So you’ve been eyeing up the photos of crystal clear oceans on Instagram and seeing the flight deals to Croatia pop up in your alerts. Well, we’re about to give you ten more reasons to get yourself over there!
- 1 1. Visit a winery
- 2 2. Cycle around an island
- 3 3. Battle in a Roman Amphitheater
- 4 4. Go to a National Park
- 5 5. Wander the maze of streets and alleys
- 6 6. Have a drink in a Palace
- 7 7. Tick of some UNESCO sites
- 8 8. Bathe in Crystal Clear waters
- 9 9. Take a boat trip
- 10 10. Drive the Coastal Road
- 11 Short Film
1. Visit a winery
There are several regions across Croatia that specialize in the growing of olive trees and vines which means fantastic oil and wines for you to feast on. Istria is up there with the best and has a variety of tucked away wineries for you to visit and have a taste. We would highly recommend Trapan, approximately a 20 minutes drive from Pula, and the wonderful Matea. Not only does 100 Kuna get you a tasting of five wines and a charcuterie board, Matea is full of so much information about the winemaking process in Croatia, its origins, methods and the area that we spent hours here. Swing by for a visit and more winery recommendations!
Top Tip– Ring ahead to make sure they are open (+385 52 574 770)
Money Saver– Buy a flight instead of individual glasses of wine
2. Cycle around an island
Croatia has over 1,000 islands so a visit is a must do if you want to get a true feel for the country. There are literally hundreds you can easily visit via ferry (more to come in another post) and they all vary in size and occupancy. We had an amazing day exploring Ugljan on bikes which gives you an all exclusive pass to the island. You can go further than you’d be able to on foot, reach secluded bays inaccessible by car and tour the island with the ocean directly next to you.
65 Kuna will buy you six hours of exploration and you are in for a treat. We found isolated beaches, walked to hilltop viewpoints, breakfasted on pastries looking out over a harbor and feasted on pizza for lunch. Check out our route below for the best way to spend your day!
Top Tip- Purchase your ferry tickets online, at least one day in advance
Money Saver- Search parking before you go, a 10-minute walk saved us a lot of money in parking. This one only cost us 3 Kuna p/h- Ul. Petra Svačića 5, 23000, Zadar, Hrvatska
3. Battle in a Roman Amphitheater
Located in Pula this arena is thought to be the sixth largest, yet best preserved in the world, and just to prove the point, events are still held here regularly, from film festivals to live performances. The structure itself is pretty impressive and you can easily imagine the stands full of spectators, excitedly watching gladiators battle it out against beasts. Walk around the grounds, up the stairways and even access the underground chambers to see where animals and injured warriors were taken. The map you are given at the entrance points out the different aspects of the amphitheater and what the elements were used for but you can pay a little extra for an audio tour with more information.
Top Tip- Try and coincide your visit with an event to get a unique Croatia experience
Money Saver- If your budget won’t stretch to the small ticket price, enjoy a coffee at one of the cafes located on the outside of the colosseum walls and which give you a glimpse inside.
4. Go to a National Park
As with islands, Croatia has a great choice of National Parks to visit, find all eight of them here. If you only have time for one we would highly recommend Plitvice Lakes. There are two entrances and eight different routes you can take, at a minimum choose a 4-6 hour trail, longer if you have time, as this will allow you to see as many waterfalls as possible and includes a boat and train ride within the time parameters.
Every turn brings yet another spectacular water display, each different to the last. This is due to the type of limestone, travertine, that makes up this area, the water gradually wears away the stone whilst simultaneously the living moss creates a barrier which causes the travertine to actually build up, to 1cm per year, which all contributes to an ever-changing landscape! The routes are not strenuous and sturdy sandals are appropriate, there are facilities every now and again but bring snacks and water. Parking is also in addition to your entrance fee.
Top Tip- Arrive early to beat the crowds
Money Saver- Travel outside of peak time, July/ August, and you could save yourself more than 50% of the ticket price
5. Wander the maze of streets and alleys
Every Croatia town seems to have been built in the quaintest, most haphazard way possible. There appears to be no rhythm or rhyme to their methods but it makes for the best time. Follow your nose, turn right every time your coin lands on heads or simply wander until you somehow find yourself back where you started. Sibenik is the perfect city to get lost in, worn cobbled stones, laundry hanging from the windows, restaurants, wine bars and ice cream on every corner intermingled with cathedrals, monasteries and forts.
Top Tip- Visit on a Sunday or mid-afternoon for fewer crowds
Money Saver- This activity is completely free- unless you indulge in an ice cream and glass of craft beer!
6. Have a drink in a Palace
Whether you prefer water, coffee or a cocktail you can’t beat enjoying a beverage whilst sat in the grounds of a Palace. And you can do it pretty much morning, noon and night (accompanied by live music) in Split. Diocletian’s palace is one of the best preserved Roman structures in Croatia and is made up of several elements including bell towers, temples, gates and cathedrals. Explore the market stalls, climb the towers and wander in awe as you are transported back thousands of years in history. The Peristyle is the perfect place to people watch and enjoy the architecture all with a drink in your hand. Cushions are laid out on the steps and waiters will come and take your drinks order wherever you decide to sit and enjoy the ambiance.
Top Tip- Visit after dark for a different perspective and live music
Money Saver- Sit on the far side and don’t buy a drink, just enjoy the atmosphere
7. Tick of some UNESCO sites
Seriously take your pick, they currently have ten in Croatia with a further 15 on the tentative list. Check out the Cathedral of St. James at Sibenik, built in the 15th and 16th centuries using only stone. By which I mean each piece was so accurately cut that they all slot into one another so perfectly that no binding agent was required! Make a stop at the tiny walled city of Trogir or Dubrovnik’s old city and admire the architecture, winding side streets and oldy worldy feel. And of course, if you’ve already penciled in some of the top ten you’ve already planned on visiting Plivice Lakes and Diocletian’s palace.
Top Tip- Get there earlier, it’ll be cooler and they’ll be fewer people photo bombing your pictures
Money Saver- Read the information boards and your guidebook to buff up on the history and structures instead of buying a guided or audio tour every time.
8. Bathe in Crystal Clear waters
I’m sure you’ve seen all the pictures but the Adriatic really is a crystal clear as it looks, which is perfect for someone like me, who is scared of fish. Its pure waters are due to a lack of microorganisms and sand, this, in turn, provides less resources for animals and plants thus creating the incredible clarity. It also means that you will be lured into the water on a daily basis to cool off and enjoy the bays that appear around every corner. And if you can’t find a bay, lay out your towel and join the locals on the paths and harbors next to the water. It really is an incredible experience and a great way to spend a few hours relaxing.
Top Tip- Wear water shoes for the rocky beaches and ocean floor to protect your feet
Money Saver- Water access is always free however avoid the popular ‘sandy beaches,’ save yourself the crowds and parking fee
9. Take a boat trip
With so many islands off the coast, a boat trip is a fantastic way to see several smaller islands that you wouldn’t necessarily ferry to. Split harbor is a hub for half or full day trips, offering a variety of excursions to the Blue Cave, isolated bays, sparsely populated islands and bigger tourist locations.
Nearly all of them use nippy speedboats, which if you ask me is just as fun as exploring the islands themselves. Seating around 8-10 people it becomes a more intimate excursion and means you can go to the further islands due to the speed of the boat. We spent a day visiting the magical Blue Cave, wandering around Hvar, swimming in secluded bays and screaming with joy in between.
Top Tip- All the tours are a similar price so make sure your ticket includes entrance to the Cave otherwise you’ll be paying more.
Money Saver- Pack your own lunch and water
10. Drive the Coastal Road
It is undeniably one of the most scenic routes around. The roads run right alongside the waters, they are well maintained and enable you to see rural and rustic villages as well as the more established cities. Pull over and buy local produce from the roadside stands, have a frolic in a small village bay, eat your lunch at the top of a mountain enjoying spectacular views or stare in wonder at the half-derelict houses in the middle of nowhere. It is the perfect balance of culture, possibility and convenience. You are never worrying about where the next petrol station is, if there’s going to be a campsite or accommodation or if they’ll be somewhere to stop off and have a swim. If you’re going to visit Croatia we think this is the best way to do it.
Top Tip-Keep coins on you for parking
Money Saver- Stick to the coastal road if possible and avoid the tolls on the motorway
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