Croatia was somewhere that I had wanted to visit for so, so long, and I can definitely say that it did not disappoint. It was hands down one of the prettiest places I have ever been to and the weather was beautiful. I wanted to make the most of our time in this amazing country, so set out to see as much as we could, whilst still having a relaxing holiday and enough time to soak in the sights properly.
I think the one thing that might put some holiday-ers off going to Croatia is the lack of sandy beaches. For us, we wanted more than just a beach holiday and so this wasn’t a problem. There are lots of lovely beaches but they just tend to either be pebbles or have man made sunbathing ‘patios’ (I’m not sure how else you would describe them). If you are looking to have a dip in the sea, also be aware of the sea urchins. Not sure what they are? They’re black and spiky and gross, and if you step on them, painful. I had seen recommendations before we went to buy some jelly shoes to go in the sea. We didn’t actually bother with this and just tried to be careful when going for a swim, but it’s something to consider.
The second point I would make is that it’s actually a lot more expensive than you’d assume. I think I thought that because it’s Eastern Europe it’ll be cheaper, but that’s really not the case. So, just make sure to factor that into your planning. It’s not extortionate, just more than you might have expected to pay.
Day 1: Zadar
Day 2: Plitvice Lakes National Park
Day 3: Zadar – Split
Day 4: Krka National Park
Day 5: Split – Hvar
Day 6 and 7: Hvar
Day 8 – 10: Hvar – Dubrovnik
Our first stop in Croatia was the northern city of Zadar. We decided to fly into Zadar as we thought that it would be the best place to stay to visit Plitviče Lakes National Park, and I would definitely recommend doing his.
Although it’s not a very big, the old town is incredibly pretty and it set a good tone for the rest of our trip. As it isn’t too busy take your time to just have a walk around and chill, as the bigger cities are much more crowded.
The two main sights in Zadar are the Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation. The Sea organ is an instrument built into the promenade and the waves make the music. It’s a great spot to sit by the sea with a beer and watch the sunset. The sun salutation is a light display set into the floor, next to the sea organ. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working properly when we visited so we didn’t get to see it in it’s full glory.
Restaurant Recommendation: Proto Food & More
I genuinely think this was my favourite restaurants in the whole of Croatia. It has a really chill vibe and the food is a mix between modern and traditional dished. Plus, the wine is good! If you go to Zadar, you should definitely check this place out as we had a lovely experience.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
We decided to visit the National Park by getting a return bus from the main bus station in Zadar, which is about a 20 minute walk from the old town. We booked out tickets before we left, using GetByBus.com. The bus took just under 2 hours and cost us 100 hrk (Croatian Kuna) each on the way there, and 75 hrk on the way back. The bus drops you right outside the entrance to the park and picks you up from there again, so it’s really easy to do by yourself.
We also decided to book our tickets for the park online before we left. This guarantees that you’ll be allowed into the park, as there was a line of people who had not booked tickets and there’s a limit on the amount of people who can visit the park at the same time. The entrance cost us 250 kuna each and we just printed it off before we flew.
The National Park is even more beautiful than I thought it would be. There’s well marked paths that take you around so there’s no chance of getting lost. It wasn’t too busy when we went in June but there were a few places where there was a bit of hold up.
In the middle of the park is a big lake. There is a ferry you can get which takes you across it which comes within the price of the ticket. But you can also hire a row boat for an hour which we did and was really fun. Overall, it was a really lovely, chill day.
From Zadar, we took a bus down to Split. Again, we booked it before we went on GetByBus. It took 2 hours 30 minutes and cost of 75 kn each.
Split was the first city we got to which was really bustling. The sea front promenade, Riva, is full of restaurants and bars, and is a perfect place to people watch. Plus, a great place to get a slice of late night pizza!
The main draw to Croatia’s second largest city is Diocletian’s Palace. The palace was built for the Roman emperor Diocletian, and forms about half of the old town of split. It’s really cool just to walk around the palace, which is also full of restaurants and bars.
Our apartment was towards Marjan Hill, and so we decided to hike to the top to get some great views over the city. The walk isn’t too long or hard so it’s definitely worth a bit of sweat.
We also took some time to relax whilst we were in Split. We decided to walk to Bene Beach, which is on the other side of Marjan Hill. It took longer than we thought and the day was pretty hot. But once we got there it was nice and peaceful, it’s in the middle of a pine tree forest so the last bit of the walk is quite shaded. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘beach’. It’s mainly rock which you can lie on, or hire some deckchairs. Still, if you’re looking for somewhere a bit off the beaten track, it’s a nice place to visit.
In the evening, we went to Bacvice Beach which is the main beach in Split. This is a great place for people watching, including seeing lots of people playing Picigin, a local ball game. We went here in the evening for some drinks as there is a promenade which runs alongside it.
Krka National Park
Like with Plitvice, we decided to take a day trip to visit Krka, but this time we booked it through a tour operator once we had arrived into Split. We just felt that it was easier this way and around the same price as doing it independently. We were free to explore Krka at our own pace, but had to be back at the coach for a certain time.
Krka was lovely, but really hot. The first part of the day is a trail walk, on wooden floorboards for most of the way. You go through the woodlands and see various waterfalls. At the end of this walk, which took us just over an hour, is the swimming area. Now, there is a line of buoys that you’re not meant to swim over, as you get to close to the waterfall. However, this was ignored by a lot of people. So much so, that we didn’t even realise that it was a stop line to start with. However, then some guards came and told everyone to get back.At the swim area, there is also food and drinks (including beer) that you can purchase and areas to sunbathe, which made for a lovely afternoon!
When we were looking into organising our Croatia trip, I read a lot of blog posts saying you should go to one or the other. My personal opinion is go to both. They’re similar in the fact that there’s lakes and nature, but I thought they were different enough to want to visit both. Plitvice is bigger, but you can’t swim in the lakes. So, if you have time and it’s something you think you’d enjoy, definitely go to both!
Famed for it’s fancy yachts and buzzin’ nightlife, Hvar was one of my favourite places in Croatia. Hvar is an island and so you have to access it by ferry, which is really easy to use. Our ferry there was booked through Jadrolinija, and cost 110 hrk each. Like with the bus, we printed out our tickets before we left.
We stayed just outside the old town, up a relatively steep hill. For us, this location was perfect, as it was about a 15/20 minute walk into the old town, where a lot of the restaurants and bars are, but also a ten minute walk to a really cute beach. We spent most of our two days on this beach, as it was relatively quiet, was a great place to swim and had two little restaurants/bars. You can get to it via the coastal path, or down a little rocky path from the apartments above it. It’s a little steep which isn’t great when you’ve been enjoying the nightlife…
In the afternoons and evenings, when it was a little cooler, we explored the old town. Here, we tried the Hvar speciality, Gregada (fish stew). Taste wise, it was delicious, but it had a lot of fish bones in it (I know, it’s a fish), which made it a little tricky to eat. But, in saying that, it’s worth trying it! (Especially if you’re not a wimp about fish bones)
After dinner, there are plenty of bars to go and enjoy. The main ‘party area’ was the port, where all the fancy yachts are (shocker). I feel like there’s something for everyone, we chose to go bar hopping and found a little club down one of the alleyways (it’s not as dodgy as I’m making it sound. However, the biggest club on the island is probably Carpe Diem. This beach club is on a little island just off of Hvar, and so required you to take a water taxi to reach it.
Obviously, there is more to Hvar than partying, and I wold love to go back and spend some more time relaxing on this beautiful island.
Our final stop in Croatia was the city of Dubrovnik. We got the ferry from Hvar, this time with Krilo, to the port in Dubrovnik which is about a 40 minute walk to the old town. The ferry cost us 210 kuna. If you’re going to brave the walk, be warned, Dubrovnik is full of steps and hills.
Our apartment was lovely. It was just outside the old town in the hills, maybe a 15/20 minute walk to the gates of the old town. It had a balcony so we could watch the sun set over the sea.
I feel like Dubrovnik has a little something for everyone. For those who like architecture, exploring cities and shopping, obviously you have the old town. I’d definitely recommend walking around the walls of the city, the views are amazing. For those who like a bit of hiking, you can walk up Mount Srd to get some views.
Additionally, you can get a boat over to the Isle of Lokrum, where you can do a bit of walking but also sunbathe and swim in the sea. There’s restaurants on the island and also lots of peacocks and rabbits!
One thing that I would definitely recommend is doing a kayak tour. We chose to do a sunset tour that included wine and bruschetta at the end. It’s about 2 hours of kayaking but with plenty of breaks. We kayaked to a little cove where we could do some snorkelling. We then kayaked around the Isle of Lokrum, before heading back to the city whilst the sun set over it. It gives you a different perspective of the city and was a great way to finish off our holiday.
And that was the end of our lovely holiday! Croatia definitely lived up to my high expectations. The only thing I wanted was more time to explore! From Dubrovnik, you can do day tours to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which I would have really liked to do if we had more time.
Let me know what you think!