My last international trip before COVID-19 hit and borders closed was Croatia and England in October 2019. It was a trip to remember, and Croatia will forever be established in my memory as one of the most beautiful countries in the world and one of my best trips to date!
Croatia has everything: good food, stunning scenery, gorgeous weather, and tons of culture. I had booked this trip on a bit of a whim – meeting up with a friend who was living in Europe – and I truly did no research before leaving. This is not typical, as I usually research things extensively. But for Croatia, I had no idea what to expect.
I didn’t even know what the weather was going to be like. I through in a bathing suit last minute, thinking, “You never know when you need this.” And little did I know, I would need it every day!
But enough about me and my lack of preparation… Here’s some details about how we spent one week in Croatia.
We split our time between Split and Dubrovnik, with a few days in each city. We started out in the gorgeous city of Split. It is a stunning city, there’s no other way to say it! We had so much fun walking around the old town and along the coast. The weather was unseasonably warm for the end of October ( (around 30 degrees Celsius!) so we also went swimming every day.
Here are some of the highlights from the trip:
- Walking tour of the old town: On the first day we took a walking tour with a local guide to learn a bit about the history. The old town of Split is actually preserved Roman ruins – the Diocletian Palace. The palace was huge, with walls that have now been turned into hotels, shops, and cafes! It’s pretty cool to stay right in the old town… you’re really staying in a palace!
- Swim, swim, swim: I already mentioned that I was not prepared for the trip and hadn’t thought at all about the weather. I was also not prepared for how absolutely STUNNING the beaches and ocean are in Croatia. It was the bluest, clearest water I have ever seen. All along the coastline were little areas with ladders down into the water, with locals and tourists alike going for a dip. We swam every day and sunbathed on the rocks. Literal perfection!
- Ziplining: After a few days exploring the city, we were ready for something a bit more adventurous! So, we signed up for a ziplining adventure up in the hills overlooking Split. It was so much fun! We went on about 7 ziplines, ranging in length and speed, and just had a blast zipping over the mountains with a stunning view of the ocean. It was something a bit different, and so, so memorable!
- Island tour: The Dalmatia coast is dotted with tons of little islands, each one more beautiful then the last. We took a boat tour that brought us to a bunch of them – we would swim off the boat, go snorkeling, explore the islands, and just enjoy the boat ride. It was super fun and well worth the cost!
- Sandwiches and views: Another thing my lack of research did not prepare me for was that Croatia is not super cheap, at least in terms of food and where we went (tourist central). Food was comparable to any other European city, or back home in Canada, potentially even more in the places we went, which were along the coast. But we found one shop that had delicious sandwiches that were super reasonable. The best part was it was located right on the promenade, so had a gorgeous view out over the harbour. We at there every single day for lunch!
To get to Dubrovnik, we took a four-hour bus ride. During the summer months there are ferry and boat options to travel between the two cities – I bet that would have been more fun than a bus! But in any case, it was easy to get to and we were happy to arrive in this gorgeous city.
Here are a few of my top highlights from Dubrovnik:
- Walk the city walls: Dubrovnik is a walled city, so you can actually walk the perimeter on top of the ancient city walls. It takes about 2 hours to walk around and is 2km long. All along the way you have stunning views of both the city itself and the ocean and hills surrounding. It’s great to just take photos, grab a drink, and enjoy the scenery. It’s a little pricey, but oh so worth it. I recommend going in the morning when it isn’t too hot or busy yet!
- Visit Lokrum Island: This island is just a 20-minute ferry ride away from Dubrovnik, and is the perfect little oasis to get some R&R for the afternoon. The is a natural wildlife habitat with no motorized vehicles and is inhabited by a bunch of peacocks! It’s a great place to wander and explore and, of course, go for a swim in the Adriatic Sea!
- Dubrovnik Cable Car: Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a little more for an exceptional view! The cable car was an awesome way to get outside of the city and see a different vantage point. It takes you up to a fort on the top of a neighbouring hill, from which you can see up to 60km away. We got a coffee at the top and enjoyed the panoramic views.
- Grab some food and enjoy the street performances: There always seemed to be some kind of performance happening in the old town of Dubrovnik – musicians, magicians, other street performers. A lot of the restaurants have tables outside that face into the streets, so it’s fun to get something to eat and just people watch. This is a great time to try some new foods, grab a drink, and just soak in the atmosphere!
Things to note
Here are a few other tips for your trip to Croatia:
- Croatia is kind of cheap and kind of expensive: We were pleasantly surprised by how cheap (and nice!) our accommodations are, but that was about the only budget thing here. Food and activities were pricey, on par with other European cities like Paris or Rome.
- Be prepared for crowds: Croatia has just blown up in popularity, in large part thanks to Game of Thrones being filmed there. It is a really popular tourist destination, and you need to be prepared for crowds. We were there in the shoulder season, just one of the last weeks with cruises coming in (end of October). It was super busy, especially in Dubrovnik, but our guide said there was only one cruise ship and, in the summer, there can be around seven. So, just be prepared for there to be crowds.
- The food is amazing! Tons of awesome things to try. Make sure you try Black risotto (made with squid ink), burek (savoury pies), and cevapi (minced meat). They also have gelato stands every few meters on the promenade in Split, just saying!
There are so many amazing things about Croatia, so I’ll leave it here and just say: You’ve got to go there! I know you’ll love it as much as I did.