Croatia is definitely underrated.
It has just been over 20 years since The Bosnian War ended and since then, Croatia has become an independent country and joined the EU.
It is a cheap getaway option that offers a lot. With numerous beaches, delicious seafood, and locals that are super friendly (side note: majority of locals can speak English. Bonus!) you have to make time for Croatia.
Split 3 nights
Hvar 3 nights
Korcula 2 nights
Dubrovnik 3 nights
I haven’t ventured north of Split yet, but I would love to explore the Plitvice Lakes National Park and Zadar. So feel free to leave any tips or advice.
HANDY DANDY INFO:
When to go: Both times I went to Croatia was during the shoulder season of September. The Adriatic sea is still warm and there are fewer people around. If you don’t mind the crowds, then peak season (July & August) has the best weather.
Transport: Don’t be scared of the ferries and buses. It is the cheapest and easiest way to travel between cities. Check out these websites for ferry and bus timetables….Croatia Ferries and Bus Croatia. Being the travel nerd I am, I have to pre book my transport in advance. I envy flexible travellers! I do recommend being a bit more organised with transport during the peak seasons such as July – August.
If you are travelling from Zagreb – Split, I recommend taking an overnight train. It takes approximately 6-8 hours. So a perfect way to save time and money.
#storytime: From experience, make sure you lock the cabin door once the train master has collected your ticket and put any valuables under your pillow. Unfortunately, I didn’t lock the door and while I was sleeping someone had stolen my money and laptop. The Split police were very unimpressed when a stupid tourist arrived at 6am to file a police report for insurances purpose. It took bloody 3 hours and not to mention the detective chain smoked the entire time.
Speaking the Language: I think it is common courtesy to know the basics.
Hello Dobar dan daw-ber-dan
Goodbye Dovidenja doh-vee-jen-yah
Hi/Bye Bok bohk
Please Molim moh-leem
Thank you Hvala vah-lah
I like Split but I wouldn’t say it was my favourite place in Croatia. I think you could stay two nights and get the jest of the city.
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This restaurant is always packed with tourists. I would say that the food isn’t amazing, so I think the attraction is the huge portions and low price.
Nestled in the narrow streets of the old town is Trattoria Bajamont. Sit outside with the walls towering over you and enjoy the seafood spaghetti with a glass of red wine. Their food and service is on point.
Recommended by our airbnb host, we were not disappointed. Practically a hole in the wall, so can easily be missed. I absolutely love seafood, so I always go for the seafood risotto.
Figa Food Bar
A nice hangout for breakfast and coffee. Located in the old town, just look out for the colourful cushions outside.
Want to eat where the locals do? Maslina is a hidden gem situated where tourists don’t bother to go. Friendly staff and cheap pizzas.
The majority of the time we would just take a picnic and some beers to the beach. Their local beers Karlovacko and Ozujsko are dirt cheap.
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To get the best view of Split, take a walk up Marjan. Leave your jandals/flip-flops/thongs at home and take good sturdy footwear, as some parts are uneven.
Just to be clear. This is not a palace. Diocletian’s Palace is the labyrinth of streets and Roman ruins you will walk through and no doubt get lost.
This market is a combination of fresh produce and clothing. On a Sunday if you wander through and head north to Strossmayer Park, you will find some quirky vintage stalls.
Grab a gelato or a beer and do some people watching.
There are two swimming areas that I went to while I was in Split.
– Bacvice is a sandy beach but be prepared to fight the crowds.
– Jezinac is a gravel beach near Marjan hill. Minimal tourists here, just locals.
The first time I came to Hvar was for a day trip. I knew I’d be back though. I fell in love chilling on the rocks with the view of Pakleni Islands in the distance.
Also if you are staying a couple of nights, I highly recommend staying at Andrew and Dani’s airbnb. My favourite hosts so far.
Instead of eating out all the time, I decided to pick up some fish from the Green Market near the bus stop. I had no idea what it was but with a bit of lemon and garlic, it went down a treat.
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This restaurant is pretty high up on old Tripadvisor so if you close your eyes you will only hear the British accent. We sat in the courtyard and had two drunk twenty-something girls chain smoke while they ate their food….Classy! The food wasn’t amazing. I think it is a bit overrated.
Unfortunately we never dined here because it was always super busy but our airbnb host said this restaurant was by far the best in town. It is No.1 on Tripadvisor for a reason.
Hula Hula Beach Bar
Yeah I know the drinks are over priced but it the location is amazing. Right on the water you can hire a lounger and soak in the atmosphere.
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Hvar Fortress and Napuljn Fortress
For only a small entrance fee, you are able to enjoy the stunning view of Hvar and the Pakleni Islands. We only went to the Hvar Fortress, but I wish we walked further (45 mins from the town centre) to the Napuljn Fortress as you get a better view of all the islands.
Make some friends and rent a boat to explore the Pakleni Islands. It is only £40 for the day! Pack up a picnic, some beers and you’ll be set.
Snorkelling and Swimming
For me Hvar had the best swimming spots. If you ventured east of the town centre you would be hanging with the locals and amongst the moored boats. Great if you want to get away from the tourists. On the other hand you could go west and take the pedestrian access only path along the shoreline and sip a cocktail at one of the bars. With excellent snorkelling spots and loads of nooks and crannies to sunbathe, I think west is the best (Shit I’m even rhyming now.)
Korcula is a very picturesque island that boasts numerous tranquil settings. I would recommend either visiting as a day trip or a one night stopover.
#tiptime: Just so you don’t make the same mistake I did, Korcula is pronounced cor-chuu-la.
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When we arrived the staff were quite busy but we were prepared to wait for a table as Aterina had been highly recommended by our airbnb host. Although their menu is limited, the food was fresh and delicious.
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As we didn’t stay long in Korcula, we walked through the old town, around St Mark’s Catherdral and up to the Forteca Svetof Vlaha. Halfway up the hill, poking through the trees you can see the terracotta rooftops of the old town…very pretty on a sunny day.
As you arrive off the bus from the Dubrovnik port, be prepared to be bombarded with Game of Thrones tours. Unless you are a die-hard fan, don’t fall for their spiel. Both times I have visited Dubrovnik they were filming in the old town, so you might get a sneak peek if you are walking the city walls.
I think to really absorb the atmosphere, stay in the old town.
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Tucked away down small street in the old town is this fantastic Bosnian restaurant. Delicious food and excellent service. It is extremely awkward to watch other restaurant, which is located literally one metre away and doesn’t get any customers.
My friend and I had met some Kiwi chicks at our hostel and they were super keen for this bar. They managed to get in before 11pm to avoid the extravagant cover charge but I had drop my jacket back to the hostel and arrived at 11:05pm. I was drunk, so I can’t remember how much they charged me but I was pissed. I finally found everyone and they were standing in awe of the half-naked women dressed in some sort of bondage on stage. I was definitely in a European club.
If you are keen for a quick bite to eat, head to Barba for an octopus burger and some fried calamari.
Located in the market square with blue and white striped chairs, it’s hard to miss. I wouldn’t rave about Karmenice but it did have affordable squid and black risotto.
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If you over heat regularly like me then head to Banje Beach for a quick dip. PLEASE, PLEASE don’t look like a tourist with those hideous water shoes. I know it’s rocky but harden the fuck up and go in bare feet!
Ancient City Walls
Some people think £12 to walk around the city walls is a rip off but I thought it was totally worth it. I have been twice and my favourite time to go is during the sunset. Not only is there fewer people but the golden colour that is reflected onto the old town is spectacular.
Abandoned Hotel Belvedere
I’m not 100% sure if this abandoned 5 star hotel is still unowned but if you are up for some creepy exploring then you should head here. Hotel Belvedere was attacked in 1991 by Serbian forces and the ruins still remain. Within the bones of this once luxurious hotel, if you look hard enough you may find random plates, ornaments etc. Make sure to bring a torch if you are game enough to enter the hotel.