life, historic ruins, and more.
A sojourn at Hotel Neptun-Istra, one of two hotels on the island of Veli Brijun, is a splurge but an unbeatable experience. Tito’s famous guests used to stay here, including world leaders and celebrities such as Sophia Lauren and Liz Taylor. The rooms haven’t been touched since (in terms of the decor) so you can indulge in ultimate communist chic. Just look at the hotel hallway!
I am writing this from a conference room of Hotel Neptun-Istra, on a long table that, who knows, once witnessed meetings of the Non-Aligned Movement country leaders. Being here does feel like a historic experience! I’d recommend Brijuni to anyone visiting Croatia. Stay away from the day trips though – these are super-touristy and packed in July and August. Splurge on a stay at Hotel Neptun-Istra and you won’t regret it.