A month ago I got back from probably one of my favourite holiday destinations ever... Croatia. During my first week back in the UK, people were really intrigued how I found it and also WHY I had chosen to go there on holiday. They'd never really thought about it as being a holiday destination, and I have to say, prior to going neither had I! Jack had been before when he was younger and he'd enjoyed it but hadn't been able to see much due to travel restrictions, so he suggested that he might like to go there again. I was torn between the standard resort holiday (ya know - beach, pool & book) and a bit of an adventure, but in the end I chose adventure and I'm so glad I did.
Croatia is a beautiful Eastern European country, a former part of Yugoslavia. It's hard to think that there was a major war there less than 22 years ago. Nowadays it's no longer torn apart by war, in fact it's quite the opposite. A very peaceful country with beautiful mountains, breathtaking coastlines and the tastiest of scram.
I figured I'd list my top 10 tips for travelling to Croatia, just in case you happen to stumble upon this wonderful place in the near future...
Numero 1) Quit With The Fancy Flights
Jack's quite the savvy soul. When we planned our trip it was his job to sort out flights and car hire - in fact just all of the travel related stuff, and it was my job to sort out accommodation and some form of daily itinerary. Jack found a gem of a flight to Trieste (Italy) from Birmingham for just £18 each via Ryanair. Yeah, that's crazy huh?! You may be thinking why the flip are they flying to Italy for, but if you look on a map, Trieste is pretty darn close to Croatia (in fact it was just a 2 hour coach ride from Trieste to Rovinj in Croatia)... Handy or what? We flew into Trieste for £18 each (I don't think you could even get to London for that on a train these days) and we spent one night in Trieste and had some yummy Italian PIZZA. Trieste was a pretty good place actually, wish we could've stayed there for a few more nights!
Numero 2) Airbnb Is Definitely Your Friend
Hotels in the main towns and cities within Croatia can be pricey. If you want to stay there for more than seven days and travel along the coast then Airbnb is definitely your friend - unless of course you have a grand to spare for splashing out on different hotels. We found some absolute gems on Airbnb (mainly apartments) and we were able to spend ten nights overall for just shy of £150 each. Not bad, not bad at all.
Numero 3) Consider The Car Hire
Car hire was a bit of an unknown for Jack and I, as we've only ever hired a car once before and that was in Spain. After Jack had brushed up on lots of different options for car hire, he decided to go with a car hire company called Oryx Rentals. The main benefits of this car hire company included: the young driver's fee was quite cheap compared to others and you could pick a car up in one town and drop it off in a different location (perfect if you want to travel the coast, which is exactly what we did). We also opted for an extra insurance (for about £20) with a separate company which would cover our asses if anything were to happen to the car. A wise move indeed, I'd defo recommend making sure you've read up on all the T&C's when it comes to renting a car as every place is different. And defo make sure you've got extra insurances (excess reimbursement etc) just in case!
Numero 4) Make Time For Plitvicka
If there's one place you visit when you go to Croatia, please make it Plitvicka (or Plitvice) National Park. The water is blue, ok not blue, turquoise. It's beautiful. It's like Rivendell but minus the elves and their funky houses. There are waterfalls, the greenest trees ever, little wooden pathways over the water, fishes, bears (although we didn't see any) and lots more! Just remember to take your suncream, a big bottle of water and comfortable shoes. We ended up doing a 5 hour hike around the place in 30 degree heat, which nearly killed me but it was beautiful so I guess its not all too bad. Plus Jack bought me a Ribena flavoured ice lolly :')
Numero 5) Invest In Jellies
For two reasons. Firstly because sea urchins are rife along the Croatian coast line and you do NOT want to have little sea urchin spines fetched out of your foot with a scalpel. That does not make for a fun holiday at all. The second reason why jelly shoes are essensh is because the majority of beaches in Croatia are pebbly and therefore your feet WILL hurt from walking over pebbles if you want to go into the sea. Jelly shoes are ideal, and they're really cool! Get some Juju's for uber cool tootsies :)
Numero 6) Hit The Beach!
It's not a country known for its beaches, however if you go to Croatia you may as well hit the beach and enjoy some rays! The weather was immense when we visited (in mid June) which meant you could hit the beach between 4-7pm and it would still be super toasty! As mentioned previously, the beaches do tend to be quite pebbly, so make sure you take a thick beach towel or perhaps take two to double up and get a bit of comfort on the go. After all, nobody wants a load of pebbles sticking in their back / head / arse.. *OUCH*
Numero 7) Pack A Snorkel
One thing I regret about my trip to Croatia is that we didn't quite manage to squeeze in a snorkelling sesh. I'm not really an activity kinda girl, but snorkelling doesn't really require much effort other than swimming along and looking at pretty fishes. The water is so clear in Croatia that it's well worth grabbing a snorkel and going for a wee dip to see their selection of fabulous little sea creatures! Next time I go, I'm defo packing a snorkel!
Numero 8) Take A Boat Trip & Explore An Island!
One of the best things about Croatia is the fact that there are LOADS of little islands dotted along the coast which you can hop on a boat to! We got a boat for about £3 each (return trip) from Dubrovnik to the island of Lopud which was a fun day out. Lopud is known for its sandy beaches (a rarity in Croatia) so we decided to spend the day at the beach there and whilst we were there we had a fabulous dinner at a restaurant called Obala. We were right next to the sea, the sun was setting (OOOSH HOW ROMANTIC!) and the food was amazing - all in all, it was perfect.
Numero 9) Walk Dubrovnik's Old City Walls
On our travels, we obviously had to do Dubrovnik (aka Dubrovvvverz) cause it's like the main place to be! One day we thought it'd be quite cool to walk the Old City Walls as the views are meant to be pretty superb. We did this, however we didn't quite time it that great as we set off on our expedition at around midday. Now the midday sun can be quite powerful and when you're climbing stairs and doing a big hike around some walls it's not ideal. I don't think I've ever been so hot in my life, and it's safe to say I demolished a fair few bottles of water on the walk. However I'm really glad we did it, even if I nearly melted. Just take my advice and either do it early in the day or later in the day - not splat bang in the middle. DOH.
Numero 10) Taste Some Local Fodder
We tried many local dishes on our travels down the Dalmatian coast including a local fish speciality on the island of Lopud, Octopus Terrine (say whaaaaat?!) in Dubrovnik and a steak platter fit for Kings from Pet Bunara in Zadar. I did a few tasty Trip Advisor reviews on the places we frequented so if you're off to Croatia, be sure to check them out! And if you go to Split, it's definitely worth paying a visit to restaurant Dvor as it's probably the best place to grab some grub... It's out of the way a little from Split Old Town (which is where the majority of the action happens) however it's definitely worth the walk / taxi ride.
Have you been to Croatia? What was your favourite part of the trip?
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