This was our first trip and oh my, we are in love with these people. They are calm, polite and very nice. To plan our trip, I used the Lonely Planet guidebook, with TripAdvisor and ViaTour. For lodging, we used Airbnb and hotels, TripAdvisor. We also used Airbnb “Experiences” for a sea kayaking trip, a sailing tour, and a walking tour.
Although Croatia is a member of the European Union, their currency is the Kuna (June 2018) and the exchange when we were there was just under 6K to 1$. Everyone we encountered spoke English.
The people, the scenery, the cuisine, the culture, the history, Croatia is now at the top of our travel list.
This was our route: Zagreb, Plitvice National Park, Mali Losinj, Zadar, Sibenik, Krka National Park, Trogir, Split, Brac, Dubrovnik, Zagreb.
Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia and only recently became a tourist destination. The airport is new and the buses are right outside the main terminal, departing every 30 minutes to the main bus station in the city.
Tickets can be purchased from the bus driver for both the trams and the bus and they are very inexpensive. The city is not crowded, there are many lovely things to see and do, the city is clean, safe and the people are really friendly.
There is a lot of green space in Zagreb, you can walk everywhere easily.
There is a wonderful outdoor market, museums and beautiful architecture. We went on a bike tour of the city with Blue Bike Tours. I highly recommend a tour with this company and you can find their information here for times and offerings.
The tour gave us some great insight into the culture, the history, restaurant recommendations, and a great feel for the layout of the city.
This national park is beautiful and there are so many waterfalls. Wear sensible shoes for hiking and a raincoat, June is a rainy month so be prepared to get a little wet. This park is so lush and green. It was truly one of the most beautiful places I have visited.
Leaving the park to meet friends we traveled west to Mali-Losinj. This island is called the “Island of Vitality”. It is so clean and the water is absolutely crystal clear. The salty Adriatic, the sea air, the biking and hiking trails and the relaxed vibe of the whole island will refresh and revitalize any weary traveler. We met friends here and stayed for two evenings at Hotel Televrine.
We were sorry we didn’t arrange to spend more time here on this beautiful, tranquil island.
Leaving the island we continued south to Zadar. In Zadar, we ate at our first traditional Croatian restaurant called a Konoba. The menu is traditionally brief, featuring meat and fish that has been cooked with local herbs and spices in an outdoor bbq oven for many hours.
This was probably one of the best meals for both flavor and value during our trip, it was delicious. The walkway along the sea is lovely for a morning or evening stroll.
If you find yourself in Zadar, have a meal at Rafaelo Konoba, it won’t disappoint.
Sibenik is stunning and often passed over for her more well-known and neighbors. We had some wonderful dinners on the narrow winding streets, swam in the sea and visited Krka National Park which was less than a 30-minute drive. If you take the day trip to Krka National Park, I would suggest going early to avoid the bus tours and crowds.
We fell in love with this town and could have stayed a few more days exploring. Our last morning we took a walk up to the Barone Fortress for a breathtaking view of the city, it is a lovely place for a coffee or evening libation.
Leaving Sibenik we stopped in Trogir on the way south and got caught in a crazy rainstorm. Trogir is a beautiful, small island connected bridges. As soon as we walked over the bridge and were instantly smitten with the cozy feel of this town. The large collection on Romanesque and Renaissance buildings earned this city World Heritage Status in 1997.
We stopped to have lunch at Konoba Idra.
The food and the atmosphere provided a perfect spot to escape the rain, have some wine and relax. The dessert in the picture is called a Rafioli Trogir on the menu and was a local specialty with a nut and almond paste filling. Delicious. Lunch finished, a quick espresso and we made our way back to the car to continue traveling south to meet our Airbnb host in Split.
Our Airbnb host was amazing in Split. She saved us a free parking space for car and the apartment was off the charts adorable and comfortable. It was located in a nice neighborhood away from the center with great views of neighborhood life from the windows and a quick walk to the city center.
That first night we wandered the city center and found the meeting spot for our pre-booked walking tour with Airbnb Experiences. That tour and our guide, Emil, drastically changed my opinion of the city. Our tour was arranged for 2 hours but we wandered and talked with Emil for 3 and loved every minute of it. I would highly suggest booking a tour with him should you visit Split.
Diocletian’s Palace is beautiful and the various squares and the Jewish quarter were really fascinating. Our tour took us into various businesses where Roman ruins have been preserved under glass.
Did you know that the Croatians invented the necktie? I know, who knew? The word cravat was derived from Croat and you will find many tie shops where you can buy a memento.
Brac is easily reached by a ferry from the main port in Split. We purchased our tickets the day of travel and the travel time on the ferry was just under an hour making it an easy day trip. We went to the city of Supetar which is stunning. Brac is the island where the white stone was quarried to build Diocletian’s palace and the Whitehouse.
All the buildings gleam brightly in the sun and there are many places to swim.
There is an abundance of sea urchins in Croatia so make sure to pack some water shoes to avoid stepping on one in your bare feet. The island was a nice break from the city, sleepy and quiet with an abundance of small sailboats. We wandered the streets and alleyways, drank a beer in the sunshine and took a dip in the sea.
There is more to explore on the island but you would need a car to visit further afield. Supetar on Brac Island is well worth a visit.
Before our trip, I read many recommendations by other travelers to stay outside of Dubrovnik because of crowds and cost. I was glad I followed their advice and booked our Airbnb in Lapad Bay. Our place was lovely, had a view of the sunset from the bedroom and a nice quiet patio that faced away from the street and looked over a beautiful abandoned ruin. Everything cost more this far south and our Airbnb was not equipped with anything, no toiletries, paper towels or laundry soap.
The main street was very crowded but a little exploring out into the perimeter, and we found some amazing sights. There is the main swimming beach but even better are the spots built into the rocks for swimming (jumping in is required) all with ladders to climb back up. We loved strolling along the Setnica Walking Trail and found some great places for coffee, drinks, and dinner.
We took the bus to Dubrovnik to walk the city walls and just as the guidebooks advise, go early because it is hot up there and food and drinks along the route are at a premium. It doesn’t take as long as noted, we heard 2 hours or 4 hours. We went early, right at 9 am and were able to walk at our own pace and it took under an hour.
The view from the top of the wall was beautiful but we were happy to head into a cool alleyway for some lunch after descending.
We booked a sea kayaking tour in Dubrovnik which was great fun, a bit windy, but enjoyable. Alas, I have no photos because I surely would have dropped my phone in the sea. After three days here we flew from the Dubrovnik airport back to Zagreb for our last night in Croatia.
We stayed at the Palace Hotel again and they arranged our transfer to the airport in the morning for our early flight. We were very happy to be back in Zagreb and have one more evening to wander the streets with no crowds, actually, there were very few people out (such a nice change from Dubrovnik) and it was great to have the city to ourselves.
We had an incredible meal at Lanterna where the service, atmosphere, and food were all top notch.
I cannot express how welcoming this country was and what an incredible 3 weeks we spent exploring Croatia. We cannot wait to return. You can read individual reviews of our trip on TripAdvisor.