When I first told people I was going to Croatia I was always asked the same question. Why Croatia? The answer wasn’t very scientific. I was traveling with a few friends who are well traveled themselves and one day we just started batting around locations. Spain? I’ve been to Spain. France? I’ve been there too. Croatia? Never been. Perfect, let’s go. Since going, I feel like I hear about a ton of people traveling there. And rightly so as it is really an amazing place.
We went in the month of October, which was risky on the weather front. While we did have some amazing sunny days, we also had a lot of rain. I think if I had to do it over I would pick the month of September. Croatia is crazy with tourists all summer long, so the best time to go is right after the tourists leave, while the weather is still amazing.
Our trip began in Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia. Like any capital, it was a place with a big city feel and it was a good place to get our feet wet from a language perspective. One thing that many of the travel books will tell you about Croatia is that often times the street names do not quite match the maps. It’s often close but not the exact spelling which we learned the hard way as after 2 days in Zagreb, when we rented a car to begin our journey to Dubrovnik with many tense moments between the driver and navigator ensuing.
Along the way we visited Plitvice Lakes National Park, PAG, Zadar, Trogir, Split, Korcula, Hvar, made a brief trip into Bosnia to a little town called Mostar, finally arriving in Dubrovnik.
My highlights include:
Zadar – probably my favourite town of the trip, also made funnier by the fact that when we drove into the old city we somehow ended up driving ON the old city walls. I was trying to navigate and all I heard from the driver was “I’m driving on the wall, I am driving ON THE WALL!!”.
They also have this amazing sea organ!
Hvar: An absolutely beautiful island but make sure you get really clear directions on where you are staying before you get there. We learned on the ferry ride over (very late at night) that the streets do not have names so this caused some difficulty in finding our apartment.
Korcula: If you go here, find the Massimo Cocktail bar in the turret on Korcula Island. It's totally worth it!
Mostar: We drove into Bosnia with no map, no local currency and no idea what the currency conversion rate was, but we did have a hotel reservation for the night! We ended up finding this amazing little restaurant in the heart of the old city that was probably our favourite meal of the trip and the least expensive! The sense of history here is just amazing.
Dubrovnik: In Dubrovnik, we stayed at House Anica, a wonderful guest house, and LOVED it. Right in the old town, it has superb views of the city. I highly recommend staying in the old town if at all possible.
One not to miss hidden gem is the Busa Bar. You literally go through the wall to the outside and the bar is perched on the outside overlooking the sea. The beer will be overpriced but the incredible view is worth the price!
We also found good coffee at a place on the stairs just down from that mid street. The place is easy to spot because it is so busy. Just sit on the stairs and they will bring out cushions for you!