Lonely Planet Writer

Watch this beautiful home video taken in Croatia by a tourist in 1939

Sadly, Croatia is no longer a secret. We know of its beauty and with that, comes an inevitable amount of ‘spoiling’ where you can expect big crowds, price hikes and a fair whack of commercialisation.

Don’t get us wrong; it’s still one of the most beautiful countries in the world to visit – and the islands (of which there are thousands) are a must – but if you were to plant yourself in Dubrovnik in 2017, you might feel a little claustrophobic. Time was, Croatia (or one of the six members of the Republic of Yugoslavia, as it was known until 1991) was vastly untouched, apart from a few Germans who would travel down to the coast for some sun by the sea.

Omis and Cetina River Gorge in Dalmatia, Croatia.
Omis and Cetina River Gorge in Dalmatia, Croatia. Image by Andrey Omelyanchuk

Before Europe entered a very dark period of time, Croatia was tranquillity defined. A beautiful home video has recently resurfaced chronicling one German family’s Croatian holiday in 1939, before World War Two got underway. In this charming footage, we see three distinctive places in Croatia – Split and Dubrovnik’s old towns and the stunning Plitvice Lakes – all of which would later be protected as Unesco World Heritage Sites.

You can even see them browsing a local market in Dubrovnik (formerly Ragusa) where the kinds of rugs you’d buy today were on sale. Though a little busier, the waterfalls in this video are still as stunning as ever, and well worth a visit.

Another video from 1959 shows Dubrovnik. Absolutely nothing has changed, apart from the density of visitors. For an unspoilt experience, head North to the islands of Brac, Hvar (the port is busy but parts of the island are untouched) and Korcula.