Croatia has blown up in the tourist world as one of the hottest destinations in Europe in the last few years. And now I can completely see why. I just finished a nice little holiday there, and I’m already looking at ways to get back. With pristine coastline, beautiful food and people, Croatia has something to offer that many want in a holiday; beauty, culture, and good times. I’ve written out the best places to see in Croatia and I can promise you, this country does not disappoint.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park is protected from tourists tainting with its natural beauty. And natural beauty is on fine display here. From the moment you step in to the park, you are greeted with a lush forest, and jaw-dropping scenery that you never knew existed. World to the wise: charge your camera, phone, and anything else you will use to take photos. I took over 700 photos with my smartphone in six hours. Yes, it’s that beautiful. The park itself is massive. It took me six hours and I know I could have stayed another hour or two. There are three main parts to explore, all filled with hundreds of waterfalls, walkways, and crystal clear water. You can ride a tram to the top and walk down to the middle lake and take the boat across the lake for a spectacular view. Once there, you have another set of trails to explore hundreds of incredible waterfalls, caves, and natural beauty. Trust me, it’s well worth the trip out there. Only two hours from Zagreb and Split, you have no excuse not to visit the lakes.
Split is fantastic. It’s set on the Adriatic Sea, with a grand view of the neighbouring islands just waiting for you to come visit. Split has kept it’s traditions and history alive in its old town; an entire city centre bordered with walls. There are clothing shops, souvenirs, hundreds of tasty dining options, live music, and lots of tourists. To beat the heat and busy season, go in May. It’s nice weather and you still get great rates before the hoards of cruise ships trample the city. Split is a great location to visit for a few days, go swimming, visit a few islands, eat some seafood, drink some delicious Croatian wine, and just be on holiday. It’s laid back feel is just what you were looking for in a holiday destination.
The number one place that was recommended to me was the island of Hvar. Only a couple hours ferry ride from Split sits the sailboat haven town of Hvar. There are postcard worthy photo opportunities at every corner and vista, making Hvar not only a popular spot for tourists, but for locals too. Water lovers will never want to leave Hvar. There are so many options to get on the water, under the water, in the water, you name it. Tours to swimming and snorkelling caves, sailboat excursions, dinner cruises, sunset boat rides…the list can go on. But if you’re daydreaming of spending your holiday in a quaint little town on an island in the Mediterranean, Hvar is your answer.
I will not lie, Dubrovnik is by far the most touristy spot in all of Croatia. But the town has a great reason; Old Town is where Game of Thrones has been filming for the last few years! For the TV show supporters like myself it was fantastic to see the town where they film as King’s Landing in the show. For others who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s still just as incredible. It’s one of the last completely walled cities in the world. This small, but very buzzing destination is filled with activities. Take a cable car to the top of the hillside behind the city to catch an unreal view of the city and its surroundings. If you want to stay inside the walls, take the city walls walking tour. Climb the steps to the top of the wall and walk the perimeter of the city. Give yourself a couple hours because you will be taking photo after photo of those famous red roof tops. With hundreds of dining, drinking, relaxing options within the walls, you could stay for an entire year and not hit every place. The narrow alleyways create a unique walking tour, and seeing a place straight out of your history book in person is one of the greatest experiences of your life.
Dubrovnik also is close to many activities outside the city walls. Lokrum, it’s national park is located only 10 minutes away via ferry. This island is filled with wild peacocks, bunnies, and a natural dead sea pool that should not be missed. Walk the island and discover the history of the monastery still on location, have a drink at the cafe, and take a dip in the sea with many swimming holes available for you. For it only being 10 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik, Lokrum Island feels worlds apart.
As with Split, and really any part of Croatia, visit on the cusp of tourist season. Everything will still be open and the weather will be great. And most importantly, you will feel like you’re on holiday without the busyness. That’s my favourite cup of tea.